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Coffee + Art + Friends : Thor Erickson

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Thor Erickson

Chef • Artist • Butcher • Educator • Leap Taker

I look at Art as a process. A lot of people look at Art as the destination or the final product. I look at it as part of the creative process. I don’t hang my paintings up anywhere, but I paint. I don’t sing at any venues, but I do that at home or in musical theatre. That is the joy– the doing. 

Artist have this great habit of being their own worst critic when it comes to looking at a product. You look at something and think “Oh, that’s not my best. I should’ve used orange but I used blue” or “Oh, my voice is not coming through as I want it to be” or “I could change that paragraph.” In my case it’s “wow, the crust on that salmon could have just a little more spice on it.” 

There are some things we can’t change. That’s tough but thats also great at the same time. There is a certain amount of ourselves that goes into art. I love it when people are unsatisfied with their own art. It means they’re real. Never trust anyone who thinks their own work is great. I’m an optimist and trust everyone until I can’t. But when somebody says oh yeah mine is the best, it’s clearly not.

I make a living tasting food. And I made a living making food for a long time. That is an art form that is so incredible to me because it is an art form that touches on so many different senses. When you describe something you are going to make it sounds good. You can put it together in your mind. It sounds delicious. When you create it it is visually delicious, hopefully, it smells good, too. Then when you eat it it tastes good. And then it satisfies your emotions. It strikes an emotional chord and then it is gone. It’s fleeting. There is no final work you can look back on. It’s gone. And even if its not eaten the product itself is perishable. If it sits there it only deteriorates and becomes awful as time goes by. That is something I love about it. It is so immediately gone.

The thing I love most when creating food, is the satisfaction it gives people. It sustains people. It feeds them, regardless if it is delicious or not. It’s that act— it’s like what Harriet Van Horn said “Cooking is like Love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” So if you are cooking for people, if you have friends over or family— that’s a magical thing. To embrace that when you are cooking in a restaurant for people who you don’t know, have never met before or may not even enjoy their company, you have to have that same feeling and passions when you are creating that food or it’s not going to work.

You have to let that go. Just like when someone is making a painting or a song, you can’t think of the person who is going to see it or listen to it and think about how they are going to feel when they enjoy or don’t enjoy your art. You have to think about how it makes you feel in that moment, in that process.

Cooking and teaching people to cook is a beautiful thing and it’s difficult. Like in a lot of other mediums, there is a lot of technique involved. It’s like Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, “Why am I doing this wax on wax off stuff when I really want to a roundhouse kick to the Cobra Kai right now?” But being able to do that stuff in a very  unconscious way allows you to be creative, allows you to get out there and jam. 

My favorite part of cooking is jamming. I love going into someone else’s refrigerator and seeing what they have and going “ Hey! This is the jam session”. And then you create love and you create art out of those things that are there.

It’s my opinion that artists spend too much time dwelling in their medium. I think it’s always a great exercise to do something else. That’s why I do theater. That’s why I paint. It keeps those wheels of creativity moving. It took me a long time to do that. Those who paint mountains should probably hike mountains. It’s good to push yourself.

People all the time put themselves into categories of what they can do and what they can’t do. You would be surprised what you can actually do. Push yourself up against your limitations.

My favorite thing about making art is connected to my favorite thing about appreciating art—  that moment, when you are creating something, that moment just before it all comes together. It’s this no mans land of the complete unknown, where you are just at the top, just almost there. It’s like “am I going to leap off the cliff now or am I going to fly?” You leap off and you get that gut feeling— like on a roller coaster or something like you are about to soar. And in terms of appreciating, it’s looking at all these different types of art and thinking “what were they thinking or feeling in that moment?” Putting yourself in the artists shoes. It’s this physical, emotional, mental convergence of feelings—  you feel them all at the same time. 

It’s like a song that makes you feel that way the first time you hear it. That’s rare. Often times we’re connected to music from our past. On the way here this morning, I turned on my iPod randomly and there was a Replacements song. It took me to that very comfortable time and place. Well, now I look at it as comfort, back then it was a struggle.

The best music, the first time your hear it takes you to a place. Art can conjure up time and place like nothing else. That’s what’s beautiful about it. 

I have these John Simpkins paintings. When I worked at Sparrow he came in and introduced himself and I realized he did all the illustrations for the Tassajara cookbooks. I had been looking at his art for years. Cathy ended up buying these drawings for me— it was kind of a dirty trick, because when I had the cash to buy the art from him I went to him to buy them and he said he had already sold them. It was torture.

It’s hard for people to look at food as a medium. There is a canvas. There are paints. There are ideas. Once you can see that, it’s endless what you can do and there are so many ways to go about it. I butcher animals and that seems very cut and dry— no pun intended. There are so many ways to do that and so many things you can create by doing that. There is technique and science, but there is also nuance to it.

Learning to get to know yourself is one of the best things any one can whether they are an artist or not. Being an artist, taking time to spend quality time with yourself,

There was a time in my life that I called perfecting my solitude. It was’t monastic, but I was remodeling my house and working on my art and didn’t let anything interrupt it. I got to know myself and that was very freeing. Knowing myself helped me be able to soak in what was around me. I find that sometimes society forces people to go go go and not take that time to get to know themselves. Take trip, put yourself in that places of pushing limits by yourself for yourself. I think the outcome of that for an artist is great. We all benefit from it because we benefit from each other’s art. 

It’s a shame that Art has to result in dollar signs. I love it when I can have a conversation with another artist and be open with that person and have an appreciation for what they do and they have an appreciation for what I do. I know this artist who is creating a metal etching for me. And I am going to use my art to cook a meal for his opening when it happens. It is a mutual appreciate where we are excited to help each other and engage with each other. I love that aspect of it. I wish there was more of that on many different levels.

Nancy P’s • August 2, 2016 • Bend, Oregon
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Cocktails + Art + Mother

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Barbara Lee McKeever Peterson

Watercolorist • Brandy Manhattan Expert • My First Art Teacher • My Mom

It’s relaxing. Sometimes. Not always. Sometimes, it’s very relaxing. It depends on if you ruin something and can’t fix it, it can get frustrating, especially watercolors. But when you just sketch in a book, with black pen, it is very relaxing.

