Saturday, April 11, 2009

Change is in the Wind

For years, I have awakened before dawn to write. I scratch black ink on white paper with a special fountain pen. The only rule, keep pen moving. In a half dream state I write, starting with the mundane of yesterday. Layers unfold. I find my own mind. I started this after 20 years of living in Synanon, as a wife, to living alone in one room. It was an avenue to explore where I had been, where I was now, and what kind of future to design. It served me well. 

Change is in the wind. I am now an artist. I work in clay, creating masks. Not sure why I obsess with faces, but I don't question, just make them. I do less writing than I used to. The first draft of the memoir has been waiting to be attended to. Does it need a rewrite or is it ready to be sent out? I do not know. But it calls me. And the Ink Quilts, an art form I invented, one for every chapter of the memoir, to be completed. They illustrate in collages of images, drawings, and "ink" quilting, instead of cloth and threads. 

Digital photography is my new play, learning how to take pictures, how to use photoshop, iPhoto, etc. Almost immediately I won awards for images. My husband pointed out that maybe I have found the art form, the awards an indication, when in writing rejection letters fill the files. Maybe he is right, maybe, not. I follow my heart, and it is taking me back to the memoir. Not enough time in each day to explore all that draws me.

I have had this blog for a while, only occasionally writing in it. Added photographs to it, but really hadn't figured out how to incorporate it in my day. Then along came Twitter. The Three Rivers Artist Studio Tour #9, 2010, had begun the preparation process. It was suggested we Twitter our art process. In learning how to get onto Twitter I discovered it could be connected to this blog site. The 140 words are not enough for me. Some of what I read on the site is a little self absorbed, at least the first impression, more like teens using cell phones to touch base. But I noticed fellow artist, Jana Botkins trail from Twitter to her blog, journaling about a mural project she is in the middle of , an Ah-ha, moment. 

So, I decided to start in my journaling on paper to get the boring stuff moving, but once I tap into what really matters I will move to this blog and finish the journaling process here. In Twitter I'll write the topic and tie it to the blog, to see where it all leads. Every time I take on a new learning process the excitement builds. 

Today I will finish framing the Yokohl Valley Rock Art images. Then I will notify Dick Burns, the photographer, to show him the five images. He wants to approve the quality and to be assured that they came from Yokohl Valley. Then once he approves, I will call Ken Woodward, the representative of the local Indian Tribes, to tell him Dick approved, and to make sure Ken makes clear to the Elders that I have no intention of selling the pieces in The Yokohl Valley Art Show in July, at Arts Visalia. The Indians are tired of everyone making a profit off their contributions except them, which I appreciate. 

I want to donate the pictures to La Sierra High School in Porterville, and I think Ken and the Elders will like this idea. Some of the students who flow through the school come from the reservation nearby and I think it is an appropriate place for these beautiful images to hang. Other kids come from South, Central America and Mexico, have Indian heritage, too, and might find them interesting. 

These photographs will be added to the many original art pieces we, and our artist friends, have donated to make the environment beautiful for the students attending the school. It looks more like an art gallery, than a school, something Bruce and I are really proud of.

The show in July is part of a process to stop Yokohl Valley from being developed as planned by the Boswell Corporation. The valley is over the hill from where I live, maybe ten miles as the crow flies. Mostly cattle ranchers own the land, except that which Boswell bought up over the years. He, too, used it for cattle grazing, but is in the process of turning his property into another Sun City, or Chula Vista, wall to wall suburbs, shopping area, gas station, golf course, etc. Housing for 10,000, and a vacation spot for up to 29,000 in total. Since no affordable housing will be available for lower income people, all who do the landscape work, housekeepers, gas station attendants, etc, will have to drive from quite a long ways from their homes to work there, thus more traffic on the roads, etc. And the most serious issue, water, is barely addressed when you ask questions of the planning commission who is giving permission for this endeavor. There are questions as to how the water will last for the existing people in our county since the water table lowers every year. We use more than Mother Nature can replenish and have for years. It is catching up with us. 

The Boswell project, I suspect, is on hold because the economy has tanked and who would be able to buy houses right now? Mr. Boswell died last week, so that might slow things down. His son is running the company, and I don't know how in control he has been with this whole idea. 

There is a push to try to get the Planning Commission to set a standard to build within, and around the existing cities in Tulare County and to leave the open spaces alone as much as possible. We certainly have enough small cities. But how to deal with the Private Property issue, "It's mine to do what I want," which is the majority view in this county. We haven't been known for looking at the whole of the county and planning ahead for growth in sustainable ways. It's mostly been who has the most money to influence that determines where we go. Boswell is a perfect example. He figured out ways to influence state and government to allow him to get as large as he wanted, even though the law of the land was to help keep farms in our country 160 acres at the largest, starting back with President Lincoln, who thought if we kept farming in smaller increments it would always be an avenue for poorer people to make a living, to feed their families and live on the land. The law was never really enforced thus Boswell, and many others, were able to grow enormous. I do admire the creative ways in which his workers improved and invented. But they also created situations that worsen our lot. Poisoned waters, interruption to wildlife, hampering diversity of people and agriculture (per "King of California," the book about Boswell's empire), and many other problems. Do I think we will stop the Boswell's? Not really.  But I never thought a man who looks like my sons would be President of the United States in my lifetime, so "hope springs eternal," as Emerson said.

Cloudy, gray, and cold day. More rain? Hope so.

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