Tuesday, December 31, 1991

House On Via Gombito: Writing by North American Women Abroad


House On Via Gombito: Writing by North American Women Abroad
by Madelon Sprengnether (Author) , C.W. Truesdale (Editor)

Amazon 2nd ed. listing, has my name, but no link
I had NO idea that it even went into a 2nd edition in 1997, and a 3rd printing!
Well, I guess have a first edition, then.

My story Night Train to Moscow: Waging Peace, was picked up by Black Dog & Leventhal (Workman) in 2001. Writing the Rails: Train Adventures By the World's Best-Loved Writers  by Edward C. Goodman (Author). Alas, it was remaindered right after it came out, right before 9/11. I never did get to do an author reading at Barnes & Noble. I will publish more info on this in 2001 entry. 

Night Train to Moscow: Waging Peace / Maureen Hurley p. 179
I do not have an electronic facsimile of my story. Only way to get it is to scan pages, but I've no OCR software. I may scan pages direct.  —MH, 2014

House On Via Gombito: Writing by North American Women Abroad

From Publishers Weekly:
The nearly 50 short pieces of travel writing that comprise this volume display such a wealth of perspectives and explore such a variety of locales that the book is a splendid adventure in its own right. In "Ramont Hall" Rhiannon Paine looks back to 1973 when, at the age of 25, armed with a broken umbrella, a "dilapidating Mini" and youthful enthusiasm, she set out to see England. Helen Degen Cohen, who, as an eight-year-old Jewish girl narrowly escaped being deported to a concentration camp, describes her "Return to Warsaw" to visit the Catholic woman who hid her during World War II. Patricia Hampl's "Italian Two-Part Invention" savors the romance of a damp Venetian winter; a visit to a monastery during one sunny Umbrian spring triggers a memory of the author's childhood. Melissa Sanders-Self's fictional "Nameless Things" follows the daily grind of a young American woman who serves drinks in a Tokyo club that caters to Japanese businessmen. Catherine Stearns's "Icarus in Africa" is a series of letters from a feisty woman who signs herself "Ma" and who, at 60, starts out to teach at a rural school in Zambia. Sprengnether wrote Rivers, Stories, Houses, Dreamsone title and Truesdale is publisher of New Rivers.

Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Madeline Sprengnether


Friday, October 4, 1991

STELLA MARIS freewrite


STELLA MARIS

It's 5 am, Venus and Jupiter in conjunction with Jupiter,
someone says the star of Bethlehem
on the eastern horizon, new crescent moon
in the old moon's arms star of the sea.
I remember  sleepwalking to the front door
awakening to find a configuration like this
celestial bodies, the planets are aligning themselves
venus in the moon's halo appears to be holding the new moon
and holding the old moon in her arms
Venus Stella Maris I awoke naming the planet by its Latin name
where did that come from? I was baptized at the Star of the Sea
church. Some say it's really 1993 years since the birth of Christ
some priest or another got it all wrong way back when
the millennium is approaching at lightning speed
how many time since the year zero, or 3 ad
have Venus and Jupiter crossed paths
of course, everything's relative
it's what we see from here, this place.
that we designate as the most auspicious of signs
above me, Orion's belt suddenly i remember
a pictograph I'd seen somewhere
was it New Mexico, Hawaii
the small man dancing on the horizon
I recognized Orion. The names of stars
arabic and greek interpretations
thousands of years after the naming
what were the Hawaiian names
or the Indian names for the constellations?
The Pleiades directly overhead
the Celtic new year. The night sky takes on a significance
in my subconscious
I am recognizing a passage of time
our creators were more finely aattuned
to the movements of the stars
now we're lucky if we can even see them;
 the lights of the cities
a common denomonator for the madness
that sits within the absence of ritual
biological clock finely attuned to the measurements of seasons
the equinox another rare celestial event full moon equinox
and hunter's moon in one Paleolithic beginnings
haang from that orange orb
is it merely pollution that makes it orange?
I remember the August eclipse moon over Kiev
not knowing it was an eclipse
I watched the moon bleed in to the evening sky, 1989
In less than a week I'll be  traveling to Kiev again,
my 3rd trip to the USSR in as many years
this morning I'm off to Montana
listening to Tracy Chapman singing Mountains of Pain.



October 4/1991

Uh-oh a lot of ascii at the bottom—never a good sign

Thursday, October 3, 1991

Making Things: Artist Raymond Barnhart 10/5/91

 Assemblages by Sebastopol Artist Raymond Barnhart

THE SUM OF ITS PARTS— Barnhart outside his Sebastopol work space with one of his "relief constructions,"
Consummation. "I want to please the work. I want it to please itself."
  


