Lakenenland, Michigan

Outsider art with a cheery feel.

Wikipedia: Lakenenland is a sculpture park located in Chocolay Township, Michigan. The park was founded in 2003, when artist Tom Lakenen moved his collection of scrap iron sculptures from his yard to a plot of land near the Lake Superior coast. Lakenenland contains more than 80 sculptures in the creator’s “junkyard art” style.

After Roe vs Wade by Miriam Sagan

I have some advice for you. If you don’t like my approach, feel free to skip this post.
My advice is about action, not attitude. Like many women, I feel panicked and degraded by a loss of rights. However, I am almost 70 years old and I’ve learned that my emotional response is not that important in most situations. My ethics and actions are a better place to focus.
So I suggest not allowing your self-worth to be determined by a corrupt society. I may be in a minority in that I’ve never trusted the USA to be much more than a capitalist and nationalist country that supports oligarchy. Since I’ve always felt this way, I’m upset but not disillusioned.
Step 1: Accept that you live in a society that does not necessarily have your best interests at heart.
Step 2: Right now, social change and electoral politics are important but probably too slow to give you peace of mind. Do vote, but prepare in the meanwhile.
Step 3: Protect your fertility in your reproductive years with contraceptives and barriers to STD’s. Support your friends and family in this. Yes, contraceptives can fail, but lack of them really does. Is this anti-spontaneous? You bet. Try and stay awake to your sexuality and to communicating with a partner. The opposite won’t help you.
Step 4: Focus on self-help, in the older sense of mutual aid. I myself am setting up an affinity group for 2-4 women to fund raise and volunteer for reproductive rights.
Step 5: Have a plan for yourself and others. Is abortion still legal where you live? Investigate options before you need them. Perhaps most importantly, start an emergency fund for expenses. That way you can also help other women.
Step 5: Find an organization that supports reproductive rights and support it. Fund-raise, donate, volunteer.
Step 6: If you are comfortable protesting, march in the street.
Step 7: Don’t feel powerless. Contrary to Facebook memes, your only options are not handmaiden or warrior. Your real option is to be yourself.
Yes, terrible and unexpected things can happen in this as in any arena of life. You can be prey to assault, violence, accident. However, I would not catastrophize. Taking care of yourself and others–in a profound, even radical way–is worth doing, particularly in difficult times.
I’m a mom, and a grandmother. In high school I was part of a group that had an abortion fund–in cash, hidden in a sock. We used it once, then replenished it. My mother, and her mother, felt very strongly about reproductive rights. My approach is not perfect, nor does it address all eventualities. But I do know something about how to decrease suffering. And I know things go better when I am not alone.

James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden

There are so many ways to understand a piece of land, even Wisconsin woodlands that are now just green spaces in suburbia. We saw effigy mounds. Worn down by time, it is difficult to discern the shapes. However, we did see wildlife among the deer-shaped graves of ancient people who once lived here.
A wild turkey burst out of the underbrush, purposively leading us away from her nest. Of course we walked away to leave her and her family in peace.
Outsider artist James Tellen built sculptures of things he cared about–often religious imagery–and placed them on leafy paths. It is now curated, with his work done elsewhere also placed there. We saw a deer nibbling.

First Eats of the Trip

Frank’s Diner in Kenosha, Wisconsin–

Then the first but not the last frozen custard. I might rank Kopp’s best ever–just a smidgen creamier than Caliche’s in Las Cruces.

And finally exhausted from too much outsider/visionary in Shebogan, Wisconsin at the Kohler museum.

Meg Nicks: Forest Fires

Meg Nicks is an artist living in the Canadian Rockies. I know her through Art Loves Science–now called Biophilium. We share a profound relationship to wild fires because of the similarities in our environments.

I’ve enjoyed her work for several years, and it seems to have acquired even more depth and feeling.

Title: Turbulent Dissolution

Lost Creek Fire

Red Moons: Shaman’s Jacket from a Season of Fire and Ash

I love this piece–not only about fire but a memorial to a deceased friend.

I’ve posted this in “Climate Change Haiku.” If the work inspires any poetry, do send it to the blog–

Lounging Through The Flood by Jenny Kendler

Editor’s note: I recently completed a two week residency on water, Submerged with Biophylium (formerly Ayatana/Art Loves Science. As always, working with this group is an incredible voyage of discovery. I’ll be sharing some of what I learned about as we move into summer.

Also, Miriam’s Well (that is, me!) will be on the road in upcoming weeks, mostly in the Great Lakes. So expect more water!

However, fire is always with us these days. Just a reminder, the blog is continuing to publish forest fire haiku and climate change haiku, with any approach. I started receiving fire haiku at all hours, and I just post them as they come in, so do send–

Kate O’Neill at Dreaming Dog Books

I was excited to learn that poet and book artist Kate O’Neill has started a press!
She kindly spoke to Miriam’s Well about this new project.

MW: Poetry and letter press printing are a natural pair. How did yo get started?

