Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Alison Saar

Blood Sweat and Tears, 2005 wood, copper, bronze, paint and tar  

Lunarseas: Sea of Serenity, 2007 copper, tin and wood

 York:Terra Incognita, 2010 cast bronze

This is the work of Alison Saar in the exhibition Bound for Glory at Lewis and Clark College in Portland. The main commission was to create a statue of York, the African American slave that accompanied William Clark on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Saar's sculpture is a permanent installation on the campus. Here is the main work and the back. Little is known about York. So the artist had to piece together ideas, but we know that a dry stream was named for him. His back as a map of scars with the dry stream marked is full of poignency. York is set in the midst of a group of granite rocks, each with a bronze tablet that inscribes the few words in the Expedition journals that refer to him.

York faithfully served Captain Clark, but he was not rewarded with his freedom. Clark was arrogant and selfish. In the statue York is holding a rifle, which he used to catch game during the expedition, but when they got home it was taken away from him.
This tragic story of inequality and abuse of priviledge is given dignity by Saar's sculpture.

The work in the exhibition was extraordinay. An excellent catalog with an essay by Linda Tesner (doesn't seem to be available to buy, they gave it out free at the gallery and would probably send you one if you asked) provides helpful insights into the art works, but these works are so strong and poignent that we cannot help but be overwhelmed by Saar's work. I think she is acheiving a whole new level of intensity in these sculptures.

There was one odd comment made by Tesner with reference to Travelin'Light, a bronze life size man in a suit hanging upside down. To me he was obviously being lynched, but Tesner said, he was "a little down on his luck." I read this three times to see if I had missed something!
But the rest of the book was very insightful. Lunarseas, Sea of Serenity (above) is  "speaks to introspection about how things come to mind in a quiet way, but also suggest thjat within the removed quietude of serenity one might verge on insanity ..." Blood/Sweat/Tears at the top of the blog is self explanatory. There were many other really strong works as well.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Imaging Others Cultural Intersections in the Colonial Period

Look at this wonderful image! It is a detail of a print by the Japanese artist, Yoshitora in 1860 looking at an American couple who are visiting Japan, probably in order to trade. The artist is carefully depicting their clothes. He has done a wonderful job of observing  details and added his own subtle touch, like the woman in the foreground pointing, a very un Japanese gesture.

This is part of a a group of ukioy-e prints, called Yokohama-e because they are all based on observation of foreigners in Yokohama by Japanese artists. The work is from the collection of Professor Lenore Metrick-Chen, art history professor at Drake University. It is part of a fascinating exhibition that she has organized with Dr. John Monroe, a history professor at Iowa State University.
"Imaging Others, Cultural Intersections in the Colonial Period" is  at the Anderson Gallery, Drake University,
It includes art work from Africa, China, and Japan, as well as photographs made in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century of "others".

The very first piece in the gallery was an African sculpture of a person with a painted white face and anglo features. It set the tone for  the surprises of the exhibition, that criss cross cultural influences to the point where all clear distinctions of gender, place, style, and power, are called into question as we look at the work.

Some of the images are familiar subjects, like Chinese railroad workers in America, and the Columbian Exposition of 1892. But then we see two men who were posing in an African display relaxing as they are not being African symbols, but just taking a break and relaxing, and of course they are just regular people.

The works span from 19c to the present. Two of my favorites were the carvings of African Missionaries, who were incredible stiff and straight looking, not a sensuous curve to be seen anywhere.

It is a stark contrast to this figure of Mami Wata, a fabulous carving based on a religion of the late nineteenth century in the collection of John Monroe, history professor at Iowa State University. The image started from a German lithograph of a circus snake charmer and was transformed into a powerful religious figure in Nigeria who went in for exotic foreign accouterments.Mami Wata worship has spread all over Africa and the African diaspora..

