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My Son Teaches Film-making at IAIA

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 2:37pm

Kahlil Hudson on horseback in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado – photo by Tyler Hughen

I first attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in 1988-89 when my youngest was a year old.  Then I went back to pursue a BFA in 2009-2010.  Little would it come to pass that 4 years since my classes there, my son Kahlil Hudson would be hired to teach film!  Huh?  Yep, he’s qualified.  He completed his MFA in cinematography, photography and film directing from UCLA and he’s made several award-winning films.  You can check out his partnership website with one of his best friends, Tyler Hughen at www.lowandclear.com     No, Kahlil doesn’t have his own personal business  website YET  because he’s too doggone particular about how and what he exactly wants on the site!  So in the meantime, we know he’ll make up his mind, we know he’ll get it together, we know he’ll be happy with it when it does get done!

Kahlil on a walk, West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Kahlil has been teaching for a couple of months now; when I asked him how he liked his teaching job at IAIA, without hesitation with his big, relaxed smile he replied:  “…I love it…!  I had no idea I would love teaching what I love to do…the students are great to work with…!  In fact, we are thinking of actually buying our home here in a year or two…!”    (Hmmm….what does this mean for Grandma?  Maybe I will have to position myself in my own new home between Santa Fe and Pagosa Springs — that would mean Geronimo country of Abiqui, New Mexico area.  I love that country right up there in my heart next to the mouth of the Chilkat River on Mud Bay Road in Haines, Alaska!

Kahlil’s grandparents would have been proud of him reaching this point in his life, especially my Dad and Kahlil’s other Grandfather Bob Hudson.  Bob was a school teacher his entire adult life and loved it.  When video cameras first come on the market, my father bought one and took films of everything and anything wherever he went.  Grandparents die way too soon; we could live to be in our 90s if we were taught how to take care of ourselves in many more ways than one.   Why live that long?  So we can see the fruits of our parenting/grand-parenting in the eyes and hearts of our grandchildren!

Categories: Arts & Culture

Halloween makeup for the procraftinator

Alaska Crafter - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 8:23am
The Alaska Crafter column is back!  Check it out in its print edition in today's Juneau Empire, or read on for a last minute halloween fix!

Here we are again Juneau, another blustery year gone by and October ushering in the crafter’s most hectic holiday, Halloween. If you’re anything like me you’re aflutter with a mixture of trepidation and excitement brought on by a little thing I like to call procraftination. Yes, the fine art of waiting till the 11th hour to whip together your Halloween costume. I hear you protest, that has never been me! Hah! Even the most dedicated and honed crafter has slipups — some years the Halloween deadline approaches and we all find ourselves sheepishly in the ransacked costume aisle with no supplies, no shipping options and a touch of panic.
Never fear, the Alaska Crafter will help set you back on track! Years of self-inflicted procraftination mean I know every trick of the trade to make it appear as if I did not wait until the last minute to hastily assemble my costume. And this year’s secret weapon . . . makeup.Makeup can be transformative in a very efficient amount of time, is readily abundant and if you can channel your inner artist a few hours before the big spook night you may just be able to convince your friends and family that you are not a procraftinator, which seems like the best of all possible solutions to never repeat that word again. Ever.Alaska Crafter’s 6 Steps to Makeup Success1. Plan: Whether you’re a ghoul, goblin, vixen or vampire, you’ll need a little bit of research to keep you on track. Find an image of your ideal makeup and keep it handy. Map out your makeup beforehand by drawing an outline of your face and the general sketch of the design you’d like to apply on paper first so you have it as a reference.Check out more after the jump
2. Supplies: Think of your face as a painting surface like a wall or canvas. For your home you would purchase quality paints and a few nice brushes, and I am willing to bet your face is a bit more precious. So skip the premade Halloween kits of white cream and grease pencils and head toward the makeup aisle. Think of eyeliners as sketching pencils, and use eyeshadow as small paint pots. Depending on your look, lipsticks and lipliners can come in handy for bright reds, cuts and blood, while purple and yellow eyeshadow can make truly realistic bruises.3. Base: Prep your face just like a canvas. Cream or liquid base provides the best coverage, but in the case of the Halloween kit makeup, can get sweaty and streaky as the night wears on. Follow the cream or liquid base with a powder overlay and you’ll get consistent coverage. For ghouls and goblins try a light-colored liquid makeup base all over with a smooth sponge and then follow with a white or green eyeshadow applied with a larger powder or blush brush. Blue works for a frozen face, and red for a devilish look.4. Cut in: Once you have an even basecoat, cut in the rough outlines of your makeup. Pull out that makeup plan you previously sketched on paper and use an eye or lip liner in lieu of a pencil. Another option is to use a small angled eyeshadow brush and a powdered eyeshadow. Wet the tip of the brush and use the powder like a small pot of paint. This will give your makeup softer edges and a more artistic look than the clean lines of a pencil.5. Detail: Now is the time to fill in the outlines and to have a little fun with your look. I like to start abandoning the pencils and brushes and get into the artistic side of things by using fingertips to smooth and shape the contours of the design. Another technique is stippling which uses a stiff brush or textured sponge to make an uneven, coarse or dotted look (like five o’clock shadow or lumpy warts).Have makeup removal wipes handy in case there are little missteps. Remember, under all the layers is your lovely skin, so any big booboos can always be carefully cleaned and recreated if necessary. For hairy, scary type makeups this is where creeping blood drips and big bruises come in. For fairy type makeups the eyelash applications and glitter dusting happen now.6. Set: The last step to ensure enduring success is to apply a final coat of loose powder to set the entire makeup. Shake a bit of translucent powder onto a large powder brush and lightly apply this all over your face with a tapping motion. This last step will keep your crafter glow alive and keep you looking as fresh as if your ghoulish self just stepped from the grave.
Read it in the original here.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Christine Byl: Shelf Promotion: Trading Commerce for Art

