Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fishtown and the Skagit River

After the busy-ness with the Art Auction, I was asked by the Museum of Northwest Art's Executive Director if I could help them and proofread an upcoming book. I readily accepted.

The book is Fishtown and the Skagit River, which coincides with their newest exhibit of the same name. The exhibit actually opens tomorrow, and doesn't get switched out until October. The book is expected to be released Saturday, July 10; and will cost $15.

For those of you that have no idea what Fishtown is, let me inform you.

Fishtown was an artist community on the outskirts of La Conner back in the 1960s that existed until the mid-1980s. Fishtown was made up of old, fishing shacks on the banks of the Skagit River that had been abandoned in the 50s. Several artists moved into these shacks and assumed a "simple" way of living:

No electricity, no running water (beyond the ever-moving river), no taxes, and completely enveloped by nature. To get to town, the artists would either trudge through farmland (trespassing, except the farmers were tolerant), or paddle their way to the Swinomish Channel to reach First Street.

Many of the people that lived in these shacks were very fond of Asian culture and beliefs--this was often translated into the artwork that was produced within these shacks. Artists blurred their boundaries of creativity: poets took up paint brushes, painters tackled printing presses, etc. Collaborations between artists were very frequent, and this cultivated a culture that was unique to Fishtown.

You couldn't really get to Fishtown unless you were invited, and even then you needed a guide that had been there or was an actual resident. Now, with the help with satellite photography, one could find the old shacks where Fishtown rests. If you know where to look.

If you are interested in Fishtown, local writer Fred Owens explains its history on his blog, Frog Hospital: A Bit of Fishtown History.

This past week I've been poring over the drafts for the book, trying to catch typos, grammar errors, layout edits, and anything else that jumps to mind. On Tuesday, I got the chance to help set up and arrange a few things at the Museum with curator Kathleen Moles.

Here are a few exclusive shots of the show mid-arrangement:

Several pieces of art waiting to be hung up on the wall at MoNA. 
I don't know who did most these, there are a lot of artists in this show, but I'm pretty sure the middle piece (right of the blue one with circles) is Paul Hansen.

My favorite part of the show right now. 
This is room is usually a glass gallery for exhibits, but not this time.
To transition from the main room (Main Fishtown) to this room (Fishtown-inspired/related), there is an excellent display of Robert Sund's Wind poems. He wrote poems and sayings on thin strips, and hang them around his shack.
The painting of the Skagit River (left of the little yellow piece) was painted by John Simon--a wonderful Skagit Valley painter that recently passed away.

This is the curved wall that is in front of the curving stairs. It's an excellent center-piece for when people walk into the Museum's exhibit. For this show a poem was written, in excellent calligraphy, by local calligraphist and artist Maggie Wilder. Her script has been featured all over town, including the back wall of the local library. The poem is not her work, I believe it is Robert Sund, but will have to update once the show's open.

The show opens tomorrow morning, and the actual opening "party" will be on Saturday, July 10 from 3pm-7pm.

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