I love Art. I love museums. I love seeing the old art, like Picasso and any of those old guys from Europe. You know that! I dragged you around enough to them. I like, too, when I went to that school with you and you did that residency— it’s wonderful to see those kids creating at that young age. Some of those photos were just wonderful! I love looking at two of the same image and comparing them and seeing what’s different and what’s better. That’s the critic in me. I can stand there and appreciate it and criticize it and no one knows what I am thinking. Also, because it is amazing that these really young kids, with no training, just by listening to their Art teacher, come up with those images. It’s really amazing.

Just like you, I was really young when I started having Art in my life. My mother would buy me new crayons and books for Christmas. I hate old crayons. They’re the worst. Plus, I was an only child, so I had to entertain myself.

I loved Art in school. We had this short, old lady who was so sweet and I did really well with her. I won a contest once, well, I didn’t win it, but I got Honorable Mention. We had to do a book cover of a book that we liked. I can’t remember the book, but I was really happy! It was a story about five kids and I drew them and there was a dining room table and a braided rug. I looked forward to Art every week. I just loved it. That was my thing. Just like you.

A lot of people, if they took the time would appreciate Art. They just would. You don’t have to go to classes or do anything. You just have to look at it and take the time to do that. It teaches you something. Of course, it depends on the picture. How they drew it or what the artists perspective of what is happening at that moment.

I can’t remember having Art in high school. But, we always had music. There was this nun who taught us because she used to sing with some big band leader. She was big and she would get right into your space if you were off. It was humiliating. We sung beautifully because we were so scared of her! She was good. She was tough. But it was better than anything else.

Much later, after I had your brother, I would take classes from Artists in Easthampton and I loved it. I had some really good teachers. That was when I took that class where I crocheted you that house coat that just kept growing with you! It was so beautiful, pink with white trim.

Timothy was still being nursed when I started. I took pastels, I hated it. It got all over my hands. That was when I did oil paints, too. It was much easier, because you could just paint over your mistakes.  But really, I love watercolors. I love looking at watercolors and I love doing it. It’s easy and quick. I like to paint scenes, not people. Though I could paint you. I should’ve brought my camera and took your picture, right at this angle, all tan, in black…

It was important for me to bring you to museums, because you needed to see it and appreciate it. I thought it would be good for you because I never got anything like that when I was a kid. I loved seeing Art.

I think people think Art is a frivolous thing that is not necessary or important and if it disappeared then, “so what.” I don’t think people have any idea what it means. It’s your history! It’s important for history. It’s fun, it’s interesting to see what people did back then. They didn’t have the simple things they have now for materials. Like oil paints— they had to make their own That’s hard! Where do you get the pigment for orange or red or yellow? You really had to work at it!

It’s good for people’s imagination. They can see how differently people think and maybe appreciate that a little more. Art is just as important as Science or Math, because if you don’t appreciate it what do you appreciate? What will be there for you to appreciate?

I think it is important, even in grade schools, to give a quick history of Art. To see the different periods of art. Even if they don’t understand it, kids will remember it and appreciate Art more. Because if they don’t know, they won’t care. I wish they would push art in schools more. Like incorporate art into history classes. For each time period they teach, they add in the art from that time. That’s the least they could do.

Kayo’s Happy Hour • July 29, 2016 • Bend, Oregon

 

Coffee + Art + Friends : Stuart Breidenstein

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Stuart Breidenstein

Designer • Beauty Lover • Material Explorer • Creative Problem Solver 

 

My favorite moment is when something finally comes together. You reach that crux and everything falls into place. That’s my favorite moment. I used to experience it with music more, when you add something or take out some ingredient so you have that instant where it comes together and everything falls into place. It feels like “Yes!”

You’ll be struggling with something and then a certain element comes into it and everything just flows. It’s like “Yes, now it’s working!” You can struggle your whole way through a project and get to the end of it and still not be satisfied. Or you can struggle and struggle and some cool element will happen and the rest of it goes pretty fast. You can struggle for 8 hours and then that moment comes and 20 minutes later you’re done. You put it on the shelf and think, “That’s great!”

I grew up in a creative household. My mom played piano and did different art projects. She would go to the craft store and find a new materials and bring it home and we would make stuff. My dad made jewelry when I was a kid. My brother and sister are both creative. I don’t remember any time where I first thought “Oh, Art is something…” It was just there.

My parents sent me to guitar lessons. There was always music in the house. I grew up in a creative environment. There were times when I thought “Oh, this is what I am going to do for a living.” That became more and more concrete as I got older. At this point there is no other option. I can’t not be an artist.

I consider myself more of a crafter than artist, I think. I don’t focus on Art for Art’s sake. I like functional Art. I like functional objects that are esthetically appealing.

I have to preach to friends and other artists I know about selling stuff. There is this stigma around making art to sell or selling art. Same thing in music. There is definitely a stigma to selling stuff— selling out. But you have to do something for a living and if you want to make art and you can keep doing that and you don’t want to be distracted by another process, then you have to figure out what you do into something people can buy. It usually involves compromise, which is a dirty word. But I think if you are willing to compromise some of your work, you don’t have to compromise your whole life.

I can remember my mom bringing home this stuff you would make a wire frame and you would dip it in this stuff. It would make a bubble film, it kind of looked like stained glass, but a thin and delicate film. At the time, I thought “this is cool and weird.” I’d never seen anything like it.

I remember her also bringing home Sculpty. I haven’t used it in ages. And then when I was in my 20’s we had all these wooden shingles outside my house. It was kind of leftover from the roof— my dad was a true do-it-yourself-er, before DIY was trendy. I cut them up and made them into earrings. I remember cases like that where it was like “Oh, this material is fun to work with.” 

We used to make our own toys out of lead. We’d melt down lead and make it into toys. We would use this rubbery mold and shape it around cars and stuff and we would melt down sinkers and stuff and pour it into the molds. When I hear people being upset about lead in their toys paint, I’m like “That’s nothing! We actually made toys out of lead!”

I am inspired by materials a lot. If I am out and about and I find a cool material, I immediately start thinking “What can I do with this? What’s it ductility like? Can I drill though this? Can I bend it?”  A lot of times, I’ll have something I’ve designed in one material and I’ll use it as an algorithm and I’ll throw this other material into it and see how it affects the outcome. If I am working with wood and I throw plastic into that equation, how that is different?

