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Fresno Regular - Art Hop, Veteran's Day

November 2-7, 2017
Written November 4+
Dear Diary and Friends and Family,

This is not a record of great moment, just some more photography practice and notes about how we spend our time in Fresno.  On this later point, I have become defensive of our small city life.  It's not San Francisco or Paris, but if we work at it and take advantage of what is available, it's a life worth recording.  I think.

November Art Hop

On the first Thursday of every month, the Fresno Art's Council sponsors Art Hop, a three-hour window into the Fresno art scene.  We go as often as we can, but not often enough, since there are often conflicts.  For the November Art Hop, we cleared our commitments and headed downtown, just a few minutes south of home.

Of the three dozen open art galleries and venues, we managed quick hits at seven or eight.  That really is our limit - or perhaps a bit more.

d171102_02_bitwise.jpgd171102_06_deskhotel.jpgd171102_04_entrance.jpgOur first stop was at the Bitwise Industries building, a location we had never visited. Bitwise is a technology "incubator", a facility developed to provide space for all sorts of small startups, mostly technology related.  In Seattle or The Bay Area, such facilities may be as common as Starbucks, but here in the Central Valley, Bitwise stands out as an organization attempting to bring Silicon Valley excitement into our farming community.  I have to admit I did not recognize any of the two-dozen company names, but maybe that will change as they take over for Apple and Google.

Special for ArtHop, Bitwise was hosting art work from an organization called Best Buddies.  The Buddies representative enthusiastically explained the organization's mission as "striving to enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities" and the role of creative arts in that process.  We were impressed by the enthusiasm and the mission and wish them well.

d171102_10_clayhand.jpgd171102_12_members.jpgAround the corner, we visited Clay Hand Studios a pottery co-op we had visited in earlier Art Hops.  We were more impressed this time.  
Marianne's favorite was an array of hanging shapes, nicely displayed for interaction shapes and shadows. d171102_16_queen.jpg
My favorite,  by Karen Lee, was a wood-fired "guardian".  (By the way, our other conclusion about Clay Hands work was that they are offered at very reasonable prices!  Perhaps too inexpensive for their real value.)

Nearby, we stopped at another of our regular stops: Fig Tree Gallery.  Like many other Art Hop venues, Fig Tree frequently changes their featured artist and this time it was free-form carvings by Marvin Armstrong.  He explained that he starts with manzanita trees from local hills and carves away with chainsaw, power tools,  chisels, and sandpaper until the underlying shape appears.
Still in the same neighborhood, we stopped at Corridor 2122 to see who they were currently featuring.  I think Corridor changes every month, usually devoting the whole space to a single artist. 

d171102_36_lossdecency.jpgThis month, Stephen Dent, a local art instructor, presented works from his 2016-2017 Sabbatical.  Perhaps the most interesting part of his autobiographical show was the impact the last US presidential election had on him, completely disrupting his ability to concentrate on art.  (Our own in-house artist has suffered similarly.)  Dent solved his creative block, in part, by creating this work titled "Experiencing the Loss of Decency".  Indeed.
Our last stop in this neighborhood was the studio of Robert Ogata.  At each of our Art Hop visits to Ogata's studio, we usually find him standing in front of one of his works explaining the creative process to an enthralled audience.  This time it was the same.

I think we visit the studio just to absorb the atmosphere in a work space of a world-class artist.  Robert may be the best artist in the area.
Our final stop was at the M-Street Art Complex.  A couple of years ago, Marianne had exhibited here, we may still consider M-Street "Marianne's gallery".  Since then, the complex has struggled to fill its spaces and expand opening times. (Maybe "Pervaz" - the sculpture in front stills scares folks away.  Fun to photograph though.)
In our visit this month, Marianne checked in with the gallery's leading artist, Ma Ly, and explored the possibility for a future exhibit for her work.  Ma encouraged the idea.  Stay tuned.  We also visited with Jared Barbick, a full-time school administrator and part-time artist, who's lino cuts presented social themes borrowing from the lives of his adolescent students.  Nice work.

Sharing the building with the M-Street Gallery is the Fresno State Graduate Art Studios, normally an ever-changing venue for FSU art students.  This month, the space was filled by "Do You Know Who I Am?" a three-week event hosted by the Unsung Heroes Living History Project (UHLHP).   From family pictures on the front table through other pictures and memorabilia, the Project tells the story of local African Americans and their service in all of America's wars.  (This would serve as a premonition to my next day's photo-excursion - just below.)

Veterans Day Ceremony, Fresno City College

On Friday, I set out to take neighborhood pictures of whatever Fall color I could find.  As a rule, this is not a land with colorful foliage, but there are some nice street trees and the nearby Fresno City College (FCC) campus has a few non-native trees that are potential targets. 
d171103_06_monument.jpgHowever, when I hit the campus, my photo plans changed.  People were gathering around the Veteran's Peace Monument, preparing for a Veteran's Day celebration a week early, but  veteran's probably warrant more remembrance than a single day affords.  And even the Trotter Diary could spend some space for veterans.

It was a full two hours of pageantry, with the school band, speeches, awards, and ending with a 21-gun salute.  I am not sure I can remember the songs, or the words, or, for the most part, the names, but my sense was one of genuine honor being offered past and current FCC student veterans.

It was those veterans who were, correctly, the center of attention.   A majority seemed to be from the Viet Nam War era, my contemporaries, servicemen and women who may not have initially come home to the honor they deserved.  Better late than never, I suppose.  One either side of that generation, were the student veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, and a few Korea and WWII veterans.  Three soldiers , born in 1917, toward the end of the War to End All Wars, attended in their wheelchairs and received special recognition.
The ceremony had been initiated with an overhead fly-by and landing of a Blackhawk helicopter from the local Army Reserve. Interestingly, the pilot was also a FCC graduate from the mid-1990s. 

I was impressed by how large the helicopter was.  From other museums, I had seen examples of Korean War Bell helicopters or Viet Nam Hueys, but the Blackhawk dwarfs those earlier machines.


And with the noisy and dusty takeoff, I went back to looking for Fall color.

We had little more planned for Fresno, before we headed down to Monte Sereno, except for a Tuesday gathering of community activists.  We have become more interested in local politics since moving to Fresno, but have not found a passion, other than objection to NATIONAL leadership.  Our neighbor Ellen suggested attending a presentation on "Asset Based Community Development", although she admitted knowing little about it.  We had the time, so we went.
There were a number of local community folks attending: churches, organized neighborhoods, commercial development groups, and others whose theme we could not determine.  Our own "neighborhood group" may have been the most undefined.  Anyway, we learned about a model of grass-roots organization that is based on "assets, not problems" and self-action, not agitation to get others to act.  Our little group of neighbors is just at the beginning of any sort of organization, but maybe we are starting.  Maybe.  Stay tuned.

Otherwise, it is off to visit family for the rest of the week.  The next diary.

John and Marianne


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