Tag Archives: Travel

Weekly Art Challenge: DETERMINATION

Hey Folks!!

This week’s theme is DETERMINATION and it appears that we all were feeling determined to complete something of importance.

RJ – CowAcrylic on Canvas

RJ is determined to create a large-scale acrylic painting of this sweet jovial cow! He is in the beginning stages and doesn’t want to rush the process – slow painting is part of the goal – but will keep us informed as he goes! and THAT FACE! Who doesn’t want to be nuzzled by such a face? The bold choice of colors compliment the cheerful persona of this cow and the perspective creates an intimate connection between the viewer and subject. Can’t wait to see it finished!

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Karri – Prayer

“I posted this sculpture in a previous post when it was in its beginning stages. It has taken months to get to this point and is still not complete. There have been days when I look at it and think, “it’s made of paper, and I could just set it on fire!” Lol. Having said that I am determined to make it work.”

Wow, this piece has come along since the first time we saw it! She still so intense and focused internally, that I almost want to tip toe around her so as not to disturb her. I imagine that the intensity and focus felt by myself and other viewers is a reflection of the determination Karri is feeling while creating her. Don’t burn her, Karri! She is just as determined as you! Another piece that I can’t wait to see finished! 🙂

karri determined

 

Bethany – Determination – Pencil on Paper

“There are many things I’m determined to have, to complete or keep up in my life. Things like getting the dishes done, keeping the toilets clean, homeschooling my son and being a wife. But there is one thing WE have been determined to have….another baby. So this is my baby in the womb, holding my heart cause it’s my greatest determination.” 
There is a lot of love and longing in Bethany’s piece and statement. I like how her determination for her family to grow is expressed with a clear drawing of the child holding a meticulously shaded whole heart and surrounded by undetermined scribbled lines. The scribbled lines representing in once sense the womb and internal spark of her desire and determination, but in another sense the scribbled lines also express that little else is as important to her than both present and future members of her family. Lots of luck with your determination! Any child born into a creative loving family is a lucky soul! 🙂

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EmilyMan, Acrylic on Canvas Board

“A while back I started a painting to practice painting skin because I was awful at it, today and thanks to this challenge, I FINALLY finished it like I had wanted to. This challenge was me being determined, and thank you whoever chose this theme because I really don’t think I wouldn’t have finished it without feeling determined to do so for this challenge! aha”

Painting skin can be one of the most stressful accomplishments for an artist! Emily’s work since joining our group has continually and happily surprised me.  Just when I think I have a grasp on her evolving style she presents us with a piece that exhibits her growing talent in a different direction. I love the man’s facial expression. You see an elderly man with wrinkles, thinned hair and aging spots; but his eyes and countenance express an observant and youthful mind. Great Job!

Emily determined

 

Amber –  Nadia (Mix media on paper) and National Parks (Photographs)

This week was particularly hectic for me. I was making my final work-trip to Southern Utah and I was working nonstop on the final piece (Nadia) for a portfolio I needed for a residency application. My determination to complete the piece in time for the deadline was a success by three days! Yay me!!

Nearby our job-site are a few national parks and I was determined to see as much as I could before work took me away from this magnificent landscape – its not often that I am in this area of the country. I didn’t get to go on the long day hikes as I hoped, but I did succeed in seeing a clear view of the La Sal Mountains from where I stood at Balancing Rock – the first time I was there the mountains were hidden by clouds. I also drove through the CanyonLands and got a small taste of the adventures that I could have, since I am determined to visit again. AND I finally saw Newspaper Rock. I have seen photos of it for years, and saw the sign every time I passed the entrance to Canyonlands. I am fascinated by petroglyphs and the nameless artists who created them thousands of years ago.

 

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Nadia

 

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La Sal Mountains from Balancing Rock in Arches.

 

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Driving into Canyonlands

 

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Newspaper Rock

 

Next theme: VAN GOGH!!

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Weekly Art Challenge: DISTANCE

Hey Folks!!