When I was growing up, my mom was an antiques dealer and she would collect these resin bangles from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. I would go around to auctions with my mom and dad. They weren’t into it, but I was really into the mid-century stuff, the shapes and colors, slightly organic, stretched and stylized shapes. The curves. The simplicity. It wasn’t an ornate era. There was no baroque-ness to the mid-century stuff. I liked that. I have a lot of that influence and those ingredients in my design aesthetic.

I have a decent local following. I kind of have to keep doing new stuff. If I don’t, why would anyone want to come in? That works for me because I get bored easily. I have to create new stuff all the time. For me it works that I get to keep being creative and coming up with new stuff in my retail world. The other side is that there are things that sell really well and I can’t stop making them. Luckily, they are easy things to make.

I think maybe people see Art as a luxury or something that is an extra unnecessary thing on top of society. In a lot of ways it is a necessary thing. It is necessary for artists— every artist would be a crazy person if we couldn’t make stuff. The fact that you can use it as therapy is evidence it is necessary. It is also necessary to society because what would be the point of anything if we were’t creating beauty? It’s in everything— in everything not created by nature has some sort of Art in it. Even in engine design— the thought that goes into it, the symmetry, the lines and curves. It is just a necessary part of human existence.

It is also, on a more local, pragmatic cultural level, when we have Art in our culture, in our municipal life, it is kind of a signal that this is place you enjoy. This is a society that is healthy, because if you ever go to places where there is not much thought in the Art and you don’t see art around, even if you don’t notice is consciously, you notice it subconsciously and know something is missing. When you come here and there is roundabout art and there are places like The Workhouse which is all about Art, there is no way, at least subconsciously you don’t think, “Oh that’s a really good little society they have there.”  

As artists, we are in the habit of being creative. Creativity and money are two different sides of the same coin. You can have a problem and you can throw creativity at it or you can throw money at it. For us creatives, we don’t have a lot of money, so we are in the habit of being creative. No matter what it is, feeding ourselves, clothing ourselves, transporting ourselves, housing ourselves, entertain themselves— we creative people are in the habit of throwing our creativity at a problem. 

July 14, 2016 • The Workhouse • Bend, Oregon

 

 

 

Coffee + Art + Friends : Sweet Pea Cole

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Sweet Pea Cole

Artist • Maker • Gap Chaser • Awesome Idea Generator 

 

My favorite thing about Art? Oh, my gosh. Sometimes, it’s that feeling that you get when you look at something and you can’t believe the talent that it took to make and conceive. I get immediately drawn to that. I return to Art when there is something else there— a story or some sort of magic to it. I don’t know what it is and I don’t know how to get it, but when it is there, it is so obviously there.

There were things that I thought, “Wow, that’s so cool!” But the first piece I remember feeling that way about is a photograph by Sally Mann. It was her middle daughter with raspberries on her fingers. It’s a color photo. I don’t know what it was about that, but when you asked that is what first came to me. There have been other things. Like, “Oh, my god moments”, like when I first saw Chuck Close’s work. Anytime I see Chuck Close’s work! There is a magic there but there is also a skill level that is mind boggling. Color, shape, layers, execution. Most often it comes back to execution for me.

I tend to struggle with that as an artist, because I have ideas that I think are awesome! It’s that thing that Ira Glass talks about where you know what is good and you know where you are and you can see that gap. I see people who have transcended that gap and that is what draws me to it.

I don’t remember starting making art. I was always making something or writing something or putting together something. I was always doing something! I have a very creative family and a pretty traditional family. My father was a business professor, so he was not saying, “Run off and join the theatre” by any means. But the act of being creative in all avenues was always there.

There were times when I took my art making more seriously than other times. It’s cyclical as far as I need to make ends meet and then other times it’s like, “Fuck it! I don’t need to make ends meet.” I’m not making ends meet, so why try? I can either give up what I love to make ends meet and still not make ends meet. Or I can do what I love and not make ends meet.

I have recently started to enjoy the process. I have always been very product oriented, but instead I have taken a step back and really am enjoying what I am doing. For example, I had to reclaim a bunch of screens and re-prep them last night., And in the past I would have been like “I just have to get this done to get to the good part of printing.” But last night, I was like, “it’s so nice outside!” and I put on my gas mask on and my ear phones and protective goggles and was like, “isn’t it fun to be outside!?” Moving away from being on the computer– the deep, deep appreciation of every minute I am not staring at a computer screen. So, to have those moments where they are not “look at what I did today” and still I enjoy it. I am more aware of the process. Through my conversations with others, I am able to be a little broader visioned, a little stepped back. This is cool to have this dialogue. This is helping me in a way that is very special. It’s a process.

I really want more people to understand what goes into making art. Maybe you don’t have original paintings on your wall, but everything is based on that original idea. I know so many creative people that have talent and they work so hard. I wish our culture as a whole would appreciate it more. People are reaping the benefits of art and they are not aware of the sacrifices that were made for those pieces to exist.

It’s exciting to see people come into The Workhouse and be excited to buy something handmade. It means they are appreciating and valuing the work we are doing here.

It’s not easy to be a creative person. You are constantly pushing yourself to do something that is different, either for you or for what has been done before— so its a constant struggle and it’s hard work to do that.  I think people think oh, that would be nice to sit around. It’s not eating bonbons!

You don’t have to go buy expensive Art or fund Kickstarters. That’s not the only way to show you value creative people in the culture. I personally am very fueled by seeing delight in others. Sometimes, it’s just showing up and engaging. Saying “I like that.” That means a lot! Especially to someone who is struggling and for them to know their art still brought delight to somebody. That is a valuable thing.

July 7, 2016 • The Workhouse • Bend, Oregon

Coffee + Art + Friends : Paula Bullwinkel

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Paula Bullwinkel

Photographer • Painter • Teacher • Learner • Museum Adventurer

My favorite thing about Art… I think that’s it I can get lost in a different world. I can experience a whole other thing outside of whatever else is going on in the world. I am the creator in that world. I am the God or Goddess in that world. I am making my own things and its separate even though it’s influenced by the real world. That is a tremendously powerful feeling.

