July 12, 2012
Here’s my latest blog post, a photo story about Choochokam, which would not have been possible without the generous donation of a camera from Faith Wilder and the ever-effective Drewslist. Thanks to both of them from the bottom of my heart.
This past Saturday was sunny and beautiful when I set out for a day at the 37th annual Choochokam Arts (http://choochokamarts.org), the festival in downtown Langley that features art, music, food, a beer and wine garden and a bevy of interesting characters. I had been asked to report to the Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio (http://www.whidbeyislandfas.com) tent at the U.S. Bank parking lot, where I would sit for a portrait artist.
I parked at the Island County Fairgrounds where I would need to return to the theater for a 6 p.m. call. I’m currently performing in Outcast Productions’ (http://www.outcastproductions.net) “Oh What A Lovely War” and thought I would have an “oh what a lovely walk” to Choochokam until my performance that evening. Off I went.
On my way I saw some newlyweds having their photo taken for posterity and made a private wish that their marriage would be a long and happy one.
When I arrived at the fine arts booth, I took in some of the artist demonstrations. Artist Sandy Byers was working her pastel magic on a portrait of chicken.
David Gray was well into a painting of a beautiful, red-headed model.
And sculptor Simon Kogan was creating a sculpture of this sweet, cooperative pooch heavy in his camping chair.
Aaron Coberly (www.aaroncoberly.com) was the painter assigned to render me. He created this portrait in about two hours.
Next door at Brackenwood (www.brackenwoodgallery.com), I checked out the show, “Where Gravity Meets Desire,” (a provocative title!) by longtime Whidbey Island artists Buffy Cribbs and Bruce Morrow.
Morrow paints colorful, romantic canvases reminiscent of the loneliest, sun-drenched places of the American West. These vibrant, storied paintings evoke the spirit of another time and are strewn with juke boxes, lovers, silos, desert landscapes, buffalo, dogs, horses and dancers, among other nostalgic subjects.
Here is one of my favorites in the show titled “R.J. at 45.”
Cribbs’ work is also full of color, but abstract as opposed to her husband’s figurative work. Cribbs’ pieces are full of surprises and created, one can imagine, by any number of tools and materials as she works with all sorts of media creating everything from paintings, to sculpture, furniture and stuff that remains purely in a category all its own.
In this show is a series of acrylic paintings on Plexiglas using geometric shapes inspired in a roundabout way by quilts (particularly from a book titled “The Quilts of Gee Bend”). She said she was also riffing off the wall panels she made for the Mukilteo Coffee café in the woods in Langley (www.Mukilteocoffee.com).
“I decided to see if I could project the sense of ‘lift’ that can be had from coffee, but I wanted to keep a sort of organic drift to it, so I thought of ‘effervescence,’” the artist writes in her notes about the show.
“This is when I began to play with circles … in clusters and breaking loose from clusters, and finally, flying free,” she added.
Indeed. Take a look at Cribbs’ “Osmotic Pressure.”
She explores the pregnant symbol of the circle, juxtaposed, colorful, moving. She does it also in this piece she calls “The Verb, to Bee.
After soaking up all that color like a bee in a garden, I was out of the door and back into the sunshine. I noticed that oodles of festival-goers had one hand stuck in great feed bags of corn. The kettle corn guy was busy.
A young musician was busking in Langley Park.
I took a moment to turn the Peace Wheel, a habit my good friend Joni has encouraged in me. The wheel, created by local artist David Gignac, has become for me the same as stopping at a rose bush, which is a smell I can no longer resist. I’m hoping the wheel will chime for me one day, which the artist told me it does after every 60 revolutions.
I continued my amble down the lane behind Sweet Mona’s Chocolate Boutique (www.sweetmonas.com) where the great mother spirit puppet kept watch over the Choochokam wine and beer garden.
The drinking folks looked quenched and happy. I waved hello and continued into the thick of the festival, where the artisan booths were crowded with shoppers.
The festival featured too many vendors to list here, but here’s a little what of what I saw: Cute kiddie toppers.
Cool, artistic skim boards (http://www.jackdboards.com)…
… and art and other sundry lining First Street.
I wandered by the Useless Bay Coffee Company and stumbled upon a performance of The Rallies, a pop band from Tacoma, had a high energy, hip sound.
Over at the main stage on First Street I ran into the brothers Harrison: Taylor and Miles, two local thespians. Miles will play Demetrius in Island Shakespeare Fest’s (www.islandshakespearefest.org) production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Aug. 4-26.
There was also Sommer Harris and Jenny Zisette, two more local theatrical and musical youths.
They joined the crowd who were enjoying the Americana sound of Will West & the Friendly Strangers from Portland. The banjo, guitar, upright bass and horn made for a danceable and rockin’ combo.
Soon, the band had persuaded the crowd and the dancing began.
Choochokam also brings out the cutest of the bunch. Here is one little guy.
And another …
Choochokam Arts has help from community volunteers, including those who sell the Choo Arts bling. Such exquisite folding talent is found mainly in Langley.
Choochokam staff guru Sherry Jennings and her crew were thankful for the fine weather and were full of smiles.
I was sorry to have to leave the great music by those friendly strangers, but I had to get back to the theater. As I headed out of town I passed a spontaneous jam session at UBCC.
I snapped my shadow as I headed out of downtown and said goodbye to Choochokam #37.
It was time to get ready for the show.