We asked the captain what course of action to take toward a beast so large, terrifying, and unpredictable. He hesitated to answer, and then said judiciously: "I think I shall praise it."   —Robert Hass, Praise

BY MAUREEN HURLEY

I recalled the twist on reality and an unexpected visit from poet Bob Hass' poem, Praise while viewing Sebastopol artist Raymond Barnhardt's latest exhibit, "Recent Constructions" at the California Museum of Art in Santa Rosa, California.

Because everyone's response to my queries about Raymond Barnhart and his work was the inevitable raised eyebrow, followed by an incredulous: "You mean you don't KNOW about Raymond Barnhart's illustrious career?" I gulped, and found that the best recourse was to praise it. Taking the beast by the horns—by asking Barnhart niggling details about his second career as an assemblage artist (painting was his first career) seemed sacreligiously inane and so unintelligent. Excuse me, your slip is showing...

And so, at a recent artist's lecture at the California Museum of Art (CMA), when the venerable artist himself was introduced by museum director Duane Jones as "Someone who needs no introduction," I thought, aww feck, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was right: "You can only ask questions and die." Luckily, the lecture was a quorum of questions ranging from "How do you name your art?" to "What kind of power tools do you use?" The questions were all answered by Barnhart, age 88, with such thoughtfulness, verve and wit, I was in love with love itself.

Artists know firsthand that one of the challenges in art and poetry is to create something that is profound, but with a sense of humor. One who can accomplish both—without lessening the impact of the statement—is a Master. Barnhart's elegant, formal masterful assemblages are intentionally playful, they delight the eye, they make you want to laugh. 

Conceptual artists make us look at ordinary things in a new way, they redefine our limited perameters of "definition." It comes down to rearranging concrete nouns into metaphor—Plato's nemesis. The metaphor of Picasso's bicycle seat and handlebars as a bull's skull. Man Ray's steam iron with nails, and Christo's running fence—all share that spirited kinship to challenge the senses and reality. How we see the world.

In his youth, Raymond Barnhart worked as a riverboat deck-hand, carpenter, fruitpacker, and window designer before becoming an artist. A painter during the first half of his life, Barnhart received his MFA from Ohio State University, and he was an instructor at the University of Kentucky for 32 years before leaving and moving to California in 1958. 

While teaching a design and wood sculpture class in Mill Valley, and from his contacts with the Bauhaus novement, Barnhart found his true medium: assemblage. His assemblage work is classical in the sense of composition, aesthetics, and design. From the Conceptualists, he incorporated the use of found objects. And he made a just marriage of it.

But whereas Conceptualists diverged, exploring man's alienation in society, Barnhart's work is full of hope and compassion: it reflects the linear sentiments of art, beauty, balance, harmony; it transmorgifies limitation as set in stone by various art movements: it remains unswerving in its devotion to the aesthetics of art.

Wind-blasted, sun-bleached, and burnt materials juxtaposed against man-made rusted and tarnished discards become the poetry of deserted places. Fellow Sonoma County artist John Kessel said, "Raymond Barnhart assembles diverse, objects to create visual poems that evoke either man's place in nature—or man in contemplation before nature. Some pieces tell a story, and all are poems which convey an impact. This is an art of redemption and reconciliation."

Raymond Barnhart's contemplative "Homage to Albers," a tribute to former teacher and Bauhaus master Josef Albers, is essentially a 3-D painting made of found materials. So many relief constructions, or constructed reliefs that double as sculptures, are also subtle and painterly—the wrong color value or texture would destroy the harmony. 

The piece entitled "Yesterdays," for instance, is made of mullein leaves and weathered boards accented with traces of vermillion and rust. "Straight Guy'" has a cerulean blue backdrop for the book, embellished with old Mexican coins—Quetzocoatl's centavos and cobwebs (intentional or otherwise). 

Many of the relief-constructions are formal in composition, and all have stories behind them: "Playtime," an elegant moment from another era, is captured with that one lost glove and fragments of a mirror set against a pale peach and tender green backdrop, while "Op-Art?," evolved from a run-in with a wood-munching gopher absconding with dried fruit in a prune tray—the ultimate recycler's revenge.

"Sort of an Altar" is in keeping with pre-Christian animistic Native, and Latin American traditions. Barnhart spent considerable time in the Southwest and Mexico studying new materials, including vinyl resins under José Guiterréz. 

Other pieces evoke a Japanese aesthetic. Simplicity and clean lines—an oxymoron when one considers the human detritus from which these constructions arise, phoenix-like, from our discards. 