This week our theme is: DISTANCE

RJ – Three Bridges, Photograph

RJ’s photograph reminds me that distance is quiet and sometimes peaceful, like a day in the park; and gives us the space needed to see the full picture. The three bridges along the canal are spaced apart and each with their own story, yet they are connected by the flowing water of the canal and together they form the fuller picture seen from a distance.

rj distance

 

Karri – Heart, Collage on Paper

“This week I used pieces of torn maps of all the places my loved ones are, spanning 4 states. Though it might seem like a great distance, they all seem to fit nicely on this piece of paper.”

I love the puzzle aspect of the torn map pieces “fitting nicely” together, despite the distance between the people represented by each piece. The people that love you will always love you no matter where you are on the map.

karri 0 distance

 

Emily – Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, mix media

“Heres my entry for this week. My partner recently left for university, so yeah that’s what this is about “
Emily’s piece reflects the distance of the heart and it pulls the viewer into feeling that distance with her. I like the transparency of the faces over the map. Seeing the lines and shapes beneath facial expressions further suggests that distance is more than space between two points, but also an emotion.
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Amber – Wanderlust, instagram photograph

This was a somewhat difficult challenge for me. I had too many ideas shifting around inside my head. The concept of distance is both spatial and emotional for me, and the two are tightly connected in various ways.

When I was seven my mother allowed a rainbow “priest” named Blue to bless me. His blessing (or prediction, depending on how you look at it) was that I would forever wander, that I would find plenty and nothing at all – or something along those lines. He also gave me a piece of glass made from lightening striking the ground and told me I would eventually lose it, I did.

I travel a lot, both for work and for pleasure. The happiest years of my life are those with distance covered, the most depressing years are those that were stagnant. The people I love the most in the world are scattered all over it, I am never near enough of them. But, I can’t stop moving about because that is when I will feel the distance from everyone and emotionally shut down.

This is a theme that I plan to return to and fully explore in the future, but for now I present a photograph of an antique toy car, an old map of Denver, postcard of Wyoming and a tiny teacup – representing me – to represent the time, emotion and spatial aspects of distance in a way that is connected to me.

 

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Next challenge is a two week challenge and the theme is: OCEAN!

Thanks for stopping by!


Weekly Art Challenge: BLUE

Hello Folks!!

This week’s theme for our friendly art challenge is: BLUE! Sorry this post is so late, I had some problems uploading the images.

 

RJ: Untitled, digital media – RJ was inspired by both the markings of a zebra and the Aura Borealis for this weeks piece! His piece reminds me of the feeling of lightness that comes with travel and the creative ways we bring what we learn and experience during our travels together into one cohesive image.

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Amber: Sky, watercolor on paper – I used only shades of blue to create my sky. Currently I am working in the Texan panhandle and the vastness of the sky above me became my inspiration.

 

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Next theme: Pie!


Weekly Art Challenge: CHANGE

Hey Folks!!

This week the theme for our fun art challenge is “Change” and was picked by our new creative participant, Tony! Welcome to the fun Tony!

 

Rj: Change of Breakfast, Photographed Happening –  Lucky Rj was enjoying a week in France and with the limited materials he had to work with Rj’s piece became a reflection of a different pace of life one would experience while traveling. He wanted to show how a different location and can offer a change of perspective and using a moment that almost all people share, like eating breakfast, he was able to illustrate that feeling of change. And to add some playfulness to the image he transformed a sheet of paper too look like a croissant.

 

Tony: Same but Different, Acrylic – Tony’s piece is a statement that we all naturally change with age but yet we are still the same person from the beginning to end. Change is something that can not be escaped and those same changes does not make a different person, physically.

 

Amber: The Snake Girl, pen and ink with watercolors – For my piece I wanted to illustrate a spiritual transformative act, the shedding of one’s outer and confining layer to free the inner-self. My inspiration came from my own personal fascination with snakes, their use in religious mythologies and their often cultural association with women. When I began sketching this piece I intended to draw myself shedding the snake skin, but as the sketch progressed I saw that image wasn’t me, she was someone else unknown to me who I guess needed to be released.

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Thanks for stopping by!

 

Next week theme is: Mythical!


Alaska – Meeting our Deck-mates!

May 18th – Day 2 of our adventure!

BC coastline

BC coastline

Robert and I have become comfortably settled on our lounge chairs under the warm solarium heaters and taking in the peaceful and stunning views of the British Columbian coastline. This is the ultimate way to travel to Alaska. Great views, good company and large picnic basket of treats!

