Port Townsend's 42nd Wooden Boat Festival - September

Thanks to their generosity and interest in marine education, the Wooden Boat Festival invited me to have a booth at this year’s Festival at PT’s NW Maritime Center. I had the best spot for the entire 3 day event - just inside the front gate! Thousands of people visited my booth, thanked me for sharing information about plankton’s importance and took away educational swag that I had printed for the show. With 30,000 visitors attending the event and favorable weather, it was an excellent way for me to reach families, marine scientists and enthusiastic citizens who were eager to learn some very basic truths about a topic many knew nothing about. Voting for their “Favorite Plankton” was a popular activity, resulting in the winner soon to be cast in bronze. It will be available for sale soon with all proceeds going to support plankton education and ocean awareness. The winner is…… DIATOMS, of course! Champions of oxygen production!

 My Plankton Booth at the Festival.

My Plankton Booth at the Festival.

 Dedicated diatom supporters and voters in the  Fav Plankton Contest!

Dedicated diatom supporters and voters in the Fav Plankton Contest!

 Oxygen production is quoted in varying credible amounts. I prefer this memorable and substantial fact. Simple truths in large fonts speak volumes.

Oxygen production is quoted in varying credible amounts. I prefer this memorable and substantial fact. Simple truths in large fonts speak volumes.

 Beautiful Boat Shop at the NW Maritime Center on Port Townsend’s waterfront.

Beautiful Boat Shop at the NW Maritime Center on Port Townsend’s waterfront.

 Some of the planktonic swag given away to ocean fans.

Some of the planktonic swag given away to ocean fans.

 The Diatoms showing up on the popular t shirts. More are on order now!

The Diatoms showing up on the popular t shirts. More are on order now!

 A future marine scientist.

A future marine scientist.

San Francisco's Exploratorium Art Show - September 2018

I had a month to complete the artwork that emerged from my experience onboard the research vessel and prepare for an art show at the fabulous science museum, the Exploratorium. Schmidt Ocean Institute held an elegant reception on the pier overlooking the City where the work of the 6 Artists-At-Sea was displayed. Three of us were present to share our work and meet supporters and scientists involved with the work of the Falkor. SOI’s ongoing projects were presented, and future ones revealed for expanding ocean awareness and education in high tech ways. Wendy Schmidt is supporting some really cool work all over the world. And hats off to her organization for supporting the connection and importance of art and science working together!

https://schmidtocean.org/collection/the-seeping-cascadia-margin/

   Cascadia Spiralis   - my carved diatoms spinning across the ocean floor while producing bushels of oxygen!

Cascadia Spiralis - my carved diatoms spinning across the ocean floor while producing bushels of oxygen!

 View from our Chinatown flat. The Exploratorium is just a few blocks away on the Embarcadero.

View from our Chinatown flat. The Exploratorium is just a few blocks away on the Embarcadero.

 Painter Lauren Salm, chief scientist Susan Merle, with the portrait Lauren did of her just behind us.

Painter Lauren Salm, chief scientist Susan Merle, with the portrait Lauren did of her just behind us.

Schmidt Ocean Institute Artist-At-Sea - August 2018

For 10 days this summer, I traveled from San Diego to Astoria, OR., aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute’s beautiful research ship, RV Falkor. I was joined by 5 other artists from all over the country, including a painter from Paris while the ship was engaged in mapping the ocean floor, specifically in search of methane seeps. The seeps can be seen using very advanced sonar imaging technology, sending pings to the bottom of the sea and back to the ship while those sounds reveal the depth and character of the ocean floor. It’s just like Das Boot, Red October and Sea Hunt listening to the mysterious sounds and echoes while watching the colorful images rolling across the enormous monitors in the “Science Control Room” onboard Falkor. The chief scientist, Susan Merle, was studying this swath of the coast - the Cascadia Margin, to establish a baseline survey of what’s down there. This will help scientists study the effects of methane on deep sea flora and fauna, as well as prepare for the potential of future petroleum industry exploitation. As artists, we were given the opportunity to observe and participate in the study, draw and photograph, stand watch at the sonar monitoring and translate the fascinating process into our own artistic expressions while eating gourmet meals, and engaging deeply with a rich life at sea on the Falkor.

https://schmidtocean.org/collection/the-seeping-cascadia-margin/

 Research vessel Falkor. The only thing missing on this ship is a set of bronze Plankton Action Figures!