In the Japanese sense of the tradition, Barnhart is Sonoma County's "living national treasure," an honorary title the Japanese bestow upon their finest artists. As it tums out, in 1962 and I963, Barnhart took a sabbatical in Kyoto, to observe traditional culture. His assemblage, "Memorial" is in the contemplative spirit of a Japanese Zen garden and is "quintessentually Raymond," as one art patron committed at the exhibit.

When someone asked. "How does the spirit enter the work?" both Barnhart's wife, Genevieve, a jeweler-sculptor, and CMA Director Duane Jones interjected in unison: "Because it's there!" A variation of the famous Adele Davis quote banged around in my head: "Your art is what you meet." 

Perhaps a more hard-hitting audience question was "Why is this art?" Barnhart sanguinely commented: "You're no beffer than what you are—you do the best you can. I make what I want—the best I can. Some people call it fine art. I don't have the ego to call it that, I just make things." At a previous an show, when an observer snarled, "What's this supposed to be?" Barnhart replied, "It already is what it is!"

Barnhart attributes his interest in recycling found objects both to his youthful visits to the city dump and to his job at a large department store where, like Andy Warhol, he got his start in the arts by arranging window designs... for women's corsets and brazierres. "I'd see something interesting." An under-statement. Apparently his bosses who kept abreast of his provocative displays, agreed: two year later he was appointed head of the entire display department.

According to Barnhart, bringing a relief-construction into the world for public display is usually a process of elimination rather than of adding to the composition. And he arranges things by degrees—the way a mechanic fine-tunes the points on a car: if the dwell-gap isn't just right, the end result is a car that won't run and you're on foot far from home some dark and rainy night. CMA Curator Duane Jones commented, "When one of Barnhart's assemblages undergoes subtle rearrangement, it might take months before it is completed."

"The piece and I become a team," Barnhart explained, "We grow together. I start off with a plan, but wonderful things happen along the way. I want to please the work. I want it to please itself, and I want people to respond to it. I'm not the great artist who makes things difficult to understand—children like my work." High praise, indeed.

When an art patron asked if he plains an assemblage in advance. Barnhart replied, "No, that would be like meeting three people you've never met before and already you've figured out how to manage them."

Barnhart commented that one of the first pieces to sell at the CMA exhibit, "Crisis" featuring Japanese dolls, is "an absurd sort of piece, it doesn't make any kind of sense. It's a kind of insanity that I had to follow." He compared his own artwork to how some people react to stress. "It's absurd; a pun." As is his purple mouse and throne, "Her Highness."

One piece with a conundrum of a title, "Emanon," is merely "no name" spelled backwards. Barnhart said, "I ask the pieces, what is it you're really standing for? I limit my definitions to a deliberate vagueness, because if I'm specific, I'm narrowing it down. You are not limited by your own presuppositions. I name my pieces purely for identification purposes. If you don't like them, why then, make up your own name."

Barnhart considers himself to be a third-rate carpenter with a proclivity for the hand saw. He said, "I'd rather do it by hand; it's in keeping with the material I use. I'm pretty conscietious about using authentic wood." He elaborates that nothing can mimic the natural aging process of the elememts—which gives his works their characteristic patina. 

Though owing to the fragile nature of his material, Barnhart doesn't imagine his art will outlast an art consumer's grandchildren. Barnhart says, "I use lots of nails. And glue is a serious proposition. It's embarrassing to have you piece come apart."

Barnhart reflects, the process of finding a home for the artwork is is often painful. "I hate to see some of them go, or to put prices on them." He dislikes working through a regular dealer and insead prefers that potential buyers come directy to the source, so he holds an annual open house and studio (this year's Open Studio is Sept. 28 through Oct. 6). 

Barnhart's prices are downright bargains—far below that of lesser artists' work-because he wants to make his art affordable to artists. One artist friend paid installments at $10 month for three years. "It should be on the wall for someone to appreciate." At any given time, he has over 150 pieces floating around his studio and home. At a dozen pieces a year, he's not a prolific artist, but then, he says, he doesn't do it for the money.

Bamhart migrated to Sebastopol in 1969 with "all the cumbersome impedimenta of an assemblagíste." He described his hand-built home, work areas and studio located in the hills west of Sebastopol, "like having an enormous library.' He peered over his glasses and said to me: "You're a poet; it's like your having a dictionary or a thesaurus." 

His "library" of reference material from which he draws upon to make the assemblages that are slowly born into this material world——is extensive. Sometimes it takes years to get each piece jiust right. Thirty years' worth of material slowly continues to evolve, or devolve, as the case may be, patiently awaiting the resurrection into art. 

Barnhart says he sorts things according to shape and substance: rebar, stones, bones, feathers, 2x4s, weathered barn-siding, etc. He says constructing assemblage is not like painting—from a few tubes, we can mix millions of colors. "I start to work on a piece. it tells me it wants something—then I have to go out and find it—without knowing exactly what it is." And so the hunt and peck system begins.

