Friday Fish Wrap 5.10.19

Five things worth knowing this week (actually seven, yikes!)

0 – Big Giving Thanks

There are so many stories to tell this week, starting with a mountain of thanks to everyone who gave big . . . from $10 to, wait for it, $5,000! The total bounty equals $8,895 dollars . . . and for that, and all the love and support that comes with it, the staff and board of VCA are exceedingly grateful!

1 – Please hold the date for the 2019 VCA Gala Art Auction

We’ve been waiting to officially unveil our plans for the 2019 VCA Gala Art Auction.  And now we’re ready.

This is our biggest fund-raising event of the year . . . last year we raised $90,000 for scholarships and a similar amount for our general operating funds. We’d be honored, thrilled, and grateful for your support this year.

The Theme: Following the path we took last year, we’re staying with the Masquerade theme, this time in time and in tune with Shakespeare’s ode to love and life, Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Bonus points for anyone who can go the entire evening in costume and speaking Early-Modern English.

The Time: Follow one path, divert from another.  After many auction seasons, we have decided to re-pot ours from a two-day affair to both a single live auction (yes, one night only!) but also a three week long silent auction! What?!  It’s true.  Details to follow, but the date you should pop on your calendar is Saturday, September 21st.

Silent Auction: I don’t know why this didn’t occur to us before. We will open our silent auction on August 30th.  You’ll be able to bid in person or by phone. There will be an opportunity to “buy-it-now” or you can take your chances and wait for the closing bell.

The Evening: We’ll open the actual gala around 5:30 on the 21st with libations, little bites, an edited final silent auction, probably a wine grab, and most definitely a “golden ticket” sale. The live auction will be held in our theater and will feature 12 experiences and 12 pieces of art. Dinner will be served after the auction in our atrium.

Watch this space.

2 – Why I’m optimistic about our future

This isn’t a political blog, but I think I can safely say the newsfeed I see isn’t overrun with happy thoughts and tidings. I’ll bet you have the same experience.

This past weekend the future sent back a message that our kids are pretty darned awesome and appreciate our collective commitment to the arts.  In no particular order . . .

Our Cinco de Mayo fiesta was everything right about our community and our organization. It was exhibit one on why arts matter. On Sunday, our theater filled to capacity . . . if there was an empty seat, I didn’t see it. The Baile Folklorico kids were adorable, dear, enthusiastic, energetic, enchanting, ALIVE. They were the living, breathing, swirling presence and testimony for why the first people danced and why people still dance these thousands of years later.

The pictures are no substitute for being there, but you’ll get the idea.

After, the band and party decamped to the atrium and the party just accelerated from there.  The amount of love, energy, and fabulous food was a bit stunning. If you were there, you know.  If not, all I can say is get it on your calendar for next year.

Exhibit two was our joyous and joyful presentation of Willy Wonka Jr., another installment in a long-running series of delightful musical theater productions put on by our devoted staff and an army of volunteers.

The pictures are no substitute for being there, but you’ll get the idea.

Exhibit three and four are the rousing and inspiring displays of visual art that we mounted in the Blue Heron, the Atrium, the Pinky, and the Thumb galleries.  The art is all good, and lots of it is really mature and nuanced work. So well done! You can read more about those shows in last week’s Fish Wrap.

If you haven’t seen these student shows, you still have time. Come see!

3 – Something fishy this way comes

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”

Aldo Leopold

Readers of the Wrap surely know by now that Vashon Center for the Arts is the new home base for Vashon Nature Center. The other day I got a message from Bianca Perla, fearless founder, if the crew could come on by and process and clean some of their gear.  Um, yeah, that’s why it’s your new home!

Here’s the 4-1-1 from Bianca . . . .

On Tuesday, as part of a long-term monitoring and community science effort, Vashon Nature Center staff and volunteers collected bags of sand from various beach study sites around the island to look for forage fish eggs.

Forage fish, or bait fish as many fishermen know them, are small fish like herring, surf smelt, and sand lance, that form the base of the food chain in Puget Sound.  These fish are key to the survival of salmon and marine birds as they make up a large portion of their diets. And these little fish need our beaches to spawn on.

