Monday, March 6, 2017

ap170305 Close call: Wake up call  

Yesterday I walked from our home in lower Queen Ann. I was with four blocks of my destination—the Trader Joe’s store at the top of the hill. It was there that Lynda and I planned to meet. We coordinated my walk time and her bus time. It was about 1:05.

Walking on 1st Avenue North I came to Blaine Street, and I was looking down the sloping street at the Number 4 bus, waiting there. I was startled by the sound of a vehicle skidding to stop. There, about ten feet from me, was a black SUV that had almost hit me! I froze—like they say, like a deer in the headlights. I looked at the driver—she was aghast. I felt meek and I hurried out of the way.

One second was all the separated me from serious injury or even death. She may have been going about 10 miles per hour—a little slow because at that intersection there is a jog where Blaine meets 1st Avenue. It takes about 27 feet to stop a car going this speed—about one and a third times the length of a Sports Utility Vehicle like hers.

As I resumed my walk, I began playing back what a difference that one second would have made. At ten mph, a car covers about 15 feet per second. One second would have been enough to smash into my right side, probably breaking my hip and femur. I’d probably be thrown a dozen feet besides, hitting who knows what on my body: My head? Shoulder? What the overall impact would do to my back—operated on five months ago—shoulders, neck and head is hard to tell. If not killed, I could have been hospitalized for months.

Visualizing different scenarios in my imagination as I walked on, I wondered how, would Lynda be informed of my situation. Would medics go through my things, my wallet and cell phone and know to call her (assuming someone called 9-1-1)? Lynda would be on the bus by then, heading up the hill to meet me. Would she hear her cell phone?

What about the SUV driver? Yes, this close call was partly my fault because I was looking the other way, distracted. Was the driver distracted, too? Was she looking at her cell phone, or paying attention to a kid in the back, perhaps? Honestly, I was too shook up to think about walking around to her car window and talking about this, cussing her out, maybe, or anything. I don’t even know if we made eye contact.

I’m pretty sure it was a woman; and as I reached Queen Ann Avenue I hoped I would see her parking her SUV. My thoughts collected now, I’d be pretty sure I’d have a talk with her. I didn’t see her, though. From Blaine Street she could have gone the other way down Queen Anne Avenue.

I would never know for sure what happened yesterday when I was in that crosswalk, but I know it was a wakeup call. Old men like me shouldn’t go walking unattended if they don’t watch out. My mind wandered; I wasn’t watching out for cars—like a little kid. It’s cool to think young if you’re a creative artist, but not cool if you are in traffic.

What if I’d been hit? What would happen to the art in our gallery, and the software experiments I’m working on? I believe I am doing things to ensure that the art and the gallery is useful and helpful to Lynda, and to our two daughters and their families. I will die—run over by an SUV or struck down by a fatal heart attack or stroke; and that’s the bottom line of why I spend my time the way I do.

That is why I’m pay Nellie to learn and develop database management for all that I’ve made; and bookkeeping, using our family assets as content to her databases and financial accounting. That’s why I refer always to the dumpster story[1] to underscore the alternative to valuation and dissemination of the gallery’s contents for the benefit of my family and community.

[1] The dumpster refers to the inevitability of discarding my entire life’s work into a 10-yard dumpster at the time of my death in order to clear our gallery and storage room so as to leave no obligation to family and friends.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

vi170303  Wiki or not:  Here I come  

Anne Turner, one of the children of the late Stephen Hazel, suggested how to preserve and extend artists’ legacies. She maintains a website for him and is one of a number of children of region’s notable printmakers, the Children of the Printmaking Revolution. The author offers up his different approach.

Wiki nor not wiki

Should I start a wiki? The original question came up when Anne Turner and I began discussing ways to preserve and extend artists’ legacies. She is the one of the children of the late Stephen Hazel, and she has designed and maintains a website for him. I commented that she is one of a number of children of regional artists and printmakers of note, suggesting the term Children of the Printmaking Revolution.
We had a meeting at our family’s Mini Art Gallery. She commented, as she looked around the gallery and seeing artworks on the walls and Halfwood Presses for sale: “I didn’t realize there was so much here.” I thought, You have no idea how much there is . . . and Stephen is part of it.
There is a great deal to say about artists’ assets and the transfer of their legacy. Usually people think only of selling the art as a way of transferring it. They assume there is a market. Sometimes the art auction is a choice. With no alternatives planned or imagined, what are the descendants to do? The bottom line is that it is no easier to sell the art after the artist dies than it was during his or her lifetime; otherwise, there would be no discussion.
The work did not sell—period. When the work of art became a commodity, it entered a pool of sharks. Commodities sell when there is a plan to sell—usually before the object is made. Artists traditionally do not plan to sell a work of art before they start.
Commercially successful artists do, however, plan ahead. They choose colors that are currently in fashion and that will probably stay in fashion for the duration of the artwork offering. They consider medium, size, subject matter—everything they can imagine and study in the marketplace of design, decoration, entertainment, and interior furnishing.
Some artists, like Stephen Hazel, eschew this approach to making art. We—and I include myself with his kind of artist—have the idea that art comes not as a commodity but as an experience moving us to make something. If our finished art moves another person or people to something like an esthetic experience or cultural idea, they appreciate it; they may buy it.
Since the combination of the object’s appearance to the eye, the content to the viewer’s mind in some cases, and the exposure to the kind of people who can and will share this experience are rare, it’s rarely that the artworks sell. Even if the price is low, it may not sell. Commodities are like that.
My view is that there is a way to surmount this situation, and surmount it I must. I’m willing to see all my works destroyed—“sacrificed,” as Carl Chew would say—to simply clear out our valuable piece of real estate so that it can be rented to create an income for our family.
To create a bridge and connect to that point in time when and if the art and all the gallery furnishings, as well as miscellaneous tools, etc. (and the Halfwood Presses) are sacrificed, I work to change the art from commodity status to utility status.
If I succeed, it may be partly from my vision of the Northwest Print Center Incubators, because, among the 19 incubators, I planned a one feature called by a working title Printmaking Hall of Fame. Its focus is on artists of the Pacific Northwest Region who made important contributions to the art, craft and design of printmaking, including innovative tools and techniques. Think Dan Smith and Glen Alps, or Elton Bennett and Sheila Coppola.

I am the oldest printmaker (born 1941, the year before John P. Morgan) who has lived in Seattle since 1966; I may also be the oldest teacher of printmaking—unless my nineteen years at the UW do not qualify me as others whose formal teaching career was longer—such as Thomas Johnston. Therefore I am qualified to design a printmaking center which spans fifty years and blends old and new technologies in a way to benefit Seattle’s Cultural Arts.