contracts keep us social compel us now
to disorder the disorder. Peace. We’re out
to repair the future. There’s an umbrella
by the door, not for yesterday but for the weather
that’s here. I say weather but I mean
a form of governing that deals out death
and names it living. I say weather but I mean
a November that won’t be held off. This time
nothing, no one forgotten. We are here for the storm
that’s storming because what’s taken matters.
Muralist Emily Lux and I knew we needed a simple lay-out and a good phrase to organize our first "socially distanced" project. Black Lives Matter protests and George Floyd memorials were sweeping the country, could we make art that was a call to action? That had some hope along with the anger and frustration and despair? Then I read Claudia Rankine's poem "Weather," commissioned by the New York Times to capture the moment. It is a powerful read, and I especially liked the final lines:
"Repair the Future" seemed to sum up everything we wanted to say, and the letters are spread out over protest-style signs. Each one is painted by a different kid/young adult based on an issue that matters to them. You'll see references to the environment, factory farming, black lives matter, pride, and more. Supported by volunteers and local businesses in Beaverton, and painted on July 4th-5th, this mural illustrates what collective action (and public art!) are capable of. In this sanctioned stillness, raising your voice -- or your pen or paintbrush -- seems the most important thing one can do, and the Zoomers are taking that in. They gave me hope that they can meet this mess we are leaving. See more of the process here.
News Release from Portland Fire & Rescue
Posted on FlashAlert: January 6th, 2020 11:00 AM
On January 3, a new piece of public art was installed at Portland Fire & Rescue’s main administrative building at SW Ash Street and Naito Parkway. The colorful mural by Portland artists Addie Boswell and Antwoine Thomas was commissioned by Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone and managed by the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC).
When Fire Chief Sara Boone was sworn in, she communicated that the three areas she considers to be the pillars of Portland Fire & Rescue are community, service, and sacrifice.
In her first weeks, Chief Boone installed new lighting and painted an accent wall behind the portrait of Chief David Campbell, one of Portland Fire & Rescue’s most notable former chiefs. She wanted Chief Campbell’s portrait to be an area of focus because Campbell, who died in a fire, symbolizes the service and sacrifice every firefighter commits to when they are sworn into duty. Chief Campbell tragically died in the line of duty during a 1911 fire when he entered a building to make sure all firefighters had retreated; the building collapsed upon him before he could get out. Chief Campbell made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure his firefighters were safe.
Chief Boone also wanted to add a mural on the wall leading to the chief’s office to showcase the bureau’s deep connection to the community it serves. She wants to make sure that everyone who walks down the hallway to the chief’s office knows that they are welcome and included. The bureau engaged RACC to manage the project. The project was funded with percent-for-art dollars that earmarks the costs of certain City improvements for public art.
Through a paneled public process, Boswell and Thomas’s submission themed “It takes everyone to create community” was selected and commissioned. The colorful painting, now titled “Vibrant Cities Don’t Burn,” creates a bright tapestry of Portland imagery stitched together with symbolic threads denoting PF&R’s history and work. A flutter of 36 butterflies representing each of the 36 Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters lost in the line of duty (as noted by the downtown firefighters’ memorial) fly in the direction of Chief Campbell’s portrait down the hall. Among the scenes of nature and people working in harmony are roses, which are both a symbol of the city and the centerpiece of PF&R’s logo. The work honors the sacredness of the land and people who came before us. The piece is imbued with so many surprise bits of symbolism that a key will accompany it on the wall.
“I want to thank the artists for creating this celebratory, inclusive, and engaging piece of work that will greet those who head down the hall to the chief’s office. I appreciate the level of commitment and understanding that the artists put into this work as visual and visceral representations of service and community,” says Fire Chief Sara Boone. “Images are powerful and they play a meaningful role in who feels welcomed in certain spaces. Those who head down this hallway will understand our history and know that we are going into the future together. This artwork highlights the best of our city and Portland Fire & Rescue.”
Video on this project can be accessed at:
Chief Boone talks about the mural with the artists: https://vimeo.com/382706008
Video of the mural installation: https://vimeo.com/382693864
The Portland Book Festival (formerly known as Wordstock) is coming up. Though I know it is difficult to get downtown, park, and navigate crowds with young children, the benefits of the Festival are so great! And there's a great new addition this year: Me! Leading a bunch of favorite kids crafts. Find me in the tent outside the Oregon Historical Society and ...
Right next door, at the Oregon Historical Society, you can see your favorite authors & illustrators as they give STORYTIMES and sign their books after.
