Sunday, June 26, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Our Friday evening presentation at Ken Sanders Book Shop in Salt Lake City was an amazing event. Donna demonstrated bookmaking from 5 - 7, making an edition of four books using lyrics from “The Telling Takes Me Home,” a song by U. Utah Phillips.
We shared the bill with Phillips’ son Duncan who has just completed a tribute CD honoring his father’s life, titled "Long Gone". Then at 7pm the chaos began. It was art walk night in SLC and hundreds of people flowed in and out of the shop as we traded off playing songs. Duncan and his accompanist played a U. Utah Phillips song and then Donna and I sang a book arts folk song. While Duncan played, Donna went back to work on the books. Occasionally I would step outside to find a crowd 10 deep around our gypsy wagon and I would open the doors to let them see inside. This lasted until 10 pm! What a picture that would have made, what a movie, but in the mad rush to do everything at once we completely forgot to take a single picture…Until the next morning.
Those of you who have been reading our blog for awhile now may know that we modeled our gypsy wagon after a “Reading” wagon, one of the many styles of horse-drawn homes, or vardos, made for Romany travelers in England during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. When we were building it, people often asked if we were going to pull it with a horse. I would usually reply with a quick smile, “No, we’re going to use a ram. A Dodge Ram.” I am not sure how cleanly this next part segues, but I figure that Dodge must have read that and wanted to one-up us for that quip because they created an ad for their Ram trucks which uses letterpress printing equipment as a metaphor for the toughness of their trucks. You can see it on Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNmZSz07pfY
Speaking of Gypsy Wagons... it turns out that besides being a Mormon-kind-of-city, Salt Lake City is a gypsy wagon-kind-of-city. We found more gypsy wagons here than in any other city in the country. This is due to the influence of Brad Atkisson, who has built at least 6 gypsy wagons that we know of. We visited Brad, who lives in his latest wagon, saw a wagon built for his son, and then saw another under construction by Taylor, one of his apprentices (but the camera was missing then too).
Interior of Brad's wagon.
Here are two pictures of Brad's son's wagon.
Note the pop out on the right side to extend the bed length.
Interior of Brad's son's wagon.
Finally we want to let you know that the lecture we gave at CU (that is the University of Colorado at Boulder) a few weeks ago has been put online: This is the title:
"What is a book? What is an artist’s book?"
"Book artist Peter Thomas talks about the nature of the artist’s book, what they can do, who makes them, and what they sound like. http://scriptalab.org/?page_id=658 "
Friday, June 17, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
People who travel know that sometimes amazingly wonderful things happen and other times things become incredibly difficult. After teaching our afternoon class in Edwards, Colorado, (which was our first class with high school students and it turned out great!) we started out late for our next stop in Paonia.
I think Highway 70 between Vail and Glenwood Springs is one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the country. The road winds through Glenwood Canyon, suspended above the Colorado River. I find it strange to be saying that a highway is beautiful, but this one was... the designers of this stretch of road really knew what they were doing. We stopped at a rest stop to admire the river, as it was overflowing its banks because of the last few days’ heat melting the largest snowpack in recent memory.
We pulled up next to a van pulling an enclosed utility trailer. Peter said, “These must be gypsy travelers too.” Turned out it was The Kris Lager Band. They were headed to a gig in Aspen, and they also play sometimes at Moe’s Alley and the Blues Festival in Santa Cruz. Check the band out when they come to your town and support hardworking touring musicians. A snipped from our conversation with Kris: “Battle of the Bands, American Idol, they are all taking music in a wrong direction in my opinion. Music should bring people together, not separate us into classes. Think what the word “idol” means…” Thinking about the music jams we have played in while on our trip and how they have been times of great connection and fun, we say he is right.
The town and spa of Glenwood Springs are located where Glenwood Canyon opens out to let the Crystal River flow into the Colorado River. The lodge building of local red stone was built in the late 19th century and the huge hot pool and mineral baths there became a major tourist destination. Peter and I stopped for a soak. I love thinking of all the places I have gone in natural hot springs as a tourist…. Mono Hot Springs to soak tired hiking muscles, The Blue Lagoon in Iceland, Mercy Hot Springs for Katy’s 30th birthday and the last place us wanderers soaked, Quinn's hot springs in Montana...
At dusk, we drove in the direction of a campground. Here is where we had one of the “not so nice” traveling experiences. The RV campground turned out to cost $58. a night for a slice of cement pad and a snack bar. We drove on hoping for something better. We started to get Tired and Cranky. Then it happened.
The wandering book artists became all-american. We spent the night at Walmart. The parking lot was quiet, level and had a marvelous view of the snowy peak of Mt Sopris. All in all our Walmart experience ended out falling into the category of “ a very nice experience.” Who would have guessed it.