Journals and Journal Keeping

I once had the opportunity to see, and handle, a few volumes of Lewis & Clark’s journals. This experience validated my own habit of journalling. In my journals, I chronicle the unmapped territory of Carrie. Populated by a native inhabitant, but explored, for the world, through fresh eyes. I still seek a guide.

Keeping journals has incredible value for learning and growing in life. The writings and visual images can prove to teach and inform in many ways. The practice and discipline of journalling hones ones ability to focus, sustain an idea, develop craft and technique and try out new things in a safe environment.

Journals can be public or private, secret even. They can serve as love letters or comments on the world at large or merely day-to-day observations of one’s environment. They offer dialogue with the society in which one lives. They prove, without a doubt, that we exist and our memory will persevere. They record the fragility of human existence in the most profound way.

Journals serve to offer: Personal Narrative, A Record of Growth, Travel Diaries, Collections of Daily Ephemera, Reflection, Wonder, Making Connections, Creating Response, Recording Dreams

They can be created in many ways:
Collage / Mixed Media Painting
Writing (Try different handwriting styles or different voices)
Record Keeping (Weather, Important Dates)
Collecting things that inspire or validate (Ephemera)

I keep both written and visual journals and have done so for nearly 40 years. I have created a personal reference library that expands daily. One life recorded.

A few examples:


Marin Museum Altered Book Show – Follow Up

I finished my book for the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art Altered Book Show and Fundraiser – a good cause btw. Opening April 21, 5 – 7 pm at the old Hamilton Field in Novato, if you live close by.

All funds are matched in this silent auction.

The book was about Venice, in my mind. And Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” seemed the obvious. What happened was odd. It became less about altering an existing book than about responding to the content of the book. Yes, I altered. Taking pages out of the existing book and incorporating them into my new book. And structure, that is the oddest part – I really enjoyed using a novelty structure because it spoke to the complexity – the layers – of Venice.

La Serinissima. The Serene Republic. For centuries – something different for everyone. I had a longer visit than most foreigners but still, I barely scratched a complex surface. The results? Still being considered on a cellular level. But here is the current response, in book form:

I’m happy on all levels with the final results. Not over labored, not too complex, but a true response to trying to describe the indescribable, much as Calvino must have felt.

Oh, and I like it enough that there will be a limited edition soon enough. With a few kinks ironed out. I will let ya know. xoxoxo

Bookbinding All Day – The Al-Mutannabi Street Coalition

Spent the day with my friend Sas Colby binding books for her limited edition project: “World of Books.’

Here is Sas’ description of the project: The Al-Mutannabi Street Coalition sponsors exhibitions of artists’ books and broadsides which honor freedom of expression.
The Coalition is named for Al-Mutannabi Street, the center of bookselling in Baghdad; a winding street filled with bookstores and outdoor bookstalls. Named after the 10th Century Arab poet, this street has been the historic heart of the Baghdad literary and intellectual community. In March 2007, a car bomb was detonated on the street, killing and wounding many. Soon afterward the Al-Mutannabi Street Coalition was formed to commemorate not only the tragic loss of life, but also the idea of a targeted attack on a street where ideas have always been exchanged. The Coalition has issued invitations to artists, writers and printers to create art that speaks to these ideas for presentation in exhibitions and readings worldwide. More information on the Coalition and its events can be found on-line. The artists’ book exhibition is called An Inventory of Al-Mutannabi Street, and is curated by Beau Beausoleil, and Sarah Bodman,

Could I ask for a nicer day? No. Simply put: Sun, pleasant company, the meditative repetition of binding, The lovely Boris the Yorkie… all in all a wonderful day.

Thanks Sas for making me a part of the project!!!

“The Great Affair Is To Move”

Certain seasons make me itch for the road, to be on the move, to travel. The last five years have found my wings clipped and I am aching for a good road trip. Last August I had the opportunity to spend a week in South Lake Tahoe with family. One of the highlights was the day I drove over the hill to Nevada and the Great Basin to a small town where I spent the afternoon at the cemetery in the shade of a tree with a sketchbook and my watercolors.

With so many road sketches I am tempted to create a book of the same title. I have always tried to grasp the passage by train, boat, plane or foot, with words and drawings.

Time to hit the road – and enjoy the landscape – if only in the next county…

Waiting for the train in Belgrade

Waiting for breakfast in Krakow.

Forgotten Obsession

I was leafing through some old work and realized that I no longer draw or photograph jars, vases; vessels of all kinds.
The definition of vessel is really quite lovely on all counts:

  1. a craft for traveling on water, now usually one larger than an ordinary rowboat; a ship or boat.
  2. an airship.
  3. a hollow or concave utensil, as a cup, bowl, pitcher, or vase, used for holding liquids or other contents.
  4. Anatomy, Zoology. a tube or duct, as an artery or vein, containing or conveying blood or some other body fluid

Here are a few from my obsessed years. More to come after scanning:

Book Artists and Poets Podcast

Steve Miller, Coordinator of the MFA program in Book Arts at the University of Alabama hosts these podcasts. The artists talk about their work, craft, inspiration and aspirations. Scroll down the list and enjoy the variety of interesting artists and poets. You can also find them on the podcast channel on itunes.

Direct link to my podcast:

Book Artists and Poets: C Galbraith

Link to all podcasts:

Book Artist and Poets Complete

Marin Museum Show

So this is the third year for my involvement in the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art Fundraiser Exhibition: Altered Book Show.

This year my book to alter is a book about Venice. Italy. Seems appropriate. But finding the right book has been a nightmare. Very few older books on Venice it seems. At least in my local used book sellers.

But than Calvino came to me, in the Oakland Public Library bookstore. A 3 dollar paperback. And there it was: Invisible Cities. What else was Calvino, writing from the character of Marco Polo, to write about but a description of hundreds of cities and all one city: Venice. La Serrenissima. The Serene Republic. The description of hundreds of cities can be the description of one city. An elusive landscape.

Some quotes to be used in my altered book:

“These islands floating in a light-infused lagoon, shimmering with Oz-like wonder, as steaming heat flows like syrup, unforgiving with entropy.”

“Waking to the cold, damp, Venetian winter.”

“This beauty and depth and, yes, this light are not for us, the inhabitants – or for the throngs of visitors. This city does not exist for us, This jewel exists for its own reason, oblivious to all, indifferent, cold, hard, unwelcoming. Its inward glance forever averted from our eyes.”

“Dead for years, alive only by the insatiable curiosity of the rest of the world. Venice, city of wonder, beauty, history and astounding coldness.”

Visiting the Past – LA Cemetery Tour

My family lie in the ground all over LA: Great Uncles, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Great Grandparents, too many to mention. We only visited a few.

My grandparents seem most at peace in Westminister:

My great grandmother, while at rest seems a bit forgotten in the oldest cemetery in Long Beach:

While one set of my Great Great Grandparents in Glendora have been all too poorly treated by time:

Into The Zone

So it seems I’ll be in LA tomorrow. With fellow Cacophonists. How the world turns. We never thought of this in 1987…

But so it goes. And I am off in the way-to-early-AM with my sister to see how it all pans out.

The best part? Sunday. We plan to spend the day visiting cemeteries where we have family plots: Long Beach, Santa Fe Springs, Glendora, Westminster. Visiting our past and recording the places for future generations.

The Zone? A place of mind. Still.

See you there.

– ethyl