Friderike Heuer

 

Exquisite Gorge 4: The Bee Maven

In White Salmon, artist Steven Muñoz engages a hive of community creativity to make art highlighting the danger of ecological collapse


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare
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W.B. Yeats wrote these words in the sixth section of his poem Meditations in Time of Civil War, longing for bees. The structures were crumbling, symbol of the destruction wrought by Ireland’s civil war in the 1920s, and rebuilding was direly needed. I was reminded of this poem and the restorative role it assigns to bees, when meeting with Steven Muñoz last week for a studio visit and an art talk in White Salmon, Wash.

Steven Muñoz, printmaker and director of the Lee Arts Center, Arlington, Va.

The printmaker is the fourth of several artists who I visited during their participation in the Exquisite Gorge project, which accumulates individual wood prints for a final printing by a steam roller in late August at Maryhill Museum. If the wait until then seems too long, you can attend an earlier opening of what promises to be a different, extraordinary print exhibition on July 13th at the museum:


Muñoz is a man who walks, talks, breathes, and, for all I know, sleeps and dreams bees. A mere century after Yeats’ lament, with the structures crumbling again, this time destroying the very fabric of nature on which the bees and all who rely on them depend, his work is a call to action.

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Exquisite Gorge 3: The Listener

Roots music, laughter, an osprey snaring a computer mouse: In Part 3 of Maryhill's river-art project, Neal Harrington imprints on The Dalles.

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER

How does an artist decide which questions to raise and which, if any, answers to provide? How does an educator reach an audience and communicate innovative ideas hoping to stir up responses that foster curiosity and open or change minds?

Neal Harrington, printmaker, musician, associate professor of art and gallery director at Arkansas Tech University

I wondered about this when meeting Neal Harrington, the third of the printmakers to be portrayed for Maryhill Museum’s Exquisite Gorge project: To recap, he, too, is one of 11 artists who in collaboration with community partners are carving woodblocks filled with ideas about individual sections of the Columbia River. All of the blocks will be aligned and printed by a steam roller at the museum on August 24.

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Exquisite Gorge 2: The Witness

Woodcarving in Goldendale with Roger Peet in Maryhill Museum's 220-mile Columbia River printmaking project. Part 2 in a series.

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER

HOW DO YOU TELL A STORY that is not necessarily your own? How do you draw a landscape that did not always belong to you? How do you document reality without appropriating someone else’s history? These questions pose themselves to any artist, anthropologist, historian who is aware of the limitations of their own perspectives.

These kinds of of questions also arise for me when constructing profiles of people who I find interesting, whose work I admire, whose politics I likely share, and who I get to talk to only once.

Roger Peet, printmaker and muralist

Case in point is today’s portrait of one of the artists chosen for Maryhill Museum’s Exquisite Gorge project: printmaker and muralist Roger Peet, who I met last Saturday during a public woodblock carving session at the Goldendale Public Library, a few miles north of the museum on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. He is one of 11 artists who in collaboration with community partners are carving woodblocks filled with ideas about individual sections of the Columbia River. All of the blocks will be aligned and printed by a steam roller at the museum on August 24.


THE EXQUISITE GORGE PROJECT

“…a collaborative printmaking project featuring 11 artists working with communities along a 220-mile stretch of the Columbia River from the Willamette River confluence to the Snake River confluence to create a massive 66-foot steamrolled print. The unique project takes inspiration from the Surrealist art practice known as exquisite corpse. In the most well-known exquisite corpse drawing game, participants took turns creating sections of a body on a piece of paper folded to hide each successive contribution. When unfolded, the whole body is revealed. In the case of The Exquisite Gorge Project, the Columbia River will become the ‘body’ that unifies the collaboration between artists and communities, revealing a flowing 66-foot work that tells 10 conceptual stories of the Columbia River and its people.”

Louise Palermo, Curator of Education at Maryhill Museum


During our short conversation before the public portion of the event, I was quickly convinced that the artist is someone who would ask himself the questions outlined above. His section of the river ranges from the Deschutes River to the John Day River, including The Dalles Dam, one of four dams built along this stretch of the Columbia between the 1930s and 1970s that displaced Native American communities and wiped out traditional fishing grounds. We ended up in no time discussing the historical, political and environmental implications of that structure as well as other effects of human interference with nature.

Yet we also talked about whose story this truly is, embedded in the context of all other assaults on Native American rights, and how one cannot usurp that telling.

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Exquisite Gorge 1: Getting started

Maryhill Museum embarks on a mission to create a giant collaborative print depicting 220 miles along the Columbia River. Part 1 in a series.