Barnhart's assemblages continue to appeal to the senses and delight the eye, because he is a master of composition and serene harmony. I am struck by how much "sense" his assemblages make—found objects, each with a particular history. The equation of this-is-to-this as that-is-to-that. Some found objects incorporated into the art have been knocking around Barnhart's studio since 1957. Other bits and pieces, are flotsam that people have give him. Finding a home for wayward objects requires persistence, patience—and a reverence for what they were in past lives. In Raymond's art, the whole is always greater than its parts.

"Recent Constructions" by Raymond Barnhart is on exhibit at the California Museum of Art at the Luther Bubank Center through Nov. 3. Also on view are assemblages by Santa Rosa artist Charles Churchill. Museum hours are 11 AM to 4 PM, Wednesday through Sunday. For more informaition call 527-0297.

THE WEST SONOMA COUNTY PAPER OCTOBER 3-16/1991 page 21

Wednesday, September 25, 1991

TROUBLE? NOT ME!


TROUBLE? NOT ME!

When my weekly horoscope said I'd fall in love with a stranger,
perhaps a Gemini, I laughed, thinking how easily I'd outfoxed my fate, 
and escaped Eros' sting. Besides, it was during the Russian coup,
I was living a cloistered life; I'd sworn off men—especially Soviets,
having put the last one (a Cancer) on a plane back to his wife.
Chocolate is a lot easier on the psyche and tastebuds.
Minerva cautioned the entire centarian tribe of archers,
Unlucky in love, are you the problem or the key to the solution?
Sagge, be careful what you ask for. I don't believe in starcasts,
but I forgot the gods are practical jokers. 
A chance meeting with a stranger on a pier,
minutes before my forecast was rendered null and void,
I fell in love with a Gemini man from an overthrown country 
half-way around the world, without even a language in common. 
I forgot to specify I wanted a sensitive, rich, agnostic American. 
Instead, I got a piously orthodox aging Russian singer.
Always in hot water, I know I'm trouble, I wonder what he asked for,
& how many other Sagges were parboiled that week?
Blame fate or the stars the ship was stranded a week in port.
It began innocently enough—the night I drove him back to the ship
at 70 mph, my unexplicable tears, the swimming freeway.
Alarmed, he wondered if we'd get there in one piece.
I stood on the pier shivering in a summer dress
& bundled against the fog, dismally in love with a stranger
about to set sail. The gods take no prisoners, we couldn't board ship—
US customs had shut it down. Trouble, all right.
He pointed to the dictionary, are you free?
Was he was referring to political ideological freedom
just after the coup—it seemed a natural enough question.
Panicking, I assumed he wanted to defect. 
Six others jumped ship in Seattle and nearly drowned.
He shook his head, No. I thought, O god, 
it's the larger question: do I have ties, am I single? 
But he just wanted to go shopping before returning home.
Relieved, I said yes to all three counts.
We spent the week exploring backroads and beaches,
singing under the stars, before his ship left for Vladivostok.
My girlfriends sighed, how romantic! It's certainly a challenge. 
At least he's not married like the last one.
While I was busy fanning the blaze with a frying pan,  
my ship came in all right. And sailed without me.
I wonder where fate will take me this time:
To St. Petersburg as a Russian wife peeling spotty potatoes?
Or will he come here, dependent as a babe; 
both of us broke and hating each other,
living like caged rats in my shoebox of a cabin?
I've never seen the fall come in like this before: thunder & rain 
after a day hot enough to cook eggs in plein-air.
Last night's full equinox moon pushed on the sky
like an impatient child in the birth canal,
with bags packed, nowhere in particular to go.                 


 9/25/91
rev. 5/92




Sunday, September 22, 1991

SUMMER SQUASH IN A WINTER GARDEN


SUMMER SQUASH IN A WINTER GARDEN


The first sign of winter begins as a small vegetable mold on the leaves,
jagged five-veined hearts pointing away from the nest in radial asymmetry.
Fractal curve of young leaves guard embryonic clusters
caught too late in the season and yellow-orange squash blossoms
curl their five arms around the fruiting body to keep it warm.
From the velvet throat, the stamen, like a finger,
or brain coral, rises up from a phallic stock. Floral love.
Pale green veins end with small claws at the tip and base of each flower
like two hands—one holding up the sky,
the other holding up the sun, as if in victory.
The base root swelling through the boundaries of star
shaped fruit until it becomes a crenulated sundog on the horizon.