In the US we always look out, and assume we are the dominating culture of the world, that what we have to offer is superior and desirable to everyone else. . But in fact what we send out is alien, perhaps unwanted, and corrosive. But the cultures that we visit ourselves on send back our intrusions through cultural acts that transform our ideas with  irony, humor, and a sense of our foibles that we ourselves do not recognize..

This exhibition is entirely refreshing, and its catalog, written in collaboration with students' questions about colonialism,  is a great format: .
Near the end,  Dr. John Monroe comments :
 "If we just reject racist images from the past without trying to work out what social, imaginative or cultural functions they were supposed to serve - which involves placing them in a broader context- we end up with less of an understanding of how and why racism emerges. It's never something that pops up in isolation: it always exists as part of a complicated web of attitudes and assumptions that need to be untangled. That of course goes for the present as well as the past."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Amazing Birds

This is a trumpeter swan flying. They make an amazing sound, which is why they are called trumpeters. The white spots on the ground are more swans.They do an intricate social ritual arching their necks that was fascinating. We saw hundreds of them in the Skagit Valley. As well as hundreds of snow geese and thirty other birds including Kingfisher, Blue Heron, Bald Eagles, Red Tail Hawks,  Bohemian Wax Wing - but now I am getting technical. I know nothing about birds. I was with two experts who identified what I called little brown birds. But I was good on the big white birds!
And the thrill of seeing so many birds is wonderful. IT awakens all of your senses to spend a day gazing at the sky, listening for bird sounds, an extraordinary symphony of sound that we blot out of our lives. Trumpeter swans migrate to Washingston State from Alaska, the snow geese come from Rangel Island where they have covered the island and eaten everything in sight. In the 1930s they were endangered. Which goes to show we can save the earth if we decide to.  

. As we crossed route 20 hundreds of cars were headed to the mall. If only they would stop and wonder if they really need anything from there, get out and look at the birds and listen to their songs, they would have a free day of joy!

Take a look at Maya Lin's project What is Missing? for a sobering look at the escalating species and habitat loss we are causing. As she has said, we are in the midst of the sixth major extinction in the history of the earth, and the only one caused by a single species, humans.

And pursuit of fossil  fuels is only getting more and more ferocious in its destruction of the earth. The precious Boreal forests in Canada for example, are being destroyed in the pursuit of tar sands. Rising Tide North America are a group of activists fighting this project, but the general public has no clue.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inscape: Art in a former Immigration Detention Facility

Inscape was an installation of art in a former immigration facility where people were detained until 2003 when a new and much bigger facility opened in Tacoma. Detention is a private industry that is making big bucks. Perhaps you heard the National Public Radio expose that the new Arizona Immigration Law was written by operators of private detention centers and passed word for word, along with corporate and political backing from some major heavyweights.

The artists were attempting to transform the energy in the building. We could all still feel the unhappiness and fear that lurked in these rooms. The building is available for artists studios, and quite a few artists are already working there.

The building was first built during the Alaska Gold Rush as an "assay" office, and the top floor remained that, a place to weigh gold and to establish its value. On that floor of the facility one of the works made a direct reference to that function. Megan Trayner had a piece on the floor with a gold leaf surface.

Other artists on this floor included Romson Bustillo whose characteristic abstract patterns with symbolic meanings and intentionally undecipherable titles ( to remind us of how it feels to not undersand a language) filled one end.

Nic Meisel's serendipitous installation, with its threatening sounds was off in another side room. I saw these pieces as it was getting dark, and the sense of ominousness in Nic's was definately present, in spite of his cheerful presence not too far away.

Some of the work was really inspired by the space and a radical departure for the artist, as seemed to be the case in the work of Katy Krantz ( judging by the art in her studio) who created a wonderful graffitti piece at the front entrance, based on simulating the actual graffitti in the small excersize space upstairs. Detainees from countries all over the world had written their countries on the wall in black tar from the roof. See piece at  top of entry for Katy's artwork based on this graffitti..