49 Writers - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 7:00am
Christine Byl at a reading event; photo by Mollie Foster
Near top the list of my greatest riches is the gang of artists I call friends: poets and painters, musicians and quilters, collagists and photographers. Our conversations, across medium and genre, stimulate me to consider the world at angles skew to my default impulses, and push my work to places I would not know how to take it on my own. We talk about books we've read--the new or the old, the overrated, the flat-out brilliant--and music we've rediscovered ('80s REM, anyone?) We talk about art that makes us wince, shiver, flounce or rage. We talk about the process of making, and our tools (words, paint, sound) and the tasks the tools are applied to--elegy, play, witness, and praise.
Over the past year or so, one conversational theme has recurred among us more than any other, rivaling even the old standbys, "Balancing Procrastination and Discipline" & "Does Art Really Matter?" Over beers, walking the dog and in stolen asides at conferences, we return again and again to this: How to negotiate the terrain that up-thrusts when art abuts commerce? We vent and bemoan how it seems you can't be a writer any more without also being a spokesperson. We worry that we spend too much or not enough time shepherding work through the world. Even as we celebrate each other's external triumphs--this prize, that grant, a fundraiser goal met, a book contract signed--we admit, in bit-off sentences, to a vague internal shame that underlies moments when a thing we make becomes a thing to buy. Because a thing to buy is necessarily a thing someone must sell. And more and more, we're told, that someone is us.
My own history in sales is short but tortured. In grade school, my class held fundraisers for various causes: the magazine sale, the chocolate bar sale, the case-of-citrus sale, proceeds going for sports uniforms or library orders. I was not a big fan of these events, though some were easier than others. Grapefruit customers were a sure bet; Mom, aunts and grandparents waited to buy fruit from my siblings and me. Chocolate bars sold themselves to my immoderate father's sweet tooth. I didn't even have to leave the house.             The magazines were something else. Without a built-in customer base in the family, I had to go door-to-door. I dreadedthis. I never won prizes for the most sales; in fact, I often "lost" the sign up sheet, and once, prefiguring my fiction writer self, I fabricated a list of purchasers, inventing characters to go with choices. Who would order Popular Science? Sports Illustrated, with the free, illicit calendar? Ranger Rick? I felt sheepish about such lame efforts, especially when classmates compared numbers and showed off loot, but I couldn't bring myself to cross neighbors' porches, ring doorbells and ask if they wanted to buy something. Draw attention to myself, and pursue a profit, in front of a virtual stranger? Humiliating.              This commerce-based shame, persisting into adulthood, is of course my own brew, mixed from equal parts Calvinist roots, which lodged in me the hunch that I had no business asking for attention or rewards, and an introvert base, which does not relish direct address in any form. I certainly don't mean to project this aversion on to every author or artist; there are people, some I admire very much, who can chat and connect and raise funds and sell things happily, and well, with integrity and a sense of fun. Still, I know, from the recurring conversations, that many of us hover at the base of porch stairs, shifting our feet. You'd think our numbers would make it easier to bear, or better, easier to revolt, but somehow we still feel...powerless.            In anticipation of my first book published last year, I worried about this issue a lot. Preparations for the book's release date centered on pragmatic, market-based concerns: how the cover would look reproduced in print reviews, how "discoverable" a subtitle would be by search engines. These were necessary questions, and I appreciated the good people whose job it was to ask them. (Even a non-profit press has to keep the lights on, and thriving literary businesses are good for every reason.) But a publicity department is one thing, a self quite another. As delighted as I was that the book was wanted and invited to enter the world on its own terms, I worried that I'd feel like a shill, in constant discomfort at the notice most writers both crave and hide from. To my great surprise, once the book was out and the conversation actually began, I almost never felt this way. The dog-and-pony show I dreaded rarely materialized.            Not for lack of chances. I have done a lot of book events in the last year, radio interviews, panel discussions, classroom visits, and many readings. Some were invitations--Alaska library events, conference keynote speeches. Friends initiated other events, eager to help welcome my book in their town or classroom. Some events I lined up myself, reaching out to store owners or librarians in places I knew I'd be visiting. A few times, particularly when emailing people I didn't know, I felt slightly like a hawker. Book cover, author photo, links to reviews, hey, look at my wares, how 'bout I come and read?
But after the events were set up and the asking was over, after people gathered in circled chairs and I began to read, I didn't feel like a salesperson at all. I didn't even feel like a performer. I felt like a participant in a vibrant culture. There were beautiful rooms dedicated to readings, and bookstore employees who notably adored books. (Elliot Bay in Seattle had both.) There were festivals predicated entirely on books and reading, hotel lobbies thronged with readers and writers arguing, laughing and recommending. (Montana Festival of the Book.) There were home living rooms where friends gathered for a book-based soiree'. There were radio interviewers with engaging questions and listeners who called in to talk. On the air and on the road, I spoke with thoughtful people about tools and wild places, gender and class and work, about books, and writing books, and loving books. While talking or listening or reading at these events, I never once thought about the magazines. Or grapefruits. Or prizes.            Midway through the busiest months, my back-grounded worry came to a head when an acquaintance said to me in passing, "Good for you, you're really out there selling yourself!" I think I smiled, a thin and ungracious expression that itched on my face. I felt unsettled and defensive all afternoon, but I couldn't put my finger on the exact reason her comment triggered such rage and shame in me. It was my book, after all, not some corporate rag or cheap trinket. No one forced me to write it, or took me to the road at gunpoint, and there was no pressure; I wasn't feeding a family based on its sales. For the most part, I had honestly enjoyed the time I'd spent escorting the book around. Still, the comment plagued me. Selling myself? I don't think of my book primarily as an object of commerce. I don't like being the implicit recipient of funds raised. Oh, yes, all proceeds go to a great cause. Me! (As if this were even true.) It was more than that. It was something bigger than the way I saw myself. What bugged me wasn't about me at all.
If I had thought it through clearly, I might have told that well-meaning woman that I wasn't doing readings and visits to sell myself, or even my book (though sales are nothing to complain about). I was doing them because I wanted to experience that last step in an artistic endeavor--the outward gesture. To offer up a vantage, a story, a narrative, in hopes it will shift something for a person who reads it. To watch the work I've done privately for so long become a part of a public conversation. A writer I love put it well: "Going out and sharing the book is about doing service to the book.  Not for the self. And seeing a face and hearing a voice is still important, kind of hopeful. It allows for talking back." Yes.            Despite the cliché trumpeted daily, I did not write a book in order to "share my story" or "sell myself," just as most authors I know do not. I wrote Dirt Work because I care a shit-ton about the ideas in it, the subculture the ideas live in, and the stories through which I can approach both. I'm not a natural at the book tour, and I certainly reserve the right--for myself, or any other author--to choose to stay home. But I am passionate about the public sphere, that space where citizens gather not to purchase or sell, but to discuss specifics, to name subtle pressures and question assumptions, to know others more deeply. I wish we spent way more time talking about wilderness and manual labor, about women and men and how we work together, about how we've separated culture from nature to our grave disservice.             I wrote the book because I had something to say, but I also want to hear. A book tour is a speaking tour, but it can be a listening tour, too--a space for talking back, as my friend says. I've heard things from readers and writers in the past months that make me think differently about what I've written, and about what I'm writing now. I've heard book recommendations and spirited arguments. I've heard praise, sure, but also the thicker, complicated gifts, the tiny glimpses into an intersection of mind with page. I have received emails and letters, each one of which has been a highlight of that day, from people who said my book challenged them to be brave. Who thought about work they've done in a new way. People who want to talk about their favorite boots, their beloved tools. What incredible gifts are those? Far better than the cheesy toys I never won in grade school, these real prizes sustain me. On studio days when I have no momentum of my own and my prose seems forgettable, these conversations, ideas, and faces infuse me with energy that has nothing to do with sales rankings. It's the energy of an engine chugging on the fuel of discourse, not revving on the fumes of cultivated desires.            A purely personal rant feels good, but there's little point in examining my own experience without peering at the social tapestry hanging behind it, and calling out the problem straight away: the term "self-promotion" is wrongly applied to arts and literature. And it's used so universally--readings to social media, Kickstarter campaigns to radio interviews--that it's lost any ability to denote real commercialism when it happens. Yes, there are examples of tiresome promotion coming from careerists, those hankering after a certain job title, bestseller list or sanctioned anointment, who have been duped into thinking success and fulfillment are the same. But in my experience, they are few and far between, outnumbered grossly by people who slog along at art out of pure love and fury. We hope our books or albums will be read and heard, bought and reviewed, but we don't make them for this reason, and we fundamentally mischaracterize arts-work when we cede it to business-model language. Literary work, even when it is very successful, is not just another purchase on a website sidebar, nor is the arts as a vocation a bottom-line driven choice. Going public in search of conversation about what we write or compose or paint, what we find meaningful, critical even, is no more inherently self-promotional than having friends is, or lobbying on behalf of causes we believe in.             It's not just the linguistic dishonesty to which I object, but the real, lasting damage that results from lazy language. Conflating promotion with public sphere conversation and internalizing shame around it crushes vigorous artistic and critical discourse, as it makes us less likely to speak up or interact because of the fear of seeming self promotional. When I tighten my philosopher’s thinking cap, I follow the hunch that corporate capitalism's indiscriminate labeling is not a coincidence, but its own necessity. No better way to take the wind out of the sails of art, in all its revolutionary, cart-tipping glory, and keep us consuming instead of critiquing. (For more on this strain, cue Theodor Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag. Another essay for another time.) This is all the more reason to keep throwing ourselves out there with our best, most thoughtful work, promotion be damned.  Uncommodified art and writing is a corrective; it helps ideas, people or narratives gain traction they might not have through marketplace or social mechanisms. This happens first in the studio and then out in the open, at the interplay of self and world, where all art begins.
After that busy year of travels and talk, I spent this past summer home in Alaska. I had a few events, including a conversation with three writers I really admire in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and talks in arts lecture series in two different national parks. (It should be noted that none of those events was focused on sales, and each included some of the most memorable discussions I've had since the book came out). Still, compared to last year's birthing push, I've stayed put, working on a novel and making my living the way I have for years: in the field, with a tool in my hand, which is a good thing, considering my first royalty statement (a whopping $83.00).             I don't mean to be naive about money. We all earn our keep in different ways, some people from book sales, and yes, it matters that authors and presses are paid fairly and valued for what we offer. It matters that we discuss this vigorously, demanding our economic rights, especially in the face of corporate bullying. But it matters most that we participate, publically, in culture. Not just mass culture, the kind amalgamated and foisted upon us by group-think Top 10 Lists and internet buzz, but the kind of face-to-face culture where humans meet and look each other in the eye to say "Here's what I loved. What matters to me. And here's why. What matters to you?"             Kathleen Dean Moore writes, "I believe literature is a means by which cultures carry on a complicated, collaborative discourse about what is true and what is right---and what is not."[1]I'd add to that what is beautiful and frightening, funny and valuable--you can add more. Collaborate means talk, sometimes loud, above the blathering din, and sometimes soft, quieter than that which seeks to drown out by volume. It means show up; it means listen. It means write, revise, edit, and then read it, facing out, not eyes down. It means go to readings and recommend books, and buy books, and give books away. It means cultivate places where books and ideas (and music and art) take center stage, quite apart from whether they sell ten copies or ten thousand.                    Believe me when I say this, as I do to myself whenever I feel paralyzed by market-nurtured shame: talking about our books (our songs, our sculptures) and about the project of making art is not self-promotion. And no one will correct this pointless definition but us. What if, instead of self-promotion, we said "participation?" What if a "brand" became a voice, a stance strong enough to impel further creative work? What if, instead of a "platform," we built a band shell, a dance hall, a movement for the arts? That challenge spurs me, despite all hesitations, to the porch or the podium, to read and ask and hear. I want to say it to anyone who will listen: Books are not just objects for sale. Books are the tangible outgrowth of thinking and imagining. They are the prize of a culture that continues to think, and imagine. That dares to.