With Art in general— to experience other people’s Art is a whole new way of seeing and opening up doors— feeling the expansiveness of experience. Curiosity and Art are very linked— the whole idea of “what if”, “what about this” , “why not this?” All the possibilities are open. Without Art the world just seems set and closed.

As a kid— I remember feeling there is regular life and then there is going to the museum in San Fransisco. And it was like “Wow! Look at these paintings, look at what these women are wearing. Look at the color! And this amazing space! And columns!” Who ever saw columns in Northern California? This wonderful old museum. It was always a special day if we went to San Fransisico to do this. I just loved it. I don’t know many children who like going to an Art museum, but for me it was as good as the beach- different, but as good as. It was magical. Very theatrical.

I am drawn to people— figurative work. It was like I was watching plays that I could make up the dialogue for. Very inspiring, in many ways like fairy tales. I loved reading fairy tales as a kid so seeing wonderful paintings reminded me of fairy tales I had read about. It was a special way of communicating from a famous artist down the years to us— many years later, maybe 100 years later. Like Egyptian tomb Art— its amazing it has lasted this long and we can see it and hear their stories, what they were trying to communicate and share what was important to them.

I think everyone should have some Art in their life some way by either looking and enjoying it or doodling or whatever they do.

I think I kept trying to suppress being an artist. Even though my mom is an artist, she really tried to steer us away from doing it ourselves, because you can’t make a living at it. I was weak-willed, I guess, so I went into English literature and then I went into Foreign Currency Banking out of college.

It was in college I started photography, because I had a roommate who was a photographer. I was dabbling in it and kept thinking “Oh, I can’t do that” and finally, I was 23, I had done the foreign currency job for a year and I hated it, so I said, “Im going to go to New York and be a photographer. That’s it!”

Luckily, because I was raised with this idea to never say can’t, I moved to New York. I didn’t know anyone there, I had no connections. I went to Art school for a semester and then I dropped out because I heard from everyone that you just become an assistant. So, I was an assistant photographer for about two years and then I started getting my own jobs, because I was very focussed. Extremely focussed in a way I could get hired to do it. I separated it from Art, because I thought “It’s commercial Art because I’ll get hired to make pictures.” That way I was in a safer place. I didn’t know much about making Art and trying to exhibit it. I still don’t know much about that world in New York. I thought it was somehow easier to get magazines to hire me. In time, it worked out quite well and I was able to make a living.

I was still too intimidated to draw or paint, because I thought, “Well, I’m not trained.” And I thought you had to be trained to do that. I had great respect for that training and I knew it took time to paint or draw well.

Once I had kids I knew I had to do something. So, Violet was turning one and I wanted to make a birthday invitation and invite people to the party. I thought, “Let me get out my oil pastels and mess around.” And that was it! From her being one until now— now she is 16— I have been obsessed with drawing and painting and re-learning that.

I decided to play it safe and to get a degree in Arts education because I knew I needed to work. So, I went back to school for that degree and— of course— to take that degree you had to take one class in every discipline. Ceramics, jewelry— everything. I took about three painting classes and really just found my place.

When I first started doing it I wanted to paint people, but I couldn’t because I didn’t have that skill. I knew I needed that skill and I wanted that skill. Before when I painted, in my 20’s and stuff, I would paint mostly swirls and flower like things and stripes— fun, right from the tube, thick paint, no mixing. This time, I kept coming back to the figure, using my photographs to paint from. I kept trying and trying and trying until I got to what I liked. And I liked it very much. And that’s what I still do. I don’t do paintings without people.

I wish society supported it more. I wish Art wasn’t this tiny little bit in the bigger picture. I think it should be the main thing. People aren’t raised to have respect for real art. I think every one should have drawing lessons all the way through school up through high school. What a great thing to have to help focus your mind. It just gets dropped around 6th grade and you’re lucky to get one class between graduation and 6th grade.

The mark that is common to every great civilization that disintegrated is that Art was lost. They were just focussed on war, like Ancient Rome— eventually all their energy and money went to war. Once the Art is gone a culture is on the downhill. I’ve worried that is what is happening to us.

July 4, 2016 • Backporch Coffee East side • Bend, Oregon

Coffee + Art + Friends : Mark Ransom

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MARK RANSOM

Musician • Arts Facilitator • Magic Maker • My First Friend in Bend

 

The fact that Art is a language that transcends almost everything. Certainly, verbal language. Cultural and Ethnic differences. It transcends our allegiance to different nations, our patriotism. It provides an opportunity— a lot like friendship— to see and really feel what is common to all of us.

When we share in the art of music, there is a lot we don’t worry about. It’s about enjoying the experience of it and how that effects us. We all have an experience like that. It’s not unique to just one of us, but yet it is at the same time.

When we are working with kids and music, we don’t tell them what to do. We just do it. And we have enough of us doing it properly that they mimic us. They have an experience that didn’t require an instruction manual or even a teacher telling them what to do. They learn how to engage in their own creativity from the experience of participating with others in that art form.

A lot of people, a lot of guitar players learn to play the ukulele later in their lives. But my first instrument was a ukulele. My father was a musician and he gave me a real ukulele— not a toy ukulele— when I was four years old. I consciously remember growing up in a musical family and being aware of my differences with my schoolmates and my peers. This was part of my life that was special and that other people didn’t have. I would say it was a very young age that I started to experience the world outside of my family, because I realized this difference and how fortunate I was.

There is a larger discussion about inspirations and motivation— about where that comes from and how that all works. I think it comes back to uncovering all our unique callings in the world. What is fascinating is when you examine people who have uncovered their callings early in their life. There was something initially that got them on their path. I liken it to a creative spark or an act of creation.

 

The thing that has kept me going is my calling— the call to uncover my artistic self and my path as a musician and mentor and teacher. At times in my life that call had to work really hard to be known. I now look back on that and think I was just preparing for a time when I would be able to answer it. I just wasn’t ready. 

There were those times when it would’ve seemed stifled or where my personality or struggles against the world were more evident as I grew up. What kept me on my path was that I uncovered it enough early on in my life and was— for whatever reason— encouraged or inspired to not look back. I think the demands of life cause us to doubt ourselves and consider that we have to fit in more than we have to do our own thing.

There were several teachers and musicians and other artists I met along the way who confirmed that I should be doing exactly what I was doing.