Beneath the leaf canopy, an acrid odor of beetles
or formalin gives way to the sweet sap of mute inverted bells.
Yellow fruit. Pure cadmium pigment from the tube, so intense
it pushes back the green air with small vibrations of light.
In the heat of summer you can almost hear them growing,
taut-skinned summer squash, ripening to bursting point,
scattering small blind eyes in the soil, waiting for the signal
to unzip the genetic ladder. Vegetable love.
This extravagance of life too soon ends.
The kitchen knife reveals their hidden star charts,
the marrow and vein of space. Tracks of seeds—
stars streaking in the direction of dawn.

I remember my grandmother picking the unpollinated flowers,
looking inside each one, saying, they'd never bear fruit.
I never knew how she could tell — sexing each squash blossom,
dredging them into egg and flour and frying them in butter
until they were dinosaur tracks of the sun
feeding me in late summer. Nutty sweetness
and the promise of something more.

And you, unseasonable bitter fruit, tough-skinned vessel,
why so yellow? A love token of the sun's fickle attention?
Undone by your own surgery, you try to cleave your broken halves,
heal the breach with your veneous dealings
but you can't fix the imperfect symmetry of your heart
severed from its circular discourse by the steel blade.
There is little comfort in remembering the corpse of our love,
or in knowing that you're a beetle-browed Sisyphus
condemned to dragging your sterile sex from woman to woman
like a victory torch in a perpetual race where
no one gets to be on top of the dung heap.


9/6/1988
rev. 9/91

1992 First Leaves





Wednesday, September 18, 1991

INSOMNIA, l




INSOMNIA


Sleeping until noon & needing an excuse,
she blamed it on the java she scored—
20 pounds of dark French roast
vibrating in her fridge—
keeping her hardwired all night long.


9/18/91
rev. 8/92

89 to 92

Tuesday, September 17, 1991

ACOMA, THE OLD ONES


ACOMA, THE OLD ONES


In the Grand Canyon, the rivers eat time.
The muddy Colorado, a hungry red snake devours natal rock.
Like an old man seeking the fountain of youth,
it eats ever deeper to a time when the earth was young.
Soon it will devour itself like Oruboros,
because it eats through to the heart of the metaphor—
not vertical history, but timeless geology.
Lava sensibilities hidden in the depths
give no clue to the passion set in stone; time itself is fluid—
cracks in the earth, fissures in the soul
of alluvium and rusted sandstone.
Defiance Plateau. How big, and utterly defiant
the land must've seemed to those crossing by wagon.
Now the land becomes less distinct,
an amalgam—like the people who settled America.

Mirages are to the desert as waves are to the ocean.
Ghost cities laid out like Nazca lines,
geometric knotwork of someone's failed dreams.
We try so hard to leave our mark,
sometimes without even knowing it.

Flying over Acoma, the oldest inhabited city in the U.S.
I think of Coronado searching for the seven fabled cities of Cibola,
who found only the empty cities of the Anasazi, the Old Ones,
could not see the wealth of earthen walls glowing at sunset.



9/91 & 9/93  
Santa Fe, NM

I began this poem in 1991 when I went to NM with Lucia Hammond. 

My hard copy has another section at the beginning which may be another poem.  An outake.




























CORN MOTHERS


CORN MOTHERS

Dendritic memory of dry riverbeds,
the pale alluvium, most recent in memory,
points accusingly toward sinkholes below sea level.
Recognizable from the air: Cedar Breaks,
Vermilion Cliffs, Rainbow Plateau, Monument Valley.
Lines across the earth in resonating patterns,
what do they mean? Power lines visible from space?
The varied skin of the mother,
the mysterious deeper names for the earth.
A finger lake with fractalline shores—
and irrigated circles, green coinage for the corn mothers.
Nothing grows in the pocket canyons
except turquoise reservoirs, truly jewels of the desert.
Remnants of oceans, polyps and coral, a garden
bloomed in the blood of our mother, the sea,
the first goddess to emerge
and give up her bounty.




9/91 & 9/93
Santa Fe, NM

Monday, September 16, 1991

Face to Face Art Auction 9/16/91

Using art to help celebrate life




COMPASSION—A work by wood sculptor Bruce Johnson to be auctioned at Face to Face's annual Art For Life benefit Sept. 21 at The Friedman Center.


BY MAUREEN HURLEY

In 1988, stained-glass artist Laurence Evangelinos contacted Face to Face Sonoma County AIDS Network, the local agency dedicated to providing care and support for people with AIDS and ARC. "It is time to do something. I want to help," the Occidental artist told Face to Face Development Director Rick Dean. "The only thing I have to give is my art."

But she had an idea that she wasn't alone in the artist community, and Art For Life, one of the most successful art auction fundraisers in California, was born.

