[#art] A Change of Carrier

Posted in art, art as a career, art supplies, creative process, creativity, liff on June 14, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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I’ve decided to join the messenger-bag generation.

It’s cool. I’m usually a few years late to just about any party, anyway.

If you don’t know if I’m hangin’ around or not, you can usually tell that I’m here if you see my backpack. It’s a habit I picked up never-you-mind how many years ago and I’ve probably kept too long, but in an unfriendly world that don’t love you back no matter how hard you love it, you have to have your security blanket.

We all do, I think. I fancy I’m just a bit more honest about it than some. Then, I care less and less what anyone thinks about what I do as I move through this part of my life; I’ll do what I can to cope.

My backpack has been part of my identity for a long time. It holds a lot of things that are important to me that I want to keep near; the sketchbook I’m not drawing in; the book on creativity I’m not reading or using, the art supplies I’m apparently hoarding up against the apocalypse. But backpacks encourage a sort-of hermit crabbish-ness, in which I carry my notional studio on my back. As long as my right shoulder isn’t killing me (how I’ve avoided tendonitis all these years, I can’t tell you) I figure I can carry anything. Or everything.

Whether or not I can kickstart my own engine, a touch of parsimony is called for, I think. Will it improve my creativity at all if I don’t figure I have everything I need and inspiration will spontaneously combust from inside the recesses of the thing?

I don’t know.  Anything’s worth trying once.

I also have a taijtu (see illo) patch that will simply look stunning on the flap.

And so it goes.

[#design] 600-Or-So Portland-in-2016 Bookmarks For Westercon 67

Posted in design, Graphic Design, logo design, PDX photos, SF, Westercon, Westercon 69 on June 13, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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The Wife™ had a little busytime project.

You see, we’re involved on the edge of a little group that’s trying to bring Westercon 69, in 2016, two years hence, to Portland. The bid will be voted on at Westercon 67, being held this next month in Salt Lake City, and we have been promoting.

And, by we, I mean a rather divers group of passionate individuals doing what they can, when they can, and making it count. The sun our planets revolve around is the inimitable Lea Rush; entropy fears her, scattered card decks stack themselves at her mere approach. I am essentially a graphic design support grunt at this point, and provide support to Meredith Cook when and as she needs it. The Wife™, she handles the office we’ve called “Mailroom”.

In case you ever needed to know
what more than 600 bookmarks
looked like, here you go.
How to Support
the Bid
(click to embiggen)

At this point, it is as such: a call came a day or so ago from Lea wondering how many bookmarks were left. We had started a stock of 5000; less than 2500 are left (we may have a handful or two left over before this is done, and this is no sin … we own lots of books which require marking), and the mission; send 600-or-so of them to Westercon 67’s ComCon. Mailroom snaps into action: The Wife™ counts out the required number, packages them up, and gets them ready to go.

They’re in a box, right now, ready to be shipped. Inspired by the example of those around us, the proper amount of energy is leveraged for the maximum effect. USPS Media Rate is our faithful friend, and Westercon 67 will have the bookmarks.

Which are sweet, by the way. Featuring the logo designed by Meredith with assistance by myself, they feature a picture of a night-time Portland skyline snapped by the ViviCam 3705, the Plastic Fantastic, back in 2009. ‘Tis a picture I’m most proud of, and I’m equally proud that it may help, in a small way, win a very significant moment in time for the fandom of the Rose City. This is the bookmark:

Like I said, sweet! The night-time scene has a little bit of Tron and Matrix-y stuff going on there. Great mood setting. The round patch is the offiical Portland In 2016 logo, done by Meredith with help from myself. This is the photo it was based on:

 And that was in January, 2009. Photos are forever …

And they make, I’ll say again, sweet bookmarks.

Presupport is still available. Clicky to embiggen the back of the bookmark, on the left above (there’s even a QR code for your enjoyment) for terms, or go to http://portlandin2016.org to find out more.

Yeah. This is something that should happen. 

