Highlights of 2023....
TEACHING AT CENTRUM
This year I started teaching at through Centrum, a multidisciplinary center for the arts based in Port Townsend, WA. I worked with two youth camps, teaching illustration and sculpture. Teaching groups of adolescents is challenging, exhausting, and deeply fulfilling. I’m happy to be teaching a classroom again, part-time, and also humbled by the people who do it day-after-day, full-speed-ahead.
Working at Centrum is amazing. The staff is spectacular, programs are innovative, and a perk of teaching is a one-week residency in their studios in Fort Worden State Park. I spent one week there in early January, getting back to work on my unfinished book about pavement paintings (aka street murals).
Writing for me feels a lot like this…
STREET ART & SOLIDARITY WORK
As always, I continue to make visual art for environmental and social justice movements.
Billy Frank Jr. (Nisqually) was a Native American environmental leader and activist who was arrested over 50 times for fishing on his traditional waters. Multiple Tribal Nations eventually became involved in the Fish Wars, culminating in the 1974 Boldt decision which forced Washington State to honor treaties that promised the right to fish “in their usual and accustomed places”. Yay Billy Frank Jr. and his legacy!
We made banners for forest protection both near and far: to speak up for legacy forests cut down by WA state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as well as against the Cop City being built in the South Atlanta Forest (aka the Weelaunee Forest). Haven’t heard of Cop City? Learn more from local people organizing against it. Live in WA state? Why not join the fight to protect our public Forests?
NEW OLD TIME CHAUTAUQUA
This year, my son Raul and I had the extraordinary pleasure of joining the New Old Time Chautauqua for Chautauqua week in Port Townsend AND 2023 Blackfoot Confederacy Tour. The New Old Time Chautauqua is a old-time variety show, mixing education, entertainment, and laughter. Each year skilled performers volunteer their time to tour underserved communities, including Native Nations, rural communities, and institutional settings, sparking joy and imagination wherever they go.
What does this look like? A caravan of jugglers, clowns, aerialists, musicians, builders, teachers, and healers transported inside an ancient bus, going campsite to campsite, supported by miraculous people who keep everyone fed, sheltered, organized, and (mostly) on-time for shows.
This year we had the honor of working with the Blackfoot tribes on both sides of the US-Canada border, and witness their dedication to revitalizing their culture and health, despite continuing challenges stemming from long-term trauma of colonization. We connected with amazing Blackfoot community workers in harm reduction centers, tribal education, service groups, and Tipi camps, who work everyday to heal and strengthen their communities from the long shadow of traumas caused by residential boarding schools, forced resettlement, and laws that undermine their sovereignty. We learned so much! And were so blessed to be welcomed on the reservations, as well as in the rural communities of Sandpoint, Idaho and Trejo, Montana.
Along the way, I got to design and painted a mural with Chautauqua friends at the Pale Horse Tipi Camp, in the Piikani Nation, Alberta, Canada. If you ever travel through the area, you can check out the mural while staying in a Tipi.
Also on Chautauqua, I started to experiment with performance art. With the encouragement of the amazing clown/teacher Kristin Spaeth Crowley, I debuted as Angela the Bear, to the delight of old hippies and toddlers in Trejo, Montana. Fear not, locals: my family tells me I’m not allowed to dress like this at home.
GRIEVING THE FOREST
In the next few weeks, I’ll be putting out the first issue of a zine I’ve spent the last year working on: FOREST FOR THE TREES.
Living in the shadow of the Olympic mountains, I’ve become more aware than ever of how we all depend on natural ecosystems for our continued survival on planet Earth. Sandwiched between the great Rain Forest of the Pacific Northwest and the vast Pacific Ocean, I can feel the pull of the Rain, the Forest, the Fish, and the Seas. I know I live on colonized land, as I’ve made friends whose great-grandparents once lived near our house at the mouth of Chimacum Creek, in a Chemakum village that cared for and nurtured the Forest and Fish for countless generations into history. Yes, Native peoples are still here, and no, it wasn't that long ago that their land was taken.