Over the last four years, the Sonoma County artists have responded in force to the Face to Face request for donations. Last year's auction exceeded projections of $25,000 and raised $37,000. This year more than 200 works of art valued at over $100,000 have been donated to the auction which will be held September 21 at The Friedman Center in Santa Rosa. One piece alone, donated by Timber Cove sculptor Bruce Johnson, is valued at $8000.

Among the contributors, visual artist and SRJC art instructor Marsha Connell of Santa Rosa sees the project as a natural endeavor for the community. "AIDS and the artist community overlap—and there are fewer resources available to us. We need to help our own community."

Guerneville printmaker Inge Laskowski says, "I feel it's a really important event for artists who can give something other than money. It's a gift of ourselves to contribute to the cause. The community takes an interest in that art, and with that interest, donates money to Face to Face. I can see the direct results of the benefit auction right here in my own community."

One complaint often made by artists about benefit auctions—that sponsors think little of asking artists for a donation as if somehow creating fine art was less of a livelihood than, say, plumbing—is curiously absent when discussing Art For Life.

A practical issue Connell raises is that "though a piece of art may be worth thousands of dollars, the artist is not allowed to take a tax credit for the charitable donation of a piece. The IRS allows artists to deduct only the cost of the materials." Since most artists have already deducted materials in their yearly tax returns, they usually receive no tax-break whatsoever. "However, if a business person or a gallery owner donates a piece of art, they can claim full value," explained Connell.

So when artists give their art for charitable causes, they usually receive no compensation. True philanthropy.

Though artists contributing to Art For Life are entitled to receive up to 2O percent of the sale price for their donated piece (which helps to recoup materials costs), framing a watercolor can run upwards of $400, a considerable out-of-pocket cost for the artist to absorb—most artists who donate work to the auction do not claim their 20 percent. According to Dean, less than a quarter of the artists ask for the payment.

Of course, artists also donate their work because ita lso gives them exposure. According to ceramicist Jeff Zigulis, "This auction is one of the premier art events in the Bay Area."

Zigulis, who is on the board of directors for the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, feels it's a feather in his cap to be asked to be involved in the auction. "Face to Face is a timely issue, it helps local people in the community. The ir auction is head and shoulders above the rest. It's number one."

Forestville wood sculptor Michael Costantini began as a volunteer at the first auction four years ago and helped organize the system with "flow-function logistics." Costantini explains, "The art auction is a very labor-intensive way for an organization to make money. The amount of energy expended for the return of profit is considered to be on the low end of the totem pole. And the auction is so successful, it's one of the biggest money-makers for Face to Face." The other major fundraiser, the Human Race, is held in May. Monthly pledge programs and state and county grants, make up the bulk of the organization's annual budget.

Costantini, who works primarily on commissioned pieces privately negotiated through Gump's, sees the donation of his art as a promotional venue as well as a philanthropic gesture. He says it's like having a new instant client.

"The auction gives exposure to worthwhile artists, and because it's invitational, it has prestige," says Laskowski. "It's important that all of us think about AIDS-most of us can't help out on a day-to-day basis. The auction is an outrageous success. A real social event, a who's who of the [local] art world."

After the art auction Dean will fly to Vancouver, B.C., to take the model to other AIDS agencies. One reason he thinks the auction is so successful is the extraordinary number of artists, restaurants, and wineries in Sonoma County. Several chefs, caterers, and wineries also contribute services and products to the event. "Sonoma," Dean says, "is a mecca."

Face to Face began as a grass-roots movement in 1984 with community members taking care of friends by providing home care, emotional support, and hospice services. Development Director Dean began at Face To Face four years ago as a volunteer. He had quit his job at retail sales, decided to volunteer, and loved working for the organization. When he began, the budget was $100,000. Today it exceeds $600,000 and requires a professional staff of 16 full- and half-time nurses, social workers, therapists, and educators. The volunteer base has swelled to 150.

The extra services are, unfortunately, tied to increased need. Recent statistics from the Sonoma County Public Health Department show 552 known AIDS cases since 1982,389 deaths, and an estimated 3,000 HIV-positive people. Seventy-eight new cases were reported during the first half of the year alone.

But county statistics don't accurately reflect the numbers of AIDS cases in the county, Dean says, because many people are diagnosed in San Francisco and other Bay Area communities, and then relocate to Sonoma County. "We have done miracles to still be in existence. We're one of the few agencies that does not have a waiting Iist. And the patients are not just men—women, children and whole families are on the roster," explains Dean.

"We now serve 400 patients a year, the highest caseload ever," notes Dean. "It's been a steady climb from just 35 people from four years ago."

