Here’s to you, Helen Bedtelyon

Last night was a gathering for my favorite high school teacher, Helen Bedtelyon. She has been teaching Language Arts and Humanities at Lindbergh High School for 38 years and will now enjoy some much deserved rest! It was great to be there and to see how many former students and colleagues from the past decades were there to honor her. This included someone she taught with back in the late 1960s in Michigan, as well as the first principal at Lindbergh High who hired her for the position. About five students also took the podium to talk about the impact she had on their lives. Each one of them told a similar story; this was a woman who had touched their lives for the better.

Bryn was a good sport and came with me last night, which meant a lot to me because I’m sure it was rather boring for him. There aren’t many people I would fight rush hour traffic, sit through an hour long presentation, and wait in line for an hour on a weekday night to congratulate. Helen is definitely one of those people and it was wonderful to say hello and hug her in person again! Of course it has been too long since I’ve seen and talked to her last, probably six or seven years with just a couple of brief emails in the meantime. I got to see some friends from high school who were also there to pay their respects, so it was well worth it.

One other thing, I absolutely love eagles and realized that they were my high school mascot. It didn’t mean a lot to me at the time, but I do find meaning in this now. I’d forgotten about the eagle in a cabinet in the main hallway…

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I Will Go Back and Not Come Out

Installation was completed this past weekend on Saturday morning! Above is a view of two (out of three) of the dreamcatchers hanging in the tree. It went okay, even with a last minute site change based on the scale of the pieces and the size of the ladder I had with me. Initially they were going to be suspended between four trees along the road, but the ladder I had wasn’t tall enough to safely get me as high as I wanted to place them so I turned to a nearby tree instead, which actually both changed and informed the final work.

The title comes from a writing of the late Professor Jon Gierlich, and I had him in mind when first proposing the piece. After I was selected and was refining my idea, I realized that to stay within the constraints set by the park, I would need to change things. So I scaled down from one gigantic dreamcatcher to three smaller (but still big) ones. As I was assembling them, I started to think of them as representing the three adults in my life who are now dead who were most influential: my parents, and Jon Gierlich.

The final placement put two of them closer together on one side of the tree (shown above) and one by itself on a branch on the opposite side. I also included three felt feathers hanging alone, two on one side and one on the other. In my mind, I see the two togther as my parents, and the one alone, as Jon.

I liked that the tree forms an “umbrella” of sorts over the work. I was nervous about installing and how it would turn out, but after a few days, I’m actually pretty happy with it now. It doesn’t necessarily match what I was thinking in my head, but by going with the flow I’ve ended up with a work that is more introspective, and better matches my thoughts as I was constructing it. I had thought it would be something bright and eye-catching up in the trees, but it has turned out to be quieter, more of a suprise that you can stumble upon, as if the pieces are hiding, but not hidden. We’ll see how well it lasts in the elements or if people are compelled to mess with them at all. If they end up falling apart or being stolen, I won’t mind so much. I really see the activity of making and hanging these as the significant part of the piece.

Catching Dreams III

One week to go until installation (two weeks until the opening) and I’m about ready. Here’s a preview of one of the pieces. I hung it on my balcony to photograph for the map that will be printed of all works in the park this summer. Conveniently, I also have an “urban forest” outside my window, so it does give a sense of what the work will be like when it is installed.

Catching Dreams II

Still working on this project, tonight I made some small red felt balls and felt feathers (using only wool, of course) for the dreamcatchers. I’m going to try to get things finished this week for installation next weekend. Getting close to being done, but I’m never quite sure where things will go. Found myself smiling to myself for no particular reason as I was putting my supplies away, which I took as a good indication that I’m on the right track for my project.

Also this next week I’ll be undertaking another project, this one to get myself back in better physical health. I’m not a kid anymore and I’d rather work on things now than face more serious problems down the road. Need to lose a little weight and embrace some better lifestyle changes!

Artist Trust / EDGE Professional Development Program

Just got the word on yet another thing I had recently applied for, and the verdict was positive. I think it should be pretty fun and informative. The email said that “the application process was competitive this year” which I assume means that there a lot of applicants. Artist Trust is a pretty awesome organization in Seattle that supports Washington State artists. Many of the past shows I’ve participated in are things I found out about from researching on their website.

Anyhow, there will be sixteen of us participating in 54 hours of training over seven weekends. I’m excited! Description below:

The EDGE Program offers artists a comprehensive survey of professional practices through a hands-on, interactive curriculum that includes instruction by professionals in the field, as well as specialized presentations, panel discussions and assignments. The goals of the EDGE Program are to provide artists with the relevant and necessary entrepreneurial skills for achieving their personal career goals and to build community by supporting peer support and exchange.

Rootbound: Heaven and Earth IV – Orientation!

Yesterday I went to the orientation for Rootbound: Heaven and Earth IV. It was good to meet most of the other artists who will participating this year and to view and make a final selection for my site, which helped to direct the scale of my installation. Since the work needs to be higher up in the trees so that people can’t reach it, I’ve decided to go a little smaller than my concept sketch for the dreamcatcher, but to make three of them instead of just one. The site I will be working with is shown above, and I will put the three dreamcatchers in between a row of four trees along the road by the lower meadow.

Originally, I had wanted to find willow branches to form the hoops with, but since the work will be hanging outside for about four months, I’ve gone with using large hula hoops as the base. I think in a different, more permanent setting, I would be interested in using branches to see the work evolve and decompose. But for this, I’d prefer that the shape be maintained for the whole time.

Found the hula hoops yesterday at Fred Meyer and just finished wrapping the last one with wool yarn tonight. I must admit that I’m a little nervous about starting the webbing, but we’ll see how it turns out. As with most things, it is the starting that can be the most difficult part. I do like that I’ll be able to get most of the work done ahead of time. Installation should take place the weekend of June 16th/17th with the opening the following Saturday, June 23rd.