You have met Harold, Auntie Bridgett’s stuffed friend. He has had a very active life. While most of his stuffed relatives spend their days in toy boxes or on pillows, Harold has been an artist’s model, a world traveler and an ambassador.
When I first met Harold, he was a bunny. Bridgett drew him into her comic strip, Squid Row, telling the story of how he lost his ears to some marauding raccoons. Her comic strip character, Randie, adopted Harold.
Being an social sort of stufftie, Harold enjoyed going to all of Auntie Bridgett’s art shows. He gave hugs to everyone, regardless of which universe they came from.
He helped organize her work and congratulated her when her books were printed up and ready for sale.
When we traveled, Harold came along. He enjoyed meeting cousins in Houston and going to the art museum there. He even applied for astronaut training, but they decided he could do better work here on Earth.
And, of course, he got to be friends with Cousin Madilyn, having some small adventures with her and Auntie Bridgett. I will tell you more about Harold, his past and future adventures, tomorrow.
You know that Auntie Bridgett Spicer is an artist. You know she can paint, draw, and make beautiful collages and cartoons. Did you know that she sells her art?
Well, she does! Last night just before First Friday’s New Artist Reception at The SideStreet Arts Gallery, she sold her first piece of art since we moved to Portland. Her beautiful collage portrait of Max Jacob sold to a nice lady who bought it as a gift for her husband.
We are all so happy and proud of Auntie Bridgett! She works hard on her art and makes such lovely pictures, and it makes me smile to know they will go out into the world and make people happy.
How did she make this beautiful piece? She has given me permission to show you.
Step 1: She drew a pencil portrait of Max Jacob, using photographs for reference. Max was an artist and friend of Picasso in the 1920s and 1930 in France, so there are lots of pictures of him.
Step 2: She cut out all the different parts of the drawing to use as templates for the collage pieces.
Step 3: From her huge collection of papers, she found just the right ones to create his face and suit, then carefully cut them out and glued them down. She rolled each bit so it was smooth. She used paints to give the portrait wonderful depth and humanity. When it was perfect, she matted and framed it.
Step 4: Listening to me when I told her she HAD to take it to the Gallery for her show!
This was a long process where a stray sigh could blow all the bits away, but she stuck with it and made a wonderful piece of art.
Friday evening, Grandpa Nelson and I took Auntie Bridgett to dinner at the Ankeney Tap and Table a little earlier than usual. Since it was First Friday, she would be helping welcome people at The SideStreet Gallery, where several local artists (including her!) show their work. There are ceramics, collages, paintings, and jewelry. It was fun to see so many wonderful pieces and chat with the artists.
The very next day was the Belmont Street Fair, the last fair of the summer. Early in the morning it felt like it might rain, but the fat grey clouds blew away and we had cool sunshine. The day started with a short walk to Oblique Coffee, which has the best coffee in our neighborhood. The family that runs it is fun, too.
At the fair we met the folks of Dysfunktional Art, who make adorably weird critters out of discarded hardware and kitchenware. I asked where they find their materials, they said people just bring them by! Freebies! Nice.
Heather Lee Kolbo makes really impressive art from recycled wood scraps that she gets at The ReBuilding Center up in the Mississippi neighborhood.
With primary election season coming up, there are booths supporting candidates, ballot measures, and always interesting ideas. The Voluntary Human Extinction folks weren’t here, but the Zero Population Growth folks were. As much as I support family planning, I don’t think making any law about what we do with our bodies is a good idea.
The dogs were out in force, including an accidental Corgie meet up that delighted everyone. Hollandaise, the hen, out with her sister Bernaise, were enjoying lots of visitors and treats. I asked if the ‘girls’ were having a good day, and their owner said, “They are now, because you said hi!”
At the old Belmont Firehouse, I investigated how fires were fought in 1903. There is a wonderful old horse drawn fire wagon on display, the kind that would have fought the fire at the Zann Broom Company and the adjacent match factory, which was in a wooden building three blocks from a school. (I’m not kidding). Zoning laws exist for a reason, people!
I chatted with Lieutenant Michael Springberg. In addition to handing out plastic helmets and stickers to kids, he shared his firefighter’s perspective on Portland urban development. His background in education and interest in history gave us common ground and I hope we can continue our conversation sometime.
Grandpa Nelson and I walked back through the increasing crowds, dropping off my card at Inkwater, the local publisher I would like to work with if any of my writing gets to paper.
First things first, I can’t believe that it is August already and wisterias are still blooming here in Portland!
This past Friday there was a new show at Sidestreet Gallery, the gallery in our neighborhood where Auntie Bridgett is showing her art. We started with dinner at Ankeny Tap and Table, which is always tasty. Bridgett had street tacos, and I had macaroni and cheese, which was so good and such a huge serving that I brought a bunch home for leftovers.
