Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Reading has more or less taken over a large part of my day. Catching up, you see, ever since I buried all of those art magazines in the compost with the coyote, and just recently getting up to a speed where I can... well, there really is no getting ahead when there's always a horizon.

The above are the most recent additions to the ongoing series, Gist, and come from those readings. I read some pretty heavy shit, for as I said, and because I can't seem to help it, think trebuchet. Admittedly, at times its a real slog  from where I left off some years back, and sometimes I can do no better than glean some fundamentals that I can paraphrase. Gist runs parallel to this endeavor, not only as little clips of bigger ideas, but as ideas that expand on the authors' original intents. Sometimes more like poems, other times like conceptual art pieces, while they can be passed by quickly, it is hoped that they elicit more than one reading/meaning. The better ones, anyway.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Perhaps I have a limited imagination, or my repertoire is suggested by past experiences that press for a revisiting. With the new camera, it may be that I wonder if I can do better than before, and more, I know I need the practice with the thing.

As I came up to the bend on Triumph Road, I saw the helicopter around the next, and as I slowed down I saw the kestrel in the field to my left, hovering the way they do, waiting for the vole to emerge from the tall grass. I took this as fitting, although more as a loose sort of metaphor or good omen.

I haven't looked hard at the rest of the photos, opting instead for the one that stood out. I changed my position after a bit to capture a different angle, and shortly after that, the copter set down over a hill, so I moved on to see if anything was happening on Coon Hollow Road.

I was up on a ridge that I had been on several times while shooting the field burns. It offers a nice vista just another 100 yards from where I pulled over. Again, I haven't scrutinized the photos, but I did get the below video. Watch the bale of trees. I knew I should have brought my tripod...

An old story

As regular reader might remember from a recent post, I am in the process of archiving my older art work. I have scanned all sculpture, drawing and painting from 1990 -1995 but have yet to organize it into some form of coherency. I also have a good number of photos to scan and video work to burn to DVDs. In organizing of the latter, I came to one of the first videos I made. As the notes for the vid indicate, it is rough, rough, rough. Yet, even as a novice I knew the story needed to be told, technical skills be damned.

What Happened to Johnny from Patrick Collier on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just so much

The helicopters could be heard to the northeast and southwest, working to get Christmas trees out of the fields on Thanksgiving. Again all day today, in the rain, to make kids in California, Mexico and Japan happy with anticipation. They quit just before dusk, about the same time the big stand of firs across the road started to make its own clouds.

Meanwhile, there’s a list of things I thought to mention to DW but forgot to bring up with the bucket of firewood and the plastic bag of dog shit after walking the dog. Among those things pushed to the back was not the way the seasonal creek flowed through the culvert or the animal trail wound its way through clumps of tall, dead grass.

It was getting dark, a little later than the day last week when I saw something large and tan slink from the firs on the property line and along the fence lines that made the alley to the back pastures. I was about to walk the dog then as well, but went back inside for a gun, and DW to hold the leash while I patrolled.  The dog’s nose never left the ground.

Our outdoor cat saw the dog and I head out this afternoon and emerged from the shelter of his shed. He hopped up onto a shelf I built for him and remained there until we returned. He too was wet when the three of us entered through the basement door. DW met us and dried off the cat while I toweled down the dog.

I just remembered there’s finished laundry in the dryer.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Her name is Jill, short for Gillian. Today we mark knowing each other for twenty years. I am grateful for many things, and I need nothing else.

May your day be special in some way as well.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When the rains comes strong, one will often see vehicles parked down by the boat ramp just to watch see if the river will come over its bank. Today, in much the same way, there was an older gentleman buying an outdoor thermometer at the hardware store. We’re supposed to get down to 19°F tonight. Maybe colder. And were it not for the cold, the river might have crested.

People scoff, “That’s not cold!” Well, it is cold for a temperate area. It’s cold to me, and I lived through –80°F (with the wind chill factor). I felt a little bit of that ice-pick-between-the-eye’s feeling while walking the dog. I braked and turned into the back end of my rig as I took a curve a little too quick. Someone will lose it on our road tonight.

It’s even worse to the north. This from last night in Seattle:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

For all of its worth

Mr. and Mrs. Jung lived next door to my grandparents. Of an evening my brother and I would walk over to their house, go out into their fields to fetch their heifers and bring them in for the evening. We did a few other minor chores for them as both were getting on and had enough to do on their small farm feeding the pigs, chickens, horses and cattle. They also had a couple milk cows, and it was at their house I tasted my first home-churned butter.