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER

I have on previous occasions written on this or that aspect of Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington, which I like to visit as often as I can. An eclectic collection of paintings, fashion, artifacts of some Eastern European aristocracy (Queen Marie of Romania), chess sets, native American basketry, 80 or so works of art by Rodin, displayed in an old manor house with a fascinating history of its founder, beautiful grounds and a sculpture park, high above the Columbia Gorge – it has all drawn me for many a decade. In fact, I remember when they still had peacocks roaming the manicured lawns and discreetly placed signs, warning you of rattlesnake danger, should you step off the paths…

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Art on the Road: Where Tuff meets Tough

Santa Fe, Part 2: Friderike Heuer takes her camera to Georgia O'Keeffe's high desert and rethinks her attitude toward the American legend

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the second of two visual essays from northern New Mexico, photographer and artist Friderike Heuer visits Georgia O’Keefe’s home territory and revises her thinking about the artist. She also responds to O’Keeffe’s views of the land and sky with  images from her own photographic work. In Portland you can learn more about O’Keeffe at noon Tuesday, April 30, when the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust education presents Carolyn Burke discussing her book Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury.

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IT HAS HAPPENED TO ME AGAIN. That’s twice now, in just two years. I’ve had to revise my assessment of an artist once I got to know the history and environment that was essential to her work. The first re-evaluation took place both on an intellectual and an emotional level: where I truly disliked Frida Kahlo before, I came round.

Georgia O’Keeffe, “Gerald’s Tree I,” 1937. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Photograph by Friderike Heuer

And now I have to admit something similar is happening for Georgia O’Keeffe. I was never a fan of the endlessly repeated desert skulls or foreshortened flower paintings, imbued with sexual metaphors or gender-specific markers – references, it turns out, mostly peddled by the men in her life in the beginning of her career and appropriated by many a feminist at some later point. O’Keeffe herself rejected these interpretations just as much as being co-opted by the feminist cause. (For a thorough analysis of her relationship to feminism read Linda M. Grasso: Equal under the Sky: Georgia O’Keeffe & Twentieth-Century Feminism University of New Mexico Press, 2017)

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Magic Mountain meets Magic High Desert in Santa Fe

Art on the Road: Friderike Heuer travels the high routes of northern New Mexico with her camera and discovers parallels with Thomas Mann

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the first of two stories from her recent visit to northern New Mexico, Portland photographer and artist Friderike Heuer discovers layers of history, art in abundance, and a cornucopia of vivid images from the streets, museums, and galleries of Santa Fe. The accidental sculpture of walking sticks in the top photo was on display near the Rio Grande Steel Bridge, where a street vendor was selling wares. In addition to the region’s deep history, Heuer found evidence of a futuristic streak: The rest of the photos, except for the book cover, are from “the ultimate Dionysian experience of art meets entertainment at the indescribable Magic Castle known as Meow Wolf.” Coming Monday: Georgia O’Keeffe in the Southwest.

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HANS CASTORP, THE YOUNG, ARTISTICALLY INCLINED protagonist of Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain, visits his dying cousin in a sanatorium for people with tuberculosis in the Swiss mountains. Infected himself, he ends up staying there for seven years before joining the military for World War I in 1914, expected to meet his doom. As a patient, he might as well have come to Santa Fe, New Mexico. This place also attracted health-seekers at the beginning of the last century, many of whom never left, given that the dry high-desert air was beneficial to people with lung diseases.

Mann’s novel was begun in 1912, published more than a decade later, and by that time completely revised to incorporate the lessons from the Great War. The trek of “lungers,” as they were called, to Santa Fe also saw significant changes. A few TB patients arrived in the early 1900s. Others followed as word of mouth spread. People suffering from the disease from all over the United States were soon actively pursued by local politicians and administrators, who persuaded them to come to the area by the thousands. The first wave consisted of artists and educated, mostly wealthy people – the kind you would have also met at Mann’s Berghof sanatorium. Next came soldiers and veterans, then all sorts of poor people unable to pay for their stay and yet welcomed with open arms and plenty of sanatorium beds. What was going on? Why the pursuit of a population carrying a dreaded disease?

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Comment: Our Bodies Our Doctors

An Oregon-made film about abortion providers premieres at the Portland International Film Festival. Friderike Heuer looks at the issues.

Story and photographs by Friderike Heuer

The Portland International Film Festival, which opens Thursday, March 7, and continues through March 21, has a long (42 years and counting) and honorable tradition of focusing on controversial subjects. This year is no exception. On March 8, International Women’s Day no less, it features the world premiere of Our Bodies Our Doctorsa documentary film by Janice Haaken exploring the experiences of contemporary abortion providers.

The team: Director Jan Haaken front center; from left to right: Katrina Fairlee, Sound Recordist, Timothy Wildgoose, Photography, Caleb Heyman, Co-director of Photography, Samantha Prauss, Assistant Director. Not featured: David Cress, Producer.

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