The Chinese Men's dormitory inspired an evocative piece by Helen Gamble. The hanging cot beds suggested both the fragility of existence and over crowding. The races were segregated here, and a high percentage of the inmates were Chinese.

Jen Mills Landscape of Memory, a room full of seats made of salt, suggested instability.

Ju Pong Lin combined video and an ironing board with an installation of shirts that documented the many different ways that Asians had been expelled from cities in the Northwest.

Gail Howard's infirmary of shredded sheets draped over beds captured the idea of illness within prison, not much care, just enough to keep people alive.

Christian French made a floor game that suggested the labyrinthine bureaucracy and games of chance that people had to navigate in order to get out.

But perhaps most impressive of all was Ladan Yalzadeh's tour of the facility which gave us a complete history and guide to the various rooms and their functions. She had come from Iran in 1986 and been processed through these rooms.

Her personal experience was mild compared to what people experience today, when there is mostly only one way out, deportation, but she clearly described the experience of standing in line day after day, the cramped and crowded rooms, and the atmosphere of oppression and anxiety.
For another artist addressing detention in these very same rooms see my post on Eroyn Franklyn

Monday, November 15, 2010

Picasso at the Seattle Art Museum

The Acrobat, 1930 Courtesy Musee National de Picasso, Paris
Finally, I have some time to post a comment on this extraordinary exhibition of Picasso's art work  "Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris, October 8, 2010 - January 17, 2011 at the Seattle Art Museum.

For all of us in the United States who have seen the same works from the Museum of Modern Art over and over, everywhere, this exhibition is delightful. Although some of the works are definately benchmarks, like La Celestina and the Death of Casagemas, others are completely unknown, like the self portrait with pentimenti for Les Demoiselles D'Avignon and the chunky wooden sculpture from the same time frame.

In fact Picasso's sculpture is way underemphasized in most discussions. It is consistently original and intriguing. In this show among works in recycled metal, wood, bronze, and paper is the original Bulls Head made from Picasso's bicycle seat and handlebars. You can look at the leather bicycle seat and think about Picasso sitting on it. In this exhibition there is also the Man with Sheep, 1943 and the Nanny Goat 1950.

So why am I so excited about the exhibition, I, the post colonial, feminist, political activist, art critic? Because it is intimate. We can feel Picasso thinking as we look at these works, the sketches for Guernica, the photographs of Guernica in progress by Dora Maar, the photographs from early years in Paris or during the war, murky, shadowy black and white.

But it is also dramatic : the juxtaposition of the wonderful bronze sculptures inspired by Marie Therese in the late 1920s and the paintings of that same period, one of my favorite eras of Picasso's work, installed beautifully in the gallery by Anne Baldessari, curator of the Musee Picasso in Paris

I have chosen only the image of the acrobat from 1930 for this posting, as it is such a brilliant drawing/painting. I see Picasso chasing Matisse in this outline, but never can he accede to the pursuit of the idea of an art work as a  "comfortable armchair" that Matisse worked so hard to achieve. Picasso always struggled, resisted, absorbed, and reworked. The impossibly contorted acrobat is, as in all of Picasso's work, Picasso himself, of course, and the contortions of his art. It is in the room that introduces his pass through Surrealism.

John Berger's Success and Failure of Picasso (1965) is still worth re- reading after all these years.
He suggests that Picasso ultimately sought the primitive instead of the civilized.
He also suggests the biggest failure was Picasso's last works, when he did over elaborate re workings of old master paintings like Velazquez, over elaborate but empty.
Picasso, according to Berger, had a "failure of revolutionary nerve . . . To sustain such nerve one must be convinced that there will be another kind of success: a success which will operate in a field connecting for the first time ever, the most complex imaginative constructions of the human mind and the liberation of all those peoples of the world who until now have been forced to be simple, and of whom Picasso has always wished to be the representative." ( 206)
On the subject of "How Political was Picasso?" John Richardson has an excellent article in the New York Review of Books last week. Richardson knew Picasso over many years, and he watched all the acrobatics from both near and far.