If I remember what I was told back about the same time, my grandparents had rid themselves of their last milk cow some time shortly after my birth, so we had store-bought on the table. I cannot say that I noticed or recall any difference, and bring it up now only because the memory of that mounded bowl and the uniqueness of the experience came back today after dinner at another farm.

A young couple came to our attention via our orchardist friends. Our friends said this pair had moved into the area with plans similar to our own a few years ago. They wanted to grow vegetables for market, and were slow to start the process as they came with absolutely no training. Knowing of our valiant but failed efforts despite some background in the ways of farm life, our friends sent the couple to us.

Over the last two years we have helped this couple with advice and materials for which we no longer had a use. Last spring it was about fifty pounds of seed potatoes, and last week I offered them enough greenhouse supplies to stock a sizable field with plant starts. To show their appreciation, they invited us to sup with them and their two young children.

The meal consisted of a lovely potato and kale stew, and a three-year old hen au jus. For dessert we were served ice cream, the cream provided by one of their cows. Oh my!

I am lactose intolerant, and anticipating that the dinner might contain dairy, I took a pill that lessens the effects of milk products, so I graciously accepted the bowl. And I suppose my internist would understand that concerns over my cholesterol could be dealt with tomorrow, for who could refuse when offered a second helping?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Having drunk the kool aid that has now replaced my blood

"Have you ever owned a Mac before?"

"Son, most likely I've been using Macs longer than you've been alive." I didn't ask for verification of his age, but my point was made.

Early on in Apple's history, ad agencies used their computers. Even though I had a Kaypro at home, I used a Classic Apple at work. That was in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

The first Apple computer I ever owned was a IIc, given to me by the sister of a friend. The computer was already a relic, and to tell you the truth, I didn't ever use it. However, I still have it, as that friend has since passed on. As soon as I could I bought an Apple for home, a Centris model.  When it was stolen one Thanksgiving break-in, another friend gave me an old Classic to use.

At one point in Apple's history they leased out their operating system, which immediately flooded the market with inexpensive Mac knock-offs, and I bought one: a Starmax 300 made by Motorola. No sooner had I acquired it, Apple ceased the leasing program. My computer was doomed to obsolescence in one week. I still have that computer, and it still works like a charm. Slow as hell (it was the fastest available when new), but I fire it up every now and then to retrieve old poems and stories.

When we opened the gallery in 1998, I purchased my first laptop, a Wall Street, again made by Apple. My son still uses it. And when OS 10 first came on the scene, the handwriting was on the wall for OS 9, and it was time to upgrade once again, this time to a G4. The beauty of that machine was that it ran both OS 9 and OS 10, giving me a chance to archive while still working in the old OS.

In 2006 I came into a bit of money and expanded my video production capabilities, which made it necessary to upgrade to a G5. As soon as I made the switch, Apple announced that it was changing to Intel processors, which meant a new configuration for their OS. While the switch meant more Windows-based apps could be run, it also meant more obsolescence was on the way. Still, I used that machine for over four years, until it died earlier this week.

Well, it didn't exactly die. The power came on, but the OS wouldn't fire up. Fortunately, everything was backed up. Everything. So, I took it to the nearest Apple Store, some sixty miles from home. The young man who hooked up the machine for a diagnosis was pleasant enough, even though he could not say for certain what was wrong with it.

"Can you fix it here?'

"Uh, no, we send them out. And Apple won't be able to fix it either because it is a vintage machine."

"Vintage?" I asked but I already knew soft corporate-speak when I heard the word. Basically, they couldn't be bothered with an older machine.

"They don't carry the parts for vintage machines. However, if you take it to a Mac Store, they'll be able to get it fixed for you." As if this post is not already boring you to tears, I must bother with some clarification that you might give less of a shit about: Apple Stores are corporate; Mac Stores are licensees. In fact, I bought my G5 from a Mac Store a mere 15 miles from home, the same one to which this young man was referring me.

"Don't you send the machines to the same place?"


Never mind that when I called the Apple Store to tell them my pre-Intel Mac was broken, they made an appointment for me anyway.

So, back to Salem. Another diagnostic gave the same results, or lack thereof, so I left it there to be sent to their repair shop. This morning I received the news: for $2,083 I could have my old machine as good as new...vintage new. Just under the amount of money a new one would cost.

Well, I can't say I didn't see this coming, so I told the repair guy to pull the hard drives and optical drive and send them back to the Mac Store, and I'd come fetch them. I hung up the phone and hopped in DW's car. I was going shopping.

As I said, I saw this coming, so I had already looked online to ponder my next purchase. So, now I am the somewhat proud owner of a 17" MacBook Pro. By some miracle I can still use my 30" Cinema Display that I bought with my G%, so there's that to be thankful for, I suppose.