During a spawning event they use a high tide to swim up to a narrowly defined tidal zone on the beach that suits their egg development best. Then they spawn and the eggs adhere to the sand where they spend a few weeks gestating before the baby fish hatch and are carried to their marine home on another high tide. 

We are interested in learning: Where are forage fish spawning on Vashon and Maury? What times of year do they spawn? Are there certain habitat factors conducive to spawning and egg survival (like shading of beaches by trees, certain sediment sizes, etc.)? And are our populations holding steady, increasing, decreasing through time?

Our data informs us locally about how to better care for these fish on our shores and is also part of a larger Salish Sea wide effort to understand large patterns of forage fish survival and habitat needs.

It is an involved process to do these surveys: after collecting bags of sand on the beach these samples need to go through a winnowing process where we use a reverse gold-panning set up to extract the lighter layers of sand that contain eggs and leave the heavier sediments out (eggs are about the size of sand grains). This allows us to more easily count the eggs in the lab as it concentrates the sample. 

The good news is they found eggs! I’m told spawning on Vashon tends to occur in the winter months, so this was exciting stuff to see that surf smelt were spawning on our beaches as late as May.

It’s the little things, in this case literally . . .  If you’d like to volunteer for one of VNC’s beach surveys or processing stints contact: Maria Metler at

4 – Don’t miss Lynette Charters “Missing Women”

We knew when we first saw Lynette Charters’ proposal last fall that we needed to show her “Missing Women” exhibit (on display now in the Koch Gallery). The jury felt like it was a rare mix of powerful commentary, historicity, and artistry that at the very least would cause viewers to ask, “How did she do that?” and better still, might provoke a deeper thought or two about the historical role of women and/in the arts.

I caught up with Lynette via email the other day.

Me: What inspired you to create the series?

Lynette: I was working on an abstract series about real estate . . .  what drives decisions to build and invest and the way real estate is managed is of great interest to me. The housing that I was painting started to appear on mounds of earth. The grandest of houses in L.A. are often perched on cliff sides and on stilts to elevate them.  The view is grand, but the situation is often precarious, and it reminded me of the housing market. The mounds began to represent breasts with the knots of wood showing through. The breasts suggested that women and their bodies were also real estate.

I realized I was making work about two different things and felt the need to simplify. I was drawn more to the feminist statement. Our economy is supported by the unpaid work of women. In volunteering or in childcare or being paid less for the same work. As women artists, the odds are still stacked against us being shown in publicly owned or high-end private galleries and I felt the need to speak to this and other ways we’re overlooked.

I love to work on wooden board as it has an interesting texture which you can either cover or reveal. The absence of paint seemed to speak to me in a symbolic way on more than one level.

To begin with, my paintings were compositions of multiple paintings, but people kept asking me what they were about. I also became uncomfortable with itemizing body parts so I realized I should be more figurative and started to look for a framework or reference point. I decided that if I have something to say then I might as well say it.  I was reading an article about Glenn Brown and figured, if he could copy an artist’s work from history then I could too …and make a very powerful statement to boot.

Me: How do you pick which work to “honor”?

Lynette:  I like to be as inclusive as possible with my choices.  It’s not always easy.

When you search images of women in art history, most often you’ll come up with Eurocentric (mostly French) Caucasian women. This can be frustrating. I only allow myself to do a small amount of the same culture before I feel the need to search around.

I only found one image of a First Nations woman which works for me, which I intend to do soon. Many images can be overly romanticized which can distract from the issue.

The body in the reference painting has to be such that it is easily recognizable in silhouette.  If the body is bundled too much, then it doesn’t work so well compositionally.

It must be said that I really do love the genius of the work of the white male painters I choose. They deserve their place in history. But now we need to make room for all the non-white/cis male painters too. It’s long overdue.

Me: How do you source the plywood?

Lynette: I usually line up around six to seven photos on the web search on my phone that I’m interested in painting, then I’ll head off to the hardware store.

The sheets of plywood I can physically handle are usually 2×4’ or 3×3’ at the most.

