Signal Fire is collecting applications for their next round of residencies in the summer of 2010.
It took me a while to post about the Signal Fire Residency I went on last fall because I’ve been trying to collect some photos to accompany my writing. Signal Fire provides residencies in the Mt. Hood National Forest to selected artists from a range of practices. Each summer they bring the artists out to the forest and provide them with food, maps, a bicycle, battery power and shelter for work and sleep space. I was one of the ‘guinea pigs’ for their first summer of residencies and was lucky to take along some friends, Michael Reinsch, Eric Steen and Ariana Jacob when I went.
I’ve been waffling about how much detail to go into in my post about the trip, and have finally decided to use the structure of an “official list” that Michael, Ariana, Eric and I made during our stay as the starting point for the following.
Signal Fire Residency Schedule, Sept 25-27, 2009
Michael Reinsch, Ariana Jacob, Katy Asher and Eric Steen
On Wednesday, we were all excited to go down to Clackamas River which we could hear from our campsite. From there, we agreed that we should figure out a way to cross over to the other side and go poke around in the Big Bottom old growth forest on the other side. Amy (one of the Signal Fire organizers) had made a point of showing us where to go, explaining that this area had recently been designated wilderness, and that it was some of the 3% remaining old growth in the Pacific Northwest. Ariana curled up in the roots of some ancient trees while Eric, Michael and I spent a couple of hours collecting various mushrooms from the carpet of pine needles and moss and trying to identify them using the guides we’d found in the trailer.
After limited success at finding anything edible, we started pelting Ariana with the mushrooms, eventually heading back to camp to figure out sleeping arrangements and make some food. Eric and Michael both wanted to sleep in their own tents, while Ariana opted for the cushions she had spotted in the back of the suburban. I quite happily set up shop in the bed in the trailer. Ariana realized that she needed to drive back into town to make an emergency phone call, and by the time it got dark, she still hadn’t returned. We lit Michael’s camping lantern and carried our chairs and dinner up to the road to wait for her in the case that when she returned she wouldn’t know where to turn off to find us again. We waited and waited, and flashed our lights at a lot of cars that weren’t her. We wondered if she had gotten lost and had gone home for the night. After completing our dinner and drinking some wine, Ariana finally showed up, and we spent the rest of the night taking turns telling our life stories.
During breakfast on Thursday, we sat around the campfire and took turns reading aloud from the first chapter of Spell of the Sensuous. Afterwards we had a long conversation regarding the possibility of thinking outside of the human-centric state of mind and whether we could think in terms of something that was non-human and non-animate, such as a river or animal. After lunch, we went down to the river. Ariana went for a swim while the rest of us sunned at the bank and later, Ariana collected some musky smelling swamp mint to make tea with.
On Friday, we decided to try and locate Austin Hot Springs which showed up as a small grayed box on our map down the road from where we were camping. We set out hiking, stopping to note familiar landmarks and refer to the map.
We actually stopped and looked at the map a lot. After hiking for a couple of hours, we stopped at a place that we thought might be the springs and I took a nap while Ariana and Eric tried fording the river to see if maybe the warm water was on the other side. Eric ended up coming back, while Ariana got stuck first on the far side of the river and then in mid stream.
After several half-fordings, backtrackings, and foot warmings on the hot rocks she hiked about a quarter of a mile upstream and crossed there, and climed a vertical hill to meet up with us. We spent that night in the warmth of the trailer night talking about the first time we each met one another and discussing our respective MFA programs in true art-student fashion.
Not to be thwarted by our failed attempt to find some hot springs, the next morning we got up early and drove to Bagby Hot Springs seven miles further down the road. While we soaked, we read aloud from Drop City. Upon return from Bagby, we spent several hours sitting in the sun discussing what we would make for the Signal Fire Soft Shovel show which was opening 4 days after we returned to town. We got out a typewriter, markers, paper and sketchbooks. Upon deciding to make and bury a time capsule as a gesture to what the residency might mean to us in the future, we spent the evening developing a detailed list (much more detailed than this recounting) of everything we experienced during the preceding days, read aloud from Ivan Illich in conversation with Jerry Brown and played the card game Shit Boots.
On Sunday, we got up, ate breakfast and started to take down camp. From there, we each completed our contributions to the time capsule just before Amy arrived to help prep the trailer for its trip back into Portland.
Our Bibliography: Drop City, Spell of the Sensuous, Ecotopia Emerging, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, The Gum Thief, Clackamas Ranger District Vicinity Map 2002, Love and Community (Jean Luc Nancy), Cabinet Magazine Testing Issue, The Rights of Man, Artist Placement Group: The Incedental Person, his art and ideas, City Works, All That the Rain Promises and More
Other: Much discussion of gastro-intestinal bombs and shovel-visits.
We buried the time capsule and drove back into town.