{ Category Archives: expedition }

Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati

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View from atop the Pendleton Art Center, overlooking Cincinnati’s OTR neighborhood

Ene and I both love to discover new places and figure out what makes them tick. Fortunately, our collaborative projects as Wowhaus often require us to develop site specific works in unfamiliar territory, forcing us to accellerate the discovery-making in brief but densely-packed journeys. We’ve each developed complementary tools in the process; Ene tends to focus on the social fabric and relationships that give shape to place, and I tend to concentrate on the built environment, history and environmental factors. Of course there is a lot of overlap, but the default division of labor makes for an efficient use of limited time.

Wowhaus was recently awarded the commission to realize a public sculpture in the historic Pendleton/Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. We spent an action-packed weekend doing reconnaissance that we are just beginning to unpack. Over the next month or so, we will circle around our combined research and collaborate on a design for a permanent public sculpture. We owe a debt of gratitude to many who have acted as our guides, hosts and workshop participants, especially Artworks Cincinnati. I plan to post a more detailed narrative as the project takes shape.

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A Most Straightforward Skiff

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This little skiff is a wondeful example of one of my favorite kinds of boat- a flat bottom skiff with a pointy bow and straight sides running back to a full width stern. The bottom is slightly rockered for planing over a chop, and the sharp bow cuts the solid water of a small wave. In lieu of a keel or skeg, a simple ‘shoe’ running the full length under the bottom planking keeps the hull from sliding under power without interfering with landing on a sandy or rocky shore. The extra thick bottom adds the necessary bouyancy and toughness required of a working boat negotiating a range of conditions. Easy to build, repair and maintain, such a flat-bottom skiff is well suited to fishing or crabbing in protected bays, clamming the shallow sloughs, carrying a load or ferrying passengers. A low-powered outboard, like the 15 HP pictured above should push her along at about 8-10 knots without burning too much fuel. Oars are the auxiliary power.

As yet another salmon season kicks off along the Sonoma Coast, I’m seriously considering building such a skiff for fishing and crabbing Bodega Bay.

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Highlights of the Season

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Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans)

– Echium is in bloom (see above).

– Road trip to Santa Barbara. Transmodern highlight: Hanging out in a beach house with the Norwegians, cooking Indian food while listening to hill-billy trip hop.

– Meeting film historian Jan Anders Diesen and getting a private lecture and screening of never-before-seen footage from every major polar expedition, including Byrd, Amundsen, Shackleton, etc.

– Delivering my new line of furniture to Healdsburg Shed.

Wowhaus wins a new public art commission for the City of Cincinnati.

– Visit from my younger brother and his family (pending, arriving today).

– Aili is offered an Academic Honors Scholarship to Occidental College.

– Bodysurfing the point break off of Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara.

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Free Sign #2

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Free Sign #2, found in Bodega, CA


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I always replace Free Signs with my own homemade version.

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Free Sign #2 was made on the backside of a bad painting.

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Free Sign

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The first handmade ‘Free’ sign of my collection, found in Bodega, CA.

Driving around the back roads of West Sonoma County on a sunny day, you almost always find a pile of junk by the side of the road with a ‘Free’ sign in plain view. I have yet to find anything of interest, but my eye inevitably lingers on the sign itself. These are almost always handmade and somehow offer a clue as to the character and impetus underlying the otherwise anonymous act of roadside generosity. So I’ve begun collecting ‘Free’ signs, replacing them with my own generic stenciled version, which I sign and date for posterity.

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My first batch of generic ‘Free’ signs, signed and dated, 6″ x 15.5″ each.

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Bull Kelp Harvest

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Each winter since we’ve lived on the Sonoma Coast and made a daily practice of walking the beaches, I become mildly obsessed with the bull kelp that washes ashore in great heaps after storms. I’ve tried weaving the kelp into seat blanks, drying it as an iodine-rich jerky, and brewing it for a savory stock. My experiments have not been utter failures, and the waste product makes for nutritious compost, but I have yet to find its ideal use.

This year, I harvested several large heads of the kelp, selecting the freshest and most well-formed. I’m considering casting these in bronze as a table leg for a new design commission, and have carefully cleaned and wrapped them for freezing until I’m ready to make the molds.

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Deep Jersey Meets the North Woods

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Killian’s dad wore his Deep Jersey on excursions in Northern Canada

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Killian’s dad likes his Deep Jersey so much, they just ordered one for Uncle Whoop.

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