But between dinner and home was the gallery. We got there while they were still setting up, so we got to look around and chat with the artists.
Cathi Newlin was the featured artist of the month. She does delightfully quirky ceramic dogs and other critters, including this wonderful political piece that shows a giant dodo bird perched on an elephant, which is standing on an old fashioned child’s pull toy. It is intelligent and funny and cracks me up.
The other featured artist was Don Hall, a painter who seems to do a lot of self portraits, in various poses.
The other resident artists were also showing, like Dawn Pantteja, Alicia Justus, Michael Allan Pratt, and Denise Krueger. The ceramics and paintings were delightful, as was the wine, snacks, and conversation.
And of course, Auntie Bridgett’s cups and collages were on display. I always love seeing her art out in the world, playing nicely with the other art.
Today we had a visitor to class. Her name is Inez don Carlos and she is a dear friend. She has a cat named Gulliver who travels all over the world. He sends our class, and lots of others, postcards from all his travels. We have postcards from South America, China, Russia and Paris.He is a very good teacher for geography and history.
Inez works from her home and can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On these postcards, Gulliver writes (or asks Inez to write, I am never quite sure) interesting things about the places he is visiting. He has told us about the ancient Olympics in Greece, cats running from chefs in Thailand, and Gulliver himself accidentally getting locked in the old Montana jail.
So of course, when Inez came, the kids ( whom I call The Dragons) had lots of questions for her (and Gulliver, who didn’t come, because he is traveling). What’s his favorite toy? (A catnip ball.) What color is he? (Orange and White with black stripes). How does he travel? (Airplane, car, walking…) Has Gulliver ever been to Paris? (Yes, and he has a French girlfriend.) Is he afraid of anything? (Yes, getting his tail stepped on.)
The only picture Inez has of Gulliver was drawn by dear Auntie Bridgett Spicer, who is a wonderful cartoonist. Inez projected it up so the kids could get a feeling for his handsome self.
After answering lots of questions, Inez asked the Dragons some. She brought out a large traveling bag and asked, “If you were going camping, what would you put in the bag? (Food, flashlight, cell phone, matches…) What about a trip to San Francisco? (Money, camera, nice clothes, good walking shoes…)
The Dragons started working on art projects that are all about cats, but didn’t get them finished in time. I will mail them all in a package to Inez when she gets back home to Montana.
Last night was a busy one. Cousin Liza’s Montessori School on Hitchcock Road had their Open House. After a quick dinner Auntie Olga, Liza and I drove out to the school, across a tiny road through lettuce fields. There were only a dozen or so families, since this was the Open House just for Liza’s class. The older and younger students have their Open Houses separately.
I love the Montessori School. It is laid out so practically, with everything within easy reach of the students. The lessons are clear and quiet and teach order, patience, fine motor skills, reading and math skills, and even housekeeping. Liza was able to show us the “Teens Board”, where she creates the numbers 10 through 19, using digits and beads.
She washed a mirror, experimented with things that float and sink, made bubbles, and even sorted items according to which letter they started with…. using cursive letters! She was having such a good time and we were impressed with the calm and confidence inspired by her teachers.
When our time was up, we left and took Auntie Olga home, picked up Uncle David, and drove out to the Monterey Airport to pick up…Auntie Bridgett! Yay! On her way back to Portland from a week in San Diego visiting Cousin Madilyn and her family, she is stopping by Salinas for a few days. I have missed her so much!
Auntie Olga had cheese, crackers and wine waiting for us when we got back to the house, and we ate and drank and then headed for bed.
I am looking forward to spending some real quality time with my darling Bridgett before she has to go.
Yesterday Grandpa Nelson and I helped Auntie Bridgett and our friend Jack Kent set up an art show at Motivasi Coffee, up on NE 42nd and Prescott.They have good coffee and very tasty muffins. Amanda, the lady who was working there, was friendly and helpful.
Jack draws a funny comic strip called “Gulls”, about a nutty group of seagulls, but he also does sketches of people he sees on the street, called “Sketchy People”. His Sketchy People and Auntie Bridgett’s Coffee Fairy collages are the main part of this show.
It took a while to figure out whose work was going where, and whether Jack’s and Bridgett’s work should be mixed together or hung separately, but once they figured that out, the work went pretty quickly. I held hammers and helped Auntie Bridgett, and Grandpa Nelson helped Jack. It was fun being the Minions and seeing the show come together.
Finally, it all looked like they wanted it to, and we packed up the bubble wrap and empty boxes. The show is up now and will stay up until late February. Jack and Bridgett will have a reception to meet people there on January 13, but I will be down with you by then.
We got home and had a walk around the neighborhood. Passing by the flamingo house, we saw Katherine, the lady who owns the flamingos, out tending her yard.
Today, the flamingos are set up to be ready for the Women’s March on January 21st. The are wearing colorful capes and tiny pink hats. They are, as usual, adorable.