Friday, July 25, 2014

Jordan Sullivan, Death Valley

I really like these photographs by Jordan Sullivan of the ombre sky over Death Valley, as first brought to my attention by the Artsy Forager. They remind me a little of some of my favorite abstract expressionist paintings.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Ongoing Poem Series About the Spring of 2006 Continues in This Way

April 14, 2006
Last night Bill brought home

a small blue ceramic bird
to sit atop
the jade-green milk-glass cake-plate
he gave me for valentine’s day

I’d been saying a little bird
would be just the thing
to go right there
and truly it is

He got it for a dollar
at the strange civic center craft-fair
It is walnut-sized
and sort of plump
with sky-blue plumage
and a quizzical eye

image source is here

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


After our retreat to the cabin, we zoomed back into downtown Portland so that, for work, I could attend the ICON8 Illustration Conference. This is where loads and loads of illustrators gather every two years to listen to amazing speakers, hobnob with one another, and generally just revel in the tribe of their people. I had never been to anything quite like this before so wasn't sure what to expect, so was utterly surprised and delighted when the conference opened with a performance by a crazy silver-clad marching band. Clearly, this thing was a big deal and was going to be amazing. And it was! Pretty darn truly seriously amazing. Here's the recap:

We splurged and stayed at the Ace Hotel. Yes! Ace, I adore you. 

Well, I adore everything about the Ace (as their sort-of slogan says, it's "everything you need in a hotel and nothing you don't"), but I especially love the adorable little breakfast room.

After breakfast it was time to get myself ready for the workshop I was teaching.

Then just a quick essential pit-stop for coffee at Sumptown. 

And this was it! On the first morning there I did a 90-minute workshop on "Publishing for Illustrators" for about 50 very engaged and wonderful folks in a classroom at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

It went well! And here's a special thing: one attendee, artist Pascale Steig, sketched me, using actual wet watercolors, while I was teaching. Crazy amazing.

After my talk was done (phew!) I spent most of the rest of the conference in the lovely ballroom of the Portland Art Museum (which has very nice light fixtures).

Listening to an incredible roster of smart and intriguing main-stage speakers, and avidly note-taking (once an academic nerd, always an academic nerd).

Among my favorites were a panel discussion on collaboration between two amazing Chronicle Books authors/illustrators, Susie Ghahremani and Lisa Congdon, and two of my very own lovely Chronicle colleagues Kristen Hewitt and Christina Amini.

Carson Ellis' keynote was another highlight--this is her childhood drawing of two sad unicorns telepathically connected by a rainbow (yes!)

As was the closing keynote by the profoundly charismatic and inspiring Damian Kulash (maker of music and astonishing videos for the band Ok Go).

One evening there was a super cool art show called Work+Play at the Land Gallery (which we were all delivered to load by load in a shiny red double-decker bus).

And of course I did manage to squeeze in some time to visit that absolute definitive Beulah Land for book-lovers--Powell's. 

My only beef with the conference--and it's a tiny one in the midst of all this awesomeness--is that they schedule you from first thing in the morning till late into the night with no break for dinner. Breakfast and lunch are accounted for, but not suppertime. What the heck? Maybe illustrators don't believe in dinner? One night my evening repast consisted of crackers in my hotel room at ten o'clock, the next night I skipped a chunk of programed activities to have a lovely long chatty meal with some illustrator pals both old and new. And on the last night my friend and I ate ice cream cones for dinner while walking from the final talk to the big closing party. Ok, now that I think about it, maybe I'm glad about this whole no-dinner thing, as some lovely experiences ended up coming out of it (ok, well, except for the cracker incident. but one learns from experience).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cabin Life

Have just returned from a two and a half week vacation that included several different parts, a number of which I will discuss, don't you fear, in due course here. But right off the bat I have to tell you about this amazing cabin we stayed in. Perched on the Washington state side of the Columbia River Gorge, we originally chose it off of airbnb primarily for it's location. In the photos on the site it looked nice. But when we got there we discovered it was actually amazing. So utterly charming while not the least precious; so full of books and other treasures; so delightfully situated between woods, meadow, and river; and somehow just so inherently profoundly relaxing a place to be. We were enchanted. And renewed. This cabin can be booked here and it is also a bargain.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Is there anything more gut-wrenching-ly endearing than a sleeping child?

Friday, June 27, 2014

YCBA // Pier 24 // Cult // Asian // SFMOMA

I have been seeing just a ton of art lately. So much so, in fact, that I find it necessitates a kind of grab-bag Art Friday post today to encompass it all, or else I'd still be telling you in August about the stuff I've seen in the past couple of weeks.

So, here's the scoop--

Above: my favorite piece from the show Public Intimacy: And Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa at the Yerba Beuna Center for the Arts (where you get a discount on your ticket if you're a public transit rider or library card holder!) was this one by Terry Kurgan.

Erica Deeman's solo show at Pier 24 (the first solo show they've ever had there) was stunningly beautiful.

I'm a big fan of Michelle Blade's artwork (full disclosure, she's also working on a book for me--yay!) and her recent show at Cult Exhibitions was a pure delight.

And the Gorgous show that the Asian Art Museum has put up in partnership with the SFMOMA gave me a chance to see some favorite SFMOMA pieces I've been missing since they closed down for construction a year ago, engaged in interesting dialogs with some favorite peices from the Asian's collection. Here are a few of my favorite moments in the show:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Poem Series About the Spring of 2006 Continues Today on Poetry Thursday

April 13, 2006
Today when I went out to lunch

it was not only sunny
brightly abundantly gloriously ridiculously goldenly sunny
but also


so warm that I took off my coat
rolled it up in a ball
stuffed it in my purse
and walked away down the street
with only the sunshine on my skin