Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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The Rock, the Tide, and Sea Friends on the Bay…

IMG_8917 After our sunrise and coffee on the beach, our last scheduled event of the 2015 Morro Bay Bird Festival was a cruise on the bay. You will notice in these photos, as our skipper pointed out, that it was a king tide. He mentioned how it gave a sense of what it will be like when the seas rise. No parking lot around the rock, evidently. We headed in the direction of the rock, spying sea friends and enjoying the sunshine. IMG_8928 IMG_8938_2 IMG_8942_2 IMG_8956_2 IMG_8959_2 The rock actually has two pairs of peregrine falcons that nest on it. One pair on each side and it is highly unusual for them to be so close to each other. However, when they fly off the rock for hunting they have very specific territories. We could see the ones on this side of the rock as we floated. IMG_1793IMG_8985_2IMG_8969_2 IMG_8982_2 IMG_8971_2IMG_8996_2 IMG_9004_2 IMG_8998_2 Once we got out toward the breakwater and the exit to the open sea, we turned around and went back down the channel through the marina. IMG_1855 and saw more wild-life friends. IMG_1813IMG_1871 IMG_1875 IMG_1873 Once we left the boat, our time in Morro Bay was finished and we packed up and headed south.  For lunch we stopped in Pismo Beach and then drove to Camarillo for a visit with my mother. Definitely going back to the Bird Festival next year. IMG_9020_2


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The Rock, the Gulls, and the Sunrise…

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Monday morning was our last chance to do the best thing ever. We had nothing scheduled until 9:00 am so at 6:30 we left the motel in search of java and made it down to the sand next to the Rock to watch the sun rise. This is absolutely my favorite thing to do if I am in Morro Bay. The light is gorgeous starting out grey and then gradually taking on other hues.

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My assistant holding the coffee…

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and as the light lifts, we are joined by other humans…

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Have I mentioned fish already?

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Surfers start to arrive for the waves…

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Some pinks start to mix with the lavenders and greys…

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and, of course, our ever present gull friends…(Western Gull?)

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A link to an article that discusses the issues for a small town like Morro Bay…

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It is all so gradual, yet, so insistent…another day is here…now!


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The Rock, the Gulls, and Fish from the Sea…

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We spent January’s MLK Weekend at the Morro Bay Bird Festival. We used to be faithful participants, but for the last two years we had not attended. This year we registered early, got all the workshops we wanted, and were set to enjoy beautiful weather (in the 70’s and clear as a bell…January, no less!). Friday we arrived in time for Terry’s 3:00 workshop on identifying seagulls…the whole weekend he kept showing me his knowledge (evidently, they are tricky to identify because there are so many different kinds of them.) Then we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Bay Cafe soaking in the old sights, the smell of the sea, and having the first of many meals featuring fish. Oh, and there was a sunset.

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The next morning, Terry was off early to a field trip looking for Golden Eagles (successful) and I strolled through Morro Bay’s commercial district (about three blocks of that). After lunch, I went to my workshop on drawing birds while Terry went kayaking on the bay.

I walked into the Natural History Museum for my class and the sky looked like this:

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Drew for a few hours…

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and when I came out four hours later, the sky had turned to this…

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What a place! The next morning, we were both up and on field trips by 7:45. I don’t know what Terry saw, but I birded with a group that went toward Turri Road and over to parts of Los Osos. The Central Coast was looking so good…

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I met my old friend, Kathy, who lives in Atascadero, for lunch and we drove up to Cayucos for some fabulous salmon tacos. Couldn’t walk on the pier, though, as it is under construction.

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Ahh, the hours I spent on that beach in my youth… That evening we ate at The Galley (more fish) and had another spectacular sunset to enjoy…

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This is the Townsend’s Warbler that I drew in my class and the block print I made from it when I got home…

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I definitely would not mind looking at that kind of sky every day…


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Collagraphs…

The reason that I ended up with two boutiques on the same weekend in December was that I had taken a class last fall through Walnut Creek Civic Arts. If you take a class then you are invited to participate in the sale. I had taken a printmaking class and had a great time. The facility has a large etching press that is wonderful, so, along with block prints I made some collagraphs which I fell in love with doing. It is not like I need to go out and buy any textured papers to create these things, right? I ripped of the back cardboard from every pad of paper in the house and set to gluing. Then I coated the printing plates with layers and layers of gloss medium so the water-based ink could be washed off after the printing was done. Once they were printed I could not leave them alone. You know me, they also got some collage elements added on top and additional printing and coloring. Here is a sampling…

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These two were printed on Rives BFK paper with two printing plates one for the background textures and the other with the animal.

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These were printed on rice paper more like a block print would be rather than with the press. They were embellished with water color and colored pencils along with collage elements.

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This had a background made with a collagraph on the etching press but then had silk screens added on top.

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These were carving blocks I made and stamped on background paper. In the bottom one some of the paper had been sent through my inkjet printer but the paper tore. What to do but tear it some more and emphasize it.

Had so much fun I am taking the class again so I can use that wonderful press and make more collagraphs!