Between the Forest, the Sea, the Creek, and the displaced Chemakum People, there is a visceral feeling that we are all connected. An injury to one is an injury to all, and those injuries compound over time. We have spent generations injuring the Forest, the Sea, our Waterways, and our Neighbors. We are still doing it. How do we reckon with these injuries and stop destroying our Earth and communities?
I left California amidst cataclysmic wildfires in 2021, to come north and witness the clear-cutting of Forest older than my great-grandparents. I felt drained and foggy-headed for months, and sometimes still do. It was more than midlife burnout. I struggle with mind-numbing Grief over the Forest, clean Air, Salmon, and Habitat lost, both in my old home and in my new one. As more people relocate due to shifting climatic and economic tides, we will inevitably create new traumas of colonization and resource extraction on land and human communities. Can we do things differently this time? Can we find a way to be more respectful, to honor Land, Water, and People?
I believe grief is a critical step in the building of a more humane society, in our learning to respect each other and the sacredness of Life. I want to learn to lean into our Grief, to not to look away from our losses, and to find new ways to witness, honor, acknowledge, and listen to what has been lost. In an attempt to lean into that work, I organized a loose collective, the “Forest Dreamers”, to put on walks to the Penny Wise Timber Sale, a Forest Salon for grieving artists, and this soon-to-be-published zine, entitled, “Forest for the Trees”.
FOREST FOR THE TREES, A ZINE
I started out with a clear vision for a collaborative zine about Forest Grief, but nothing is clear about Grief. Everything seemed to fall apart on this project, from the very beginning. Feelings were raw, and misunderstandings between people ran rampant. There were also moments of unexpected and sincere connection and solace. I suppose it’s the nature of Grief. At each intersection, I picked up the pieces with whichever artists and community members were nearby, and carried on, until things fell apart again. Repeat. Repeat. Still trying to get to the finish line, but I’ve got a near-final layout on my computer and I’m getting quotes from printers in the coming days.
We are currently fundraising to cover the costs of printing and distribution, for the first issue of FOREST FOR THE TREES. I’m expecting the total costs will be at least $1000. So far we’ve raised $ 50. Any amount helps!! You can support this project by sending money to me via Paypal (email@example.com memo: ForestZine) or Venmo @danfodor (memo: ForestZine). Yes, I am running the project out of my personal venmo/paypal, as the Forest Dreamers are not an official organization.
I’m also looking for help distributing the zine — email me your address and I’ll send you some zines!
Preparing to write this blog post I realized -- Yikes! I've forgotten to update my blog for almost 2 years. Things have been shifting, and the online world escaped me. So what has been keeping me busy?
So what've I been up to since then? A lot of unpacking and homeshooling, but some art, too. At some point I will revise my portfolio and post new work in an organized manner, but for now, I'll just drop some photos here on what's been keeping me busy, artistically.
To me, each plant has its own unique symbolism and story.
Pandemic getting you down? Take a journey in your imagination…
Take a moment, close your eyes, and imagine:
“What can we learn from this moment? What has the pandemic taught us? What can we carry into the future, that can make us more resilient?”
We currently face powerful challenges to our future: the pandemic, institutional racism, economic collapse, and the climate crisis. But how we respond can and does make a difference. We can build a better world, together.
As part of a public art project called #Plan4Resilience, I invited local artists to answer these questions – and to paint the pavement with their answers.
Here are a few of the answers they gave....
“Imagine A World” is being painted this week, July 15-25, by local artist shyboytoto at the I-House.
Walk or bike to the I-house Mrak Terrace (10 College Park, Davis) anytime and see the painting come to life. Viewing benches welcome folks to relax safely, outdoors, at a distance. Don't forget to bring a mask, to respect our artist's safety!
Two other paintings in the series can still be seen in Central Park.
