Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Chang’s Elephants…

In January of this year, I had a unique experience of setting up an art show in my community library. Along one wall were the paintings of my father and in a glass case would be my collages and handmade books. This was a large case with four shelves. The bottom shelf was quite low and my work that needs to be standing up really could not be viewed well from that vantage point. At the last moment I decided to open some old sketchbooks of my father’s to lay flat on the shelf and they could be seen perfectly. In fact there was quite a lot of comment at the artists’ reception about the uniqueness of the sketchbooks. When I took down the show and took everything home I realized that the sketchbooks I had there were just the tip of the iceberg. So I cleaned out a cabinet and gathered all that I have together and went through them. My stack of notebooks also included a mock-up of a children’s book my father must have put together in the early 50’s. It was called “Bobby Goes To The Circus”. I thought there was a story line there and I wanted to share the wealth of sketches with Chang’s descendents.

In March, I got to visit Portland where they had a baby elephant born last November. On a lovely day with my niece, Katura, I was able to shoot video at the zoo and I enlisted her to record a soundtrack narration for me.

The Bobby in the title of the story is my big brother Bob. There is a sketch of him from the back discussing the anatomy of elephants. There are two pictures of me (young, thin, and with long hair) from 1974. They were taken by my father (always in black and white and printed 8″x10″) and are from the first year I was married and the first year I lived in Redlands, California. My parents came out to visit and since there was a small circus on a vacant lot just outside of town we took Jed, Bob’s son at around one years old, to see his first elephant. Jed’s son, Jesse, is the narrator of the story. Katura, Bob’s daughter and Jed’s sister, who is an artist in her own right contributed some sketches of our day at the zoo and helped to get a recording of Jesse reading the story. Jesse has an impressive, expressive reading style and is a premier blooper comedian. I do believe he has a career ahead of him as a voice-over artist.

I had to shoot through glass to get video of Baby Lily, so I apologize for stray reflections, but we were so lucky to see her momma perform for a little kibble dessert. Only one chance to get that shot! You should know that being a baby elephant is some kind of hard work and sometimes you just have to plop down wherever you are. Some of the pages of the sketchbooks have yellowed with age but they are a treasure I wanted to collect to share with you. Any relatives wishing a copy on CD to store in trunks in their attics…just let me know.

The lights have dimmed, the spots have come up. The ringmaster has come into the tent. Children of all ages…have some fun!


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Elephant walk…

Our three day trip to Portland included two different trips to the zoo. The first day’s itinerary was Powell’s Books, coffee, Portland Library and its fabulous details, Portland Art Museum, lunch at Southpark (fish!), the zoo, and a brew pub for dinner. All in the rain. Although it was 10 degrees colder once we got up to the elevation of the zoo, there was virtually no one else there except one third grade school class. It made it nice when viewing the baby elephant because the customary throngs did not materialize.
The second days’ itinerary was: art store, elephant statue (12 foot bronze), the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, Mexican restaurant lunch, the zoo, and a brew pub for dinner. In between, trolleys, busses and MAX trains plus walk through wetland parks…
In an attempt to get short snippets of video into my blog, I am using iMovie for the iPad to process some footage. It does not do as many things as the version on the laptop so you will see the top of a third-grader’s head in front of the penguins because I cannot crop it out using the iPad version. (Am I being fashion police if I say who would send there kid to the zoo in leopard print?) It is a more direct way to post into the blog. This is only a fraction of my footage of elephants so you can bet you will see more later in a more polished form. The cat you see is a caracal, similar to a lynx. Coffee stores and brew pubs…hmmmm…


I snapped a couple of views of my niece Katura’s elephant sketches and as luck would have it she posted on her blog today and it shows how she added washes to them the next time she sat down. (I think it was in that brew pub.) Katura’s blog is here.

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Then we trained, trolleyed, and walked, passing through Tanner Springs Park to get to dinner. This park is urban space reclaimed for wetlands and has the most wonderful railroad tie wall with blue glass inserts that light up at dusk. Also, some of the industrial structures near the restaurant in the Pearl District.

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The next morning we got up early and flew home.