But now the fun really starts. It will be interesting to see how much of my old pre-Intel software is still useable. After today's purchase, I can't really afford a new Final Cut Pro (video editing), PhotoShop, and who knows what else.

I have been in a foul mood over this all day. No, actually longer, for when I have wanted to purchase new Mac software for photo processing, I learned that the new stuff wouldn't be supported by a pre-Intel machine. And then, just like today and Monday, I found no compassion from the salespeople. I can't really blame them though. Times have changed, and this vintage grumpy guy, who used to be a proud member of what used to be a community of  loyal Apple users, people who knew they were using the best computers available and advocated for the company because of this fact, just didn't understand that once Apple became a successful mass-market corporation, it obviously didn't really have to give a flying fuck.

No, I'm not surprised.

Oh, and my G4 bit the dust this week too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

"What's your name?"




She knew her name. That was good. Brandy was a big girl. Wedding ring. Maybe 24 years old. Pupils constricted but her eyes weren't fixing on me or anything else. Brandy was laying up on the far side of a ditch behind the red Toyota that rested on its roof in the middle of the mountain road.

We first saw a guy waving at us to slow down. By the time we reached him we could see what lay ahead. He was shaking hard but his voice told me the tremors were unrelated.

"There's a woman hurt bad. I called 911 from my house." 30 miles from the nearest town of size, I told Steve to pull over.

"Keep pressure on it." was the first thing I heard. "Do you have more big bandages? We need more bandages."

The guy with the first aid kit was fiddling with an ice pack. "I can't get it cold. That woman there was hurt in the head." It was the woman applying pressure to the right wrist. She had been driving. I looked at the knot on her forehead. It was still small. I took the pack from him, put my fist into it and handed it to another woman who informed me that she was an EMT and Vet's assistant.


Pulse 90, strong and regular; respiration, 24, steady and deep. Brandy bellered. Compound fractures of the right arm for sure. Internally, who knows? Someone said she had her seat belt on. Her window must have been open. Yeah, it was. She started to shake all over. Shock was taking hold and I said so.

Someone asked, "Should her feet be elevated?" Brandy's feet were in the ditch, along with her breakfast.

Someone else asked, "Should we move her?"

I about bit a head off with my answer. "No! Keep her covered up. Continue with the pressure. Keep talking to her."

And we left. Timing is everything for the anonymous good Samaritan, five miles onward pulling over for the Rescue, the Deputy, two ambulances and the Trooper.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I must have just missed T, the woman who rents our pasture for her two mules, for I came up from the dungeon door after cleaning more of the barn. DW pointed her out, her car door ajar and the mules out on the greener grass outside of their paddocks. The mules were having a time of it, running hither and yon along the fence lines.

About the time the thought to videotape the scene finished crossing my mind I saw T's hands wave up in a manner that made me put my street shoes on and grab my walking stick. Getting those two animals back into the pasture was gonna take some doing.

T and I assessed the situation and the mules responded well to the stick. But there's a lot of open space and the decorative vinyl fence only goes a hundred feet or so, so avoiding the stick was no problem when there was so much more to explore. The dominant head faked and headed out, T doing a running "whoa" while I attempted to intimidate the other from following. No go.

DW was called in for assistance as the animals headed west down the road to the next open gate they saw. Another mule lives there and eventually their curiosity found them in a fairly confined area with a gate. Harnesses and leads were easy with the help of a little grain in a pot.

Thanks were extended, short stories of similar events exchanged, and off we went to catch our breaths and do some assessing and reassessing: No more off-lead time outside of the paddocks. The damage done to T's husband's truck was not more serious than a slightly bent rear bumper. My rear quarter panel was hammered pretty well just above the left side of my bumper, and I would have to replace my tail light.

As the women ran down the road, I ran (yes, ran) to the metal barn to fetch the leads and harnesses. I walked fast back to the truck, threw the gear in the back, fired up the rig and kicked up gravel in reverse.

T had called H, and failing to see them out on the road, he continued on to our place.

"I seen ya comin' and punched it, but I guess not enough."

There was a moment when I thought to take the truck out to the barn to get the gear. I would have too, if it didn't require opening a gate. That would have made a difference. Even the pause. Or a bit more endurance. I felt bad for not looking.

But then again, not too long ago, H had his face reconstructed. "I could tell you stories. Don't worry about it."
The barn. Shit.

Well, there's a bit of dry sheep manure left over from an art project a couple years ago, but that's not the issue. It's more a mood brought about by all that goes with the dried droppings. Let something go for a while, and, well, you know.

