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Archive for July, 2008

The Perfect Day

It is 9pm and I just put on my dinner after finishing a 30 minute yoga session and a five mile recovery run. Man, I love recovery runs. They can be so underestimated. After a week of running speed drills and high mileage, a simple easy 5 mile run after the sun has gone down and the air is chilled to a perfect 47 degree is the best feeling. So often as a runner we can feel tired, sore and tight. I thought how nice it would be to get a massage, my legs were killing me after my long studio day – more about that later.  But I put on my running clothes grabbed a flashlight and hit the Hobart cycle route and what a beautiful night it was. The little aches and pains melted right away. The chill of the night woke me up and I am ready to for an invigorating night of more studio work.

I strongly believe in the perfect day and today was certainly one of those. I got up early and went to the Salamanca Market to buy organic produce for the week. I stocked up on apples, bananas, potatoes, lemons, and greens.  I got a coffee from Jasper Coffee and wow, it was by far the best coffee I have had in months. It was delicious. I was back in my flat by 10:30 and in the printmaking studio at 11:00.

I am working in the studio at the University of Tasmania’s School of Art. What a superb facility. The studios are huge, spacious, well equipped, well maintained, and buzzing with activity. The students are excellent and very friendly. Today a number of the post-grads were in the studios. They are smart, serious, and make some really awesome work. I love it here. I am working on a book, a concertina one-sheet 16- page folded books with a paper cover. It is the punctuation of my trip, the flora and fauna of Australia influenced a great deal by Susan Purdy’s garden and her dogs. The books will have multiple layers of images; flowers, leaves, kangaroos, dogs, and birds printed on both sides of the paper. I am working with a creamy green tint kozo paper. It will be simple and very direct working with stencils and lino as I only have a few days. It took me 8 hours to print the first color today. I hope the other layers go faster, I had planned to do 2 layers today but was unable to.  Tomorrow will be a short day because there is a printmaking BBQ at noon, that should be lots of fun.

Looking back over the 9 weeks I wish I had spent 6 weeks at the University of Tasmania and 3 at Lake St. Clair instead of the other way around. I love being with printmakers, we are just a great group of people, always welcoming and no matter where you are in the world, a printmaker will always welcome another one. What a great day.

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It is rare that when I make a friend in another country that I know I will see them again. But when I met Australian artist Susan Purdy in 2001 when we were both artists-in-residence in Taipei I knew we would see each other again. I spent the last 7 years searching for time, grants, and excuses (beyond the obvious) to get to Australia. You could say it is because of Susan that I applied for the Art Tasmania residency. (After flying here I know it is not such a big deal, I can allow myself to afford it and 28 hours of flying is not all that bad) I knew I would finally visit her. So last weekend I took a bus to the Hobart airport and flew just one hour to Melbourne, took a second bus into the city to get one more bus for the 2 hours ride to her home in the Gippsland Region Australia. It was pouring rain the whole way on a full moon night. I arrived 30 minutes late and saw Susan waiting for me at the bus stop. She looked her same bright beaming self I knew from seven years ago.

Her two dogs were in the car and  Stan a dingo shepard mix was immediately on my lap begging for scratches with his companion Dolly giving both of us disgusted looks from the back seat. Though here they are sweetly behaved at home.

We got to Susan’s home a beautiful house in the countryside with gardens all around and as we came in the gate there was a lemon tree immediately to my right followed by orange trees on both my right and left. The rain had stopped and the moon was in full view. We went inside to a nice hot fire, a glass of wine, and a huge bowl of hot soup. That night I slept better under the red woven duvet cover than any night in the last two months.

The second morning after a hardy bowl of oatmeal and lots of dog scratching I went out for a 12-mile run and was pampered by running on dirt roads. I met an old man walking with a big fat golden lab dog, with a hand carved walking stick, eating a bright red apple with bone white insides. We talked for a few minutes, he warned me about cars and looked up to the bright blue sky and said, “It is going to rain tomorrow.” Well he was right, even though it looked beautiful and bright, I woke to a red sky and it rained all morning.

That day, Sunday, Susan and I went to the exhibition opening of Kate Zyzis in Fish Creek at Gecko Gallery. The show of prints and paper cuts with 33 works sold out by the end of the two hour opening. It was such a frenzy that Susan and I spied one piece we both had to have and immediately scored one before they sold out, it was in an edition of 3. I could not resist I bought three pieces. The work is fantastic. Kate is the printmaking tech at Monash University where Susan is a Lecturer.