All aspects of Picasso are represented here. We can all decide for ourselves what we think. And of course, all the women who inspired him are prominently included : Fernande,  Eva, Olga, Marie Therese, Dora Maar, Francois Gilot, Jacqueline, and other women who are less famous.
Make up your own mind, but see this show. It is travelling to Virginia and San Francisco from Seattle, and then off to Asia. For an excellent more detailed discussion of the exhibition see Art Dish

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Azar Nafisi in Des Moines Iowa

When I went to visit my grandchildren in Des Moines Iowa, I was excited to discover that Azar Nafisi was speaking, sponsored by Drake University. She has a new book called Things I Have Been Silent About. Azar Nafisi
And of course she is best known for Reading Lolita in Tehran, perhaps one of the best titles for a book in the last ten years. But the subject of her lecture was culture and human rights, and the idea that books can speak across cultures in what she called the "Republic of the Imagination" She spoke of the power of literature to liberate and make connections betwen people. Perfect strangers can share their experiences of a book.
She also spoke about the  imagination in contrast to the idea of smugness and complacency. Villains in books are those who are blind to others. The first target of totalitarian regimes is the imagination.

Curiosity is "insubordination in its purest form" The desire to know, to question yourself, to see ourselves as question marks. Alice running into the rabbit hole is an example of curiosity. At the heart of curiosity is learning about the "other" not thinking that we already know other people.

Of course, as an Iranian, she is well aware of how ignorant people in the U.S. are about Iran and Islam in general. She spoke of how the women of Iran have refused for 30 years to comply with the restrictions of the revolution there.
Freedom means choice, responsibilty, passion, risk,
"How much are we willing to give up in order to regain passion?" She sees a crisis of vision, to be self righteous is a sign of weakness.
It was a really inspiring presentation.

Can visual art play this same role in communication across cultures? I believe so, in spite of being so embedded in capitalism. In fact, it is a perfect example of imagination as subversive to the system. A New York Times article about artists being sent abroad by the State Department in a new grant program being administered by the Bronx Museum of Art quoted Michael Krenn, author of Fall Out Shelters for the Human Spirit: American Art and the Cold War,  as saying  that "artists are not easily controlled" !!

Monday, October 18, 2010

New York City Creative Time

I have just returned from the Creative Tme Summit Revolutions in Public Practice. The entire conference is  on line at the Creative Time website. My main impression was that Trevor Paglen and his session on Geographies was one of the most compelling group of presentations in the conference. The second riveting session was led by Laurie Jo Reynolds on governments. These two panels really got to the heart of artists addresssing social issues. Much of the rest of the conference addressed structures of the art world, art schools, food ( well that is a political issue of course, but we are drowned in that subject here in Seattle..). I did miss a few though, and perhaps some fabulous insights. I plan to watch those sessions online. And in the facebook discussion going on now there is still a lot of discussion on the subject of the "art world" and how to change it, which to me is not the point. The point is the rest of the world and how artists can connect to that in their art in order to contribute all their formidable talents to changing the world.
More soon.
I am overwhelmed at the moment with proofing my book. I have been to about six different wonderful events lately that I want to write about including
The incredible Picasso Show at the Seattle Art Museum. Do not miss it.
Coup de Foudre, a performance with music by Paul Miller aka DJSpooky, Corey Baker and Melvin Van Peebles based on Jean Cocteau's 1930 film Blood of a Poet
Nuevo York at the Museo El Barrio
Alison Saar at Lewis and Clark College in Portland
Inscape at the immigration building in Seattle
and much more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Art and Politics Now goes to publisher

This is the work of Hana' Malallah, an artist from Baghdad who is included in my book. The title of the work is "The Looting of the Museum of Baghdad."