Christine Byl is a writer, professional trail-builder and the author of Dirt Work: An Education In the Woods, which was a finalist for the 2014 Willa Award in non-fiction. Her prose has appeared in Glimmer Stories, The Sun, Crazyhorse, Lumberyard, & at Broadsided Press, among others. A two-time recipient of grants from the Rasmuson Foundation and Alaska State Council on the Arts, Byl has been a fellow at Breadloaf, a writer-in-residence for Fishtrap, and teaches workshops on subjects from haiku to chainsaw mechanics. She lives with her husband and old sled dogs in a yurt off Stampede Road north of Healy, AK. Post originally appeared at Beacon Broadside: http://www.beaconbroadside.com/broadside/2014/10/shelf-promotion.html#more

[1]"Editor's Note" pg 3. ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature & Environment; Vol 21, Issue 1.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Knitting Up a Storm

Alaska Crafter - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 10:00am
new Etsy.Mini(5183479,'thumbnail',5,4,0,'https://www.etsy.com');

New items up in the etsy shop!!
Categories: Arts & Culture

Carolyn Kremers: The Non-Conforming House – Part 4

49 Writers - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 7:00am

Word count.  My goal for each installment of this 4-part experiment was 750 words or fewer (remember?).  I'm painfully aware that I was never able to meet that goal and always wrote more.  I think I'm not cut out to be a blogger (!)  Not only do I write too much, but I also do the opposite of what a blogger is supposed to do: I revise, edit, polish.  Spend way too long on one blog-post.
Anyway, yes, the dream: my night-dream.
How many people in the US—of all ages and backgrounds—aspire, I wonder, to not being homeless?  Or, more precisely, how many have a fear (even vaguely—in the back of their minds, or in the front) of being homeless someday?
I did.  I remember the two main emotions I felt when I "bought" this land and cabin in 1993: relief that Now I'll never be homeless, and humility that I was now the steward of a singular small stretch of boreal forest and tundra and of all that might dwell or visit upon it—then, and perhaps far into the future.
So, the dream.
[Well, but first.  I already know that this Blog #4 will be, as the other three have been, too long.  And I know there won't be room for me to comment on the dream and its (ironic, multi-level) end.  Therefore I'm inserting a few points of information here:
My writing is often influenced by topics and writers I'm thinking about and reading at the time I create a draft.  In the case of this month (October 2014), there were several such texts.  One of the most influential, I think—perhaps because of its own experimentalism and courage—was British writer and translator Ted Hughes' astonishing collection of poems (begun a few years after Sylvia Plath's suicide in 1963 and completed more than 25 years later, published 1998), The Birthday Letters.
For more insights about how Jungian thinkers attempt to interpret and interact with dreams, consider looking online at Digesting Jung (by Daryl Sharp) and Understanding Jung (by Ruth Snowden), among others.  Also, of course, read Jung himself.
A fascinating and useful text for me has been Radmila Moacanin's book (published 2003), The Essence of Jung's Psychology and Tibetan Buddhism: Western and Eastern Paths to the Heart.]
So yes, the dream.
Last weekend, on the night before Blog #3 was written, I dreamed about my non-conforming house.  I dreamed about a non-conversation with Tony, the 30-something, apparently competent drywall-hanger and expected mudding-and-taping painter—who, in my waking life, had come to my cabin last Wednesday and hung most of the drywall in the new bathroom, but then had not returned (inexplicably) on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.  I dreamed that Tony needed to be told by me, and to be provided with, the proper kind and color of fabric to nail to the newly-paneled walls.  And I dreamed that this fabric would hang down beneath all that beautiful, albeit vertical (I would have preferred horizontal), golden tongue-and-groove: the T&G paneling that already covered the top half of the walls.
In actuality, there won't be enough money this year to do the T&G ceiling that I would have liked for the new bathroom.  But maybe someday.  And (as far as I know) there won't be any paneling on the walls—just paint.
In the dream, though, I felt very worried that Tony would use the fabric already available in the room: a big, neatly folded stack of ballet tutus with pale-blue satin bodices and calf-length white-net skirts.  The netting would not be useable, but the light-blue bodices could be cut away from the skirts and laid flat to hang all around the room.
I did not want pale blue!
My cabin already had plenty of blue.  I wanted something neutral—something to match the T&G paneled walls (paneled?) and the natural-colored birch-plank vinyl flooring (which, in actuality, was ordered by me from Spenard Builders Supply, arrived in Fairbanks from Portland, Oregon, via barge and truck, and is currently sitting in a stack of three heavy boxes in my cabin.)
I wanted Tony to use a warm off-white cotton fabric—ivory? bone? vanilla?—something like the length of puckered, cream-colored cotton that had covered the open back of the kitchen sink cupboard all these years (since 1993, when I bought the cabin and had the sink and shower put in, and the hot water heater and water pump were installed in the horrible, dank root cellar).  Something simple and plain.  Natural.  Something that blended in and fit the feel of the new room.
Only later, in my waking hours—just now as I'm writing this, in fact—would I remember that this was/is the same length of cream-colored cotton that I sewed into a window curtain for the old duplex that my beloved partner RobW and I rented (and somewhat renovated) in Capitol Hill in downtown Denver, 1975, when I was 23.  And it is the same piece of fabric that I mailed from Colorado to the Yup'ik village of Tununak on the coast of the Bering Sea in 1986, when I was 34, thinking the fabric might come in handy.  Which it did, for I used it—in my little construction-hut-turned-into-a-teacher's-house—as a curtain to hide what Phil, the principal, proudly called "the new honey-bucket room": a small space that had materialized in one corner, as Phil and the school janitor sawed away some bookshelves.
Is it that this fabric washes well?  And/or that I haven't needed—or chosen—to wash it often?  Is it that I am no refugee, no citizen of a war-torn country, no single mother with children to feed and take care of?  Not the victim of a house fire or hurricane, earthquake or tsunami, not someone with money or the inclination to throw things away?  Is it that I have suffered my own tragedies and shortcomings, but this fabric is not (or is it?) one of them?  Is it that this fabric is "simple and plain" and knows how to "blend in"?  That it represents one of my favorite colors to wear and look at?  Or that it feels soft and friendly to the touch—safe, somehow?  What is this fabric's history, this unremarkable/remarkable history?
But back to the dream.
How would I get the time to find and purchase such fabric?  Today was a weekday, and I had no time on weekdays to do personal things like shop.  Furthermore how could I tell Tony—who was no longer showing up at my cabin, so he wouldn't see a note, and I had no phone or email address for him, and Rhett the contractor was out of town for a week—how could I tell Tony that I didn't want the blue-bodiced tutus, and please don't cut them up and nail them on!  And how could I choose this fabric (even if I had the time, which I didn't), when Tony had not yet brought his color-wheel (the one he promised to bring in a day or two) to help me choose, first, the proper paint?
"Just pick an off-white," I'd said to Tony on Wednesday (in actuality).  "Something like the color of this wall"—and I'd shown him the one pair of painted walls in my cabin, where the living-room shower still stands, waiting to be removed.
"Don't ask my advice about color," Tony had replied, with a laugh.  "My wife says I've got no eye for color!  And anyway, there's lots of shades of off-white, you know."
"There are?"
"Oh, yeah.  It depends on what you want.  Some are more golden, some more yellow or orange.  Some are more tan.  Or even grey.  I'll try to bring a color wheel, so you can see, so you can choose the paint you want.  It all depends on what you plan to put into the room with it—what you want to enhance."
Enhance?!  I responded to Tony, in my mind (and perhaps to some of the well-paid people in America, such as the President of the University of Alaska, who have the money to think about "enhancement").  All I want is a real bathroom, with plumbing that can be hooked up and actually works, sometime before Thanksgiving, when it could get down to minus 40 degrees outside.
But yes, back to the dream.
In the dream, I kept looking, again and again, at the amber-glowing T&G on the upper walls of the new bathroom.  Ceaselessly my eyes circled the room, trying to erase the images of the blue-bodiced tutus already nailed below and trying to forcibly replace them with the "more appropriate" neutral cotton fabric from my past—trying to envision that, nail it there, and be certain (reassure myself) that it would, indeed, be the best and right choice.