We also stopped at a library gallery/shop to buy some hand painted rocks by an aborigine artist whose name I do not have. I need to check with Susan who has the woman’s bio. I bough a painting on wood and on rock, Susan bought a rock and painting on canvas. They are very special.
On Monday we went to Melbourne to delivery Susan’s photogram exhibition prints for her show “The Lost Forest” to the mounter. It is going to be an extraordinary exhibition at the Latrobe Regional Gallery complete with a sound installation. If I remember correctly there are 55 prints. They will be mounted so that they appear to be flush with the wall and surround the room with just a sliver of light on them, the rest of the room darkened. Susan states this show is, “crafted as a lament for the changing of the land, this photographic installation imagines the vastness of the original forest.” It is so clear what she is communicating. The rolling steep hills around her are filled with cows and while the black and white beasts cuts a nice image on the deep green landscape, they along with extensive logging, have completely destroyed the forests. The black and white photos begin with lush ferns and foliage and move along the timeframe into industrial farming, logging and destruction of the forests, a very hot topic in Australia. I wish I could be at the opening. In Susan’s extremely generous spirit she gave me a print from the exhibition that alludes to an echidna. I now have two of her large photos. I look forward to adding this one to my wall with her other one.
After walking through her garden, talking for hours, eating really yummy food from her garden, meeting friends, and seeing art it was time to catch my plane. The time was way to short and even as I recount it, tears come to my eyes as I think how a long 7 years can bring real friends right back together again. So with that I am starting on a hand printed book here at the University of Tasmania inspired by her garden and recounting our visit. At every break I am planning my next trip to Melbourne, which if all works out will be July 31 for the opening of the Melbourne Art Fair. It will be a fast trip, flying there and back on one day, but I will get to see my friend again. Then the next morning I get to board that plane one more time for a 28 hour flight home.

See Susan’s work at http://www.susanpurdy.net/
Read about Susan’s New Branches project at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/arts/sunmorn/stories/s1079979.htm


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Lounging Forester Kanagroos

I am in Hobart with Lisa staying in a very nice apartment, two floors, super spacious with a computer station, Internet, phone, TV, stereo and great views of the working harbour. It is a huge and welcome change from living in the National Parks Hut for 6 weeks. While I loved being at Lake St. Clair it is nice to have some luxury. The living room alone is the size of my entire NYC apartment, the step up bathtub is over 2 meters long. Oh am I happy! The apartment is within the University of Tasmania School of Art. I can walk out my door, up one flight of stairs and be in the printmaking studio. The studios are unbelievable. The printmaking studio alone is larger than the entire floor of the Long Island University department of art where I teach. The printshop has two floors and 12 individual private studios for undergraduates with windows that wrap around two sides of the building. To top that off, to go running I just have to go out the front door and it leads to the cycle-route along the river and I can run for 9 miles in one direction without ever having to worry about traffic or pedestrians. I may never come home now.

Today we had a very special outing. We went to the Bonorong wildlife conservation center, http://www.bonorong.com.au/, in Brighton, about 15km north of Hobart. We saw Forester kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons, wombats, potoroos, emus, Tasmanian devils!, peacocks, echidna, eastern quolls and giant koalas. We fed the kangaroos and Lisa was almost taken out by a group of them, it was pretty cool.

Bonorong Wildlife Conservation Centre specialises in wildlife conservation, education and animal care and is committed to the conservation of Tasmania’s native species.

I would highly recommend going there if ever in Tasmania. Lisa and I took the public bus for the fantastic fair of $2.80 for unlimited whole day use rather than the tour bus for $68. We are so smart, plus we got to see the suburbs of Hobart, though it wasn’t pretty. In fact it was rather sad. The route we were on had very grim homes and a seemingly neglected population. The buildings and neighbourhoods reminded me of East L.A. specifically Compton. The saddest moment was when a mother got on the bus with her very fat son who just finished his day at school, he looked like he was in 3rd or 4th grade. He wanted help from his mother on his math homework. He asked, “what is 0 take away 1?” His mother responded, “you can’t take anything away from 0”. It was a rather bleak moment and only got worse from there. We were thankful to get back into Hobart and our palatial apartment. I went out for a 9 mile run on the cycle way, across the harbour and through the city. It was a beautiful rainy night.