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British Coastline

Last night we began meeting our deck neighbors. They were a unique group of people. We had elderly couples moving to Alaska for retirement, a family of 12 musically talented kids on tour, students, more musicians, adventurous types from New Zealand to France and so forth. Everyone had a story.

 

Under the solarium

Under the solarium

First there was a man named Greg. He set up camp next to us on the first night and immediately began talking about his life, his past adventures and the new adventure he was about to start.  He became a big part of our ferry passage experience. Greg is a great and affable guy. I would love to tell you more about him, but I am saving the next post just for him.

Coastlines

Coastlines

In the café I met our deck mate Bob, a traveling ER Nurse and HAMM radio caller who was one his way to Homer, AK for a three month job assignment. Bob loves his job and is constantly moving about from one city to another working here and there as an ER nurse. He had even spent a year or so living and working in Hawaii while his daughter went to college. I instantly liked Bob. He was a very nice guy and we had many wonderful conversations over the next couple of days on a wide range of topics from travel to social issues. He was helpful enough to tell me all about some RV resources that I might find useful for future road trips and taught me the difference between Star side and Port Side! Which is very handy to know when the captain tells you that there is something of interest on port side to know what the heck port side is!

Oliver and Bob

Oliver and Bob

I also met Oliver, a traveling Frenchman and musician from the Paris area. He took to the family of touring musicians on the deck.  I watched him play his guitar with them a few times. The little boy from the family really liked him and would keep running up to him to show off what he was learning on his instrument. Oliver was really good with him! He also hung out with the girls from New Zealand – I didn’t speak with them much but not from not wanting too. With so many people I just didn’t get to make my way to them. Always missing one another.

Deck tents

Deck tents

We met an older couple who was drunk most of the trip. I don’t remember their names but the older man was a riot! He had a Mohawk with rattail and would repeat every question he asked several times. He talked a lot about his ex wife while his current and younger wife just sat and looked on like she wasn’t hearing anything. Several times he would offer his “Smooth” Brazilian rum. It was as smooth as a cactus plant! The couple was moving to Alaska because it was the man’s goal to return before he was 60 and he was achieving that goal with one day to spare! A few times I told him it was my birthday the day before. Each time he would ask “How old are you”. “34” I would reply and he would always respond “ I have kids older than you”. HAHA He thought Robert and I were a couple, though he would always make it known that it was not any business of his no matter how many times we told him we were only friends. He would ask questions I think just to ask and then forgot he asked them half way through our replies so the cycle would keep going. Must have been that “smooth” rum!  My favorite moment with the old man was when he asked if I met the pastor and I thought he was asking if I had met the bastard! What an awkward moment that was!

 

Coastline

Coastline

Finally there was a young Tlingit youth on hi way home from the lower 48. He was training as a mechanic near Portland, OR. Nice kid. We talked about the totem poles and he answered many questions that I had about how they were created. Impressive stuff, but more on that in a later post!

British Columbia Coastline

British Columbia Coastline

The passage today was good. We did have an hour or two in open water – thank goodness I wasn’t hung over. I don’t know how the Mr Mohawk with the “smooth” Brazilian rum fared in this portion of the trip. I was sober and not enjoying the rocking of the ship. I had to stay in the center of the ship and focus my mind on something other than the rocky movements to keep myself from getting seasick.  It was a short span and then the ship was back in the calmer more narrow channels of water.

 

Later in the day I actually saw whales off in the distance. I tried to tell people but everyone on the deck just looked at me and smiled like I was crazy or speaking in tongues. I don’t know, perhaps I was… There were whales in the distance, Killer whales in fact, but then the young boy from the musical family came over to correct me, actually he schooled me, about the whales not being whales. He said they were actually dolphins. I laughed and knowing not to argue with a 10 year old since they are usually smarter than the rest of us, I said “oh well, I am not from a sea area”. His responded “ well, I am from Minnesota”.  HA! Okay kid, point taken!

A few days later I learned from Bob that Killer Whales are not whales and they are actually a type of dolphin. Perhaps its time to change their names?