It’s a bit like auto-pilot once that creative spark is initiated. There are moments in the process when I am not in charge. I am trying to serve the art. I am listening to the art and asking it what it needs to fulfill it’s destiny.

The feeling that accompanies that is the feeling of gratitude.  I don’t think the “in-the-moment” thing is a feeling. It’s a process I am engaged and the by-product of that process is many different feelings. Joy, in the moment. Peacefulness. Continued inspiration— a cycle of that. That is the part I mean when I say it’s really out of my control at that point.

There are a lot of— what we might consider less positive emotions that come through as well. So there’s feelings of struggle and sadness and loneliness. A struggle for compassion for whatever you are trying to describe with your art. There is a separation between where you are as an artist and what you are trying to fulfill, so there is a longing, certainly.

 

If you are passionate on your path, you want to pass that along to some other people. People that are coming up. You see a larger hopeful vision that you actually can effect some change in the mentor process by just being an artist, being a musician. And allowing others who are coming up in it to shadow you to be a part of whatever you are doing.

Especially in a day and age when we are frustrated with the standardized tests that our kids have to take in school and the administrations and teachers have to every year spend so many hours trying to jump through these hoops.

It seems hopeless when we think we have to change the whole system. I see grassroots efforts in the arts and teaching and education as a direct line to finding our own unique paths. If we have more people like that in our world, we are going to have a better society. Independent of the system, I think the artists and mentors of the world— in really any field— can really do great work.

It is my hope, that over time, if we think like cathedral builders, we can really effect systemic change that way. And if we don’t, and I’m wrong, then we are still helping a bunch kids find their paths and encouraging discussion about the point of education.

There is a lot to navigate in this world. Anything we can do to simultaneously spur connectivity and usefulness is great.

July 1, 2016 • Sparrow Bakery • Bend, Oregon

Coffee + Art + Friends : Jenny Green

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Jenny Green

Gallery Owner • Head Cheerleader for Artists Everywhere 

My favorite thing about art is that I feel like it makes us all more human. I mean it from a production side and I mean it from an absorbing side. I think the production side is almost obvious. It truly helps people to work things out. I think a lot of artists don’t realize the gift that working their own stuff out gives to everybody else. I think that if Art is made from that true place, it releases it also in the viewer. That is magical and powerful.

I feel like artists are on the front line of a lot of things for society. They are brave enough to start translating and evaluating what these things mean that stop us emotionally and as a society. The good ones are able to tap into this thing that is the same in all of us. As our culture expands, we tend to lose that, which is why Art is that much more important for us to be able to find those commonalities.

I think it reminds us to pay attention. When you sit and you look at a piece of art work, you are noticing things. When you walk out of a museum, when you walk out of a gallery or when you walk out of a studio, you carry those things with you. You start to notice them around you in the world. I think it makes us all appreciate more about life.

I’ve always appreciated anything anyone takes time over. I’m fascinated that people will spend the time and energy to create something that is worth our attention.

I truly believe that some people have it. And some people are true appreciators of it. We need both camps. Making art has never been something I miss. I have had some of my worse experiences trying to make art because I was forced to in school or because I thought I should.

Maybe it is worse, because I appreciate great art so much, to look at my own is like “Eh.” I really am so far on the appreciation side. I am really in awe of people who can do it. I’m fine with that. I think it is important to have an audience and to help get Art out there.

There is this one small paining by John Singer Sargent of a flight of stairs. It is incredibly beautiful. It’s a flight of stairs. It’s nothing. It’s kind of dirty. It’s nothing special and yet it is fantastically brilliant. It’s this idea of elevating the mundane and the everyday and realizing that the flight of stairs you are about to walk up might be the most beautiful thing you will see all day. John Singer Sargent took that moment and said that’s worth painting and putting on a wall and looking at.

There are other pieces that move me— like political pieces. There is the one by Faith Ringgold. One of her flag paintings called Flag for the Moon which was created around the  first time we landed on the moon. When you first look at it it looks like an American flag. But when you look closer, it says “Die” in the stars and along the stripes it says “Nigger”. It was this whole commentary on how can we spend enough money to put a man on the moon when we are ignoring an entire part of out population that needs our help.

She took this whole concept— huge, enormous, political things— so simply and perfectly subversively. At first you see it and you think “Oh, theres an american flag. I love the american flag” and then you read it and you know right away what she means, what she is saying. That’s so great– when things like that have a sneaking power.

We know it when we see it. You just know it. The more tremendously personal an artist can get, the more response there will be, because it is so amazingly honest.

A lot of people can feel intimidated around art and that is mind boggling to me. It should be this very free and open place. If I had a magic wand, I would erase that notion of how your supposed to feel about a certain piece. You will find your own algorithm and you will find what you love and that’s ok. I’m continually amazed by the almost fear of it. I would also like to take all the money out of it. I find that heartbreaking, because I find Art so life enhancing.

I was thinking about this the other day, because I went into someone’s home and they had a lot of art in the walls. And the house was so alive. We are so much more alive when we let that happen. And the art wasn’t maybe something I would like, but that didn’t matter. It just felt so good. It feels good to surround yourself with it.

I hate it in museums when they have tours going and they announce how much something sold for. And then everyone likes that painting the best. This is not what this artist intended and it really has nothing to do with the art.

Unless it’s Jeff Koons. But that is what I like about him. His work drives me crazy, but its great because it is just mocking us mercilessly. I think if you took the money out of his work, I would love it. But I get all caught up on people trying to buy Jeff Koons and what they’ll spend and they’re buying on speculation. And they’re thinking it’s something else. I just try to avoid that.

Patrons are important. Without patrons, what would we know about anything? During the Renaissance there were amazing patrons. But, they were a pain in the butt and they were mean and they were evil to the artists. But they were putting their money out there and they were encouraging.

That’s the great thing about an artist though, in my mind, is that maybe they have to walk that walk, but they’re going to find their way. They’re still going to be themselves. And I love that. It’s so rare. And it’s so wonderful.

I am thankful for artists. They remind us of the beauty that is in the world or they’re willing to do the work to find it.  It’s like a public service.

June 23, 2016 • Crux • Bend, Oregon

 

 

Coffee + Art + Friends : Cari + Christian Brown

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Cari Brown + Christian Brown

Artists • Stuff Movers • Sameness Destroyers
Cari:

The one thing that I was thinking about was how I really like the fact that Art is an open door. It’s a doorway into ancient cultures. Or it can be a doorway into the mind or soul of the artist. It’s a doorway into a conversation and you don’t know how far that is going to take you. It’s an entry way to a path.

