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I have had the luck this spring to explore an area farther north of my home city and check out some really eye-catching geology in the form of rock erosion. Along the Chuckanut Bay there exist limestone and sandstone boulders, resting on the shores of saltwater beaches. What happens to these rocks from exposure to sea salt and acid rain is incredible! They begin to form little pits from weathering, and these pits become a honeycomb network of holes in the rock that are known as "stone lace." Stone lace, also known as "tafoni," is common in that area. I have hunted for it on the Oregon Coast and have found some at Indian Beach, but they just aren't as pretty, in my opinion.
I do however come across some great basalt formations in Oregon, my favorite of which is "columnar basalt." It takes on a striking geometric shape of square columns. It seems bewildering that this happens in nature, and geologists have determined that their shapes were formed as lava flows quickly cooled, which contracted in a vertical pattern, forming rigidly defined columns. At Indian Beach, there is plenty of rock that has flat horizontal edges that look like steps, which are also developing vertical fissures over time as the ocean wears into them.
If you like any of the images above in my blog, you can purchase them (and more) as fine photographic prints in my Etsy shop (HERE).
Erosion is not just a matter of sand displacement on our northwest beaches, it also affects forests on soft cliffs near the water. Entire swaths of trees and shrubs can fall into the sand below and become buried when their soil slips down the cliff-side. This makes for some surreal settings, like the buried tree pictured above.
It is fun to find new vantage points when paths are opened up after an event like this. I get asked where I take my photos, and the answer is that I go to the same parks and trails that are available to everyone, but I forge new trails of my own and reach the edges of cliffs or climb boulders higher or farther out so that I can get unique vantage points. It gives me a great sense of adventure but it is also dangerous, so I don't take friends along with me when I attempt these things! Yes, that is a bit scary, but I follow my instincts and judge the terrain and weather to the best of my senses and don't ever go so far that I can't find my way back. For me, this is the essence of joy in my exploration of landscapes, and the ultimate prize that awaits me is what I turn into a photographic print that others can appreciate, too.
Astoria Open Studio
Visit, Learn, and Shop
This summer, Astoria Visual Arts will again host my work at a location (TBD) where you will be able to meet me and ask questions about my work, as well as purchase prints or home goods designed with my photos. I will have marble coasters, marble magnets, pillows, tote bags, and wood panels available for purchase. I am also happily taking custom orders for prints or products that you can arrange for pick-up at my table. Please follow this link to stay tuned on the tour map, when it becomes available: TOUR MAP 2018.
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Maybe you've wondered what my origin story is as a photographer. I, for one, am an "origins" person. I like history, genealogy, geology, and the timing of "firsts" and "lasts." It all comes together to make us known on a deeper level as individuals and as a people.
Half of my lineage comes from northern France by way of Acadia, the other half comes from Sicily and Italy in the Mediterranean. Hence, I ended up with a funny shade of pale olive skin and freckles that doesn't tan well, and I'm only 5'2".
The French came by boat to Acadia in the 1600's to be fur trappers and settle new land. These Acadians made their way to southern Louisiana through escape and expulsion after some unpopular rules were enforced by the British crown during their claim to these northern French lands by way of several wars. My ancestors from warmer climates came in the 1800's to areas outside of and within New Orleans that were already American. These two bloods, the Mediterranean and Acadian, mixed in the Deep South, where I became a known as Cajun.
I began studying photography at the University of New Orleans in 2001 and was one of the last few generations of students before the digital wave, meaning every roll of film I shot was reeled in a pitch-black closet and printed under the amber light in a darkroom. I was one of the midnight warriors, making my way in the darkness to have the place all to myself late at night to make prints on silver halide paper. Only a couple of other determined warriors joined me at this time of day.
I was on the slow path to graduation, working two jobs while studying with a goal of graduating debt free, and by 2005 I was only a junior at age 24. That August, Katrina sent us out of class and her destructive forces were the beginning of a really cool and empowering survival experience for me that began with swimming out of my front door in fins and towing my two roommates from India out with me on a Home Depot extension cord. It ended with me getting a plane ticket from Salt Lake City to Eugene as part of payment for working with a New Orleans record store's van that followed the Warped Tour. We set up big tents at each new city from Arizona to Utah. I stood outside selling punk chains and hemp necklaces, while the rest of the crew sold custom band t-shirts made on the spot under the tent.
I had fallen in love with what little I knew about Oregon the year prior, having been a skateboarder and wanderer in a state where wandering meant you needed a boat to get to the best spots and skating meant riding pot-hole-ridden streets, giant oak tree roots lifting up sidewalks over 6 inches in some places, and absolutely no outdoor skate parks. So I took the chance to get myself out to Oregon on a "refugee" status that offered me in-state tuition to the University of Oregon in Eugene. Living through Martial Law was not fun, and I'm glad Oregon stepped up for us!! I was exited to head for a state that had rocky basalt cliffs and desert, all in one.