Research vessel Falkor. The only thing missing on this ship is a set of bronze Plankton Action Figures!

 Sonar imagery from the Cascadia Margin

Sonar imagery from the Cascadia Margin

 Undersea peaks and pinnacles

Undersea peaks and pinnacles

Source: https://schmidtocean.org/collection/the-se...

High School Watershed Students - July 16, 2018

Northwest Watershed Institute asked me and artist friend Glo to provide an art experience for their group of young stewards during their weeklong intensive camp stay at Fort Flagler, near PT. The kids were earnest and deeply interested in the environment, so it was easy to connect and engage them in the world of plankton and issues of ocean awareness. We looked at freshwater plankton collected from my own frog pond under the scope and found enough fascinating specimens to keep their focus during a plankton viewing and drawing session. They had spent the day on the nearby beach digging clams and learning about the biology of bivalves, so they were exhausted and happy to settle into quiet observation and sketching. 

 Looking at pond water samples revealing copepods, daphnia and various squirming muck-dwelling surprises. 

Looking at pond water samples revealing copepods, daphnia and various squirming muck-dwelling surprises. 

 Source of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, this particular dinoflagellate excited one student.

Source of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, this particular dinoflagellate excited one student.

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Plankton Research Cruise - RV Sikuliaq

As Artist-At-Sea with a dozen marine scientists, I happily settled into my stateroom onboard the icebreaker RV Sikuliaq on February 14th. We headed out to collect zooplankton and seawater  from Newport, Oregon to Trinidad in Northern California. The ship was our base for the next several days – a wildly mobile home, as it turned out, with typical winter winds and mountainous waves.

The survey area began close to the Newport shore, then headed 60 miles out to sea,  south to California and back. The large ship ( 280') was very comfortable and outfitted with all the equipment to investigate how seasonal variations in the zooplankton affect the overall marine food web. Speaking of food, the chefs onboard the ship prepared beautiful meals, despite the frequent wild rolling of the seas and flying pots and pans. This is the first trip of a 2 -year study funded by the National Science Foundation. OSU lead scientist, Bob Cowen, and his students will conduct 4 research cruises. Each trip will also include an Artist. I was fortunate enough to be invited to join this wonderful group of young scientists to observe and record their work deploying plankton collection nets, seawater sampling equipment as well as viewing images from the marvelous underwater camera developed by Bob Cowen.  The images from the microscope and ISIIS camera, rich conversations with the scientists and ship’s crewmembers gave me loads of material to work with back in the studio. I did some drawings of the organisms I examined under the microscopes, was able to help sort different species for preserving for future study, and spent time with the excellent plankton books the professors brought onboard.

I'll be joining another cruise with the Schmidt Ocean Institute in July to map methane seeps on the seafloor. https://schmidtocean.org

 The spectacular ship Sikuliaq. Great plankton, great food, great people!

The spectacular ship Sikuliaq. Great plankton, great food, great people!

 Heading under the Newport Bay Bridge to the open ocean.

Heading under the Newport Bay Bridge to the open ocean.

 A few of the young scientists awaiting the next net haul.

A few of the young scientists awaiting the next net haul.

 Pouring the net contents into buckets for the wet lab and specimen sorting

Pouring the net contents into buckets for the wet lab and specimen sorting

 Mending torn nets before redeploying.

Mending torn nets before redeploying.

 Sorting and bagging chaetognaths (arrow worms) for the freezer

Sorting and bagging chaetognaths (arrow worms) for the freezer

 Team preparing to launch the seawater collection apparatus to sample water from same areas where zooplankton is collected to determine water attributes - salinity, temp. O2 and how that affects plankton.

Team preparing to launch the seawater collection apparatus to sample water from same areas where zooplankton is collected to determine water attributes - salinity, temp. O2 and how that affects plankton.

 Scientists securing equipment for rough seas.

Scientists securing equipment for rough seas.

 ROV with ISIIS camera being lowered and towed for hours of high resolution plankton scanning and recording

ROV with ISIIS camera being lowered and towed for hours of high resolution plankton scanning and recording

 The thrill of tweezing out all the tiny pteropods for one bag, fish larvae in another, and my favorites - Tomopteris!

The thrill of tweezing out all the tiny pteropods for one bag, fish larvae in another, and my favorites - Tomopteris!