I peruse the plywood sheets in their holding places only pulling them out fully if I see potential.  Then I line up likely candidates like gravestones down the aisle.  There is a certain arrangement or composition of knots that I look for to begin with and it’s not always obvious. It takes quite a while and I can be there for half an hour easily and not notice the time. Often, I leave empty handed but on a good day I come back with two or three being careful to write the name of the artist in pencil, so they don’t get confused.

There’s a lot to consider and it all has to work together. I have to be comfortable with a certain amount of chaos or lack of control in this part of the process, it’s very hit and miss.

Me: What are you working on now?

Lynette: I am still working on this series. It’s proving very popular.

I have plans to do sister series of The Missing Women: Self Portraits, and also another series of Missing Women Inventors, Politicians and Women of Courage. With these series I’m hoping to focus more on women’s achievement than their absence.

5 – Zen Center in the house

Add this to the long list of reasons we live in one of the coolest places on earth.  This weekend VCA is going to be home to an Arts and Crafts show and panel discussion put on by the Puget Sound Zen Center.

The exhibit will show the work of 25 or so well-known Vashon artists and craftspeople. You can check out the catalogue of artwork here.

Also on display (and for sale) will be scrolls of calligraphy from China and objects made from Japanese cotton and silk fabrics. Services provided by members of the PSZC (e.g. a kayak tour of historical sites around Quartermaster Harbor and a Japanese dinner for up to six people) will be offered in silent auctions.

On Friday night, panelists Pam Ingalls, Bruce Morser, and Alex Echevarria will talk about the process each follows to create their art. What is their state of mind when they are working on their art? Do they focus on technique while they are working? Do they have the sense that they are personally creating their art or just witnessing its creation? Koshin Christopher Cain, the Abbot of the PSZC, will moderate the panel discussion.

Proceeds will be used to help develop the 6.8 acres of land, adjacent to the Harbor School, purchased by the PSZC in the spring of 2018.

See you there!

Friday, May 10, 7pm – Artist’s Mind – Zen Mind: a Panel Discussion with Pam Ingalls, Bruce Morser, and Alex Echevarria

Saturday, May 11, 9am to 3pm: Arts and Crafts Show: May 11 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

6 – Finally, and this is a sixth thing

It’s been a few weeks since I posted a sixth item about music . . . and what better way to get back to that groove than by giving a loud shout out to two musicians who are coming to The Kay in the next couple of weeks.

Actually, it’s more than two, but I’ll get back to that.

The first is Peter Mulvey who is performing June2 at 7:00.  There are folks around here who’ve known and known about Peter for years. I was introduced to him at one of Debra Heesch’s hip house concerts in February and wrote enthusiastically (and prophetically it turns out) about him in the 3.1.19 FishWrap, where I said . . .

Peter is, deep in his bones, a poet in every dimension of the appellation. He quotes poets and poetry with the fluidity and confidence of someone who has read deeply. His lyrics are elegant testimony to his own mastery of verse.  His skill at weaving his own as well as the works of others into powerful songs is really remarkable. Some of the best lyrics and storytelling I’ve heard in a long time.

You just have to come hear this man speak, sing, and weave musical magic. His lyrics are the real deal.  Buy your tickets here. Bring everyone you know. They’ll thank you.

Here are a couple of good listens to get you in the mood.

The second opportunity to disconnect from the matrix and get your #vashonteamhuman going is June 6th (start your weekend early!) with the Jay Thomas Quartet.

Jay is a fabulously talented musician and native of Seattle who set his roots in the fertile and fevered jazz scene of the 60s. He plays (well) the trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophones, and flutes of different sizes and keys.

Even discounting for my normal level of excited hyperbole, you need to see this band play.  Jay has played for years to incredibly enthusiastic audiences in Japan, and it’s an honor and pleasure to host his quartet.  Get your tickets here. Bring ten friends!

Here’s the title track from his new album . . .

Here’s a sweet little jam session with Jay Glausi . . .

And finally this . . .

Friends, Peter and Jay are two shining examples of a choice we all get to make . . . come be part of a cultural event that will never be repeated or do something else.  Come be with other humans who are drawn together to hear sweet, sweet music, or do something else.

The gift of live music is the word live. As in it’s live, you’re live and living, and stirred together and served hot, the event itself becomes a living thing. Never to be duplicated, never done exactly the same before or after.

Hope to see you there!

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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