I wanted to share an art installation I've been working on. It's about fish, but dogs are welcome, so I hope you don't mind.
I live in Grass Valley, California, the sister city of Nevada City, both former gold rush towns in the Sierra foothills. Both towns are part of a county with the highest per capita of artists of any county in our state. And both are hosts to the premier environmental film festival in the world, The Wild & Scenic, which runs this weekend, January 10-12, 2014. Picture Sundance for environmentalists.
A few months ago, I joined a group of fabulous creative women and helped form The Nevada County Yarn Bombers. Our mission is to create community-based public art and have fun. Mostly we meet for coffee and talk about art. OK, there's a little gossip too, which I like to call "community contextualizing."
In November, a controversy arose in Nevada City over whether an outside seating area called The Boardwalk on Commercial Street was encouraging homelessness and contributing to a "Skid Row" atmosphere, and it prompted us to celebrate our beloved Boardwalk with a call to knitters.
We launched "The Squid Row Project." And this is what happens when you put out a call out to the crafty people in these hills:
* Fiber artist Nancy Nelson crocheted a giant stuffed salmon entirely out of plastic Grocery Outlet bags.
* Reinette Senum, our former mayor who is a passionate advocate for the homeless and the visionary behind The Boardwalk as a car-free happiness zone, commandeered a vintage bicycle and set up a box to collect the fish (she has experience in this area because she's previously worked as a commercial fisherman to finance her solo trek across Alaska -- more on that in another post -- it will blow your mind.)
* Artist, and organizational maven, Roseanne Burke, coined the phrase "Squid Row" and knit some fish before our eyes.
* My sister, artist Sheila Cameron, designed a super poster. (BTW, Sheila is part of a group show in Los Angeles tonight, January 14, in Los Angeles entitled "Two Johns and Whore." You should go meet her.)
* Jewelry artist, Kathy Frey, spread the word through her vast network.
* Sandra Scott, whom we never met because she is taking care of her 90-year-old mother, knit and knit and knit, and filled up our donations box with magical sea creatures. Then, yesterday she drove by and dropped off another haul.
* Mary Hall Ross, whom we also never met, crocheted adorable tiny octopi.
* Cynthia Levesque, of Neva Co., one of the best artisan stops in town, dropped off more flowers that we used as corral and told us to lift up the bike, which made all the difference.
* I showed up with tools and drift wood and bossed everyone around and took photos, as did Erin Thiem who promoted up on her Outside Inn blog. (Note: Erin didn't boss people around -- that was just me.)
* Our local blacksmith, Black Bart Ornamental Ironworks, fixed the recently vandalized bike rack, and Duane Strawser of Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop made sure that Reinette's bike was in top shape, gratis.
I'm proud to present "The Squid Row Project," a Nevada County Yarn Bombers production, inspired by Chinese dissident and artist Ai Weiwei’s "With Flowers," daily bouquets of fresh flowers placed in a bicycle basket outside his compound to commemorate each day he is denied his passport, and by the famous feminist quote, originally coined by Irina Dunn and then amplified by Gloria Steinem...
“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
And, as I mentioned, dogs are welcome. Enjoy.
If you are interested in Sal Weiwei and his fishy entourage coming to your town email me.