Catch this art while you can -- each of the paintings in #Plan4Resilience is temporary, and fades with sun, rain, and wind – just like the lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic fade into memory, unless we etch them on our hearts.
To plan for resilience, we must renew these messages in our lives -- taking action as individuals -- and as a community -- to build a more just, sustainable world.
Three more #Plan4Resilience paintings are planned for coming months, including "Plant A Seed for Change" by Candice Foster, at the Cannery.
Thanks so much to the City of Davis for funding this project, the artists who've shared their gifts, the I-House, and to my son, Raul Sierra, who inspired this series of murals when he asked to paint a temporary mural on Earth Day. That mural got washed away in May rains, but a glimpse of it is recorded in photos below.
Each of the artists funded in the #Plan4Resilience project has been economically impacted by the pandemic. The #Plan4Resilience project uses a model of mutual aid: artists help us imagine a better world and promote mental health, while getting a few days of paid work at a living wage. We can support each other -- with meaningful work that builds a better tomorrow -- through green jobs, including, but not limited to: caregiving, eco-construction, health care, and creative work. If you'd like to donate to the artists in this project, you can donate online here, and I'll share your "artist tip" with the team of painters and change-makers in #Plan4Resilience.
#Plan4Resilience is funded, in part, by a generous grant from the City of Davis Arts & Cultural Affairs Program.
Hi Artists + Friends,
I am thrilled to announce a new project giving mini-grants in the form of per-day stipends to visual artists to create new public art that promotes community health and resilience during the coronavirus crisis.
This is a project employing both a) artists struggling economically, and b) volunteer artists who want to help out in solidarity. Paid artists must be from Davis environs, working/studying, or selling work here.
The project has two components:
-- #healthisinourcommunity uses sidewalk stencils with hip, humorous health messages to promote social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, and promote mental health.
-- #planforresilience uses temporary murals in parks and plazas to honor public gathering places and holidays while reflecting on long-term resilience and planning.
Read more about both projects. Artists can participate in 1 or both projects.
Apply for a mini-grant ASAP or as a volunteer artist HERE. Applications reviewed on a rolling basis. My goal here is to get work and money to artists who need it as quickly as possible -- please apply today!
Studies have shown that art makes public health programs more effective and impactful. All projects will be created while following public health guidelines including wearing masks, sanitizing hands, and physically distancing. #ArtsAreEssential
Got questions? Ask away at firstname.lastname@example.org and 530-302-7143.
This project is supported, in part, by a generous grant from the City of Davis Arts & Cultural Affairs program. THANK YOU City of Davis!
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's an ... indie voter guide!
A proud Davis tradition of questionable quality.
Always amusing, occasionally informative. Or was it always informative, and occasionally amusing?
I leave you to your own conclusions.
Either way, download that baby by click click clicking on the PDF icon below.
Happy to say this season was more team than work. Thanks to the many may who contributed writing, graphics, editing, and layout. And yes -- it's still got my funny little sketches in it, augmented by many other artist's work.
It's that time of year again... When I try my hand at being a political cartoonist. Except I'm just too goofy for anything except the local Davis Ballots and Burritos (aka Pancakes & Politics) indy voter guide.
Click on that link with the PDF image, yo!
This creature popped up in my dreams at the end of November. Perhaps it was the month of insomnia that brought him to the surface? After I drew the bear, he disappeared from my dreams. I suppose he just wanted to be acknowledged.
I woke up three times last night, my dreams interrupted by uncompleted items on my daily "to do" list. For that level of disturbance -- you'd think the things on the list would be more critical than "write thank you notes" "buy supplies" and "call portapotty company". Sometimes I think we (as a society) suffer from anxiety because our battles aren't quite as epic as our emotions are. My emotions are so epic -- I need bigger dragons.
Here's a pastel drawing from last winter's vault.
Sometimes I wish I had wings.
But if I did, would I be brave enough to fly? What would I have to give up to soar?