fire sketches

Sketching Fire Stories: An Exhibit

We’re just a little over a month away from the second anniversary of the deadly firestorm that traumatized the entire population of Santa Rosa and well beyond. In my household we have our emergency bag and supplies packed for a quick get away should need be. And once again Carole Flayerty and I have been asked to share our fire sketches with a community that can never forget October 2017.

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On Tuesday September 17, at 6pm the City of Santa Rosa will be hosting a public screening of Last October, a new 50- minute documentary film that captures experiences during and following the Sonoma Complex Fires from the perspective of several current and former City employees and officials who served as first responders, disaster service workers, and community leaders. A film trailer and more info is available here

The screening of the film will take place in conjunction with the art exhibit Sketching Fire Stories on display at City Hall thru October 3, 2019. Sketching Fire Stories is a year-long project of watercolor sketches that tell compelling stories of destruction and recovery in the aftermath of the October 2017 wildfires. The sketches were done on location by myself, Carole Flaherty, and others.

Carole and I will be at the event to meet the public, talk about our sketch stories and listen to others’ stories. I hope you can join us.

Location: Santa Rosa City Hall Council Chambers, 100 Santa Rosa Ave

Date: September 17, 6pm

This event is free and open to the public. For more information call (707) 543-3010 or email me.

 

Land and Me – Fire Sketches

Before this month ends tomorrow I want to report on the fascinating interactive performance event called The Land and Me which was held at the DeTurk Round Barn on March 2. It was an opportunity for us to have the first public showing of our entire body of fire story sketches (120 in all!) at an interactive event, created by artists, musicians, dancers and thinkers! It featured live music, dance, poetry and participatory performance, all packed into about two hours.

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If you haven’t been to the DeTurk Barn, it’s a real gem owned by the city and rented out for events. It’s not out in the country as you might expect, but in a small park near Western Farm Supply just west of Hwy 101 in Santa Rosa.

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To give you a feeling of the inside of the barn, here’s a panoramic shot I took with my iPhone! We were all standing around the balcony calling out lines of poetry and releasing the slips of paper to float leaf-like down to the first level.

 

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Carole, Bettina and I came early to install our show called Sketching Fire Stories: Artists are Second Responders. The sketches date back to right after the devastating firestorms of October 2017 when we dedicated our skills as visual journalists to telling the stories of the people, places and events that so severely impacted our community. Rather than use a camera, we traveled to many of the affected sites armed with our pens and watercolors and sketchbooks to record our impressions of the scenes and personal stories. Other artists joined us and we later archived the sketch stories in a body of work to be shown to the community in various venues.

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The Land and Me project, designed by two gifted Bay Area artists, Carol Mancke and Trena Noval,  afforded an opportunity to share the project and talk to interested people about it. We hung the sketches on clips on the round walls of the barn and had binders of more sketches on tables for viewing. Some people spent time looking at each of the hundred or so sketches and took pictures. . .like this Press Democrat reporter who quietly snapped dozens of pictures.

We were glad to represent the impact of the firestorms on the land and people of our community for the Land and Me project. It was and is our heart-felt offering for the healing and rebuilding of our community.

The event featured multiple layers of activities and artistic expressions.

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You can get a glimpse here of the range of activities at the event. (If you can’t see the slideshow, try this link)

For more information about the project and the contributing artists visit the Facebook page.

And if you’d like an opportunity to view the Fire Sketches, we will be presenting them again in August in a six-week show downtown Santa Rosa sponsored by the S.F. Parks and Rec Dept. More on that closer to the date.

You can also view some of my firestorm sketches on my website and Carole Flaherty’s  on her website. As well you can see sketches from the events surrounding the first year anniversary of the fires, Sketching Fire Stories.

Fire Story Sketches at the Land and Me Event

 

After the devastating 2017 firestorms here in Sonoma County some of us sketch artists were compelled to record the stories of our land and people who were so dramatically impacted. As time went on we sketched the rebuilding efforts, and finally a year later, the anniversary events.
And now we’re happy to announce the first pubic showing of the entire body of fire story sketches at an interactive performance event, created by local artists, musicians,dancers, and thinkers, featuring live music, interactive creative experiences, dance poetry and participatory performance.
Carole Flayerty and I will be there to talk with people about our process of reportage sketching, recording the experiences of the fire through the filter of personal experience. I hope you can join us at. . .
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If the land could speak…
The Land and Me  – Public Performance Event!
Saturday, March 2nd, 2019
from 4:00-6:00 PM – Free – Register HERE
The DeTurk Round Barn, 819 Donahue St, Santa Rosa
Join us for this interactive performance event, created by local artists, musicians, dancers, and thinkers, featuring live music, interactive creative experiences, dance, poetry and participatory performances with:
Eki Shola . Ben Roots . Nancy Lyons . Ernesto Garay . Carole Flaherty
Susan Cornelis . Margie Purser . Irma Bijou . Lea Goode-Harris
Kasia Apolinarski Krzykawska . Dustin Ordway . Aimée Otterson
Jared Wiltse . Carol Mancke . Trena Noval
Bring along your families, neighbors, and friends to note and celebrate some of the ways that the richly diverse Santa Rosa community has responded to the 2017 fires through renewed connections to the land.
CONTRIBUTE to the PERFORMANCE – please bring a small object you found on the land that can fit in your hand to share at the event!
ALL AGES WELCOME!
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To get a glimpse at more of my own fire story sketches visit my website.

Beauty among the ashes

Exploring yet another burned out neighborhood in the path of the October 8 Tubbs fire I drove out Mark West Springs road. While walking down a street of flattened homes this antique car rose out of the ashes and stared at me like a giant beetle. The squashed garbage cans seemed to be having a dialogue with it, so I sat down to listen to what they had to say about the event.

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pen, watercolor and gouache in 9 X 12″ Stillman + Birn toned Nova series sketchbook

The constant drone and thunking of the bulldozer down the street and conversation of workers kept me company while I followed the lines with my eyes, unencumbered by knowledge of familiar shapes I’d drawn before. Squashed circles and wavy/sharp edges and broken pieces set the brain free to engage in a pure effort of drawing as it should be, without distractions of the mind.

A couple of workman stopped by to ask me if I had lost my house here. People are always ready to offer condolences. A supervisor with a company on contract with FEMA or OSHA or, I wasn’t quite clear, engaged me in conversation. He had come from Miami, where he lives.

“I was there in the middle of the hurricane destruction,” he said, “and it looked a lot like this does” waving his hand over the flattened neighborhood they were clearing.

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Continuing up Mark West Springs way and out Reibli road and other country lanes, I traced more of the fire destruction and found a peaceful spot by the side of the road. It was a typical scene with layered colors of alternating lush vibrancy and dark, burned areas with debris, like the trees above, still green at the tops with browned scorched leaves and black charred trunk. The human habitation was leveled and peppered with white and black ashes, and the grasses were surging back encouraged by recent rains. Even here the cranes and bulldozers droned on in their clearing jobs around every corner in the road.