[#pdx] Photos on Sunday: Mr Plywood and Mount Hood From Downtown Montavilla

Posted in Montavilla, Mount Hood, Photos on Sunday, Portland Photos, Portland Street Scenes, SE PDX Photos on June 9, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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Not too many photos on this edition of Photos on Sunday, because we had a real day of downtime. And, noting the way I feel right now, it was needed. 
But that’s as may be. Today, The Wife™ needed a bit of board for a little thing she was trying to do to organize the closet, so we do what we usually do in these cases: we went to Mr. Plywood, in downtown Montavilla, at 76th and SE Stark. It’s been in Portland a long, long time … I don’t know what year it was founded in, but I remember the dryly-narrated commercials that Mike Falconer used to do back in the 70s. Since there are fewer and fewer of the good old local retailers that exist around here that did when I was a kid, we put a high importance on patronizing them. We do, after all, want to help them stay in business for as long as they can.

Mr Plywood’s store is hard to miss. 7609 SE Stark Street, that’s on Stark Street, on the north side, filling the whole block between 76th and 77th. You won’t miss it, if only because it’s big sign, made of the mascot, draws your attention.

Inside, it’s your local lumber store … with an accent on the finished plywood sort of thing. Because, name.

Me and The Wife™ love it because the prices are good, the service is knowledgable, and if you stop in as a regular, they treat you like a friend. The Wife™ loves the access to materials. I love the free popcorn.

I’ve gone on in other venues about free popcorn at hardware and building supply stores. To this day, wife says I need some dowling or a cedar board, and my mouth starts watering.

The store’s in two main sections; the upper part, where the cashier is, the aisles with building and wooodworking supplies, and the finished plywood. Rougher stuff is in the other half of the building, which is reached through the large door with these delightful signs over:

They love DIYers and I love those signs. And observing the proceedings in the upper room is the store’s eponymous mascot … “Mr” Plywood.

In all his precise geometrical glory, he beams warmly to all who patronize.

But there something about him … those eyes …

Do you see they way they look? The way they seem to follow you across the room? The way they look not only at you … but into you? (cue theremin at this point. You may not want to, but you have to)

They bore into you in searing honesty … they are the abyss of building materials, and as you look into them, THEY LOOK INTO YOU!!!!! AAAAAAAUGH!!!!!!

Okay, now that I’ve turned a perfectly charming store logo into something you’re afraid will meet you on the other side and chase you after death, let’s move on! Mr Plywood is located in what I think of as ‘downtown Montavilla’. Montavilla is the neighborhood on the east side of Mount Tabor from the rest of Portland, and begins pretty much at the toe of the mountain. It’s main east-west axis is the one-way couplet of SE Stark and Washington Streets, from 76th to 82nd Avenues, where there are a flock of shops, a really nifty coffeehouse called the Bipartisan Cafe, and the best movie theatre on earth … The Academy.

For those who know me well, I’m about to go into another couple of photos where I further if possible, fetishize Mount Hood. I am what I am.

The mountain is visible from downtown Montavilla, and the best view is from the upper end, near SE 76th, in front of the Mr Plywood store. Taking the lessons in creating telephoto-style pictures a couple of missives ago, it quickly occurred to me that this was a chance to juxtapose the distant mountain with the human habiliment in the foreground. I remember seeing similar pictures taken of Mount Rainier from the Seattle suburbs when I was a kid, and they really had impact … impressions of them stayed with me to this day, and are playing across my mind as I write this. Here’s what I came up with, and the result really pleases my aesthetic sense.

The real coup, I think, is the tall facade to The Academy, even though it blocks the view of a shoulder of the mountain, its intrusion into the scene makes it kind of a valuable statement. The above is cropping a zoomed-in photo, and this …

… is at a few levels of digital zoom, which I’m finding, the Canon S-100 handles with deftness.

And it’s Mount Hood, Wy’east, which is its own justification.