I really like that. I like breaking out down like that. It is the biggest thing that sticks for me. You can get a good look at a culture or understand a community. You can learn and understand so many things through a work of Art. And if you don’t understand it, it opens up to a dialogue or to questions or curiosity.

Christian:

I don’t know about a favorite favorite thing about Art. I have thought about the place in the world of us and Art. Early on, I used to think that if you look down on the planet you wouldn’t really see any evidence of our intelligence or our culture, except the re-arrangement of stuff.

Like we bring stuff to the surface and burn stuff. But really there’s no message. No big sign that transcends us  and our experience of moving back and forth and burning shit.

Cari:

Piling things up, tearing things down…

 

Christian:

What is it? We’re re-arranging stuff. We’re moving stuff around. But, I also think that Art might be the thing that is beyond us. That we don’t even understand we’re leaving behind and participating in. Well, what’s the kind of stuff that’s stuck around for a really long time? It’s Art. It’s always Art. And I think it’s pretty cool to participate in that— the remains of us and what it will be for future beings.

Why did we choose gold to structure our culture on? Because it was pretty and you can make pretty things out of it. Yeah, it’s rare and it doesn’t tarnish, but there were probably other things we could use that are rare, but this is really pretty. It was an aesthetic choice and we based our entire western culture on it.

I wonder what is intelligence and that also has to do with my thoughts about Art. If say sentients came to this planet and looked around, would they see any life or intelligence, because we’re not doing anything beyond these basic chemical processes? But they would find these objects that we made that have out-survived any living thing on this planet. Like these little stone things we protect and are valued more than life.

If we’re just going along and we’re the result of stuff, it’s like “Yeah, I understand why all this is happening. It’s because those things stuck together and got heated up.”  It’s kind of like rolling down a hill— there’s nothing really spectacular and yet it is!

 

Cari:

Do you think artists are subconsciously or unknowingly taking all the banal things that are happening and making meaning of our world by creating these objects?

 

Christian:

You could say, in a pessimistic way, that that is the meaning.

 

Cari:

The making of the thing?

 

Christian:

I’d like to think that really Art transcends all the stuff that is logical. The daily stuff, the if-then stuff, the cause and effect stuff. It’s the one thing that gets out of that pattern of — humdrum?

 

Cari:

Sameness.

 

Christian:

Yeah- the stuff that comes out, like “why the heck are they doing that? You don’t need to make a 500 foot person in the middle of the desert and then burn it.” That’s the stuff that’s getting outside the systems of logic and behavior that we have. Some of it you can use to look back and say “Ah, that’s whats really going on here.” We’re moving towards something. We’re going to need to get out of the “If/then” thinking. I think Art is really part of that.

I love the idea of identity and letting people know who you are. Are you going along with the signals? Or are you not? We have to say to people whether or not we are approachable or not approachable. Like discovering music when you are a kid, that becomes your identity— I’m the rocker, I’m a pop guy. When you’re young and you don’t have your identity, it’s a good way to start that. I don’t think we ever lose that. We’re social creatures, we have to let people know who we are. We want to let people know. In the city, fashion is so important because you see a few thousand people every day and you never get to say who you are, so you announce that by what you look like.

 

Cari:

Some of us. Some of us want to do that. Some don’t. In the study I just did for my class, I asked a question “Are the following things a creative act: dressing, preparing a meal or arranging your home.” A lot of people who did not rate themselves as creative did not see these things as a creative act at all. And of course on the other end where people were identifying themselves as highly creative, it’s a significant swing of people who think “Yes, it’s absolutely a creative act”.

There are a lot of implications to what I found in the study, but really, some people just really don’t care. Or because they don’t believe they are creative, nothing they do is going to seem creative to them. By and large, most people— even if they have rated themselves low— most people said they were creative, but only a few thought they were highly creative.

This morning I was listening to NPR about a story about imaginary friends and imagination. I got to thinking how imagination is becoming less and less a part of the evaluation of creativity. Where producing is considered a much more important marker of creativity than imagination is. There has to be an object in order for it to get validity— creating  a monument or building a big monolithic library or something like that. Whereas things that are built that might disintegrate or not be long lasting are not valued or held onto in the same way– like just pure imagination without an outcome.

 

Christian:

Well, it doesn’t leave a lot of evidence and we rely on that evidence. To either sell it or take picture of it or take a picture of yourself with it.

 

Cari:

Is it saying something? Is that what Art is? Is it a commentary?  Is it an expression or is it a reflection? It is all those things?

 

Christian:

It could depend on what you turn to Art for. I think a lot of people look at Art for comfort. For something they recognize— it’s a certain type of skill. A certain quality. They are not trying to discover something

 

Cari:

Or be startled.

 

Christian:

It’s just something to be like “Everything is ok.” Like if you turn on your favorite radio station, your DJ  you get to hear every day is on and it’s like “You’re ok. Everything’s ok.” I can totally appreciate that, but I don’t want to do that all the time.

 

Cari:

Sometimes, it’s good to be disturbed.

Christian,  have a question for you. Given the idea that Art is the message we are creating or leaving or curating for the extraterrestrials when they come down to judge us and judge our intelligence— what about making Art— beyond it being a compulsion— is the thing that draws you? What about it is important for you or for that message? When you think about art in that abstract way, what do you consider your role in it?

 

Christian:

Like Richard Dreyfus playing with his mashed potatoes?

 

Cari:

Yes.

 

Christian:

This isn’t the only way I think about it. I don’t have a lot of faith in intelligence.

 

Cari:

What would give you more faith?

 

Christian:

Just be part of the world! Act! Maybe not foolishly or irresponsibly. I don’t think all the greatest discoveries happen when you’re thinking about them.

And I don’t plan on having any discoveries. I’ve heard when you’re trying to solve a problem, you don’t usually come up with the idea when you’re trying to solve the problem. To maybe, just be part, a small part of this life form beyond myself. To just, kind of, give it breakfast one morning. Maybe get out of my own way. Maybe I haven’t thought clearly about it.