There's more! Books and gifts and freebies at the Book Fair, panels on writing throughout the festival, good food trucks, and great bookish energy. The Festival is free to kids (17 and under) and adults can buy Advance passes for $15 (day-of passes increase to $20) which include a $5 voucher to spend at the extensive book fair. All passes include admission to the Portland Art Museum.
Is there a right way to buy a book these days? I say nope, because every book matters. But if you're wondering how your purchase matters to moi, the author, read on.
Authors and illustrators get an equal percentage of every book sold. Since printing costs of picture books are high, that percentage is usually about 10% of the list price, split between them 50/50. Which means for every $10 book sold, I would get $.50 for the hardback, or $.30 for the board book. As you can imagine, the goal is quantity, and any way you buy is good for me in the long run. For example:
What about e-books?
These generally function the same way as paper books do, though authors and publishers have been arguing about e-book royalty rates. (Creators believe that the lack of printing costs should translate to larger portions for them -- the standard split is currently 12-20%, which would be halved with the illustrator.) Since board books like Go, Bikes, Go! are made for toddlers, they are not usually offered as e-books, and e-book sales for picture books still make up a small percentage of all sales.
I have been trying to streamline my planner, journal, and to-do lists for years. Because surely, if I could only get organized enough, life would roll so smoothly. I had seen friends "doing" bullet journals before, but didn't understand the theory until I read Ryder Carrol's Bullet Journal Method. An adaptive way to organize your planner -- and combine/organize all your lists and notes, the biggest change for me is writing in months and weeks as I go, which means my pages adapt to the week's schedule. For example, here is what my planner looked like before (notice all the white space.)
And here is what it looks like after. I am trying to sketch and write in daily reflections, which is also part of the theory -- that events and thoughts have the same priority as to-do notes.
Plus if I go on vacation, I can scrap the planner structure altogether and just have fun:
Other additions that are helpful are an index and future log at front and a series of 'icons' that send your to-do lists in different directions. You needn't be an artist to use the system (Ryder Carrol isn't), but the artists have certainly taken to the journals in droves. Just check out pinterest for ideas and tracking systems. And, since I'm always looking for the "perfect" pen, here are my current favorite supplies.
When I moved to Portland fifteen years ago, I owned only a trunk-full of essentials, and the next few years were one of the most creative and expansive times of my life. Now I have a house, a career, a family, and a stability that still surprises me. (Am I now part of the establishment?)
I also have a growing collection of stuff, and am having to learn a different lesson. In short: Don't take it because its free and might have a use someday. (I found these two books pretty motivating in that direction.) So I've been purging my broken furniture and unfinished projects. And I cut down my scrap wood pile to make this headboard (with integrated side tables) and this coffee table inspired by Pinterest. Here's hoping I can pass up the next free box...
This is the cover for my newest board book (to be released to the public in Spring 2019!) Illustrated by Alexander Mostov, published by Little Bigfoot, Go, Bikes, Go! celebrates the variety of bikes and bikers I have seen in my rides around Portland --where an estimated 3.5% of our citizens commute by bike. (Which seems low, until you compare it to the national average of .4%.) But don't mistake me for a hard-core, lifelong biker. I grew up on a gravel road miles from pavement. No, I didn't really ride a bike until I was twenty-five. Here's the story.
When I moved across the country -- from Washington, DC to Portland, OR, at age twenty-four -- my one and only aim was to "be an artist." Thus starts my fifteen years of teaching jobs and art shows, public projects, rejections, and picture books, the building of my current life. On that fated journey West, I made the very bad decision to buy a new car -- a silver Honda Civic whose interior I can still almost smell. In my second year of "being an artist" and all the part-time, low-paying jobs it entails, I couldn't pay my debts. My student loans got deferred, my credit cards got cut up, and my cute little car got... repossessed. (A relief, by that point.) A friend gave me a bike.
I remember my first ride, guided by my friend Beth through Portland's streets. I remember her saying, "don't weave in and out of cars, stay straight and in the view of drivers." I remember wavering when I turned corners, sweating profusely, and generally hating it. That was before the rainy season. I don't remember if it took weeks or months to really enjoy biking. But I spent the next three years commuting solely by bike (and bus and borrowed friend.) Those rides are some of my great moments in Portland. Once I found a free drawing table that I balanced all the way home. Once I felt like I was riding straight into the moon (the basis for the painting below) and it was magic. Many times I felt connected to my fellow riders, strong in my own skin, and just happier to be alive. (Something I've never felt in a car.)
I am on my third bike now, and the first one I actually paid for -- $150 on Craigslist. These days, I share a car with my husband and turn out to be naturally lazy. I bike less than I should and gripe about how busy Portland has gotten. But sometimes still, I feel the magic. Go, Bikes, Go!