Carolyn Kremers lives in Fairbanks and teaches part-time in the English Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  Her books include Place of the Pretend People: Gifts from a Yup'ik Eskimo Village(memoir), The Alaska Reader: Voices from the North (anthology co-edited with Anne Hanley), and Upriver (poetry; a sequel to Place of the Pretend People).  Upriver was a Finalist for the 2014 Willa Award for poetry, from Women Writing the West. Carolyn's website is www.pw.org/content/carolyn_kremers_1

Categories: Arts & Culture

Geronimo and Georgia O’Keefe Country

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:36pm

Echo Canyon just a mile north of George O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch — a great canyon to play my flutes or chant our Native songs…

The 2.5 hour drive from Santa Fe, New Mexico heading north on Hwy 84 to Pagosa Springs, Colorado is one of the most scenic west of the Mississippi. I am a fortunate one to experience this drive at least once a year, especially now since my son lives with his family in Santa Fe.  Like the way I feel when I drive along the Chilkat River on Mud Bay Road in Haines, Alaska, this is exactly how I feel when I drive this stretch of road – my heart and spirit soars!  No other two places do this for me.

This country just about an hour north of Santa Fe and in the Abiqui area, in modern-day is nick-named “Georgia O’Keefe Country” – though back in the 1800′s, was known as Geronimo country.  Geronimo was Apache; this is  Chiricahua Apache country.  He was born June 16, 1829 on the Chama River in this awesomely, beautiful land.  There are many books on Georgia O’Keefe, her work, the landscape, her homes and even the interior decor of the way she kept her homes.  If there were books on Geronimo that he actually wrote, I wonder what would be portrayed.

If Geronimo had an iPad or at least an iPhone to take photos of his family, his tribe, his way of life, his landscape and the way he loved, what would we see?  What would he have said regarding the U.S. Government and the wars.  If he had Facebook, what would he have shared?  What would he have written about himself?  What would others have said about him?

When driving through this country, when walking on this land, when camping along the Chama River, only my imagination fills in the frame of each “photo.”

Categories: Arts & Culture

Don Rearden: Creating Complex and Conflicted Characters

49 Writers - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 7:00am

Wondering how to make the characters in your story "developed" or real? Then start with reality. The reality is that we as humans have deep seated needs, wants, and often hidden desires. So too must our characters if they are to somehow come to life on the page and become important and memorable to our readers.

Kurt Vonnegut said it best, "Make your characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”

The characters who appear in our writing become real when they start to reveal their needs through their actions and not dialog or authorial intrusion. One of my favorite examples of this comes from Seth Kantner's memorable character Cutuk in Ordinary Wolves. Cutuk, a white boy born and raised in a sod hut in the Alaskan wilderness, aches to fit in and wants nothing more than to be like his Inupiat counterparts. This longing to fit in and be accepted and loved is revealed through his physical actions, including a subtle refrain where Cutuk continually presses and flattens his nose in an attempt to make himself look less Caucasian. What makes Cutuk's longing feel real is that it is real, and Kantner reveals this through a character constantly consumed with this desire, coupled with his feeling of displacement. Let's face it, we all understand this longing to belong, because that need, like our need for water, is part of what makes us human. We've all wanted to be loved and even needed at some point. As writers we perhaps want this more than anyone, because we're extra complicated in that we also desire something else, and that is for others to want and love our characters and stories!As you journey with your own characters through the stories of their lives, from scene to scene, from situation to situation, don't impose some heavy handed exposition to reveal what your characters want. Instead just listen to them and let them come alive on their own. Watch them on that high definition screen in your mind's eye and think about yourself and your own life, perhaps even observe the people you know, and notice how our subtle human actions in everyday life often reveal those things we want most. You'll never know completely what someone else wants or thinks, and that is part of the beauty of a story and the uncertainty of life.

Lets say you take Vonnegut's advice literally and open a story with a scene of a man holding an empty coffee mug beneath a faucet head. The cup is stained, the top chipped, the glaze of the mug cracked and worn like the man's lips. He fiddles with both knobs but manages to get nothing but a rusty drop or two. As soon as he tries to get those two drops from the cup to his mouth, as the writer we know he's in a desperate situation and we want to know more.Here is a character who wants water right away, just like Mr. Vonnegut insisted. What is different in his need for water is the beginning of a story, the beginning of an external conflict, the opening to a plot. If you were to continue writing this story you would follow this character and his obvious struggle to survive. You might not know what the situation is that put him here, needing water, so desperate for that sustaining life liquid, but those answers would reveal themselves to you, just as his emotional needs would be revealed as his character blossoms before you as he rises or falls, and as he changes or grows as a human.

There are different reasons why our characters want something as simple as a glass of water, but if they are to be real in the readers' eyes, them they must also be real to us; they must be sustained by hopes and dreams and fears and by the simple, yet precious elements of life, just as we are.
For more on creating complex and conflicted characters, register for Don's three-hour workshop on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 10 am to 1 pm. 

Don Rearden grew up on the tundra of southwestern Alaska. He is board president of 49 Writers, a produced screenwriter, and award-winning author. He teaches writing as an Associate Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The Raven’s Gift is available from Penguin in trade paperback, Kindle, and iBook. More info at www.donrearden.comravensgift.blogspot.com, and twitter.com/donrearden. This post first ran in August of 2013.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Alaska Shorts: “Secrets of My Mountain” by K.M. Perry