[photo] Have You Seen This Bee? BECAUSE SHE’S AWESOME!!!

Posted in Bees, digital photos, Oregon Natural History, SE PDX Photos on June 7, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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Earlier today we were at Tony’s Garden Supply. This is a wonderful nursery near SE 104th and Holgate Boulevard and is the kind of hometown garden center I remember growing up … locally owned, very very friendly and very very knowledgeable.

We got a Yummy Mix pepper plant, a petunia (the really pretty kind with the dark, dark blue, almost indigo stripes), a big pot to do some transplanting in, and got some advice on how to save The Wife™’s Italian flat-leaved parsley plants. Free protips; you can’t do better!

But it’s a riot of color, and plants wontonly dripping with pollen, and where there’s pollen … we kind of hope these days, from what we’ve heard, it’s kind of grim for them … there’s bees. And I hated bees as a kid, because stingy-stingy-owie-owie, but I’m an adult and I have maybe a better understanding of bee boundaries. And I saw honey bees and bumble bees, and since I read maybe a little too much news I fret over the fact that there aren’t so many bees now. But they were chillaxin’, lazily-but-efficiently picking up pollen from the flowering plants at the front gate.

I’d been wanting to pict a bee for an awful long time. They are fascinating creatures. So I pointed and shot and hoped, and reviewed the photos, and look at this, will you!

Not only did I get a fabulously clear picture of afore-intimated apian, I so lucked that I caught the wings, momentarily, at rest. And, I’m a leg man … and check out them shanks, yo, just brimming with pollen.

I am proud of this picture. And that is one awesome bee.

[pdx] Telephoto Fun on Portland Streets With The Canon PowerShot S-100

Posted in digital photography, Out 122nd Way, Outer East Portlandia, SE PDX Photos on June 7, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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Telephoto means one thing to me and, being an undisciplined amateur photographer, that’s probably not accurate, but the result is an artful compression of distance.

SE 82nd Avenue looking south from SE Schiller Street

I’ve always adored telephoto shots because they draw a real interesting line between a kind of abstract expression and reality. It’s like you’re getting this fantasy world mixed with reality, 2-for-1.

SE Holgate Blvd looking west from about SE 105th Avenue

The way the posts and poles lining the street bunch up, the far comes near, forms fascinating shapes and defines entrancing spaces which capture the eye the way Celtic knotwork always does. Your POV goes exploring in interesting spaces that are both fantastic and real.

SE 122nd looking north from SE Morrison Street

The ‘telephoto’ shots taken by the Canon PowerShot S-100 aren’t, strictly speaking, telephoto. Technically speaking, a telephoto lens uses a sequence of lenses called the telephoto group to create a light path that’s longer than the physical length of the lenses. But you can come up with a pretty good simulation if you zoom in tight enough with the S-100, sort of what cinematographers would call an in-camera special effect. In its largest format, too, it combines the astoundingly-good optical zoom with a few levels of  digital zoom to get a zoom level of up to 20X. After that, it’s a matter of framing and composing, or even cropping, to frame the viewpoint.

I’m finding the paltry knowledge I have about composition is actually going a long, long way. Some sense of composition is becoming key to composing good shots – or, at least, shots I like. The generous viewing screens of modern digital cameras are, of course a big boon, try WYSIWYG.

The levels of digital zoom seem to suffer some acceptable degradation of quality, which is to be expected. As I learnt with the old ViviCam 3705, the faithful Plastic Fantastic, digital zoom is a matter of taking the inside of the photo, blowing it up, and cropping. You get zoom, but the quality can be very bad. On the Canon S-100, though, it’s good. I tried a very ad-hoc experiment; the above picture of 122nd is shot at maximum optical zoom and cropped. Left there is the same general view shot with maximum optical and digital zoom. The quality is good enough, to my tyro eye, to use as an effective illustration.