Robert

Robert

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Rocky Spruce Islands

Coastlines

Coastlines

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Evening

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View of Solarium

 


Painting an Alaskan Postcard

I am still not prepared to post about my magnificent trip to Alaska this past Spring. There are so many notes to look through and photos that still to be work on, but I did come across one of the postcards I painted while aboard the Columbia on the Alaskan Marine Highway that I wanted to share.

Alaska by the Ferry

I painted a few postcards while on the ship, but, before I was smart enough to photograph any of them, fellow passengers took a genuine liking to my work and asked if they could buy them. Feeling a bit generous I opt to give them away for free. Originally I had planned to paint my own postcards throughout the trip and mail them home to friends and family, but there was so much going on that I never actually found the time to stop, sit and paint as I had fantasized. It was a lot of work to keep up with my travel journal on a daily basis, let alone paint the landscape. When my fellow passengers sincerely wanted to mail my Alaskan landscape watercolor sketches to their family I was more than happy to just give them the postcard. I did, however, get some good conversation in exchange and a reason beyond my personal enjoyment to paint some more.

One of my recipients was a young girl about the age of 13. She came from a large family of twleve kids and they would travel the country singing bluegrassy hymns at various fairs across the states. Her birthday was our final day on the ferry so I gave her not only a postcard I painted but a book of blank postcards for her to paint as well.

Another recipient was a woman from a group of people who came up to enjoy our 8th deck scenery. She was a bit intoxicated but affable. She and I had a enjoyable conversation about Alaska’s scenery and what we will miss most about the great state. She had forgotten to buy postcards for her family and wanted to mail mine if I would sell it to her. The idea of my artwork traveling through the mail was good enough for me!

The final recipient was a guy that I had a bit of a crush on through out the ferry passage. It took me several days to finally muster up the courage to speak with him and I had the brilliant idea of giving him my favorite postcard with my contact info on it.. too forward?? lol I hope not. no word from him yet, but who knows.

I don’t remember where the ship exactly was when I sketched this scene. I am suspecting, judging by the bright yellowing sunset, that we were between Juneau and Ketchikan when the days were still incredibly long. I sat on the 8th deck of the Columbia, admiring the passing mountains and islands covered with evergreens, felt inspired by the brilliant colors and jovial mood of the deck. It was a challenge to sit and paint with the wind whipping around. A few times I had to chase after my little paper cup of water before it blew into the water.

Part of my trip was to meet people and these little postcards did wonders in that category! Next time I make it to Alaska I will def make the time to stop, sit and paint. 🙂


Mt St Helens National Volcano Monument

Work has taken me out to the West coast. While I was visiting the West my sweet loving nieces, having learned that I was only a hop, skip and jump away from Mt St Helen’s National Volcano Monument, requested that I go and take some photos for them. This was the first time either of my nieces have made a specific travel related request – besides “can you wait for us before going to Australia?” –  and in the spirit of supporting their own desires to travel and see the world I made and kept my promise.

Silver lake

Silver lake

The day started out as foggy and grey as any late Autumn day in the Pacific Northwest. In the morning, when I peered out the hotel window, my heart dropped and hopes of fantastic views quickly diminish; but I am stubborn and was determined to go for the sake of keeping a special promise.

This was my second attempt, the first was unsuccessful due to foggy damp weather and my father not knowing where to go. For my more successful attempt I took the Northern route, Rt 504. I was still unsure about the quality of views, but I knew that my nieces were counting on me and I reminded myself several times that I had NOTHING else to do. Views or not, this was much better than spending another day in the hotel room with nowhere to walk.

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Self portrait with Mt St Helen’s

In hindsight I should have just driven all the way to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, but I couldn’t help myself and stopped several times at several visitor centers along the way. Most of the centers, including the Johnston Ridge Observatory, were closed this late in the season; but I still found the informative plaques to be engaging.

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Ridge trail

With each mile the sky and views became clearer and more stunning. At one point the scenery was too amazing for me not to pull over into the viewpoint pullout to take some photographs. It was here I met a lovely couple, the Schindlers, who had forgotten their camera at home and none of us could figure out how to work his camera phone. They had decided to get out of the house and have a little adventure of their own. I didn’t want them to leave the national monument without any photos, especially since the grayness from earlier had passed and the view was spectacular. The Schindlers wrote an email address down for me and Mrs Schindler gave me a warm hug before we parted ways.