Yes, it is really true. My book is about to come out after all these years. You can read more about it on my website, Art and Politics Now Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis. It has ten chapters on topics ranging from art against globalization, war, terror, censorship, racism, and art in support of immigration, border crossing, and ecology.
I include artists from around the world, but the emphasis is on socially engaged artists in the U.S.
Tomorrow, one of the artists, Cecilia Alvarez, is part of a group exhibition in Seattle.
Trevor Paglen is a keynote speaker at Creative Time, Daniel Heyman has been showing his art at university galleries, and the activists like the Backbone and Yes Men just keep on going.
That is just a tiny sample of the over eighty artists and exhibitions that I discuss. More soon. This is just a teaser.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Olivia Bouler and the Gulf Oil Spill

Eleven year old Olivia Bouler began her presentation at the Audubon Seward Park " My name is Olivia Bouler, and I am here to tell you that one person can make a difference." The laid back Seattle audience was not used to such up front assertiveness!
Olivia has drawn pictures of birds and raised $150,000. for Audubon to help with efforts to clean up birds soaked in oil in the Gulf. So far the counted number of birds who have died is 8,000, but the actual number is much higher because off shore birds may have died in the thousands without our knowing about it. Then there are the sea turtles, the dolphins, the many many nesting grounds. All of us agonized. Olivia did something.

I have been expecting artists to have stepped up with an outpouring of art about the spill. Some of them have.
Someone sent me this photographic project by Jane Fulton several months ago. She actually posed people on Lake Michigan, but the point was obvious and affecting. It is called Crude Awakening.

Here is another work by artist Io Palmer
The installation is in her new exhibition at a winery in Eastern Washington State. She said that she was intitially thinking about stomping grapes because of the location of the exhibition, but as the images of the Gulf Spill overwhelmed us all summer long, she made this piece with its emblematic references to those trying to help. "The oil spill is one more emblem of America's incessant and uncontrollable greed and consumer driven desire"
The most recent issue of the National Geographic is a must see. It has a fold out map with the layers of life in the Gulf on one side and a map of the oil wells on the other, as well as photographs of the ravaged estuaries from oil pipes, dumping, and other polluting activities. A tragic photograph of a dead baby sea turtle in a sea of brown oily mud and an image of an oil covered pelican strike to the very core of humans' stupidity.

The reality is that this oil spill was inevitable, that the protected areas of these Gulf coasal zones are just a very thin area * as we see in the amazing National Geographic map of life and oil on the Gulf, which I cannot download for the blog*, compared to the ravaging, thirsty oil industry.

We all understand that half the population along the Gulf depends on the sea and the other half on the oil industry. So they will soon be back to drilling deep again.

But what if we all started living a different way, if we imagined a different future, and we insisted on it. We really have only two choices, the end of the planet as we know it, or going in a new direction.

I realized recently how fortunate I am that I hardly drive at all in my day to day life. The vast majority of people are imprisoned in their cars, sitting in traffic everyday. I walk, bike and take the bus. But I am lucky that I can. Lots of people would like to do that, but it takes time that most people don't have. And most or our urban and suburban lives are designed to require us to drive.

But what if everyone just stayed home and didn't drive one day a week, or stopped buying all those petroleum encased (organic) vegetables or just tried to buy food in packages we can re use at least once.
Small efforts.

As Olivia said at the end of her wonderful presentation in which she celebrated birds  "If insects disappeared it would be the end of the world, if humans disappeared, it would save the earth." And then she said, "An individual can make a difference, but all of us together can make more of a difference."  She not only drew pictures, she also went to Congress to lobby for another type of energy. I wonder if they condescended to her. She is more on the ball than they are. She has, apparently, been all over the news. But the real story is that she really cares and did something about it.

This summer and fall Congress voted billions to continue with our support for petroleum pursuing and consuming wars, as well as failing to pass clean energy support.

If the BP spill didn't wake up Congress, what will. And of course, this was really no surprise, BP has been a bad actor all over the place with their oil fields, Alaska has been full of spills they caused.

Here's to this young lady. She acted on what she believed in. If only we could all do that, even for one day it would really lead somewhere.

