Art, traditional or alternative, adds beauty to life

  • Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 5:04am
  • Life

For those of you who enjoy reading about my sightings of nature’s art in motion, I’ll share with you what I observed recently. I’m also sending words of encouragement and love to my friend and gifted photographer Julie Taylor who is battling cancer. Julie has captured incredible moments in nature through her camera lens. You can view her photography by going to her Web site http://julietaylorphotography.com.

Perspiration was beginning to break out on my upper lip as I dug and chipped away at the shallow trench I was excavating to seat new railroad ties for a driveway border. The lawn was calling to me as well. When I stood up straight to do my back a favor, I noticed a large spider web between two shrubs next to my house. That’s when I knew I’d have to take a stroll around the yard.

Before tackling the lawn I always knock down spider webs in my way. As much as I appreciate the alternate art of web making, I do not appreciate the creepy crawlers that make them. The thought of me walking through a web while I’m mowing the lawn gives me creepy shivers just thinking about it.

I was processing my “lawn thoughts” and stretching my back when I happened to look up. Coming straight at me was an American bald eagle. It was at least 6 years old since both its head and tail feathers were a striking, solid white. Those white feathers indicate a mature eagle. It flew low enough for me to see its head turning side to side as it surveyed the land for potential prey. The eagle was gone before I could catch the new breath waiting behind the one I was holding.

I had barely turned my eyesight back to the shrubs that needed to be de-webbed, when a tiny sparrow flew in a tight loop and hovered for a split second, long enough to pluck the spider out of the center of its freshly spun home. I experienced two incredible natural shows within 15 seconds and I’ll always remember that moment. I believe I uttered the word, “Wow!” out loud. As much as I love the incredible sight of our national symbol in flight, I was most appreciative to the tiny sparrow that was brave enough to rid my yard of what I’m sure was a man-eating spider.

The following day when my walking partner and I came to the end of our two and a half mile walk at a Porter Street intersection, she made a suggestion for an art column topic as cars whizzed by us. I always welcome suggestions. When she mentioned alternate art forms, I thought “what a brilliant idea.” Thinking outside the box is something I appreciate and my friend Steffanie is great at doing that. I saw the wheels turning. Not on the cars going by, but as Steffanie looked skyward as she thought. With an air of creativity the words “Such as tattooing…” sprung forth from her mouth. I realized she was absolutely right. Art is as limitless as your imagination.

I have never had the courage to get a tattoo, but have always been fascinated by them. I try to keep an open mind regarding body art. I put temporary color on my face nearly every morning as I prepare a bare “canvas.” I just happen to have the option of washing it off later.

New ink, tools, sanitary environments and new techniques await the current tattoo enthusiast compared with past generations. From World War II throughout the rock and roll era, tattooing began its rise in popularity in the United States. Today, it is the sixth-largest growing business in America and its most devoted cliental are medium-aged women. Washington state laws state clearly that every person who applies a tattoo to any minor under the age of 18 is guilty of a misdemeanor. In May, a bipartisan group of state senators led by Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, pushed through a measure to regulate the body art industry. Senate Bill 5391 was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire on May 7 this year.

Until the passing of this bill, body art had stayed unregulated in Washington state despite how common it has become. The majority of tattoo shops will feel little to no impact to this new regulation simply because most are already operating under top standards concerning sanitary conditions and take every precaution to protect their cliental.

The bill requires tattoo and body piercing artists to have a personal license and sets minimum safety and sanitation standards for practitioners of body art. It also requires a mandatory inspection of the business every two years.

Shari Cunningham of Maple Valley told me that her tattoos have great meaning to her. Her Scottish heritage is represented by two tattoos depicting a Celtic mother’s knot and a beautiful pastel thistle that represents Scotland’s national flower. Sheri’s passion outside of her family is the martial art called tae kwon do. To represent her commitment, Shari sports two tattoos depicting symbols relevant to this martial art.

Tae kwan do translates literally as the “art or way of the bare hands and bare feet.” Soon there will be a new addition to Shari’s body art. With pride, Shari told me that she will be getting a new tattoo depicting the women in her life that helped raise her, each one represented by their favorite flower. Sheri is also an instrumentalist and can play most reed instruments including the clarinet and baritone saxophone. Her life is surrounded by a variety of art forms.

I asked several people for their interpretation of “alternative art.” Co-worker Susan Murra of Buckley didn’t hesitate with her concept. She easily came up with quilting. I immediately thought of Wynona. I’ve known Wynona Hasbrook for many years and I’ve watched her work on countless pieces of art that most would put in the category of quilting. Wynona finishes a quilt with her trademark signature ladybug adorning the completed product. A native of Enumclaw, Wynona is an award-winning quilter and one of the founding members of the Crystal Quilters in Enumclaw. She took her first quilting class in 1973 and has been making quilts since.

I asked Wynona what type of awards she’s won from her quilting and she enthusiastically replied, “In 2003 I won grand champion at the Puyallup Fair and I have won multiple “best in division” at the King County Fair. I have a wall full of ribbons in my sewing room. I was ‘making it’ (as a painter) in the art world until I received a permanent injury to my right arm. I even made it into a juried show at the Frye Art Museum. I always love what I do. I’m never bored!”

Wynona is the perfect example that shows a true artist cannot be held back from creating even when a physical impairment derails you.

Sand sculpting comes to my mind after seeing the Seaside, Ore., sand sculpting contest a few years ago. Landscaping, cake decorating and even hair design were mentioned by people I asked what they thought of when thinking of alternative art forms. Driving through Buckley, those impressive chainsaw carvings of bear, cougar, raccoon and eagle scream “artwork” to the passerby. Who would have thought a chainsaw could be used so delicately to make a work of art so wonderful.

My mother, who is a splendid 88 years old, went with me to the Welsh Heritage Celebration Day in Black Diamond June 6 to celebrate our roots from the fine country of Wales. Not only did I find my great-grandfather’s name in the 1900 census, but also my great-grandmother Martha and the names of their three boys who were born in Black Diamond, Richard, Arthur and John. Arthur was my mother’s father. The Black Diamond Museum caretakers have done an incredible job at artfully displaying antiques from the early days of coal mining in Black Diamond and Franklin. Because of their talents and dedication, I was able to find a piece of my past and embrace it.

In reflecting on my adventures and discoveries in Black Diamond, I can’t help but wonder if my great-great-grandmother Martha was afraid of spiders.

June 13, I attended the last concert in the Evenings on the Plateau series at the Enumclaw Expo Center fieldhouse. Jonathan Harris was simply sensational. He’s a young man with a reserved poise and comfort on stage. Mix that with an absolute golden voice, a twinkle in his eye and you have a star in front of you. The Pie Goddess will have to start making more pie because it was sold-out by intermission. I did my part in accomplishing that. Congratulations to the city of Enumclaw for a very successful series of Evenings on the Plateau.

July 4 is almost here. What type of artistic imaginings will be offered up by organizations in Enumclaw’s Fourth of July parade? We’ll see many alternative works of art when the floats start rolling by. Come and enjoy the festivities!

Alternative art – think about it. What would you classify as an alternative art form?