Poetry and letter press printing do go hand in hand. I have always loved illuminated manuscripts, wood block prints, letter forms, poetry. I studied Art History as an undergrad and worked in Boston as a graphic designer in the 1980’s. I was always looking for ways to combine process and content. So, I worked for a lot of political causes and non-profits. Now, after several decades as an educator, counselor and administrator, I am returning to my first loves of art and writing. Books in all forms synthesize these elements. There’s something so compelling to me about being part of a lineage of creators. Letterpress is a rare art form these days, and I relish being part of keeping the traditions, presses and passions alive.

MW: But starting a press has a lot of heavy lifting! What inspired you? How is the process going?

Since I understand well the time involved and the commitment to starting a press, I am very focused on printing only poetry broadsides and poetry chapbooks. I envision that this will continue to evolve as I gain skill and a body of work. I have a 1909 Chandler and Price platen press which is treadle operated, (so, I don’t need a gym membership LOL!) And, with two other artists, I am just setting up a Vandercook Universal 1 cylinder press. Both of these live in a 400sf garage space that I have converted into a working press studio. The “Emulsifying Fires” chapbook is Dreaming Dog Books’ first publication. Not only did I need to get the press and studio set up, but also the website, ordering capacity, etc. I am still working the kinks out for sure. I have been the binder as well, sewing each chapbook with cotton twill ribbon and waxed linen thread. I love the process and it’s truly gratifying to see them, finally, out in the world.

MW: What was the process of writing the poems–were the photographs direct inspiration, focal points, or?

When I drove into Taos for the first time in 1991 I was struck by seeing the Ranchos Church. I had seen Ansel’s photo of it, I had seen O’Keeffe’s painting of it, but to see it in person was truly amazing. So, I’d say that Ansel’s photos are a jumping off point for the poems. And yet, having lived in NM since 1993, many of these photos are of places that I have been in person. So, in addition to Ansel’s perspectives, I have my own experience of Chimayo, Taos Pueblo, Aspen trees, weather over Cimarron. The landscape of New Mexico is harsh and beautiful, stark and desperate. And yet, there is a softness to the curves, the earth, the flow. I am fascinated by the interplay of light and shadow. The overlays of nature, culture(s), spirit, eros, creative process, space and time, all combine to evoke the vast “suchness’ of New Mexico. The poems were started in 2015, mostly written at the Vermont Studio Center in 2018, after encouragement from Robert Hass at the Community of Writers earlier that summer. This felt like a body of work that needed to be collected, formed and realized as a whole, thus the chapbook.

MW:  I notice the use of the couplets throughout (except for Chimayo poems written in 1-line stanzas.) How did you choose this form?

I chose the form because I was enthralled by the dance of light and dark. I also felt like the NM landscape was weaving through both Ansel’s images and my words. I felt like it was beyond an ekphrastic poetic expression to an embodied dance of energies. “. . . the folie a deux between bebop and duende.”

It also reads as if the book is one long poem–like walking through a gallery. Yes, it is as if a scroll through space and time. As David Hockney wrote, “How we depict space determines how we behave in it.”

MW: Future projects? What is next?

I plan to take the next few months to get up to speed on the two presses. Eventually want to create more chapbooks and broadsides. I imagine continuing to weave words and images through book and paper forms in intriguing and inspiring ways.

Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos, 1929

It is not large really, but it appears immense. It seems
as if a soft extrusion, an outcropping of the earth below.

You know precisely the square yard of earth
on which to place your wooden-legged tripod

and Korona view camera—finest mahogany, nickel-plated
adjustments, red-leather bellows, tessar-type lenses.

You challenge the laid-down interpretations as you imprint
the beehive buttresses onto orthochromatic glass plates.

A new outlook, you say, as you float your massive subject in space.
You construct the structure with light, obscure the edges between

sensed and seen. You always use red and yellow filters in the
high-altitude of the Southwest. And yet, on this occasion, some

gentle angel whispers ‘no filter’ and you obey. Some intuitive
thrust makes this picture possible as you open the aperture.

c Kate O’Neill after a photo by Ansel Adams

Stone Quarry Hill Art Park

I like following what is going on at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in upstate New York. I have fond memories of being an artist-in-residence there. Here is a poem–published in SEVEN PLACES IN AMERICA–written there:

Body Of

body of water

body of work

yellow mustard field
body of evidence

body of liberties

body of knowledge

body of research

body of principals

body of water

Stone Quarry Hill Art Park
Today we celebrate new work by visiting artist Jen Dawson. ‘Super Natural’ is composed of cement, wire mesh, and braided and patinated steel wool. The bodily nature of the work embraces change— the steel wool will quickly rust and transform, creating dichotomies of seduction and recoil, welcoming and resistance. Experience the dynamic and complex ‘Super Natural’ located in the Secret Garden.
Thank you @jendawsonart for working tirelessly and enthusiastically, rain or shine, this week at the park.
ID: A large rounded and blunt rock-like structure with large black and brown braids crowning the top and sides.