Five things worth knowing this week

Vashon Summer Arts Fest Update: On Friday, last day for open calls, we got 15 proposals for Vashon Summer Arts Fest on top of the nearly 25 we already had.  It is truly an amazing and overflowing bounty of Vashon artistic goodness.  As many people proposed multi-artist shows, our preliminary count has us displaying the work of something like 75 Vashon artists over the course of two months.

We set ourselves to do something crazy and amazing and it appears we are going to do that.

Baskets, Encaustics, Metallurgics oh my. We are in the thickest part of the VAIS program year with residencies happening at each VISD school every day this week.  10 artists are working with students in residencies in devised theatre, fine drawing, metallurgy, encaustics, improv, murals, Shakespeare, pottery, and basket weaving – JUST THIS WEEK!  The fun never stops and the students are having a blast learning how to connect to themselves, each other, and their curriculum through art.

New mess sink(s) for the Blue Heron. It’s the little things that make a big difference.  Over the Christmas break some of us remodeled the Blue Heron kitchen and classroom.  As part of that project our multi-talented Facilities Manager, Ian Metler, stubbed out some plumbing so we would have a big sink on the back patio for scrubbing down grubby students and cleaning up after art projects.  Well this week the plumbing was completed, and the new mess sink is ready for action! Bonus round, Ian also installed a new bucket sink in our back hall. Thank you, Ian.

Putting Island Arts Quarterly to bed(ish).  We made the decision last week to tuck an extra two month “summer issue” of Island Arts Quarterly into our year to better line up with the rhythm of our year (at least a little better).  So, there will be a bonus fifth issue this year.  In the meantime, we are all reminded of the huge lift it requires from all of us to get all the bits and pieces into marketing on time. Massive thanks.

Flower Making This week, dance families and community members gathered to participate in a free workshop to create giant paper flowers for Alice in Wonderland, an original ballet sponsored by Vashon on Center for Dance.  These works of art will be incorporated into the Garden Scene.  Come see them on the stage at The Kay June 1, 2 and 3.

Finally, and this is actually a sixth item, the news of his passing got me thinking about the author Tom Wolfe.  I met him once in an airport and recall him being just as impossibly cool as he always seemed in photos and in words.  And yes, he was dressed in his trademark white suit.

I had and have a passing familiarity with many of Mr. Wolfe’s books and articles, but it was The Right Stuff that captured my imagination beyond all others (and honestly at the time, beyond almost all else).

It is seldom the case that a movie version even captures the scent of the underlying book, but director and screenwriter Philip Kaufman squared the circle with the help of a truly star-spangled cast that included Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Sam Shepard, Fred Ward, Dennis Quaid, Barbara Hershey, and Levon Helm.

Mr. Wolfe left behind an amazing legacy of words and was justly celebrated for his accomplishments in 2006 when the National Endowment for the Humanities named him its Jefferson Lecturer.  The Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, established by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1972, is the highest honor the federal government confers for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.

I found this wonderful quote from The Right Stuff on the NEH site.

A young man might go into military flight training believing that he was entering some sort of technical school in which he was simply going to acquire a certain set of skills. Instead, he found himself all at once enclosed in a fraternity. And in this fraternity, even though it was military, men were not rated by their outward rank as ensigns, lieutenants, commanders, or whatever. No, herein the world was divided into those who had it and those who did not. This quality, this it, was never named, however, nor was it talked about in any way.

As to just what this ineffable quality was . . . well, it obviously involved bravery. But it was not bravery in the simple sense of being willing to risk your life. The idea seemed to be that any fool could do that, if that was all that was required, just as any fool could throw away his life in the process. No, the idea here (in the all-enclosing fraternity) seemed to be that a man should have the ability to go up in a hurtling piece of machinery and put his hide on the line and then have the moxie, the reflexes, the experience, the coolness, to pull it back in the last yawning moment–and then to go up again the next day, and the next day, and every next day, even if the series should prove infinite–and, ultimately, in its best expression, do so in a cause that means something to thousands, to a people, a nation, to humanity, to God.

Nor was there a test to show whether or not a pilot had this righteous quality. There was, instead, a seemingly infinite series of tests. A career in flying was like climbing one of those ancient Babylonian pyramids made up of a dizzy progression of steps and ledges, a ziggurat, a pyramid extraordinarily high and steep; and the idea was to prove at every foot of the way up that pyramid that you were on of the elected and anointed ones who had the right stuff and could move higher and higher and even–ultimately, God willing, one day–that you might be able to join that special few at the very top, that elite who had the capacity to bring tears to men’s eyes, the very Brotherhood of the Right Stuff itself.

None of this was to be mentioned, and yet it was acted out in a way that a young man could not fail to understand. When a new flight (i.e., a class) of trainees arrived at Pensacola, they were brought into an auditorium for a little lecture. An officer would tell them: “Take a look at the man on either side of you.” Quite a few actually swiveled their heads this way and that, in the interest of appearing diligent. Then the officer would say: “One of the three of you is not going to make it!”–meaning, not get his wings. That was the opening theme, the motif of primary training. We already know that one-third of you do not have the right stuff–it only remains to find out who.

Excerpt from The Right Stuff. ©1979 by Tom Wolfe.

And here’s the scene that had everyone cheering in the movie theaters:

 


Why “Fish Wrap”? Years ago, living in San Francisco, I became a devotee of a legendary journalists named Herb Caen. While he may not have been the first to use the phrase in connection with “yesterday’s news,” he is the one I remember. Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish wrap. Maybe it’s a generational thing. At any rate, we call our Friday wrap up, The Friday Fish Wrap . . . Five things worth knowing about VCA this Friday.

 

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