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Prior to reaching the J.R Observatory I turned onto a road to view Coldwater lake – one of the lakes formed by the 1980 eruption. I quickly found the trail that eventually led to a boardwalk walkway over the lake. The view was of course gorgeous. The water was smooth and clear as ice. Fortunately for me there were plenty of benches to perch myself and take in the landscape. I met another individual who once worked for the National Forrest Service and lived nearby when the 1980 eruption occur. We talked briefly about the eruption and how the Coldwater lake was formed and took about six years to transform from a murky muddy mess into the clean and peaceful body of water before me.

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Coldwater Lake

Finally, I set out for the final Observatory. As I am pulling out of the parking lot I see the Schindlers flagging me down. They wanted to warn me about the snow on the road and to be careful. So sweet! The road was not that bad, not for my car with brand new tires and 4WD. I was surprise to see so many people at the observatory. There didn’t seem to be as many on the road today. The air was colder than it was just a few miles away at the lake. The landscape was incredible! I am not sure, but I think I was maybe 3.5 straight miles away from Mt. St. Helen’s.

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Shadow fun on the ridge trail

I was told by many that Mt St Helen’s was amazing, I expected it to be “pretty” and “cool”, but this was beyond my imagination. I saw a paved walkway that went up to a higher viewpoint. so up I went. From there I noticed the walkway continued and became a dirt path. I continued following. Eventually I left the Observatory behind with its crowd of visitors and was walking along the mountain ridge with Mt St Helen’s on my right. I couldn’t stop myself, not yet at least. I must have walked about three miles out before I had to force myself to turn around. The sun was 45 minutes from setting and I didn’t have a flashlight with me to help navigate the trail at night, though I don’t think it would have been difficult.

St Helens Night

When I made it back to the observatory I noticed my phone had bars and that I could call my sister and speak with my nieces. I spoke with them as the sun went down, telling them about my day and making more promises to take them on adventures when they are older. My one niece asked “when I am, like 22, maybe I can call you and we could go some place. Can I?” . I assured them that they can ALWAYS call me and that we will go many places in the future. Love those sweet girls.

Night View

Night view

St Helens IX


The Badlands, South Dakota

Last week while I was driving West from a wind farm near Sioux Falls, South Dakota to the Washington coast for our next job, I passed by the Badlands for the first time in years.

The Badlands, located in Western South Dakota along I-90, are one of the most colorful and beautiful natural spaces in the American States. It took me two attempts to see this wonderful place the last time and it was painful to not have the time to stop for another visit this time around. You can briefly glimpse some of the eroded buttes from the interstate, but will not see enough to satisfy a craving.

Feeling a bit nostalgic about my earlier trip to the Badlands, and suddenly realizing that many of my photos from that visit are probably gone thanks to a cruel hard drive failure over two years ago, I decided to go through every photo file I had backed up and eventually through my Google Picasa account. Thankfully Picasa had a copy of every photo that I had posted on a former  blog of mine. Though I didn’t post everything, but I did post a few images and looking through those precious few I could feel myself back in the national park. It was a bright sunny day, the park had plenty of visitors but not too many, and I was in awe of everything that I saw.

While taking in the view from above there was a golden eagle, my first, soaring above the landscape. There were these giant silvery poofs that looked like prehistoric dandelions  all over the park. And of course there was the magnificent display of color in the rock formations from the various type of rock material packed together in tight layers. Each layer representing a different time in the long geological history of the region.

If you should ever go to this wonderland then you must go when the weather is lovely and the sky is blue to really appreciate the color. This is not a visit for bleak grey days. Its also a perfect place to bring a portable watercolor set.

 


Memphis Portraits

Earlier today I was looking through some old photo albums on my desktop, happily remembering a trip taken to Memphis,TN during the Summer of 2008 with a former boyfriend, when I came across a few favorites images, those that had survived a 2010 hard drive crash – two are now hanging in a local library on display for the public. At the time of this trip I was madly in love and eager to show my then ‘new’ beau off to my dearest friends and share with him one of my favorite American Cities, a city that I once called home.