49 Writers - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 7:00am
K.M. Perry

I tried to be a good girl so I wouldn’t need to sit on her lap anymore. Every morning I went to mass with my friends before attending the local parochial school with my favorite nun who wore blue jeans when she played kickball with us at recess. I wanted to be a nun when I grew up so I could live in a convent with my best friends and play kickball with the children at recess next door. I asked my favorite nun why she wore a wedding ring and she told me she was married to God. The idea of being married to God frightened and confused me, especially wondering how she had sex with God. I was too afraid to ask her, so I kept quiet and decided I’d rather grow up to be a veterinarian and marry a rock star. When the priest placed the communion wafer on my tongue every morning, I tried to plead to him with my eyes to help me. I hoped the priest would tell God how dedicated I was in going to mass every day. He would find me worthy of being rescued and send someone who would adopt me, love me, brush my hair, kiss me goodnight and tell me I was their princess. One morning I was in my bedroom and she called down to me to come upstairs in the sweetest, most syrupy sounding voice I had ever heard. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew it wasn’t good. I walked slowly up the brown, shag carpet stairs, quietly reciting the Lord’s Prayer in case I didn’t survive what was going to happen to me. As I reached the top of the stairs, she had a unusual smile on her face, while standing next to her were two tall police officers in the entry way. I looked up at the one smiling down at me who sternly asked, “Is this your mother?”I stood frozen in time and space, wondering what the right answer was. Did they know about the chair in the kitchen and my mountain?I wasn’t sure what would happen to me if I lied and answered, “No” or was the answer “No”, even if I wasn’t the kidnapped girl they were looking for, maybe I was some other lost girl. I was very confused.I knew no other way to answer this suspected trick question, so I meekly replied “Yes,” while questioningly looking up at both of the police officers. Everyone smiled down at me for giving the right answer. The police officers left and she told me to come into the kitchen and sit on her lap so she could take a look at my arms. I couldn’t see my mountain through the clouds so I watched the little boy I babysat once a week, next door, riding his Big Wheel on their back patio while I wondered where I would be if I had answered, “No”.Two weeks later she told me the kidnapped girl’s body had been found. I wanted to know if she looked like me and how she died but I was scared to ask. I wondered if she died because I answered, “Yes”. No one told me it wasn’t my fault.When I was thirteen I decided it was time to fight for the right to choose what happened to me. The next time she asked me to come into the kitchen I boldly told her I wanted her to break my leg instead of having me sit on her lap. I was tall and in good shape from playing soccer and I had watched a boxing match more than once on television so I knew how to fight. She told me I was being sarcastic. I didn’t know what sarcastic meant but it didn’t sound good.I panicked and ran downstairs and out the back door. I ran as fast as I could through the alley, a block away to the loving home of my best friend. Her mom seemed upset and frustrated when I told her I was escaping. I had showed up at their house without an invitation or permission, but she let me go upstairs and visit my friend. She called my house and let her know where I was.  They came together to pick me up from my friend’s house. I had broken the cardinal rule of all abusive families. “Never tell anyone what goes on inside of our home.”“You need to learn to keep it all a secret.” No one had told me this rule before and now blood was dripping from my split lip. I smiled and promised to be good as I wiped the blood off with my shirt sleeve…
“Secrets of the Mountain” is the story of a woman who came from an abusive life and took the survival skills she learned to become an international spy with her own personal agenda.
Would you like to see your work published here? Check out our Alaska Shorts guidelines and submit today!

Categories: Arts & Culture

An Evening With Shirley McLaine

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Sun, 10/26/2014 - 5:42pm

Chris Eyre, Native American film-maker presents Actress/Writer Shirley McLaine with a gift of a belt made by jeweler Randall Moore honoring her with the Lifetime Achievement Award

My friend Johana Moore’s son, David Moore, is one of two co-founders for the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival 6 years running.  Last week, Johana knew I was coming to Santa Fe for the weekend so she called me up the morning of my arrival and encouraged me to attend the 7pm ceremony honoring Shirley McLaine — she got me free tickets to attend the event which was followed by a recent heart-warming comedy featuring Shirley McLaine and Christopher Plummer in “Edie and Fred.”  The Lensic Theatre on West San Francisco Street was beautiful on the inside; I enjoyed the architectural design.  It was cool seeing Shirley in person; one of my favorite actresses, she just turned 80 in April this year – she sat in the audience with us!  Uncanny, like Chris Eyre looks exactly like all the photos of him!  Check out the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival on line.  And next year when you are in Santa Fe during mid-October, come join the fun!

And by the way, did y’all know that Shirley McLaine lives in Santa Fe?

Categories: Arts & Culture

The Annual Fall-time Dyeing Process

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 3:37pm

Clarissa uses a trouser rack for her 2nd stage of the drying process of her newly-dyed weft yarns for Chilkat weavings

I generally dye my weft yarns for weaving twice a year:  in the Spring when all the snow has melted from the back yard and in the Fall when the leaves are turning the same color as my favorite golden yellow weft yarns shown above!

Gently wash 2oz or 4oz skeins of yarn in lukewarm water with a squirt of Ivory dish soap

I dye a total of 16 ozs (1 pound) of wool per dye bath, so in the big bread bowl above, I gently washed and rinsed 8 2-oz skeins of yarn.  After your wash and rinse, let yarn soak in the bowl for another hour before placing in dye bath – this allowance of time gives your yarns better absorbtion of color as well as evenly-distributed color.

Using rubber gloves, separately add each skein to the dye-bath; gently give the skein a stir into the bath

I ALWAYS DYE OUTSIDE.  It is safer, especially if there is no wind.  I use Lanaset commercial dyes for my weft yarns; they are color-fast, intense colors that will not fade easily.  Follow the directions in your Lanaset dye recipe.  Make your dye bath accordingly.  Always wear rubber gloves when working with commercial dyes; always wear a dust mask too especially if there is wind or in an enclosed space – commercial powder dyes are toxic!

While gently stirring the dye bath every 2 minutes (shown in right pot), I had prepared the next dye batch by soaking the washed and rinsed weft yarns (in left bowl) AND in the meantime, I had washed about 100 yards of warp (in middle pot) — yes, indeed I am a multi-tasker!

When cooking outdoors, use a windscreen made from a piece of foil hooked together at the seam by a large paper clip…I learned this trick from my friend Lis Saya who helped me dye yarns last year…!

Categories: Arts & Culture

Weekly Roundup of News and Events

49 Writers - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 7:00am
Could this be you??One more week left to apply! 49 Writers is seeking an energetic, enthusiastic executive director to fill the shoes of current leader Linda Ketchum, when she departs for distant shores at the end of this year. For the job description and information on how to apply, go to the 49 Writers website or click the logo at the top of the blog sidebar. Hours and working arrangement very flexible (we do not have an "office"). We know you're out there! Our state is brimming with hidden talent, so don't be shy--step forward now.

49 Writers annual membership drive. If you enjoy following this blog and even if you check in only occasionally, please consider becoming a member if you haven't already made a contribution. Member donations help us keep supporting writers around Alaska, and many of you tell us how much you value the blog. We hit more than 30,000 page views in the last month (more than double from a year ago), so we must be doing something that resonates with you, our beloved community of writers. Help us reach our goal of 100 new members in 2014: we're closing in at 91! Membership starts at a modest $49, and seniors, full-time students and members of the military can join for as little as $25.

Alaskan authors: we need your help

Author Cindy Dyson (And She Was) is rallying Alaska authors to help with a campaign spearheaded by Detroit News reporter Kim Kozlowski to make Detroit the Free Little Libraries capital of the world. Alaskan authors who want to participate promise to send at least one signed copy of their books to the project headquarters by the second week in November, to seed an "Alaskan Little Library in Detroit," which will be raffled to one of the donors who chose that perk.

To participate, authors should email Dyson [dyson (at) montanasky.net] with their contact info, the title(s) of the books they'll contribute, and links to info/pics about them and their work. From this information, she'll create a webpage, blog posts, and tweets about their involvement. She'll offer a guest blog post on our site for any authors who'd like to write one, and she'll also create a graphic that authors can use in creating their own buzz through their networks on their involvement in the project and a guest blog post for any of who'd like to use it. The idea is to give participating authors a nice boost in publicity while providing the little library project some fun incentives to donors. The sooner authors sign on to help, the more Alaska love we spread to Detroit, so Dyson hopes you'll send your info right away.

Upcoming classes and events at 49 Writers
  • Saturday, Nov. 1, 10am-1pm, 645 W. 3rd Avenue, Anchorage: Complex and Conflicted Characters, creative writing workshop with Don Rearden (The Raven's Gift). This workshop was popular with writers in Juneau and Soldotna, so sign up now!
  • Thursday, Nov. 13, 7pm, Great Harvest Bread Co., Anchorage: Reading & Craft Talk with Lee Goodman (Indefensible)
  • Saturday, Nov. 22, 9am-12pm, 645 W. 3rd Avenue, Anchorage: Composition by Juxtaposition, creative writing workshop with Caroline Goodwin (Trapline), Alaska-born Caroline moved from Sitka in 1999 to attend Stanford as a Wallace Stegner fellow in poetry. She is currently serving as the first Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, CA and teaching in the MFA Writing program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
  • Monday, Dec. 1, 6-9pm, Juneau (location TBD): Composition by Juxtaposition, creative writing workshop with Caroline Goodwin.
For more information and to register for these and our November classes, visit our website.