Evangelinos continues to donate to the auction, this year a fused-glass sculpture. "Donating art has both political and social rarnifications—if you don't act on what you believe needs to be changed, or helped, you are guilty of leaving the status quo intact, she says. "Just standing on the sidelines isn't enough."

Works to be auctioned at Art for Life can be previewed in over a dozen community showcases, including the Quicksilver Mine Co. in Guerneville, Q Gallery and Sawyer's in Santa Rosa, Copperfield's in Sebastopol, and Hand Goods in Occidental. The auction itself will be held at the Friedman Center, 4676 Mayette Avenue, Santa Rosa, on Sept. 21. A silent auction will begin at 3.30 p.m. and a live auction will follow at 5. Tickets ($10) are available at the door. For more information, call Face to Face at 887-1581.


The West Sonoma County Paper, 9/16/91



Wednesday, September 4, 1991

Russian Connections 9/5/1991


LIVING HISTORY—A kind of impromptu cultural exchange in the weeks following the coup in the Soviet Union made the historic and present day links between Sonoma County and the Soviet Union even stronger. Above, History Professor Nikolai lvanovich Rokitiansky from De Anza College and Archbishop Anthony of the Russian Orthodox Church in San Francisco exchange interpretations of the events at Fort Ross.

By Maureen Hurley


WHEN 160 Soviet scientists, scholars, historians, geographers, businessmen, artists and crew joined the historic 250th anniversary voyage commemorating Vitus Bering and Alexei Chirikov's exploration of Russian America, little did they know that the Soviet Union they left behind on July 10, 1991, would cease to exist. News of the failed Soviet coup d'état, which kept most of us glued to CNN news and had mapmakers scrambling for updated versions of political boundaries, was celebrated with cheers by the Soviet entourage aboard the research vessel, the Akademik Shirshov, docked just hours later at San Francisco's Pier 32.

Soviets and Americans celebrated the culmination of a week's tumultuous political changes that swept the Soviet Union onto the shores of democracy during a visit to Fort Ross, where, with open arms and hearts, they feasted most sumptuously on borscht, caviar, and salmon—dancing and singing again under the flag of the Russian American Fur Trading Company that once flew over Fort Ross from 1812 to 1941.

According to crew member Yevgeny Shlei, a photo-journalist from Novosibirsk, during the seven decades of communism, the name and location of Fort Ross (Ross is an ancient Slavic name for Russia) was concealed from history and geography books and maps. To many Soviets, he says, Fort Ross is a symbol, a mythical place, a piece of old Russia—surrounded by California redwoods. He asked me why—even during the height of the Cold War—Americans didn't also conceal or change the name of the fort or the name of the Russian River.

Yevgeny Shlei elaborated: "Russia is finally coming back into the lap of depoliticized existence, while her children who once had to leave their country, have finally found that haven of human souls that could be substituted for their motherland. Fort Ross has become such a haven. Will Russia itself ever moor to it?"

When I queried Yevgeny Shlei about the coup, the breakup of the USSR, and the pending freedom of ten Soviet republics, he stoically said, "Russia is still Russia. That will never change." Another ex-Soviet added, "But you cannot again make a slave out of a man who stands up for his rights."


In 1728, Bering discovered the gulf between Asia and America. Searching for "de Gamma land," on July 16, he, like Columbus, discovered America, but didn't know it, as he had lost his way in the thick fog. Chirikov, who searched for Bering aboard the sister vessel, the St. Peter, had passed him up in the fog, so Chirikov also co-discovered America. But it wasn't official until Russian exploration of the "unoccupied" coast of the Pacific Northwest began in 1741 with the second Bering Expedition and the colonization of Sitka, Alaska, the first Russian-American colony.

Attracted by an abundance of prized otter and seals and a fertile coastline blessed with clement weather, Ivan Kuskov of the Russian-American Fur Trading Company, anchored in Roumiantzov Bay (Bodega Bay) in 1809 to scout out a possible settlement site; he returned with 25 Russians and 85 kayak-bearing Aleutians on the Chirikov in June of' 1812 to establish the colony of Fort Ross, Russia's southernmost colony. Russians, Aleutians, and Kashaya Pomo Indians lived together in rare tri-cultural harmony. (See "Digging the Past at Fort Ross" page 14.)

From the northern reaches of Alaska to the southernmost Channel Islands, the Russians and Aleuts had harvested the sea otter to the brink of extinction within a decade. By 1821 the fur trading business was over, the bottom had fallen out and the otter population decimated. And in 1841, the fort, considered a massive financial loss, was sold to Swiss immigrant settler Captain John Sutter for the sum of $30,000. The Russians packed up, lock stock, and, well, leaving behind the barrels and cannons—they sailed for home.