I had graduated from Memphis College of Art (MCA) in 2003 and can honestly say that my 3 years in Memphis were some of the best in my life, they inspired me to be the artist that I am today. Many people had warned me about the dangers of moving to Memphis, its often  tumultuous history leaves it with somewhat less than desirable reputation amongst some who thought that I was a naive mark; but I didn’t care. I visited the Mid Southern city years earlier and loved its energy. When I was looking to transfer to a different college I was thrilled to learn that Memphis had its own Art College and the rest is history.

I am always excited to visit my old stomping grounds and during this particular 2008 trip I took my former partner all over Memphis. Exposed him to Beale street, Graceland, art museums, rode the Main Street Trolley, ate some local fare – well he did, I’m the vegetarian and Memphis is definitely not known as the Veggie capital – and spent a memorable evening listening to some genuine juke joint blues.

These images below were my favorites because they were passing strangers, individuals that left an imprint and in their own way define the essence of an adventure. Contact is sometimes minimal but the impact is always strong and memorable.

The bartender at the juke joint, serving from a simple menu and enjoying the best perk of his job, the music.

The Blues Musician, playing his heart and soul out to a packed  and energetic joint.

Mike, a transient man passing through Memphis. when I spoke to him he was unsure where he intended to go

The Trolley Man. He was very much focused on his job.


Porter Sculpture Park

This month I am working in the Eastern Dakota region of the states and while taking a long winding detour from Sioux Falls to Fargo I discovered a fabulous little sculpture park off of I-90!

I was driving West toward Hwy 81 with the hopes of exploring some rural decay that I had made note of earlier in the week when out of the blue a ginormous, dare I say Sexy,  bull head broke appeared in the horizon. There was absolutely no doubt to argue with, I was gonna get off at the next exit and get up close and personal with this Bull head!   Seriously, what kind of art loving curious drifter would I be if I just passed by? Not a very adventurous one, for sure.

My heart dropped when I got off the exit and saw a sign that the park was closed for the season. I had to see it. So I continued on and thought that maybe there is a house or a contact number or something that I could contact and get in.. There was nothing! No signs, except CLOSED, and no information that I could find. But luck would have it the gate was not completely closed. I immediately parked Teddi, my car, and walked the  half mile dirt stoney road that lead to the park itself.

The day was gorgeous with its blue skies pressed against golden grasses, it was absolutely perfect for an outdoor sculpture adventure.

The park itself was small but loaded with a variety of sculptures. Many pieces, like the vulture with a mallet or Pandora’s jack-in-a-box, had a comical horror quality about them while others, like the goldfish and dancing muses, were more whimsical and surreal. It was obvious that the artist, and at this point I correctly assumed it was a single artist – Wayne Porter – that created this artistic prairie oasis, had a sense of humor and made pieces that reflected his own need for art and ideas of beauty.

I spent about an hour walking among the colorful pieces, photographing them against the almost barren landscape and partially wishing that I was home and creating work of my own. Some pieces I responded to more so than others and a few will become a source of inspiration for my own work later when I return to my studio space.  My favorite sculpture was of course the Bull head that I spotted from the interstate. The size, the detail, and quality of work was amazing. I’m a Taurus and can not deny that I have a bit of a fascination for Bull images in art and culture. They are bold figures that evoke strength, stubbornness and focus determination along with an indulgence for personal comforts.

Another favorite was the Golden woman – unsure what the actual title is – sweeping golden square pieces into a bucket. My take from the piece is about falling apart but having the endurance to still pick up the pieces. Lately this year I have felt somewhat lost and a bit despondent; and this piece reminded me of my own path towards regaining myself, picking up the pieces.

Anyway, the park is a quirky little artist space that is definitely worth the stop during the summer season, especially if you are on an epic American road trip and love to support local artists. The open landscape surrounding the park adds this otherworldliness to the experience, at least it did for this Jersey Girl.

When I made it back to Fargo I immediately looked the park up and found this website:  Porter Sculpture Park you can read about artist Wayne Porter. I highly suggest checking it out and making plans for next Summer!