Events in Anchorage

Monday, Nov. 3, 5–7pm, UAA Campus Bookstore (map): Sharon Emmerichs of the UAA English Department presents "The Seven Deadlies: Shakespeare and the Virtue of Sin," an examination of seven Shakespeare plays in regard to one of the seven deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Emmerichs received her BA in English literature from the University of Oregon and her MA and Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. Come find yourself in Shakespeare!

Thursday, Nov. 6, 5–7pm, UAA Campus Bookstore: Peter Metcalf presents his new book, Dangerous Idea, in which he tells the overlooked but powerful story of Alaska Natives fighting for their rights under American law which propelled the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, one of the biggest claim settlements in United States history. Peter Metcalfe is the author of several books documenting the history of Alaska Native tribal organizations, most recently Gumboot Determination.

All UAA Campus Bookstore events are informal, free and open to the public. There is free parking for bookstore events in the South Lot, the West Campus Central Lot (behind Rasmuson Hall), the Sports Lot and the Sports NW Lot. For more information call Rachel Epstein at 786-4782 or email repstein2@uaa.alaska.edu. Or see http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/bookstore/events Note: UAA Campus Bookstore podcasts are posted in iTunes or iTunes U--just search UAA or UAA Campus Bookstore. Or see http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/bookstore/events/podcasts.cfm.
Events around Alaska 
Friday, Oct. 31, 6pm: The Canvas in Juneau is holding its annual Halloween Party, and they are looking for experienced story tellers to participate in the campfire ghost stories, an integral part of the event. There will be about thirty minutes of scheduled storytelling and then a 30-minute open mic. If you know anyone who would be interested, contact Kelly Manning at the Canvas, 586-1750.

Saturday, Nov. 1, 1pm, Main Meeting Room of the Downtown Juneau Public Library: NaNoWriMo Kickoff Event and Write-In. Subsequent Saturday Write-Ins will take place on Nov. 8 at the Mendenhall Valley branch and Nov. 15 at the Douglas branch. Please visit the official forums and associated Google Calendar for additional info and check back here often for news, up-to-the-minute updates or just to say "Hi" to your fellow Wrimos! http://nanowrimo.org/regions/usa-alaska-elsewhere. Follow this group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007223686287.

Friday, Nov. 7, 7pm, UAF, Wood Center Ballroom: Reading by Midnight Sun Visiting Writer Adrianne Harun. Harun is the author of a story collection, The King of Limbo, a Sewanee Writers’ Series selection and a Washington State Book Award finalist, and a novel, A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain. Her stories have won awards from Story magazine and the Chicago Tribune and been listed as notable in both Best American Short Stories and Best American Mystery Stories. Most recently, Adrianne was awarded a 2015 fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, Italy. Adrianne teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop, an MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University, and at the Sewanee School of Letters at Sewanee, the University of the South. She lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Friday, Nov. 7, 7pm, Kachemak Bay Campus, Home: "Moving to Fairbanks: The Writer and Place," a craft talk and reading with John Morgan. Presentation to include photographs that resulted in the book-length poem, River of Light, recently published by University of Alaska Press.
Saturday, Nov. 8, 10am-1pm, Nov. 9, 1-4pm, Kachemak Bay Campus, Homer: "Forms of Feeling: Poetry in Our Lives," a creative writing workshop with John Morgan. Workshop fee $60, registration deadline Oct. 30. Go to www.kpc.alaska.edu/kbc or call 907-235-7743 for information.
Opportunities for Alaskan Writers
Early Bird Preregistration for next year's AWP conference ends Oct. 31. Register today for #AWP15, which runs from April 7-11, 2015, at the Minneapolis Convention Center and the Hilton Minneapolis Hotel. The early-bird registration period offers the more significantly discounted rates for North America’s best-attended and most dynamic literary conference.

Saturday, Nov. 8, 9am-2pm, Anchorage School District Young Writers Conference: Inspire the next generation of published authors by volunteering to share your craft and passion with students in grades 6-12. Showcase and sell your (age appropriate) books. Interested? Fill out this brief proposal form: http://tinyurl.com/n7wsgze. Authors do not need to be on site for the whole conference, but they are welcome to eat a pizza lunch with students, listen to keynote speaker Debbie Miller, and visit with students and fellow authors in a "Meet the Authors" space. Questions or concern? Contact Lisa Weight, Language Arts Curriculum and Instruction, ASD ED Center, at 907-742-4476.

Young Emerging Artists, Inc. is happy to announce that registration for the Alaska Region of the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition is now open to students in Grades 7-12 in public, private or home schools throughout the entire State of Alaska. Students must submit their work no later than Dec. 20, 2014. If you have questions please contact the President of YEA, Ben Ball, at ben.ball@yeaalaska.org or, if you have a contest specific question, write to contest@yeaalaska.org. Students and teachers register at http://www.artsandwriting.org.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Fall Fun Fest at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

Juneau Public Library Blog - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 2:58pm
If you are looking for a fun activity to do with the younger set of the house this Saturday, you are in luck! Come to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center for a day full of adventures. Juneau Public Libraries staff will get things started with a story time at 10:15 am, followed by many other […]
Categories: Arts & Culture

Deb: Why We Care - Detroit’s Little Library Challenge

49 Writers - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 7:00am
At the Little Free Library on Hiland Mountain
Never has there been so much noise about books, publishing, and authorship. Or so much handwringing. Amazon vs. Hatchette. The Big Five vs. the Little Guys. Sound bites vs. sustained immersion. Upheaval, bottom to top.
Let’s set that aside for a moment to focus on one simple precept: the power of the book to transform. Then extend that to an entire community that’s taking on the big, big challenge of transforming itself through the power of books.
That’s Detroit’s Little Library Challenge.
I write my books from a little house on an Alaska mountainside that’s 3000 miles from Detroit. My closest Little Free Library is another three miles up the mountain, along a winding road with views of Cook Inlet and, on clear days, a big beautiful mountain, which we Alaskans call Denali.
Distance and differences aside, I’m rooting for Detroit’s Little Free Library Challenge. Kim Kozlowski’s IndieGoGo project is all about the things we Alaskans believe in: community, resilience, and self-reliance, empowered by a deep and transcending appreciation—call it love—for the spaces around us.
The goal of Detroit’s Little Library Challenge is to make their city the Little Free Library capital of the world, with a phase one goal of setting up 313 Little Free Libraries. It’s good press for a place that’s had more than its share of bad. But the Challenge is also about the fundamental transformations that happen through books. Readers are smarter than non-readers, with above average emotional intelligence and empathy. The number of books in a home is the single best indicator of how well a child will do in school. Reading reduces stress and improves sleep. All good things for a community that’s looking to make a comeback.
We’re rooting for them, all the way up here. Along with other Alaska Authors, I’m donating books to seed an Alaska Little Free Library on the streets of Detroit, a reminder that when times are tough, it doesn’t matter where you live—we all come together.
But for this Little Free Library to become a reality, we need your help. For just sixteen dollars, you can do your part to make it happen. Let’s show Detroit some love!
If you’re an author, Detroit’s Little Libraries project is accepting donations of autographed books to seed regionally-themed libraries as part of their Ambassador option. But for those libraries to be built, they also need cash, so please join in this outpouring of love and affirmation by pledging your support todayFor Alaska: 16 authors bringing 4 pledgers each, and we'll meet our goal!
Categories: Arts & Culture

Visit Booth #P-15 Alaska-Juneau Public Market

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 1:52pm

Grand-daughter Amelie hugs the golden yellow, hand-dyed, merino weft yarns hanging out to dry — and of course the weft was dry when this photo was shot!

I invite you to visit my Booth ‪#‎P‬-15 at Alaska-Juneau Public Market booth during Thanksgiving weekend at Centennial Hall in Juneau, Alaska!  The booth is right across the isle from Tony Tengs “Chilkat Cones” in the main hall of Centennial Hall.  And please note:  I will be sharing the booth with Tlingit carving artist & silversmith, Israel and Sue Shotridge (www.shotridgestudios.com).

The following is an inventory of items for sale; they include (but are not limited to):

A limited supply of Chilkat weaving and spinning supplies:  Cedar bark without the sap (both whole and split), Chilkat warp, Chilkat weft yarns in golden yellow, turquoise, black and cream, spinning pads, etc.