But the Russian Front returned to Fort Ross 150 years later, this August 24, to reestablish cordial relations. In addition to the festivities coordinated by the Fort Ross Living History interpreters, a rock opera staged by the Leningrad Rock Opera, "Juno and Avos"—a love story based on the historic romance and engagement of Presidio commandant's daughter, Maria de la Conceptíon Arguello, or Conchita, and Count Nikolai Rezanov, was staged in the reconstructed Fort Ross barracks.

Commanded home by the tsar in 1806, Rezanov set sail on the Juno. While traveling across Siberia, Rezanov was killed by a fall from a horse. Hearing no news of his death, Conchita waited faithfully for years before becoming California's first Carmelite nun. It was an interesting reality tweak to see this particular rock opera, replete with orchestration from the original iron bell cast in St. Petersburg, performed at the fort.

According to Fred Ptucha of Santa Rosa, the visit, a brainstorm of Fort Ross Interpretive Association President John Middleton of Monterey, began as a fluke—an idea conceived on a few sheets of Fort Ross stationery. Later, at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, when the Russian-American 250 Committee was under house-arrest, and the ship impounded by US Customs for not having official documents, they waved Middleton's letter, declaring they had an official letter of invitation.

The US bureaucrats backed down, and the expedition continued. But having received no reply from the Soviets, Middleton assumed the idea had met an early end—until some one happened to spot an article about the voyage, already underway, in the June issue of Soviet Life magazine. News that the Russians were indeed coming had several Americans hastily scrambling to organize a welcome committee for the delegation in Alaska, Washington, and California.

The California leg of the voyage was nearly aborted when news of the Soviet coup (putscht) reached the ship, but after the failure of the scheme, the Akademik Shirshov continued on its journey and headed for San Francisco. (Fort Ross harbor—such as it is—is far too small to accommodate the 400-foot scientific weather research vessel.)

With little warning and little time to prepare for the visitors, Sonoma County volunteers, headed up by Ptucha and Barbara Leger of Santa Rosa, rallied to the cause in true American fashion. With less than two days' notice, Santa Rosa-Cherkassy Sister City USSR arranged transportation, a tour of the Wine Country, a concert, and impromptu homestay for 52 stranded Soviet guests.

From the beginning of their epic journey, the crew of the Akademik Shirshov, which embarked on a goodwill journey from the Siberian military port of Vladivostok, in the extreme southeastern portion of the Soviet Far East, has been plagued with troubles. Rough seas, clashes with U.S. Customs, ten defections during the height of the coup scare, illness, and an aborted journey to Los Angeles were all part of the excursion in the United States.

But it was the theft of the ship's payroll-which ultimately left the crew and passengers stranded, broke, and without food or fuel, and docked for more than a week at San Francisco's Pier 32 that made headline news and brought offers of help from all directions. Russian American Yuri Shavanov donated $4000; An owner of an Oregon inn flew down from Portland to give the crew $100 each. Harbor master Jules Hall arranged docking fees, and $3000 worth of food. Countless others offered gifts of food and money to help the travelers return home.

Vladimir Baturin, deputy chairman of the Soviet expedition, said the aim of the expedition, which includes seven vessels (the Pallada, a 352-foot square rigger, and the 44-foot Baikal, arrive this week in San Francisco), is "a voyage of friendship to bring our two nations closer together, to build bridges across the ocean."

When the A. Shirshov finally departed, Americans (including many families from Sonoma County) and Soviets alike shed tears for their new-found friends. Americans threw cans of beer, toys, teddy bears, and candy aboard; Soviets returned the gesture with posters, flags, and fresh loaves of galley baked Russian bread.

Crew members say that had the attempted Soviet coup succeeded, defections would have increased dramatically. Only four Soviets in Seattle elected not to return home. However, there was another form of defection—consorting and fraternizing with the enemy. Before the ship was officially closed by customs officials, groggy Americans and Soviets emerged from cabins and berths, more than just a little bleary-eyed from necking the vodka bottle during the previous evening's festivities. In the true Russian-American tradition of Glasnost, more than one love match was spawned at every port—a guarantee the goodwill voyages will continue in another form.

Fighting heavy Labor Day traffic, I drove to a pre-designated spot at the Marin Headlands—I was a modern-day Conchita waving my impromptu flag-red pants—as the Akademik Shirshov emerged from beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. The ship returned my salute with two blasts from her horn. The new Russians waved back wildly as she headed out to sea; a white ship brilliant as an idea merged with the fog on its final voyage home and a return to an uncertain future.


From pages 1 & 14, The West Sonoma County Paper, Vol. 13, issue 7, September 5-18, 1991.