The view southbound down SE 122nd Avenue from the safety island by the Midland Library is maybe a little less expansive but the far away massif of Mount Scott, the layers of traffic signals, the shimmering warmth radiating up from the street and the bunched-up light poles ranging away in to the distance make up for what it lacks, compared to the former shot.

I do like this camera, I do.

SE 122nd Avenue looking south from near
the Midland Branch Library (just south of Morrison Street)

[#AddressNerd] Fractional Blocks In The Portland Street Blade 2.0 Design

Posted in PDX Street Blades, Portland Street Blades, Street Blade Gallery on June 6, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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While cities try to be planned in even chunks, life isn’t perfect. The ideal is digital; the reality, analog. Streets oft-times happen where they happen.

A good example of this is the grid layout of Salt Lake City, where the address block is a standard thing and the street can concievably land anywhere in that block. For example, a two standard streets, one the 35th and the next the 36th, would be named 3500 South and 3600 South. A street about 1/3 of the way between 3500 South and 3600 South might be named 3530 South. One eight-tenths of the way could be named 3580 South.

On this plan addresses are childs’ play to augur in on. As you travel north or south on any street that would cross these, you just glance right or left to see how the addresses are running. A bit dry, perhaps; an address like 455 West 3530 South is mathematically exciting but literarily dull. But Portland’s signage acts just like this. Check this blade fro SW Broadway near PSU that I snapped some time ago. The tab reads 700. SW Broadway is the 7th block west of the river in Downtown. The blade is telling you not that the block down the SW Broadway face is 700, but that you are either entering or leaving the 700 block of whatever cross street you’re on. As in SLC, the crossing-street system assumes you don’t need to be reminded what street you’re on, but you do want to know how far up or down the street you’re on without having to crane your neck left or right and hope to see the number as you go past.

If SW Broadway were a street in SLC, it would be South 700 West. 

I frame the concept thusly because it sets the stage for this next picture; the intersection of NE Pacific Street and NE Holladay Court.

The intersection of these two streets do not happen on an even address block point, and the new way of street-blading Portland attempts to address this. As someone who loves precision in such things, I’m kind of over the moon here. A bit of commentary perforce: in raw terms, the intersection of NE Pacific Street and NE Holladay Court is of two streets that are defined as east-west runners. They therefore have very similar blockface numbers. However! One has to remember that when you look at that block index, you’re not looking at the the address on the street that is named but the address on the street you’re already on that’s defined by the point of the crossing street. Thus, NE Pacific Street cuts across NE Holladay Court at approximately 13050 NE Holladay Court; NE Holladay Court intersects NE Pacific Street at the address of 13020 NE Pacific Street.

If that weren’t bewildering enough, this blade set might make you cross your eyes:


This is a few hundred feet back, where Holladay Street bends to become Holladay Court. Not exactly an intersection as one might think about it, until one thinks about it: it’s an intersection, just one where a street name changes. Each block index reads 13000; this intersection is where the 13000 block begins and ends on either street.

It’s a little challenging to get used to if you’re a new Portlander; the only other Willamette Valley city I know that does it this way is McMinnville. Eventually, it’ll click, and once it does, it’ll seem like the most organic and natural thing … as long as you start with the idea that you already know what street you’re on, and this tells you what’s coming and going as you travel.

And the font? That’s Clearview, baby. Looks good to me!

[#pdx] Photos On Sunday: East Holladay and Earl Boyles Parks

Posted in David Douglas Area, Earl Boyles Park, liff in Outer East Portland, Outer East Portlandia, Photos on Sunday, SE PDX Photos on June 5, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
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Parks here in Outer East Portlandia seem a little few and far between. In a city famed for its green spaces and park system, it’s proving to be a bit of a struggle to solve. Perhaps it’s because someone hasn’t yet figured out how a developer can make a ton of money off it, I don’t know. Who knows.