Or maybe it's the weather. Dreary, I tell you. Not enough to get a soaking but it does somehow get deep inside.

I've waited this long; I'll give myself another twenty minutes. But it needs to be done.

Actually, I already started cleaning the thing this week. All of the starter trays and pots have been stacked and organized, ready to be handed off to another couple who started farming a couple years ago. They should be happy. No, they are, inviting us to lunch next Sunday.

Tool room: check

Irrigation room: check

General storage area #1: check

So, see? Not that bad after all.

No, it's more of the contrast between now and then, when I had a use for the building. Or rather, the other use, because it's about to become a studio for some rather sizable sculpture.

After I clean up the other barn.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Out with the new camera

Not a bad close-up, if I do say so.

I may have stumbled onto a new series.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This-un's a keeper!

(That's a Toscani stogie stuck between my teeth.)

My fishing buddy and I hit the Salmon River Monday morning. It wasn't our originally planned destination as the Chum salmon were running on the Miami River, and they make for a fun catch-and-release workout. Nor was the Salmon River our second choice, but that place is a more closely guarded secret, so no mention of it will you find here.  We chose the Salmon perhaps because it was the closest, and it has facilities at the nearby hatchery, a necessary stop en route to other areas as the morning coffee works its magic.

This time of year the hatchery is doing its fish count, collecting mature fish as they come up a fish ladder, recording the fish, and then sending them on their way upstream via a large tube into the water above the wier. It is in these waters one typically finds a bunch of guys eager to hook into the congregated school. The busiest time for this nuts-to-butts style of combat fishing is in October. By November, the craze has generally passed, and Monday found only three of us in the water: buddy Steve, me and George. 

I fished for about ten minutes before I hooked this beautiful male, and landed him about fifteen minutes later with the help of George's net. Shortly thereafter, and after I suggested he go to a silver spinner, George caught his first fish. Steve and I left, while George decided to stick around. 

What?! leave when the fish are obviously hitting? Well, that's pretty much my fault as I didn't have my current fishing license on me. I thought I did, but no, and 2009 has passed. Steve had his, though, and we tagged the fish on his. Then there was some contradictory signage about a day's limit (different than the published regs), and being so close to a state fish facility, we decided to error on the side of caution. And always thinking, Steve snapped this picture next to his fly gear and then remarked, "In two days I'll have convinced myself and everyone else that I caught this fish."

Although my fish is a bit smaller than the one on the right, experienced anglers will know that of the two, mine is the real prize. Fish as chromed as mine are the exception, younger than the other male colored up and ready for spawning. The one on the right is George's fish. It was his first-ever salmon, and as much as Steve, a chef, tried to convince him that it would not make a good meal, even smoked, George was adamant. Both Steve and I knew what that first fish meant, and since for both of us our first fish were also beat to shit, we dropped the matter.

The two salmon steaks on the grill last night were delicious. Today I smoked a whole side fillet and we still have two meals worth of fish. Fish, o mighty Chinook! thank you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It was a triumphant, very early morning despite a comedy of errors. Generosity among friends found joy despite inconveniences. I cam home content, and to a wife who said she was proud of me. I then cleaned up what needed care, and before taking a nap, read emails.    

Dear Colleagues,

I am saddened to inform you that our community has lost a wonderful and important teacher, writer and friend. Last night, Adjunct Associate Professor Kathryn Hixson passed away suddenly in her home. We are unaware of the details surrounding her death but have watched Kathryn battle serious disease over the last few years.

Kathryn was one the most distinguished art critics in Chicago. Her writings on the histories of conceptual and neo-conceptual art constituted important contributions to the field. She was very attentive to new and emerging artists in Chicago and around the world, and championed these artists through her writing, curating, and lectures. Indeed many of you benefited from her close advising and guidance, and many of you were fortunate enough to have her keen insights of your work noted in the public record through her many reviews in the New Art Examiner, Arts Magazine, FlashArt, and others. Kathryn's role as Associate editor, then Senior Editor, and finally Editor of the New Art Examiner in the nineties demonstrated her commitment to not only the value of open reporting on the arts and culture, but to a Chicago presence in the international field of art criticism.

Kathryn did her MFA at the school and subsequently taught here since 1988. Her courses in art history, fiber and material studies, and new arts journalism, as well as her constant work as a graduate advisor in the MFA program gave much to the students and to the community at large. She was in the midst of completing her PhD dissertation at the University of Texas at Austin while continuing to teach at the school and write criticism.