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Looking back, looking forward…

Even though my middle name was chaos these last few weeks, I was able to make an iMovie compilation of my year in pictures. When I got it together, I was struck by how many birds there were because of all our field trips. It turned out I even forgot to take pictures of my classmates at my high school reunion…just got the peacock strolling the grounds. I am glad I took the time to do this movie because, except for a sad thing near the end, it was a very good year. Although I am a little belated, Happy New Year to you and may your 2015 be stellar!!

Don’t forget you can watch the movie full-screen by clicking the small box on the lower right hand corner…


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Prisoner Ai Weiwei…

The art that drew us to Alcatraz…an exhibition of the work of the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei.IMG_7860

From the catalog: “At first blush, @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, a major exhibition that pairs a politically charged Chinese contemporary artist with a landmark American national park, seems just as incongruous. Ai, a superstar in the international art world who helped design the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is currently forbidden by the authorities to leave China. Alcatraz—over the years the site of a Civil War-era fortress, a military prison, a notorious federal penitentiary, and a momentous Native American rights protest—is now a popular national park site and refuge for waterbirds. But it is exactly the pairing’s intrinsic conditions of contradiction that bring the two parts together-and make for the possibility of soul-stirring art.”

After arriving at the dock, we walked up to the New Industries Building which was originally a laundry and manufacturing facility.

“Both delicate and fearsome, the traditional Chinese dragon kite embodies a mythical symbol of power. Ai Weiwei unfurls a spectacular contemporary version of this age-old art form inside the New Industries Building: a sculptural installation with an enormous dragon’s head and a body made up of smaller kites. The sparrow-shaped and hexagonal kites scattered throughout the room feature stylized renderings of birds and flowers—natural forms that allude to a stark human reality: many are symbols of nations with serious records of restricting their citizens’ rights and civil liberties. The work references some thirty countries, including Cameroon, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan.

…By confining the work inside a building once used for prison labor, the artist suggests powerful contradictions between freedom and restriction, creativity and repression, cultural pride and national shame. He also offers a poetic response to the multi-layered nature of Alcatraz as a former penitentiary that is now an important bird habitat and a site of thriving gardens.”

With Wind (Installation, 2014. Handmade kites made of paper, silk, and bamboo)

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Somebody I know was looking for birds out those windows and admiring the view to the Golden Gate…

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In the next large room:

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Trace (Installation, 2014. LEGO plastic building blocks)

“The viewer is confronted with a field of colorful images laid out flat across the expansive floor: portraits of over 170 people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled due to their beliefs or affiliations, most of whom were still incarcerated as of June 2014.”

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“From the New Industries Building’s lower gun gallery, where armed guards once monitored prisoners at work, visitors peer through cracked and rusted windows to glimpse an enormous, multifaceted metal wing on the floor below. Its design is based on close observation of the structure of real bird’s wings, but in place of feathers, the artwork bristles with reflective metal panels originally used on Tibetan solar cookers…this piece uses imagery of flight to evoke the tension between freedom—be it physical, political, or creative—and confinement.

Refraction (Installation, 2014. Tibetan solar panels, steel)

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We walked through lush gardens up to the Cellhouse.

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Inside was Blossom (Installation, 2014, Porcelain, hospital fixtures)

Fixtures in hospital ward cells and medical offices are transformed into fantastical, fragile porcelain bouquets.

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There were other parts to the exhibit inside but it was time for use to go look for birds in earnest…

Now I have run out of episodes with titles I can use the word “prisoner” in, so now I must bring this chapter to a close…


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Prisoner of Alcatraz…

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Wednesday morning, 8:00 a.m., we left for San Francisco so we could catch  a 10:00 a.m. ferry to Alcatraz Island.

When I think back on this year since last October, it has been a year filled with more ferries, water taxis, vaporettos, and water conveyances than all of my sixty-six years before that. Last October it started in Venice and went to Lake Maggiore in July. Now it has come to San Francisco Bay (actually twice this year, because we took a ferry to a San Francisco Giants game in August…Go Giants, by the way!). At 8:00 in the morning, traffic is a bear, but since it was Wednesday and not in the summer, parking was easy and directly across the street. Plus, the island did not get very crowded during our time on the rock. As we proceeded on our cruise we certainly hoped that Alcatraz would not have us licked.

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It was a beautiful day with great views of the Bay Bridge on the way over to the island.

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Our approach to the dock included water towers, guard towers, and a view of the prison…

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This island is frequented by many bird varieties…

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The Officer’s Club has deteriorated but makes for some interesting photographs…

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The Quartermaster Warehouse and the power plant…

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Apartments for the guards…

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The Warden’s residence next to the prison and lighthouse viewed from the Parade Grounds…

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The water tower still has remnants of the American Indian Occupation…

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A great view of the Golden Gate with Hawk Hill on the right, across the Bay…

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The San Francisco skyline…

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We toured the cell block and that put us on a higher level to get closer views of the Warden’s Residence and the lighthouse…

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We walked through the exercise yard and were impressed with the view the guards must have had while they supervised…

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We wandered back to the dock through the Agave Trail and had our picnic before boarding the ferry to go back to the city.

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We were allowed to escape from Alcatraz…

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There was a model at the ferry landing of what Alcatraz looked like before the buildings started to crumble…

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