At that point, I was getting around mostly on foot and by bike. I got my New Orleans bike as a rescue from a garbage heap in Baton Rouge on a family visit prior to the hurricane. It had a sweet custom bandanna seat that I designed and a Little Rascals sticker on the stem. Sadly, Buckwheat drowned in the flood waters, chained to my porch. When I got to college in Oregon, I borrowed a bike from my driving college roommate until I got Fiend. Fiend was designed by the Cadillac car company (strange, I know) and had some really crazy structure that only fitted BMX fenders, so I felt like I was on a half-motorcycle on the road.
Oregon was more than the beauty I could conjure in my head. I knew I had come to where I wanted to be when I started to check out my surroundings between classwork. The sensations I experienced being around my first Northwest waterfall were of total relaxation and triggered some sort of animal sensuality. We were barefoot, we jumped from the top, we were free.
Oregon became forest hiking, mountain climbing, sea cave exploring, and beach camping on the weekends with my house-mates. I found out beer tasted better in these places, but I still drank the cheap stuff a couple more years until I tried PNW craft beer. There were so many choices!
After living here now for over ten years, I can say I've seen a lot of the Cascadian coast and hiked many trails, but I feel like I've only tapped into a tiny bit of the natural beauty it has to share with us, and I am so glad to live here with the purpose and intention of exploring as much as I can with a camera and bringing that beauty into our everyday lives. I live for those moments, being out there. And I am greatly satisfied when my image pleases you!
Well when they say put yourself out there... I got as much as I can handle, and more keeps coming just as soon as I push another project or show to completion. This is really an amazing process, and I know the flow will happen in its own way... I hope I can handle it and still find time to cook and sleep!
BOLT Coffee Bar Show in Gearhart
Yesterday, I hung a show at the new BOLT Coffee Bar in Gearhart. This spot is a quick and easy stop for a road adventure coffee, located on Highway 101 near Pacific Way. The owner, John, has had a passion for owning small businesses, and this coffee bar is his new venture. He serves Oregon coffee (with s'mores additions!) and has a wall of my wood photo panels on display. There are some larger prints framed in decorative pine, too! Really, he is using my work as shop decor, but I'll let it pass for awhile.
The show will run for several months, and plan on a fun gathering for a grand opening later in the summer!
Cannon Beach Art Gallery Representation
Farther down the coast, Cannon Beach Art Gallery at 1064 S. Hemlock Avenue is now carrying several of my smaller wall and tabletop 5 x 5 mini wood panel photos. This is where you will find the Haystack Rock photo, of course! You know... that gorgeous sea stack over 15 million years old that everyone checks out for nesting puffins on top and the tide pools around its base.
Stay tuned for future adventures and new art prints that will become available! My shop is always open at https://www.etsy.com/shop/Sweetsere.
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Adrift Hotel's New Designer Pillows
The time came last year to search past my local home of Astoria for opportunities in design and retail, by re-discovering our sister region, the Long Beach Peninsula of Washington. Here is a place that has that feeling of "otherness" in being separated from the mainland cities and yet having its own laid back vibe, retro eye candy, and closeness to nature. It's a gem in my book!
Lately, there have been a lot of my projects in the works - preparing to be the inaugural Second Saturday Artwalk artist for a sour beer brewery opening this month in Astoria (yay, more beers!), working with Buoy Beer to create a new tote bag design for 2017 (see last year's design here), re-stocking the extremely popular Astoria Column gift shop with local goods (totes inspired by Coxcomb Hill), and forging a relationship with the local Astoria Riverfront Trolley Association to sell trolley photo totes (see here) on one of the best things in town - a sight-seeing vintage ride along the Columbia River with friendly information guides for only $1!!
Whew, that's a lot!
In today's blog, I am excited to show you how Adrift Hotel's great design team coordinated not only their colors but local surrounds into the guest experience with the use of my photo pillows. They just fit so well...
The vision of the owners and designers of the Adrift has really struck a chord in my soul, as I noticed we are attracted to the same colors and hues of blues and greys, with dashes of red and fun lighting among their minimalist design elements. Exposed wood grain furniture and grunge-textured metal panels add earthiness and warmth to the cool colors that are known for their subdued and calming effect, much like the peninsula skies on a typical day.
Each room has its own unique personality, with vintage lights casting prismatic sparkles that frame the beds, which kind of make me feel like a VIP visitor. Relaxing softly on the fluffy beds are my accent throw pillows they chose, which really bring the outdoors in by being a tribute to what you see out the windows at your cozy sitting tables - foggy forests on an overcast day to the East and South or sunny sand dunes on brighter days to the West and North.
This is a coastal landscape that is gifted with beauty in every direction ... it's part of the charm of not having any skyscrapers around! I really had a hard time leaving without taking lots more photos, so if you want to go check it out and stay yourself, visit Adrift Hotel (here) for booking or just to satisfy your curiosity. They have great winter rates and provide self-contained entertainment in the form of foosball and ping-pong tables, and they will exceed your basic survival needs with a wonderful bar and restaurant on the top floor called the Pickled Fish (here), featuring live music every week. You won't be complaining when you have the free locally roasted coffee in the lobby either, winky-wink.
I am open to designing custom pillows, wall tapestries, and tote bags for more local businesses who enjoy my style of photography, but if you want one sooner than later for your home, there are quite a few I can ship out from my studio. Shop online for them at ETSY (here) or browse my page of Product Design (here) from my website, NYED.
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