Monday, September 20, 2010

John T Williams Wood Carver Shot by Police

John T. Williams was a seventh generation wood carver of the Ditidaht Tribe on Vancouver Island. He lived in Seattle, in housing created by the Downtown Emergency Center that understands that just because people have a problem they still need a place to live. John had a problem with alcohol abuse, he had been making his own way on the street since he was seven years old. He made his way by carving small totems that he sold to tourists. His father taught him, and in the old days, they used to make a pretty good living at it. Cyney Gillis writing for Real Change News has given the only coverage of the full story of John T. Williams life. 
He was shot and killed by a white policeman as he crossed the street at an intersection on his way from where he lived to where he hoped to sell his art at Pike Place Market. 
He was shot four times because he didn't stop when told to by a police officer who seems to have been terrified of his small pocketknife. John T. Williams is hard of hearing. He was simply crossing the street. Now he has died. 
What an abrupt contrast to my previous entry of healing, and community. 
Unfortunately, the fate of John T. Williams is what is going on today. 
This small blog honors his art, his life, and his spirit, in keeping himself going all these years, without any of the supports of a middle class life that we all take for granted. 
Thank goodness the Indigenous community has risen up in fury, they are holding daily vigils, marches on City Hall, confrontations with the Mayor. Here are a few pictures.

The last one is the tribal community in City Hall. The Mayor of course said it was a tragedy. But this is more than a tragedy, this is racist murder pure and simple.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Confluence Project Story Circles at Sacagawea State Park

At the dedication of the new Confluence Site in Sacajawea State Park in mid Washington State (now pronounced Sacagawa), Maya Lin is standing in front of drummers from the Confederates Tribes of the Umatilla Indians, at their invitation. It was a thrilling and sacred dedication. There were a lot of eloquent speakers, a trumpet piece, poetry, and eloquent indigenous speakers (including Anton Minthorn and Bobbie Connor, in a photograph below) but this drumming was by far the most profound moment. The drummers saluted the ancestors of present-day tribes, their spirits in that place, and their history. Right after I took this photograph, the Native drummers asked us to not take any more photographs, so we all simply listened and experienced the connections to the past and the future. We heard incredible music and singing that seemed to come from the depths of the earth itself.

The shape of their  drums is echoed in the seven "story circles" that Maya Lin created at this site, the confluence of the Snake and the Columbia River, two mighty waterways.

Indians gathered here in large numbers for centuries, for trade, story telling and for ritual celebration. This is site no. 4 to be dedicated in the Confluence Project. Maya Lin was invited by Native leaders in 2002 to commemorate the loss of Native cultures as a result of the  Lewis and Clark expedition because they were so impressed by her work at the Vietnam Memorial.

At other sites, Lin has been quoting from the Lewis and Clark journals that meticulously noted flora and fauna as they progressed down the Columbia, as well as the villages and tribes that they encountered. The extinction of much of what they say, including Indians, villages, and the natural world, is a theme of the Conflucene Project. At this site, Lin focused on the Native traditions.

She was intrigued that when L and C came to this Confluence they spent only a short day or two here, whereas, for native peoples it was a site of great importance and they tribes spent months here.

Each Circle has a different reference: welcoming, salmon, a longhouse, rivers and the dams, mythci time, trade and last what was called the Seasonal Round, all the different animals and animals that were here. I took pictures of all the circles, but the real experience is being there, seeing their relationship to one another, our relationship to them, and our relationship to the past, present and future of the river and the land.
The shape of the circle echoes the shape of the drums, and their sound enveloped us creating a sense of community coming together.
It was a very moving experience.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Backbone Localize This! Action Camp

The Backbone Campaign sponsored "Localize This!" An art/action camp. Here we are at lunch. We had such a wonderful time. It brought together my three favorite activities, camping, politics, and art. I was only there for two days but it was really intense.