 

Cari:

I think it’s sort of like you have this idea or this glimmer and the next step is to apply curiosity to it. That’s where you begin to ask questions or to seek and make note of what you are observing. And that all is sparked from the state of being curious. And then from there you get into asking the question and then you get into the design. I think that for me, for a lot of people, curiosity can be fairly allusive. We talk about busy-ness in our culture and being curious can be difficult, challenging, scary. It’s much easier to tune out sometimes than to be curious and be wiling to look and find.

June 9, 2016 • The Brown’s Little Home on the east side • Bend, Oregon

Coffee + Art + Friends : Lloyd McMullen

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LLOYD MCMULLEN

Artist • Secret Keeper • Feelings Painter

I’ll read something or I’ll see something and that will get me going on a train of thought. It is true that as I am working, it just kind of feeds itself. I don’t get burnt out on doing Art, except when I am working on a show and I have to keep going back upstairs to do a layer, because I work in these multiple layers and they have to dry thoroughly in between. So, I’ll be up at two in the morning, running up to put on another layer.

I remember having an argument with a gallery years and years ago. I used to do landscapes and I used to do these portraits of chairs. They were very popular. I sold stuff. I thought “Aha! I’m an artist!” Then, I decided to do some found object assemblies. The gallery owner said “I don’t want this, I want that.” He was telling me what to do. I told him, “You’re my gallery owner. You can tell me I can’t sell that. You can say look elsewhere, because that’s a conversation.” You’re not going to tell me what to do. I need to do new things, because otherwise it doesn’t feel like Art anymore.

I was teaching and we had Bill Hoppe as a guest artist. He’s so great. We were making these big assemblage of tomato baskets covered with newsprint soaked in wood glue. The kids were then going to decorate them and we were going to hang big pods and interact with the dancers and it was this big performance art piece. So, he comes in and he’s trying to get the glue paper to stick to the tomato basket and he says “Gosh, I hope this works. I’ve never tried it before.” And he’s teaching the kids! And I was like, “Uh, Bill maybe that’s something you should’ve done. You shouldn’t tell the kids that.”  And he’s so quick. He’s so smart. He said, “Well, Art is the act of creation. Everything else is repetition.” I just took that to heart. That is so true about Art. You can’t continue to always do the same things or you’ll feel like its a schtick, like Thomas Kincaid.

As Artists, we have to grasp every moment. I was thinking you know, it’s not a career. There’s no reviews with your boss. There’s no job security. There’s no financial security. If you make a sale, great! That’s no guarantee that you will continue to make them. No health plan. No retirement plan. No peer reviews. No structure of moving up the ladder. You are alone in your studio with your Artwork.

So you of course have these incredible ups and downs. You think “Yeah! Yeah!” And then you take it to a show and you think “Oh, what if I’m wrong?” It’s this whole private secret language that you’re putting out there. And you’re just hoping someone else can look at it long enough to figure out what you are saying. The rewards are so few and far between. I love it when I have a show and people tell me that they love my artwork. I’m not going to say I don’t love that, but for christ’s sake, buy a painting!

I love so much artwork that I can’t afford. I get that people can’t afford it. But consider it. Instead of buying designer sheets or going out to dinner, you could buy an original print. There’s ways in which we can support our artists.

Really, one of the gifts of art is culture. How do we define what has come before us? Let’s look at the dark ages and the renaissance. If people didn’t have patrons in the Renaissance would we see that? Would there be a Sistine Chapel? Would we see that? What would have happened? Like Van Gogh, thank God, he had a brother that could support him. People love his work now, but at the time it was too scary. Pregnant women couldn’t go see the show. It was hard. There was a block for them.

My favorite thing about Art is that it transforms. Everything! How you look at the world. Personally it’s transforming. Culturally it’s transforming. Physically it’s transforming. And if people take the time to engage in Art then they are transformed by it. And its a method of communication for people who can not speak in words.

I remember there was a kid in one of the classes I used to volunteer in. And we would butt heads. It was just impossible for me to communicate with him, because he just wasn’t linked-in in the same way. But I remember one day, we had a project we were drawing on the playground. We were drawing leaves and he had this fit about not drawing leaves. “Well, what do you want to draw?” “I want to draw cars.” “Great— draw cars.” And in drawing the cars, we could have a conversation. He could find a way into the world again, to be a communicator with us. I feel Art is like this magical language of color and memory. So, it feels like that part of Art is transformative.

For me personally, I was not driven by career choices. I graduated in a career in journalism. But I did it right at the time that Woodward and Bernstein were big news so jobs were very difficult to come by in the writing world. I wanted to do editing and I couldn’t get into the editing course. I didn’t want to go back and get my graduate degree, so I took an Art class. It opened up in my mind all these parts of me that never fit in. I figured out “Oh, that’s why.” I don’t want to talk about my feelings, I want to paint my feelings. I don’t want to share every secret with you. I want to tell you things in a way that demands you listen to them so that it becomes about you instead of me. I hide words in my paintings. There’s so many layers in my paintings where I put things in there. Sometimes, I paint words where its actually there or I flip the words and put them there.

I did this piece for a show a couple years ago in Canon Beach called “Changing Nature”. It was about the butterfly effect, that every action, no matter how small has consequences. So, we created bugs and birds out of found objects. I had this piece where I melted a milk carton into butterfly wings and put it on this weird piece of a piano that I found. I put bone antlers as the wings. I had this article on cutting the Redwoods out of National Geographic. But I didn’t want that to be what people looked at so I flipped it, put it upside down and did an image transfer on it. And the guy who bought the piece said “I can’t read it.” Well, that’s the point, the words are there and you’ll get the words, but the piece is about more than words. It’s more than what I can say to you. Art is more than what I can say. He told me “I’m going to buy it so I can hang it upside down and read it.” And he did! He bought it! The trick is, you can only hang it one way– the way I made it! Also, I layered those words so there was no way you could read it. But I loved that he wanted to make sense of written message. And he got it, but it was a funny conversation.