The neighborhood trees
muscle up to East Holladay Park

Shutting off the cynicism for a moment, part of it is, you just have to know where to look. West of 82nd Avenue, the parks are brazen hussies; they just throw themselves at you, shamelessly; get out of your car, park it, bub, and enjoy me!!! They’re the only part of the empire of Portlandia that isn’t some sort of passive-aggressive. There are awesome parks on the Heavy Eastside, they’re like gold or water; they’re where you find them. This turns the hunt into about equal parts aggravation and treasure quest.

Rose hips, East Holladay Park

This first park, you’ll see what I mean. It’s called East Holladay Park, and despite its geographically-specific name, it’s not just down the road from Holladay Park, near the Lloyd Center, unless, for you, just down the road means a seven-mile trip out the Banfield Freeway and NE Halsey Street. But then, there are some fitness freaks here in Portland …

Oh, me. Anyway. to get to East Holladay Park, you do indeed go out NE Halsey Street into the veldtlands to deep East Portland. Go east on Halsey to NE 128th Avenue, and south on 128th to NE Holladay Street. About 420 feet, give or take, east from 128th, Holladay Street bends and becomes Holladay Court, and that’s where the park’s entry is. What makes East Holladay hard to locate is that this is its only obvious entry, otherwise it’s surrounded by homes on 2 long sides and a PGE substation on the third. Other streets dead-end at the park’s edge and provide local entry that way; the only public parking area is the one where NE Holladay St becomes NE Holladay Ct at the 13000 block.

The parking lot (a dated version of which  can be seen in Google Maps Satellite view) is both visually pleasing to look at and a version of the green ways of doing things we try to put into operation here in Portland wherever we can. Instead of a sheet of asphalt, square pavers form a surface smooth enough to drive or walk across while the seams between open into the soil, alleviating the problems inherent in water sheeting across a normal parking lot and simply sloughing off onto the streets and soil surrounding it, taking advantage of the ability of the ground and the vegetation to filter out the nasty bits in the same way that our unfairly-lambasted bioswales do

It’s also visually charming, making one feel as though one is walking across a cobbled courtyard. Rather sophisticated, actually.

The area of the park is wide open. This was actually a bit disappointing as we were hoping for a place to spread out with art supplies and diary and play, but there’s no picnic tables there. Truth be told, the space is a bit bland, but I can’t hold a grudge against all that luminous green. There is a spiffy new, bright, pretty, fun-looking play area, so the area is undoubtedly getting real-world likes from every neighborhood kid.

Fun time at the park: enabled.
The other one is Earl Boyles Park. I suppose we missed it all this time because there’s no obvious signs leading to it, and it’s similarly ensconced in the neighborhood near SE 112th Avenue between Powell and Holgate the way East Holladay is in its nabe. The best access we were able to find is SE Center Street going east from SE 104th Avenue. On the south, east, and west it’s surrounded by houses and trees; there is an access on SE Boise Street. North side of the park is bounded by the properties of Ron Russell Middle School and Earl Boyles Elementary, on SE Bush Street west of 112th Avenue, and while there’s ready access from Bush Street the space between the north bound of the park and the street is taken up by Ron Russell’s sports field, so the park’s presence is perhaps not so obvious from there.

By the time we’d gotten to Earl Boyles Park, the sun was beginning to get rather low in the sky, and the long rays were being played about with by the foliage, leaving the grass and tree boughs even more luminous than the park before. There’s a water feature which can be activated somehow, and the kids were playing in it … a high, proud fountain. We were delighted by this. We’ve seen quite a few Portland parks in which the water feature was either deactivated or a thing of the past.

I feel rather abashed. This is the park we’ve been looking for; pleasant access, a nice grove of trees, a fountain pad for the warm bodies that summer in Oregon naturally obtains. A place with tables to sit and take in the world, and to watch the sun linger on the horizon, like it tends to do hereabouts.

Earl Boyles Park. Sunset. 2nd of June, 2014.

And we just kind of stumbled on it. Well, the best things, you usually find them that way. Serendipity, they call it. Just what you were looking for … but not when you were looking for it.

That’s why life is mysterious, in the good way. 

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