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Hilary Lorenz on Mt. Rufus

Hilary Lorenz on Mt. Rufus

Today I put the punctuation mark on my six weeks at Lake St. Clair. I felt disappointed during the week because I told Lisa endlessly about Mt. Rufus and how we had to climb the 5,000 ft. peak together, but every day since she arrived we had cold drenching rain. Then today as I packed and cleaned Lisa set off at 8:30 for Mt. Rufus without me. By 10:00 knowing I had a 14 mile run today, I decided to trim a couple miles off and run the 12 miles up Mt. Rufus, with the 2,624 climb and surprise Lisa. This was to be the trail run of a lifetime. The first three miles were in total mud and 35º F weather. The clouds over Rufus looked threateningly cold and socked in. I ran counter clockwise to her clockwise and after about 1 hour I ran into her. “There was no going up,” she said. The trail was hip deep in snow, the trail markers completely covered and it was an impossible task.

Feeling again disappointed I had a glimmer of hope because I knew the Rangers Trevor and Daniel were on their way to the summit and if they passed the turn off to the summit they could break the trail and mark the route. Lisa and I bid our farewells and I started around the circular trail. Where she left off there were now two sets of footprints in the snow. I could race up to the summit and meet Trevor and Daniel then call it quits and walk my way out. It was hard going, really hard going. The climb was straight up, I was in my running shoes and tights, now about 30º and thigh deep in snow. My feet were soaked, I still had several miles to go before getting out, but then I was above the tree line. The clouds were spectacular, no one had been up there prior to today in many weeks. I followed the footprints and about 1000 meters before the summit I ran into Trevor and Daniel. They thought I was a crazy person, I certainly looked it. They of course were decked out properly, Trevor had his skis, and there I was in my little running tights and shoes. We spoke briefly but because of the now intense cold on the exposed mountain I had to run to the top the best I could over the rocks and snow, hit the summit and pull my rain gear and warm clothes out of the pack and get dressed. I am sure it looked more like a trot, but I used all my will to keep what resembled a run to get to the top. It was exhilarating. I stopped to take a couple photos and my fingers had stopped working. I could not clip my pack off but when I was able to finally do it I got my camera, set the timer and took a photo of me running. I looked down the mountain to Trevor and Daniel and got an excellent photo.

Trevor and Daniel on Mt. Rufus July 2008

Trevor and Daniel on Mt. Rufus July 2008

Once at the summit I packed on all of my clothes, it was 24º and I was wet and cold. I asked to descend with them, basically inviting myself. We had a great time as we stopped to check the snow levels on the way down. We stopped for lunch at what is called the Gingerbread Hut, about 4.5 miles from our finish, the hut has certainly seen it’s better days. It is not part of parks, a hiking club maintained it but the trail we were on is rarely used and the hut is quite old. My lunch consisted of two Clif shot gels and water I got from a mountain stream because I had not planned on being gone so long. Then we traversed across to a ridge, walked through a large open plain, over a field of button grass and into the woods. It took about 1 hour 45 minutes to do the last 4.5 miles. Trevor is a very fast walker and I was almost jogging to keep up because I bounced from one side of the track to the other trying to keep my feet out of the 4”+ stream of water that ran almost our whole way down. It was one of the most beautiful and challenging runs I have done, not cardiovascularly but muscle strength and psychologically because it was tough in the conditions, but I have great photos and it was a great way to end my time here at Lake St. Clair. I had a fantastic time on the mountain and thanks to Trevor and Daniel I was able to run to the summit, what a lucky day. Lisa and I are now off to Hobart.

taken from Mt. Rufus, July 2008

taken from Mt. Rufus, July 2008

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Hilary Drawing

Hilary Drawing

It is amazing how fast some weeks go and week 5 was certainly one of them. I had a full week of drawing, running, reading, and hiking. It was also a very cold week with lots of snow followed by even more rain. Yesterday I woke up to a frozen water pump in 19ªF. As the sun came up the pipes thawed and I had water by 1pm. Last night Ranger Barry thoughtfully brought me 5 gallons of water just in case it freezes again.