 This is Kim Marks. She is part of Earth First, an international environmental activist group. She covered the many different aspects of civil disobedience, starting with someone willing to be arrested, and the support for that person, then media, legal, video, public liasons, as well as connections to workers affected, medical, and communications and de briefer. There were even more.
Her second theme was also valuable. Where do we fit in the process, at what point are we intervening?? There were six places, all of them important and she mentioned that the "mountain top removal" resistance project includes all six.

extraction, destruction
money ( production)
consumption (stores)
decision ( who is accountable)
assumption ( as in cultural assumptions)
envisioning the future ( Yes Men are an example)

Of course I realized that I am always intervening in the same place, at the point of consumption, as I stand and wave an anti war sign every week. We consume war as a commodity. We eat war, we drink war. Our society is permeated by war. When we email the representatives we are intervening at the point of decision ( but better is face to face meetings). Kim actually talks to CEOS. And then there are the YES MEN!

There were other workshops on theory as well like the one by Tom Kertes.
You can seem his theme, an amazing quotation from Martin Luther King
"Power without love is reckless and abusive and love without power is sentimental and anemic" He was talking about how to have power! Useful idea.

We also had a workshop from Jay Cookson and smart meme His subject was changing the story  "How changing the story, changes the world." Again food for thought.  He showed an alphabet of corporate logos, we recognized them all, then of plants, we recognized few. Our society is permeated by corporate marketing, we can change their story to our story.
The most devestating presentation by Rising Tide told us about the campaign to extract oil from sand (see  in Alberta, Canada. This is a vast act of environmental destruction that few of us even know about. 10,000 acres have already been clear cut (what is called the overburden) and that is just the beginning, in order to get oil - but very little oil for the amount of oil used to get it. Gigantic trucks are going over the narrow and treacherous, and beautiful, Lolo Pass, 210 feet long! 2 to 4 barrels of oil to get one barrel of oil. Two tons of sand for one barrel of oil,
has a lot of helpful information on this and other campaigns to resist environmental degredation.
Salmon Dinner at Localize This Backbone Camp with Chef Maia in the foreground - she really had a job, 25 people, vegan and non vegan, in a non catering kitchen!

We chose kayaking, treeclimbing or making giant mache heads. This was a real camp!
So of course I chose making heads, but first I visited the tree climbers.

This tree climber, Kathleen,  is a peace activist. Every Sunday she helps to put up a huge war memorial in Santa Monica. It is called Arlington West Santa Monica. This is her first time climbing a tree. A slew of young people were guiding her and she succeeded! These skills are for hanging banners and protesting forest devestation among other activities.
And here I am helping to make a giant paper mache  ( I am wearing the pink tee shirt from the Ni Mas Una campaign, see earlier blog) We learned step by step starting with a big plastic bag stuffed with newspaper. The features are made with shrink wrap which can be shaped to form features, I made an ear. Then we tore up paper bags, and dipped them in the cornstarch and water goo that was boiled until smooth. We smooshed the paper to break down the fibers as we covered it with goo. Then we put it on one layer at a time, alternating print and non print, minimum of three layers. That's as  far as I got with it. Here are a few more pictures.
And last but not least the agit prop band. Bill Moyer led the way as a drummer. He actually taught us how to make music for demos. I would love to play in a band at a demo sometime. I played the cymbals. Here are some pictures of forming the band starting with Bill on a makeshift drum set.
I can't tell you how much fun this all was. For one thing, I loved being with young activists who really care. I am so tired of people who actually make fun of activism, or say it doesn't matter. For another, we all had a
great time getting to know each other.

And we really learned a lot of organizing skills, which is the point. Now I am going to get involved with a campaign.
The camp itself went on for three more days and culminated in a flash mob at Target - a point of consumption because Target gave $150,000. to the anti gay, anti worker candidate for governor of Minnesota. They collaborated with a group called Agit Pop to
sing "Target Ain't People" as a protest to their intervention as a corporation in elections.