 These are some images taken from the ISIIS ROV camera that Bob Cowan developed. The Tomopteris, Pteropods and Chaetognaths are seen on (f), (e) and (f), respectively.

These are some images taken from the ISIIS ROV camera that Bob Cowan developed. The Tomopteris, Pteropods and Chaetognaths are seen on (f), (e) and (f), respectively.

Port Townsend

Last summer I moved out of Portland and far from city life to reconnect with the ocean environment and my plankton brethren.  I landed on a semi rural lot in Port Townsend, Washington, where I built a small workshop home for myself alongside a slightly larger rental house. It's a short walk from the beach and Fort Worden. Within 640 square feet, my bandsaw, drill press and workbenches keep company with the kitchen, while the bedroom is at the other end of the 40' building. Wood chips lay thick in the kitchen, but scatter lightly by the time I get to the bed. After completing the building project, I can finally get back to work.

Here in Port Townsend, I found a shop to help me prototype the Crab zoea using 3D printing. Turn Point Design's Brandon Davis used PLA (corn based) plastic filaments to print a larger version of the original alder model. I sprayed it after the final sanding using a Krylon "Seaglass" transparent spray paint. I'm experimenting with LED lighting inside for a subtle glow, i.e. bioluminescence.

Model making is a useful way for me to envision these microscopic forms in various placements and groupings that I hope will someday find a home in a public setting where many people can witness the diversity of plankton.

 My new workshop/home (right),  with rental house on the left. Snow on Christmas Day.

My new workshop/home (right),  with rental house on the left. Snow on Christmas Day.

 Crab zoea settled in the snowy yard. 3D print of corn- based plastic. This is about 30" h.

Crab zoea settled in the snowy yard. 3D print of corn- based plastic. This is about 30" h.

 Group of carved wood Ceratium phytoplankton models for large installation. This is about 13" h.

Group of carved wood Ceratium phytoplankton models for large installation. This is about 13" h.

 Carved Ceratium model for proposed large outdoor bronze installation. (13"h)

Carved Ceratium model for proposed large outdoor bronze installation. (13"h)

 Shop/kitchen

Shop/kitchen

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 The truth is here with the microscope. The art drifts in with the tides.

The truth is here with the microscope. The art drifts in with the tides.

Artist Residency 2017

For the last 2 1/2 months, I have been in residence at the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology on the Oregon coast. During my stay there, where I was given a working studio and a cozy cabin, I focused on my various plankton projects and engaged deeply with the local ocean environment. Regular visits to the nearby Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, connected me with plankton biologists and others who helped me understand more of the wildly fascinating life cycles and relationships in the plankton community right under my nose at the beach. 

My microscope and its camera were excellent tools for total immersion in the plankton universe. John Chapman, a biologist at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, generously invited me to collect plankton late one wintry night off the end of the Newport fishing pier. He brought all the needed equipment and I was able to return to my own "wet lab" at Sitka with a veritable bouillabaisse of zooplankton to observe for the next several days. I was mesmerized and delighted with the quality of the images in every drop of water which I sketched and photographed continually as each organism gradually slowed down and eventually expired, making them much easier to draw!

My work on the prototypes for the plankton board game and action figures continues with more characters carved in alder and painted. Below are a few, poised to make a move on the prototype game board.

Plankton Action Figures - from top LEFT: Dinophysis, (produces diarrhetic shellfish toxin); Sea urchin larva; Pteropod; MIDDLE: Oyster larva; Diatoms, (the oxygen champs); Barnacle larva; BOTTOM:Alexandrium, (produces paralytic shellfish toxin); Ceratium, more oxygen! ; Crab larva

sitkacenter.org

hmsc.oregonstate.edu

Plankton Pageantry

A new series of sealife emerged from the studio this week, ghostly white and ready for 3-D scanning and prototyping. Once they are printed as 3" plastic miniatures, they can be refined and made into collectible oceanic super heroes. I'm also working on trading cards with images and a little science to describe each character's attributes and super powers.

End of January will take me to an artist residency in downtown Boise at Surel's Place. I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to experience a new environment and wonderful people, and am looking forward to sharing my work and enthusiasm for ocean life.

After Surel's Place, I'll drive directly to Playa for a month residency there. I am so pleased to be able to return there and have more time in that nourishing creative place.  In both residencies, I will be working on plans for marketing my planktonic sculpture both as large art forms and as educational toys.  

surelsplace.org    playasummerlake.org

 From left: oyster larva, crab zoea, sea angel (clione limacina), and 2 dynoflagellates.