One new exciting addition to my cabin is a space heater. After some extremely miserable cold sleepless nights, sleepless because I would have to get up several times and put wood on the fire, I asked Ranger Trevor if they had any available heaters. Sure enough there were two brand new ones still in their boxes sitting under the table. They were bought for the rangers who work in the tool shop but apparently didn’t need them. All I have to say is the first night I used mine was the first night in 5 weeks that I slept all night. I felt great. I now stay warm all day and I am able to stay up much later drawing. And my disposition is far superior than it had been.

New Adventures: I went with Barry on the rangers boat up Lake St. Clair to Narcissus hut to delivery a large artwork that was to be helicopter to Windy Ridge Hut for installation. It was fun to be able to go on the rangers boat. I wish I could have gone on the helicopter but it is forbidden. Volunteers and some parks staff used to be taken from hut to hut to work in the park via helicopter but a few years ago one went down and everyone was killed. As you can imagine lawsuits ensured and now only head rangers and some track workers and the tools go by helicopter. While Barry was up at Windy Ridge I did a day hike around Narcissus, chatted with a few other hikers and came back to our boat to meet Barry and the helicopter a few hours later. It was a beautiful clear day, but cold and our socks were wet from stepping off the boat onto our heliport island. We were not able to park on the dock and the heliport was underwater because of all the rain so we docked on what is usually the bay but 80% was underwater leaving a small island to park on. We filled out boots with water getting off the boat and spend the day in soggy feet. I was happy to have on my wood injinji toe socks because my feet stayed warm and blister free even though it was 30º F. I have great photos of the mountains covered in snow.

Boat with Helicoptert

Boat with Helicoptert


Running: Wow I feel happy about running. Since my overuse hip flexor and illiopsoas strain I am very happy to report I am on an upwardly mobile running schedule. I have moved from 4 days a week running to 5 and from 25 miles to 40 miler per week. I am trying to be careful and only adding 10% more mileage each week. Four more weeks and I will be back up o 55 miles a week. I will be ready to run the August 16th 10k, in New York though I expect my times to be a bit shower than usual with all the winter running and uh winter eating. All this rice, oatmeal, potatoes is great carbs for fueling glycogen levels but I am ready for some of the New York City summer heat to sweat off the extra energy I stored while living in the mountains.

Drawing: I am still working on my large pencil drawing and have begun drawing small watercolors of rocks in detail. I find the rock drawings engaging in my attempts to represent all the lines and color deviations on the rock. It is about illustration more than art but I can see working this kind of method into greater works. I feel pretty satisfied with the amount of work I am getting done – especially now that I am warm.

Rocks

Rocks

Final Weeks Plans: I gave up any plans of camping. I struggled with my thoughts about camping but I can honestly say now that I do not like camping alone. I am sure of that. Especially in the winter when you have 10-12 hours of darkness and you are sitting all alone in the dark, it is 15º or less in the higher elevations, and it is just not fun. The more I read about deaths in the park brochure, experienced my own acquaintance’s death I just found it too stressful to do alone. I am glad I am finally at peace with that decision. My partner Lisa arrives Tuesday. It is her 40th birthday. I have organized something very special. I chartered a private plane and a boat to take us on a full days tour of Southwest Tasmania. The southwest is World Heritage designated, it has no roads, no civilization and pure 4500 sq. km of wilderness. 1,111,974 acres. The plane will land on the water to meet a boat that will take us to a marine researve of Bathurst harbour. We have a good change of seeing whales and seals.

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HIlary Lorenz drawing

This morning marks 4 weeks gone. I can’t help but think of it as running a 10k. The first mile while you want to hold back you take off a bit too quickly out of excitement. My taking off at LSC was hiking all the trails in the first three days, leaving no more new day routes to hike.

 

The second mile you try to settle in and set up a pace and keep alert at the same time relax your body. At LSC I got a daily drawing routine in order, arranged wood for my fire, and got on the wireless at the café, things ran smoothly and it was beautiful.

Mt. Ida drawing

The third mile. You suffer if you went out way too fast you might even loose a little bit of time especially if you encounter hills. My biggest mistake out here was letting the café know they had wireless Internet, they did not know and were suddenly alarmed. God forbid wireless Internet to the public. My third week of drawing I was beating my head against the wall my paper always falling down and the feeling of needing some outside contact, some energy, some comfort items and some new food, recharging time.

