Monday, December 04, 2006

On The Easel

This is a painting I have been working on since last week. You can see a couple others on the wall. I hope to paint walls in the future. My studio came with green walls that are not conducive to judging color.

We were at a the Moline cabin. Holly was talking about "The Chinese Diggins" It is a place where Chinese emigrants had some kind of mining operation on the Illinois River. Of course I had to go there. This painting is inspired by my dream of what it might be like. It turned out to be a cool and interesting place but its not in this picture.

I like the idea of a fantasy of expectation. Anyone who has followed their dreams knows that whether it lead to disappointment or success it rarely matches their initial ideas of what it would be like. There are elements of the terrain around the Moline cabin. An image based on myths, stories and dreams may not match a physical place but it might be a better way to describe a place. The stories and the place are interconnected.

Holly added more info about the Chinese Diggins in the comments.

1 comment:

Holly Simons said...

I grew up exploring the woods along the Illinois River near Oak Flat, Briggs
Creek, and Panther Creek. In that area, there is a mining site attributed to
Chinese miners who stacked rock and formed walls around their campsites in a
distinctive way. Some of the rock stacks edge the mining area and the
encampment, but some are out in the open and are the approximate shape and
size of burial mounds. As a kid, I was told that miners who died were buried
there. Whether or not that's true, the rocks stacks were always a spiritual
and spooky place to me. I like your idea, John, of the fantasy of
expectation. I remember the first time I tried to take you to that place--we
swam down river, but the current was too strong to come back up. Michelle
and I barely made it, but you (more wise than us), waited. The next time, we
tried to hike there and Bodhi got so covered in burrs, he couldn't walk. I
went back to our cabin. So, we've never been there together. I want to make
some photographs of that place in the early morning. Maybe next summer?

Several years ago, following my dog off trail I found some rusting pieces of
metal with jagged edges--one is trim from an old stove chimney. I have made
art from one of them. I like the idea that remnants from the 1850s are still
there to be found and re-imagined.

From the US Forest Service Watershed Analysis of the Illiinois River in
southern Oregon:

Chinese mining sites are common in the Siskiyou Mountains and sites have
been documented in the watershed analysis area (Boyd, 1991). Sites located
at Canyon Creek are typically stacked rock walls with associated camp sites.
These sites are very valuable archaeologically because of the information
they contain about Chinese adaptation to the 19th century mining and social