© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.
After wrapping up and packing all my artistic and social activities in Santa Monica I jumped on a train at the wonderful Union Station in downtown L.A in order to head north. From my window seat I watched the Pacific ocean sparkle and wobble, I saw homeless people hobbling about the no-mans lands next to the train line, I zoomed past petrol pumps on land and out at sea, I spotted classic stylish silver Streamline camper vans cruising the roads, fruit, vegetables and importantly grapes grew across many farms just out the window then after ten hours of all that scenic stuff I finally chugged into Oakland station San Francisco where I reunited with Carolina and we teamed up with local photographers Kate and Geir Jordahl.
I managed to string a few words together in public at the Californian Collage of Arts in order to inform, entertain or perhaps confuse both students and lecturers. Wanderlust and texture were the topics as these are the primary tools I use to create art. Over the coming days galleries were visited (thanks Donald) and a number of strolls were accomplished across this intriguing hilly town that is indeed very likeable.
We had just enough time to visit the famous city lights bookstore, eat dumplings in Chinatown, to catch up with assorted friends and to meet new ones. All very rushed but we certainly did our best. Then it was time to head east towards Nevada to see some sights and more art.
Yosemite national park.
The ghost town of Bodie
Reno Nevada is “The biggest little city in the world.” Here we caught up with William L. Fox at the Nevada Museum of Art . What a treat as the Museum is excellent and Mr Fox showed us some of Reno’s charms as well as introducing us to a marvellous array of local characters. One example being Mr Michael Mikel - the Vice President and Founding Board member of the fabulous Burning Man Project. Whom we met at a dark and cosy bar called DEATH and TAXES. I have never been to the Burning Man festival in the desert but I do like the idea as well as the below ten principles of the organisation -
Leaving No Trace
Perhaps all governments around the world should take note of this simple list.
While in Nevada we stayed in two cheap hotel casino complexes to observe the glitzy horror of this enormous entertainment business. We trudged passed characters of shiny robotic plastic surgery fame, dizzy hypnotic over-indulgence activities of all sorts and we saw the expressions of bubbly, frantic hope on the faces of many gamblers/players/high rollers/party animals and soon to be wed couples. In these gambling zones humans can be seen at their most vulnerable, their saddest and most pathetic or their most rabid and of course many are in some sort of zombie trance state connected to an overload of flashing colours seductively dancing directly in front of their eyeballs. It seemed like many adults visiting these zones immediately turn into excitable, gullible teenagers on heat. It is a form of neon madness turned up to eleven or higher. Carolina and I did enjoy our time in both Reno and Las Vegas but there was this overwhelming smorgasbord of visual and social colour that was hard to digest. It was not unlike the All You Can Eat Buffet we dined in which instantly dazzled us but eventually made us feel rather queasy and confused.
Our road trip with photographer Kate Jordahl refreshed us after all that engrossing madness of electric city life. The mellow ambience to be found on the open roads, up those mountains and across sandy deserts was needed and the visual stimulation was enormous. I have a feeling that I will be creating some new work with ancient trees in my mind.
Bristlecone National Park up in the White Mountains above.
Yosemite sand dunes Death Valley above and below Zabrinski Point.
At the end of this year at the West Australian Maritime Museum (http://museum.wa.gov.au/museums/maritime) I will be exhibiting a selection of works on paper created on the CMA CGM Rossini. It was way back in 2018 when film maker - Malcolm McKinnon and I traveled from Fremantle in West Australia to Kuala Lumper in Malaysia on a large cargo container ship in order to engage with the sea, sailors, ports and slow travel. The Museum will open UNANCHORED WORLD in late December and the show will run until March 1st. 2020.
A short essay from above the ground
For many but not all people, it is routine and extremely simple to travel by plane. The lead up to the take-off can be tiresome as being processed with the other nine million people each day who travel via the thousands of airports worldwide does feel like being herded into a long silver claustrophobic tube. The experience is not unlike a mob of domesticated creatures who are either fearful and or excited at the prospect of a journey. Each beast sucking and sipping away on coffee in plastic cups while navigating line after line in order to get to their appointed seats in the craft. What is amazing is that after the lines, the security checks and the glitzy duty-free perfume counters one will actually fly. IN THE AIR! Yes, above the ground surrounded by a thin skin of metal and plastic in a vehicle spewing out aviation excrement. It is surprising that humans are able to do such a thing. It is not like the flight of a majestic eagle who soars and swoops with organic ease but many people do fly high, far and often just not as elegantly as our feathered friends. Flying with a flock of other folk at ten kilometres above the usual place where you plant your feet is rather odd I must say.
At gate D44 I wait then shuffle my way to window seat A11. I buckle my seat belt, flick through a magazine that displays fifty types of watches to buy and soon I feel the thrust of the engine as we head upwards. Out of the tiny window I watch snake-like rivers, snowy peaks, millions of tiny homes, the flowing blue skin of oceans, deserted deserts, farmlands, resort regions, old and new war-zones, jungles and tundra, golf-courses and puffy clouds. I am “as free as a bird!” That is the feeling but this feeling is often concealed by familiarity, business and the odd crying baby. Even hyperactive vacationers seem not excited at all by the transport mode as it is just seen as a fast way to get to an exotic beach, a family reunion, a romantic castle or a snow-covered hill. I too am guilty of this blasé attitude at such an altitude.
Another peek out the porthole and I see abstract patchwork landscapes then I feel some turbulence which reminds me that I am rocketing thought the air. Soon food appears all compartmentalised, boxed and bagged on a little plastic tray. A few centimetres to my left it is - 48 C and there is very little air out there but there is much to view as I nibble on an international curry dish.
The engines drone on and on while I become mesmerised by our ability to fly or perhaps I am mesmerised by a classic B grade romantic, action, sci-fi, musical, horror, thriller film that is screening right in front of my face. Later in the flight after my meal and movie binge I peer outside again and see what looks like a lumpy white icecap or a sea of pillows. Cushions of floating fluffy foam. I would like to walk over it. I know I am moving very fast but luckily I am still able to sip on a brandy and dry and then another. Finally, I feel dopey and seem to be on my way to dreamland but before I close my eyes I search for angels as apparently out there somewhere is their homeland. No luck in the angel quest so I shut my eyes and drift off…
I wake up minutes later due a tinny synthetic Bong noise informing everyone that we must all sit down and prepare ourselves for landing. I resume scanning for those pesky angels. Outside my window the horizon line is bent as is time so it is time to change my watch to another time zone. I wonder if it’s the future or the past and where has now gone? Who cares? Who gives a flying flatulence! Lucky me, I am flying!