The fourth mile, this one can be painful because you are too far from the finish but feeling the affects of any mistakes.  My mistake of letting the café know they had wireless Internet caused quit a stir and the manager had it shut down. Now as an aside they gave me a password but strangely the wireless no longer works. It registers for a second and immediately drops out never to come back. While it may not sound like a big deal it has more to do with attitude and mentality. I am used to free wireless everywhere in cafes, public parks, bus stop benches, and it is not because I live in NYC. You could get wireless at a truck stop in the middle of Montana, it is normal for everywhere to have it, it is expected and it is always free.   In fact the Mayor of Philadelphia negotiated with Internet companies to provide it free for the city, anywhere are you walking you can pick up a signal.  NYC is trying to do the same, it is free everywhere but each business provides it individually.  Mayor Bloomberg had negotiated with the Internet providers to have it citywide so that it is available in every square inch of the city for free. I pick up about 17 different signals in my apartment including my own wireless of course. The philosophy is that everyone must be informed and have access to worldwide knowledge – I don’t think they share that philosophy here. But there are always drops of sunshine. My sunshine was going to Maren and Barry’s to see the possum and wallabies. I have since gone back during the day to see all three of them sound asleep. Plus Friday night I attended the most excellent vegetarian dinner party of 14 people where we got to sit around and bullshit about all the messed up crap in the world.  It is always reassuring when you are not the only one bitching.

 

Today, Mile 5. The light at the end of the tunnel though with still a lot of work to do and I am happy I still have two more weeks despite waking up in a pissed off mood today. First it was about the wireless and why it has to be such a big deal, then about the 1932 vacuum cleaner in my hut that could not have sucked the breath from a mouse let alone all the sticks and mud I track in here.  My 55” x 80” drawings fall off the wall denting the paper.  I still have one going but the other two are bent and it is very frustrating. Plus I can’t Harry keeping warmget the fucking fire to burn.

That made me feel better.  Being alone does help one understand exactly what makes one’s self tick and for me it is being around people of a like mind and sharing thought and activities.   That is why I am so thankful for Maren and Barry and Bech. I will miss them when I go; they have been so helpful in so many ways. Something as simple as learning that I have a washing machine at my disposal, which I learned yesterday but is still very helpful. They have loaned me books, gone over maps, discussed the landscape, and told me about Antarctica. Thanks to them I get a great sense of how it is living here in the park and it is very inspirational. They have created an extremely positive life style filled with activities centered on the wilderness without being cut off from society but rather engaging in it whole heartedly. In fact I was embarrassed to be told about he floods in Iowa, as I had not kept up on the news. But then they have a TV, radio and internet. I have internet when I go to the rangers stations which is saving my mental health.

 

I think there should be an orientation for the next artists. Someone could introduced the artist to the staff, show them where the garbage, recycling, wood, washing machine, and mail is. They could go over any policies, emergency procedures and contact info. I eventually did all of this by asking as things came up, but it feels a bit awkward to have to keep going to the rangers to ask such silly but important questions. This topic too we have discussed.

 

My plans for the next two weeks? Complete a large pencil drawing for the rangers. Go out camping for a night or two. I want to see the other mountains, which are a two-day walk from here.  I am not excited about going alone, it is not as fun, but I want to see them and it is the only way. Run 68 miles, that is over two weeks. Read the 5 books Maren loaned me.(by the time I posted this, 2 days later I already read 2)  Meet Lisa on the 8th! Lisa is coming for two weeks and I am very excited about that. Then on July 14 I go to Hobart, on the 18th to Melbourne to catch a bus for a two-hour ride to meet Susan who I have not seen in 7 years! I know that is more than 2 weeks but I am always thinking ahead.

lake St. clair rain

 

Well I am off to take a shower and wash my clothes.  It is a beautiful warm day today just over 40º F. I am thinking about going camping tomorrow and if I make it I will be treated to a big snowstorm in the mountains. But as always my tendencies are wavering each morning I wake up in the cold knowing that outside it may only be 25º it is that is being a touch stir crazy. 

I posted this one day after writing it and it snowed all night but by 10am it turned to rain and it has been raining for 3 hours and it is 30 degrees. I am not going camping, again, but I will go on the 3:00 boat ride to bike up the real hardcore hikers who are finishing their walk. I just can’t do it. I will go for my 8 mile run and spend the rest of the day drawing and reading and trying to stay warm.

Rocks at lake st. clair

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