Books for sale that I wrote, made or co-illustrated include:  “Chilkat Pattern Templates”, the “Chilkat Weavers’ Handbook”; Juneauite author Hannah Lindoff children’s book “Mary’s Wild Winter Feast” — and books that I highly recommend:  “The Intenders” by Tony Burroughs and “Go Pro – Becoming A Network Marketing Professional” by Eric Worre.

Miscellaneous items include:  my button blanket greeting cards, hand-caste paper feathers, limited edition Giclee prints, hand-sewn, beaded, felt Russian Sailor hats,  and gumboot shell earrings made by daughter Lily and sister Dee Lampe.

Come check out my latest 5-piece Chilkat woven ensemble called “Chilkat Child” which will be on display next to my daughter Lily’s 4-piece Ravenstail woven ensemble “Little Watchman.”

We’ll see you in a few weeks during the weekend of Thanksgiving at the Public Market in Juneau (Friday, Saturday and Sunday)!


Categories: Arts & Culture

Carolyn Kremers: The Non-Conforming House – Part 3

49 Writers - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 7:00am

I did not intend to devote this third installment of "The Non-Conforming House" to a single night-dream of mine—so I won't, for fear you won't understand.  Instead, I'll begin with a brief comment on my creative process and some background about Carl Jung.
True to my resolution to treat this blogging opportunity as an extended/extending artistic experiment, yesterday I sat down for an hour and did what I did not do for the first two blogs: I reviewed, and even organized, notes.
Yes, I had made notes.
Nearly a week ago, in the freshness of a Sunday morning—after I'd awakened and turned off KUAC-FM radio, for they'd begun their Fall Fundraiser and I wasn't in the mood for yammering, and after I'd walked up to the outhouse and back—I was pouring water onto a cloth to wash my face, and using a pitcher and a red plastic cup (instead of the clumsy spigot on the blue 5-gallon jug, which causes me to waste water), when I found myself thinking of things to say in Blogs #3 and #4.  Thereafter for about an hour, I scribbled ideas and sentences on what turned into a bevy of yellow sticky notes—while at the same time washing my face, cooking oatmeal in a bowl in the microwave oven (a method that produces a gelatinous mass not so appetizing as my pre-construction-days stovetop-cooked oatmeal, but hey, this saves me from having to use up water and propane and time to wash a pot and a wooden spoon), then eating the oatmeal with walnuts and raisins, washing the week's dirty dishes with water heated in the tea-kettle, dumping the soapy water into the slop-bucket to carry outside, and brushing my teeth with my electric toothbrush.
I knew (knew?) that my Blog #3 would swirl around languages—meaning the "non-conforming" nature of my life, language-wise.  And now suddenly—unexpectedly, inconveniently, intriguingly—several ideas about that were taking shape and crystallizing, right when (of course) I should have been focusing on getting dressed and sitting down to draft Blog #2. 
So that is how I came to have notes to review for this week's Blog #3.
Last night there were many medium-sized yellow squares to sift through and stick, in some kind of order, onto blank sheets of paper—plus three books to review (one of which I'll name shortly, the other two next week perhaps), and a pile of folders with notes from other people's work and ideas, stretching back many years.
I spent that hour—plus more time later (11:00pm to 3:15am)—gathering and mulling over my thoughts, ideas, research, and long-time learning about the "languages" that speak to me and nurture/inform my own life and work:
nature           music               poetry              the act of translating poetry     German / Russian / Mandarin Chinese / Spanish / Central Yup'ik / Spokane Indian / Buryatthe myths, stories, songs, and contemporary literature of indigenous peoples worldwidethe theories and writings of Swiss analytical psychologist Carl Jungthe basic tenets, history, and goals of Tibetan Buddhismand (perhaps most important?) connections between all of these…
It was an engrossing five hours and proved, of course, to be way too much for a 49 Writers blog post.  Perhaps my Blog #4 can touch on some of what I concluded.  For now I'll just tackle a little of Jung and the gift of my night-dream.
In 1909, Carl Jung made a seven-week trip to the United States with his friend and elder colleague, Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud.  In his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections (first published in 1961 in German, after Jung had passed away at nearly 86), the younger man stated, "We were together every day, and analyzed each other's dreams…Freud was able to interpret the dreams I was then having only incompletely or not at all…One in particular was important to me, for it led me for the first time to the concept of the 'collective unconscious'…" (p. 158, Vintage Books Edition, publ. 1989).
(Note to the reader: all of the quoted material below is from this edition, pages 158-162).
Jung's dream went like this:
He was in a house with two stories, a house he didn't know, but it was "his house."  He found himself in the upper story, where there was "a kind of salon furnished with fine old pieces in rococo style.  On the walls hung a number of precious old paintings.  I wondered that this should be my house, and thought, 'Not bad.'  But then it occurred to me that I did not know what the lower floor looked like."  Jung describes what he saw as he descended the stairs to the "ground floor," which proved to be everywhere "rather dark" and to have floors of red brick and furnishings from medieval times.  Then he discovered a heavy door that opened onto "a stone stairway that led down into the cellar," where he found himself "in a beautifully vaulted room which looked exceedingly ancient" and, he concluded, proved to be "from Roman times."
"My interest now was intense," Jung writes.  "I looked more closely at the floor.  It was of stone slabs, and in one of these I discovered a ring.  When I pulled it, the stone slab lifted, and again I saw a staircase of narrow stone steps leading down into the depths.  These, too, I descended, and entered a low cave cut into the rock.  Thick dust lay on the floor, and in the dust were scattered bones and broken pottery, like remains of a primitive culture.  I discovered two human skulls, obviously very old and half disintegrated.  Then I awoke."
Jung tells how Freud "was chiefly interested in" the two skulls, and how Freud urged him "to find a wishin connection with them"—a secret death-wish that Jung might feel toward some person or people he knew.  Jung "felt violent resistance to any such interpretation" and had his own idea—or "intimation"—of what the dream might mean, but he was reluctant to express it.  Only after some weeks did he finally allow himself his own interpretation of the dream.
"It was plain to me," he writes, "that the house represented a kind of image of the psyche—that is to say, of my then state of consciousness, with hitherto unconscious additions.  Consciousness was represented by the salon.  It had an inhabited atmosphere, in spite of its antiquated style.  The ground floor stood for the first level of the unconscious.  The deeper I went, the more alien and the darker the scene became.  In the cave, I discovered remains of a primitive culture, that is, the world of the primitive man within myself—a world which can scarcely be reached or illuminated by consciousness.  The primitive psyche of man borders on the life of the animal soul, just as the caves of prehistoric times were usually inhabited by animals before men laid claim to them.
"During this period I became aware of how keenly I felt the difference between Freud's intellectual attitude and mine…The dream pointed out that there were further reaches to the state of consciousness I have just described: the long uninhabited floor in medieval style, then the Roman cellar, and finally the prehistoric cave.  These signified past times and passed states of consciousness.
"Certain questions had been much on my mind during the days preceding this dream.  They were: On what premises is Freudian psychology founded?  To what category of human thought does it belong?  What is the relationship of its almost exclusive personalism to general historical assumptions?  My dream was giving me the answer.  It obviously pointed to the foundations of cultural history—a history of successive layers of consciousness.  My dream thus constituted a kind of structural diagram of the human psyche; it postulated something of an altogether impersonal nature underlying that psyche…It was my first inkling of a collective a priori beneath the personal psyche…Later, with increasing experience and on the basis of more reliable knowledge, I recognized [such images] as forms of instinct, that is, as archetypes…
"To me dreams are a part of nature, which harbors no intention to deceive, but expresses something as best it can, just as a plant grows or an animal seeks its food as best it can…"
This story of Jung's was one of the many writings and notes I had spent time reviewing last night.  Imagine my surprise (and in some ways gratitude), when I awoke this morning—again to the yammering of the Fall Fundraiser at KUAC, which I again turned off, for I'd already phoned-in my annual contribution on Wednesday—and now realized I had had a dream about my non-conforming house and I should write it down.  Which I did and which, of course, proceeded to speak to me even more as I participated in the act of recording the dream in written words and thereby giving it / bringing to it more form and substance than it had had, moments before, in my "fresh" memory.As Jungian analyst Brian Collinson, in Canada, expresses on his website Journey Toward Wholeness, it is true that all humans must dwell somewhere.  This applies to each person in his or her inner world as well as in the outer one.  As in the outer world, one's inner house has characteristics, and one's relationship to that house is changed by one's choices.  A Jungian thinker pays attention to the theme, motif, or archetype of the house in the dreams of herself or of others, in times of personal tension or crisis or, indeed, at any time. 
And so my dream (from sometime before 8:00am this morning) seems quite relevant here.  But alas, my word count is more than used up.  And so I must wait until next week to share the dream.