From left: oyster larva, crab zoea, sea angel (clione limacina), and 2 dynoflagellates.

Art Invitational - November 7 & 8 at the World Forestry Center 10-4 pm

After working all summer on developing new plankton forms, I've settled on three to show at the Sitka Art Invitational next week. Barnacles have returned to the spotlight, this time in their larval free -swimming form - bristling with antennae and slender jointed legs or setae. A larval form of a marine snail and the planktonic paddle swimmer, Tomopteris are all painted with a pearlescent paint giving them a ghostly and luminous appearance as they do in their ocean habitat.

               Larval form of marine snail drifts freely in the ocean before settling on the bottom.                Alder on charred alder base.

              Larval form of marine snail drifts freely in the ocean before settling on the bottom.

              Alder on charred alder base.

               Tomopteris - paddle swimmer is a fast and voracious feeder of smaller plankton.

              Tomopteris - paddle swimmer is a fast and voracious feeder of smaller plankton.

               Barnacle nauplius - After brooding in the female, thousands of these are released into the ocean.                               After several molts they will settle and cement themselves to the rocks and remain for years.         

              Barnacle nauplius - After brooding in the female, thousands of these are released into the ocean.               

              After several molts they will settle and cement themselves to the rocks and remain for years.

 

 

 

"Tidal Chamber" Washed to New Shores

My recently completed installation, "Tidal Chamber" has fetched up on two new beaches.

I placed one half of the completed assemblage in the entryway of the Discovery Museum - part of the World Forestry Center, near the Portland Zoo. The large kelp, several horseshoe crabs and many, many barnacles round out the piece. Thank-you to the WFC for giving Tidal Chamber a new home in this lovely forest setting. There is no charge to enter the lobby and see my piece, and a $5 charge to see the rest of the exhibits.

The other half of the work has been placed in a beautiful building in Olympia Washington. The Department of Ecology houses many fine works by regional artists in its very modern and light-filled spaces. "Tidal Chamber 11" has found a perfect spot among the cobbles of a long dry riverbed/beach that runs through the middle of the grand building's atrium area. Thank you to Jeffree Stewart for the invitation to show my work with all the other accomplished artists.

 Installation at the Discovery Museum near the Portland Zoo. Across the road from the MAX stop.

Installation at the Discovery Museum near the Portland Zoo. Across the road from the MAX stop.

 The atrium of the Department of Ecology building in Olympia, Washington.

The atrium of the Department of Ecology building in Olympia, Washington.

 My niece, Sophie and Jeffree Stewart who helped me install the work.

My niece, Sophie and Jeffree Stewart who helped me install the work.

Tidal Pop-Up 1

My marine organisms have been traveling around Portland since their emergence from the low tide zone a few months ago. Being sessile sealife, their first trip was short - to the front door of Rae's Lakeview Lounge adjacent to the studio where they were created.

Easter

Tidal Pop-Up 3

Early morning in the Pearl was a perfect swampy spot to let the Tidal Chamber out for some water sports. Tanner Springs Park on NW 10th and Northrup hosted the collection with curious comments from morning walkers.

Playa - Artist Residency

I spent 2 weeks on the receding shores of Summer Lake at Playa a few weeks ago. 2 hours south of Bend in the pure high desert. After weeks of extraordinary rains, the area was bursting with life. Shorebirds, muskrats, coyotes, snakes and 7 or so other artists, writers and dancers shared this scenic spot in which to indulge our most fervent efforts and ideas. We were given lovely little houses on  a walden like pond with access to studios for our work. Dinners were generously served in a commons house where we could all gather for food and/or society, but most of the time we were each well-immersed in our independent work. It was the very thing I needed to intensify my focus on my carving. Countless thanks to Deb Ford and PLAYA for the generous opportunity.

 Perfect working space with roll-up door.

Perfect working space with roll-up door.

 Young robin fresh from the nest.

Young robin fresh from the nest.

 Horseshoe crab, "giant" plankton, Clio polita on the shore of Summer Lake.

Horseshoe crab, "giant" plankton, Clio polita on the shore of Summer Lake.

 Segmented planktonic worm, Tomopteris at play on the Summer Lake beach.

Segmented planktonic worm, Tomopteris at play on the Summer Lake beach.

 Dancers at play on PLAYA's pond.

Dancers at play on PLAYA's pond.