I love it when I can stand near someone and I can hear them describing my artwork to someone else, like they are telling a story. Early on, I had these paintings of my studio and it was like orange walls, my walls are actually white. But orange walls, blue squares for windows, just reducing it down to essentially what the light is in the studio. That’s what my take-a-way is. And then I have a purple floor, so just these geometric shapes. And there was a family coming through and the young daughter was explaining to her parents what things were. She got to mine and she goes “Hmmm, Studio, Early Morning. Hmmm, I guess its before she had her coffee.” It might have been true, but there is more to it than that. But I loved that. She literally wanted to think how is this rectangle with two squares on it a studio? How does it become that?

I think as artists we take things in so completely to heart. Because you are doing everything so completely.

I remember after a drawing lesson, and I saw the power lines. Suddenly, I recognized how the lines bisect the sky in uniform and color. You know? I could see things so differently, just a power line. Like how shadows form on the ground. They are so beautiful and so powerful. And it is so great when someone sees a painting you have done and they’re like “Oh, I love seeing shadows.”

So many ways you can look at things. I do think as artists we are— I don’t want to say we feel more. I do think its hard not to be depressed. The world is such a hard place and I don’t want to be in the hard place, so I make Art.

Coffee + Art + Friends : Carol Sternkopf

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CAROL STERNKOPF

Photographer • Spy • Expert Babysitter • Happy Traveler

 

My husband’s gone this week, helping his parents. And so is my daughter. And somebody called and said “Are you bored? Are you lonely? Do you want to do something?” I texted back, “I’ve never been lonely in my life.”

It was weird to tell someone that. I didn’t want to say I was busy, so I just told her the truth. I’ve never been lonely or bored in my life. I have things to look at. I have things to digest! I really do. Call it ADD. Call it what you want.

I’m the person when the plane is delayed,  I’m great. Everyone else is so panicked and I’m like, “This is so great! I get to sit here for another three hours and not have any accountability whatsoever.”  I think that is what I love! I love no accountability. That’s the best thing.

My favorite thing about Art is that there is absolutely no accountability. You can do whatever you want in 10 minutes or three hours or five weeks. You’ll have created something or made something you had no clue what you were getting into.  For me anyway, that’s how I work. I have no plan. I just show up.

It was a whole lifetime of experiences that allowed me to do that (become an artist). It was just a need. I think I grew up in a unique time, in a unique place. I just really allowed myself as a kid to sit and watch things. As a kid, I was a hyperactive observer, almost.

Photography is engaging so much before you get to see what you did. It’s an experience and you have no idea what is going to happen. That is what is so exciting for me. Whether it’s scheduled or not scheduled. What’s going to happen?  There is something about me that loves that. A lot of people, they want to know whats going to happen in their day or in their job, but I really thrive on not knowing and seeing what happens. It’s like christmas morning every second. That’s what it is! It’s like “Wow! Where did that come from?”

Even a portrait session can be like that.  I don’t know when someone is going to open up for me, or if they’re going to at all. Even if it’s a scheduled portrait— maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But even the cover-up is interesting. Even the cover-up is showing up, in a weird way. Usually there is a moment where people expose themselves. It’s just a waiting game and then it does happen and you clap to yourself. And then you go home and you see it.

The archival process was what I was trained in and that was a beautiful process. When I look back though, it was a very chemical process and time consuming process. I’m happy now to give it up, but at the time (when transitioning to digital), that was the process I knew. It was painful. This new digital process— I was not young and I knew that I had to enter it. I had to invest in it, financially and in a time wise / learning way. It was very difficult for me. I held onto film for a long time. More than most photographers. I was still shooting film when most people were in digital. I was using a big Hasselblad, shooting 12 frames. “Oh excuse me, I have to change my film now.”  So, it changed the way I work, because it changed the tool. When you change the tool it changes things.

Physically to walk around with a big, medium format camera is interesting. Its very physical. “I’m here. I’m here with a camera.” I was sort of bigger in the room. The digital kind turned me more into a spy. The camera was lighter, faster, quieter. I realized, “Oh, I’m not so present anymore.”

That was sort of weird. It changed physically how I worked. Now, of course, years and years later as cameras have shrunk, lots of journalist are using these small little hybrids and I am still using the biggest camera made in the digital world. I just bought a new camera and some of the bad reviews online were “It’s really loud!” All the professionals were saying, “This is the loudest camera out there. How obnoxious.” And I’m thinking, “Sign me up!” I want the loudest camera out there, so I bought it. And sure enough, it’s super loud. So, it’s nice for me, yes— its heavy and loud. It’s back to what like, what I know. This is a real camera. It feels right to me.

I think I really benefit from being my age. I learned in the darkroom process. I know what a print should look like, even in digital. I don’t just accept certain things. I push the tools to do it right.

The one thing I do feel about the digital world is that everyone owns a camera. Right? There’s one in your purse. There’s one on your phone. Part of me thinks its really great. It’s opened up this bridge for people to speak with which I think is phenomenal. It’s my childhood dreams come true– let’s talk in pictures! Its a great way to communicate. I think thats incredible and I think thats what the whole digital age has done. But for professionals, it’s also in a way we have to say, yet, we still stand out. You still hire us because we can do something that you can’t do with your phone. That’s becoming an interesting process.

When I’m getting the most beautifull thing, I say– and I try to do it in a quiet voice– I say “Oh my God, Oh my God.” And really what is happening, is that I am seeing that this person is allowing me to see them.

I really think that’s the most beautiful thing— to step into a job and you don’t know what people are about. You don’t know them, and yet they might bring it to the table. And they might bring it to a portrait.

I’m really addicted to shooting the backstage at the rodeos around here. And I remember after one shoot, I was like “My god, these kids are just pure grit.” You know?  They grew up on a ranch. They come home, they feed animals, they care for animals. They learn to love animals. They learn to lose animals. It’s a different childhood. There is something I love about being around these kids. They are the real deal. I’m addicted to that subject. Something I know nothing about. I’m afraid of horses. But I’ve been shooting it for four years. I love it because it is so authentic. They’re not concerned with me or any other camera. There are large animals, there are real dangers. There is a show to produce. It’s so amazingly beautiful to me, that slice of humanity.

I really think that is what I am interested in— whether it’s a portrait or another subject matter. I’m really interested in that little slice of humanity that I see or that just presents itself. That’s why I think I do what I do. I’m just so interested.

It’s the same reason I don’t care if a plane is delayed. Fine, I get to watch these people for three more hours? That’s a gift to me.

Jackson’s Corner • June 15, 2016 • Bend, Oregon