Kathryn was a serious critic and scholar. But many of us also know how Kathryn liked to play. She loved to laugh, to party, to art world gossip, and to giddily dwell in a world of ideas about love, music, art, and politics. Kathryn was unafraid of strong opinion--really she was charmingly indignant. Her fortitude and her friendship will be greatly missed. We mourn the passing of our dear Kathryn Hixson.

Lisa Wainwright
Dean of Faculty
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

A piece of my heart fell away, as if the Valentine maintained its symmetry but no longer came to a point.

The letter above says much about Kathryn. She was about my age. We talked freely, drank heartily, danced wildly, and shared many sentiments about the world of art by which we found ourselves passionately driven. She bummed the occasional smoke. My art appeared in her periodical, The New Art Examiner, more than once. It was also in that magazine my first essays on art were published.  As an editor, she found encouragement more useful than a chainsaw. She once said a piece I had written was too long and I threatened to rewrite it as free verse. When she did not push back, I acquiesced.

The New Art Examiner was notorious for not paying its writers on time. A shoestring operation, it nevertheless was the pre-eminent art periodical in the Midwest, and recognized as a low-budget peer to the bigger national magazines like Art in America, Art News and Sculpture. This was largely Kathryn’s doing, and I suppose it was because of this, and just because it was for Kathryn, writers continued to write for her. We all hoped that something more would come of the magazine.

As someone with considered opinions and an editorial advocacy, it may not come as a surprise that Kathryn had her detractors, especially in those who saw themselves as heroic artists demanding a place in the Pantheon. For Kathryn, ego had no place in the realm of creative ideas and endeavors.

The magazine did try to break out to a wider distribution, and burned in that quest. The hole left has never adequately been filled. Shortly thereafter, I moved away from Chicago. Kathryn left as well, and I lost touch with her. It was only recently that I found her again through Facebook, and from the sole picture of her there I knew something had drastically changed. Some inquiries told me that she had been battling cancer, but that she was recovering. I have thought to write her on several occasions. Better than about her, but now too late.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Going to Portland today to look at art and hunt for a show or two to write about. This instead of staying home to listen to/read the play-by-play of the final table of the WSOP.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The moment I saw the photos at 1430 Contemporary Fine Art last week I knew the landscape, even though Devon Oder photographed areas a thousand miles from my own. In both places they are the ones we alter into crags where there once was a forest.

The small railroad that primarily services the lumber mills to our east has been working to clear their right of way of trees for the past two years. After cutting, they haul the trees back up to a clearing —more a staging area — presumably to be chipped and shipped, although the pile just gets longer and longer. You will see in the first photo that some enterprising folks have availed themselves of some of the protruding trees for firewood. In that the majority of the pile consists of deciduous hardwoods, (the firs were hauled away to the mill), this in itself is not a bad idea. And while there undoubtedly is much more wood that could be harvested, the pile is well over twenty feet tall, and too much enthusiasm could very well result in severe injury.

I have photographed this pile from time to time, and believe I have mentioned it here at some point. Pretty remarkable in its size last year, it has now doubled and I am working on a way to document that immensity. An initial attempt at videotaping it as I walked along failed to stay in focus, no doubt due to a technical oversight on my part. I did, however, manage some stills that I brought home and played with in PhotoShop. Again, not surprisingly similar to Ms. Oder's work.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It’s not something I make a big deal about, that birthday I just had, except to say that DW made on helluva nice blackberry cobbler. We waited to eat it for the movie choice for the evening was “Soylent Green.” I wasn’t going to mention the day were it not for the lose tie-in I felt with a rash of technological run-ins and problems.

Before I bought my new camera a friend had warned me that I would not be able to work in RAW format with my aging PhotoShop. Seems Canon doesn’t support older versions with the new products. He advised that since I have a Mac I purchase Aperture for both post and file maintenance. No problem, says I, and make my way to the Mac store. Of course the latest version of Aperture works only with the latest Intel-based Mac hardware. However, I am advised that Aperture 2 can still be found on the internet.

With winter coming on, the plan is to catalog not only my recent photos but also begin to archive the hundreds of slides I have of old sculpture and drawings. To do so, I would need a new scanner. My old one only works with Mac’s OS9, a ten year old version. And while I still have two OS9 machines, I did not want to bother. Besides, that old scanner has a malfunction that would require packing it off to get fixed, and I can buy a new scanner for what it would cost in repairs. (You know the story.) So, I read about a Epson scanner, the Perfection V500, and with a fifteen minute window in errands and appointments last week, I snatch one up. Home, I hook it up only to find that my computer can’t find it, Side of the box says Intel-based Macs only. It’s a 80-mile round trip to return it yesterday yet I now have one that works with my antiquated system.

I know 56 is not that old.

 Pull Toy (1992)