Genealogically speaking, I am a Heinz 57 with Swiss, German, and Irish ancestors. Then there was my English grandmother who lived in a house my Dad built for her right next door. She hailed from Yorkshire. There is an English saying, “Thou can always tell a Yorkshireman, but thou can’t tell him much.” So you can see that with this particular genetic soup, I come by my stubborn streak honestly. My mother called it being bull-headed, I prefer to call it persistence. Being such a persistent person, when I was unable to travel to Alaska, I immediately made another attempt to find a way out West.
A Google search produced a second opportunity for an artist residency, this time in Montana at a BLM site. Oh Yeah! And this one honored Lewis and Clark, The Corps of Discovery, Sacagawea and her infant son Pompey. This adventure included a 4 day, all-expense-paid canoe trip that followed their exact route through this particular stretch of the Missouri river, including their well documented camp sites. Hell yes!!
As a kid my family camped nearly every weekend spring through fall at a state park near Chillicothe, Ohio that boasted a small but idyllic lake. One day when I was about fourteen my Dad disappeared from the campsite in his truck cryptically saying he was going for a ride. About 4 hours later he reappeared with a 14 foot, bright red fiberglass canoe perched in the back of the truck. We now had a new pastime that enthralled us for years. From that day forth nearly all of our extended family and friends also purchased canoes and every weekend we camped and canoed. So it seemed that this particular opportunity was custom-made for a history lovin’ gal that can paddle her own canoe and quilt too. I wrote a mean proposal and waited.
On the appointed day I received a very kind rejection email. Wow! I thought I had that one in the bag, but it is not possible to know the circumstances of why you were not selected and cannot take such rejections personally. I waited to see who had been selected. For some reason I had a feeling that the friends group sponsoring the residency already had someone in mind. A few days later another google search turned up the candidate, a well-known Montana artist that lived about 50 miles away. Easily understood.
Fast forward to three weeks ago. Remember the US Fish and Wildlife Service employee in charge of the cancelled Alaska residency? Out of the blue she contacted me and asked if I would be interested in flying out to Washington State to be a featured artist at The Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery’s Annual Salmon Festival? Furthermore, would I be willing to make a piece for them to be featured at the festival, then to be hung at the hatchery at the end of the festival, and, oh, by the way they would be loaning it out to various museums in the area. In addition, would I be willing to develop an art project for the many school children visiting this educational festival? Uhhhhh. Let me think… hell, yes!
The staff asked for a piece that would celebrate the importance of salmon to the Native Peoples of The Colville Nation living along The Columbia River and it’s tributaries, specifically the Wenatchee tribe who just last year obtained fishing rights in the river their people have inhabited for hundreds, if not thousands of years. More research produced a collection of Native legends compiled by The Colville Federation of Tribes, one of which featured a story about how Coyote brought Salmon to the Colville people. So I proposed a piece that illustrated this particular story. Staff at the hatchery have been instrumental in obtaining the blessing of tribal elders and locating a historic photographic image for my use. A second image was located at The University of Washington and luckily I was able to obtain permission to use that image as well. So far, the top is done and quilting is ready to begin. I believe I will meet my mid-September deadline.
Leavenworth Washington is located in the stunningly beautiful Cascade Mountains, a part of the world I have never visited. It has some fantastic hiking opportunities and bears! Guess I’ll get my adrenaline fix after all. So it just goes to show… you might not always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you might just get what you need.