Carolyn Kremers lives in Fairbanks and teaches part-time in the English Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  Her books include Place of the Pretend People: Gifts from a Yup'ik Eskimo Village(memoir), The Alaska Reader: Voices from the North (anthology co-edited with Anne Hanley), and Upriver (poetry; a sequel to Place of the Pretend People).  Upriver was a Finalist for the 2014 Willa Award for poetry, from Women Writing the West. Carolyn's website is www.pw.org/content/carolyn_kremers_1
Categories: Arts & Culture


Alaska Crafter - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 2:58pm


Categories: Arts & Culture

Art Workshop with Lucas Elliot: Building Characters

Juneau Public Library Blog - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 2:39pm
Have you ever drawn a person (either from a photograph, your imagination or everyday life) and just couldn’t get the pose or gesture exactly right? In this art workshop you will learn how to create characters by starting to build from the most fundamental shapes, to create dynamic and expresive poses. This FREE event is […]
Categories: Arts & Culture

A Sweet Read For Change: “The Intenders”

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 2:28pm

The “Intenders Handbook” by Tony Burroughs

Quoting author, Tony:  “The Mighty Manifesters — The purpose of this handbook is to help you make your life better.  The Intenders of the Highest Good will show you how to make your dreams come true easily and with the least amount of effort.  We’ve been practicing the ideas that are given in this handbook for several years and have found that the laws of manifestation work very efficiently for us when we do two simple things:  1.  We say our intentions out loud everyday; 2. We meet together with like-minded friends in an Intenders Circle once a week.

This is all that needs to be done for us to start getting everything that we desire out of life.  We must be willing to take a few moments away from our busy routines for these two important things (or something similar that may be called by another name) so that we can consciously turn our deepest desires into real-life experiences.  Otherwise, we will remain unempowered and at the mercy of the every changing world we live in.

To the men and women who can manifest whatever is needed in their lives, it doesn’t matter how scarce things appear to be or what the newspapers and TV are saying.  Self-empowered people simply observe the day-to-day challenges that are going on all around them, while manifesting a world of their own choosing – a world of peace and comfort.  They live happily because that’s what they’ve intended to do.”

You may wonder why I include a number of other things that do not seem to be directly related to the design and production of art (and music) on my blog.  My personal philosophy is that everything in my life affects everything else, no matter the topic, the breadth, the depth, the timing.  Creating art and music is my method of maintaining my self-sanity.  I don’t know about any other artists, but life is not a bowl of cherries all the time.  There are so many ups and downs of which we are not in control, and of course I cannot help but respond.  Art and music helps me to process the negative circumstances.  I also welcome methods of self-help processes.

This book is one of those items that not only validates what I have been naturally working on in my own personal life, the information expands my horizons of thinking and being.  I appreciate this.  I welcome the guidance and forthright words.

I came across this book last week while heading out the door at the doctor’s office; hey what’s that little book about?  The doc replied “…take a copy!”  I enjoyed the read so much, I decided this was something I wanted to share with anyone and everyone, especially my kids and close friends.  I called the number at the back of the book to make an order; it turns out that the author lives in this same little town out here in the mountains of Colorado!  Like what are the chances for that!?

AND when I met up with him to buy more copies of this book, we exchanged business cards and eventually he invited me to the local “Intenders Circle” held every Thursday night starting with a potluck meal…!  Am I going?  Well,…I normally shy away from consistent, organized, on-going “groups.”  I don’t know why I initially shy away from “organizations” but like I mentioned earlier, I intend on making changes in my life and this is one of those opportunities to make a change, right?  If I don’t like the group for whatever reason(s), I don’t have to go anymore!

Tony continues with “Reference Points”:  “From the beginning of the Intenders, we have been guided by three reference points.  A reference point for us is something that we know we can count on.  The courageous mariners of old knew all about using points of reference.  They would pick out certain starts, or a spot on the distant shoreline, and they would refer to these points when they wanted to know where they were and where they were going.  Likewise, we Intenders also want to know where we are going in our lives.

Our three main points of reference are:  1).  Our desires are in us to be fulfilled; 2. Our thoughts create our world; and 3). Our intentions must serve the highest and best good of the Universe, as well as the highest and best good of ourselves and others.”

Tony told a story of someone who had not stated the third intention of “must serve the highest and best good of the Universe…”  That importance of why we must include this 3rd intention in every one of our requests was summarized at the end of the story.   Fetch a copy of this book for yourself and you will understand why!

I will have limited copies of this little handbook available for sale at the Alaska-Juneau Public Market at Centennial Hall during Thanksgiving weekend in Juneau, Alaska.  Come by Booth #P-15 in the main hall !  They are only $4/book.

I will also have these books available for sale during any of my upcoming classes, and art markets coming up within this next year in 2015.

You may also order these little books directly from Tony by giving him a call at his toll-free number: 1-888-422-2420 or visit the website at:  www.intenders.com   Let go of your shyness; give him a call and order your book(s) – the guy is a warm, caring person… Tell him that Clarissa sent ya!

Categories: Arts & Culture

Ross Coen: Context versus Content

49 Writers - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 7:00am

Historians, in nearly everything we write, are supposed to have an argument. By that I mean our written accounts of past events should not merely describe what happened but also feature some sort of analysis in order to situate those events in a larger historical context.

What social forces existed in San Francisco in the 1920s and how did they constrain the economic opportunities available to Filipino cannery workers? That sort of thing.

Historians interpret the past as much as we recover it. In doing so we enter a dialogue with every other historian, living and deceased, who has ever written—and thus made an argument—on that same topic.

If you’ve ever wondered why hundreds of books about Abraham Lincoln are published every year, especially when an estimated 50,000 already exist, there’s your answer. New and occasionally groundbreaking interpretations of how and why Lincoln and his contemporaries acted the way they did will keep these debates going for years—probably centuries, in fact.

But what happens when one uncovers a tale from the past that while engaging enough to justify the telling appears to lack the historical heft to develop from it a thematic or analytical argument?

This was the dilemma I faced while researching and writing my latest book, Fu-Go: The Curious History of Japan’s Balloon Bomb Attack on America.

To summarize, late in the World War II, the Japanese Army launched thousands of large hydrogen balloons armed with incendiary bombs knowing that once the devices reached an altitude of 30,000 feet they would enter the strong westerly winds of the upper atmosphere and be carried to North America in about four days. A series of altimeters and fuses would then drop the incendiaries, which, the Japanese hoped, would ignite wildfires the Americans would have to fight by diverting resources that otherwise might have been used in the war effort. Nearly 300 hundred balloons are confirmed to have landed in the United States and Canada. About 30 reached Alaska.

The story grabbed me from the very first day I began my research—but I gathered very early on the Japanese balloon offensive merited barely a footnote in the sweeping history of the Second World War. This was a failed campaign of no strategic importance. For me to craft an argument, to endow the story with historiographical significance, would be to cause the narrative to collapse under a weight it could not possibly support.

Sure, I could have argued that Japan’s technical ingenuity in weapons design rivaled that of America with its significantly greater natural resource base. Or that the attention paid to such a fanciful weapon as a balloon bomb pointed to the triumph of the propagandists over more rational military strategists. But why take such a riveting story and make it tedious?

In the end I decided to simply tell the tale as best as I possibly could. My book is a straightforward narrative. I do provide some historical context, of course, but only in the service of supporting the narrative.

I imagine the process of contextualization for the poet, playwright, and novelist is not so different. One must continually balance the telling of a story against the need to construct an edifice in which that story is told.

I leave it to readers and reviewers as to whether or not my approach in Fu-Go strikes an appropriate balance.

Ross Coen is a historian who writes about the American West, Alaska, and the Arctic. More information about Fu-Go is available here: http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/product/Fu-go,675932.aspx
Categories: Arts & Culture


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