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One last picture: on this trip I was able to get a picture from the trolley of the Convention Center. A fascinating building…you could see the clouds all the way through it…

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Wonderful trip, wonderful people, great town…


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Craft on…

Walking through Portland with my niece Katura is not a high-pressure experience. Not an amble, really, because a lot of analysis and intent went into her map decision planning, but there are a lot of pauses. Katura makes quick sketches and I take photos. Spouses along on the walk have long known to adapt their pace of walking to the reality of this characteristic locomotion.
We spent our morning in an art store and we knew we would end at the zoo. In between was an elephant in the park (because there are never too many elephants) and…oh, wow, a craft museum. And it was a fine, fine museum at that.

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Of course, we had to investigate the texture of the elephant before walking around the corner to the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

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The main show in the gallery was titled “We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live.” The featured artists are characterized as sharing a precarious relationship between fact and fiction.
Oil paintings by Stephen Hayes riding the line between abstraction and representation…

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Analog photos by Akihiko Miyoshi. He places tape over the lens of his camera and shoots into a mirror.

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Block prints by Daniel Duford…

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“Painting the Ingredients of my Painting” by Sang-ah Choi…

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Also, an exhibit of bowls…

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Bowls can be plastic or little slices of paper. Notice how the bowl that the attendant graciously flipped for us changes color…

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This exhibit had some wonderful examples from my favorite artists when I was learning to be a potter. A great time was had experiencing this vibrant museum.

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Walking through Portland…

If your tour guide in a city is the talented and artistic Katura Reynolds (her blog here) not only do you get a thoughtfully prepared itinerary but a hand drawn map and lots of giggles and fun along the way. Plus she and her husband Chris know really good restaurants when they see them. This is just a little film of the beginning of our day’s adventure. Cool buildings in the Streamline Moderne style, great signs, conveyor belts, smells of yeast and an art supply store. Oh, and the first of many elephants…after all it is Portland. There is more to come…a fabulous contemporary craft museum and real live breathing elephants. Soon…


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Garden of paradise and a little bit of knowledge…

Rainy, cold, wet, but still walking to see as much as possible during our time in Portland. In a direct line on our path between Powell’s Books and the Portland Art Museum, before hopping the MAX train to the zoo, was the city library.
A Georgian Revival style building built in 1913.

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It has a foyer entry with this quotation and etched glass above the door:
“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.”-Jorge Luis Borges

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This building has some wonderful features revolving around arts and crafts. (Second to baby elephants the theme of Portland was awe inspiring arts and crafts…my kind of town.)
Entry foyer ellipse, Garden Wreath.

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“Gardens of Knowledge” and “Pathways to Wisdom” are next to gilded leaves.
The most amazing staircase I have ever seen sweeps up to the second and third floors. Garden Stair by artist Larry Kirkland, is black granite etched with images and words to inspire the imagination.

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The columns are faux marble painted in the scagliola technique (I only know this because of the brochure the library has available.)

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Off the library is the Children’s Library named after author Beverly Cleary. It has a most amazing tree sculpture…

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Combined on the trunk of the bronze tree are objects from Oregon’s natural history and subjects found in the Dewey Decimal System. As favorite things get rubbed the bronze shines brighter. Preserving a Memory was created by Dana Lynn Louis and Barbara Eisworth.

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My favorite is the bear nose and the sea otter head…
Plus, three of the library stacks are ended with a collection of shadowboxes called Souvenir. These were created by Kay Slusarenko.

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The ultimate frosting on the cake is a WPA mural from the ’30’s by Florence Thomas. Alice in Wonderland

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These shots are to show the beauty of the spaces, curves, and angles…

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Portland…

We flew to Portland on Tuesday. Hadn’t seen this type of airplane in a long time. It had whirly-things but was a really nice ride…

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We arrived to rain (not really a surprise) but set out Wednesday morning for a day of (wet) exploration.

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Powell’s Books and the damage it did…

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The City Library, the interior is so fantastic that it will get its own post…

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The Portland Art Museum with a wonderful exhibit of the work of photographer Carrie Mae Weems

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Pouring rain, but we were off to the Oregon Zoo where we were just about the only people…

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There will also be another post about Baby Lily and the penguins…

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Today was a beautiful, sunny day for our trolley ride to OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. My lovely niece the talented Katura Reynolds works there.

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This was a picture perfect day…

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I found this great place to stand where I looked through a wall of windows to the bridge but I could also see the exterior corner of the large lobby. I tried to play with the reflections of vehicles on top of the bridge.

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Then I realized there was also reflection of the bridge in the water.

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Good thing there was sunlight…