Tag Archives: Writing

The "Outsider Art" of Peter Gullerud

I once took a touristy picture for a man in Seattle, and as he shook my hand, he introduced himself the Japanese Ambassador to the United States. It was a staggering moment. I have also seen Tom Cruise in the flesh, and once I received a note from Johnny Depp. These are all “storybook” people to me, and these were all story book interactions, with no real sense of connection.

Recently my favorite character stepped outside the story book, and when I heard his voice and his sweet, nervous giggle, I realized that he is just another inquisitive soul, wandering through life with eyes wide open, looking for ways to express what he sees and loves. His name is Peter Gullerud.

I spent a day in the fall of 2002 painting with my friend Julie, and she looked at my painting and said “It reminds me a little of Gullerud.” I said, “who?” I didn’t remember that name from ANY of my art classes, books, museums… And yet she seemed shocked and horrified at my ignorance. Later that day I Googled “Gullerud” and discovered everything I wanted my art to be: varied, intense, yet at ease; imaginative, soulful, vibrant, at times simple & understated, detailed, expressive… something that just flowed, without hesitation or doubt.

I started a small collection of whatever of his art I could afford. Small pieces: pen & ink drawings, Prismacolor, even some pencil drawings. I’ve gathered mostly things of a gestural and not finely finished nature. For the past seven years I have adored Peter Gullerud’s “Insider-Outsider” art, and have at times, I must admit, passed on that shocked, disdainful, “What do you mean you’ve never heard of him?” look that Julie gave me that day.

Discover Pete’s Art

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Does Bloomington Really Bloom?

Today is the first day of Spring in Bloomington, Indiana. Yes, I’m aware that there are officially two more weeks of winter, but when it’s 60 degrees at 10 am and people all over town are wearing flip-flops and capris, I’m going to call it Spring.

If that’s not enough to dispel your doubts, here’s the real clincher: today I saw the first Spring flowers in bloom: crocuses. I felt like the guy in the Norman Rockwell painting, pointing and shouting. Suddenly I realized that I’ve never seen a Bloomington Spring. My first taste of the town was in late August last year, and there were still some flowers around. We were even able to find hydrangeas for our late-September wedding. But I’ve heard rumors that this place really lives up to its name and does indeed become a “blooming town” when the season is right. I think this may be just what I need to recover from the bitter cold of my first midwest winter. It’s something to look forward to.

Crocuses peeking through the snow

Crocuses peeking through the snow

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"Each Guided by a Private Chart" Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority

Hawaiian Chieftain Under Sail, Photo by Grays Harbor Historical Seaport

Hawaiian Chieftain Under Sail, Photo by Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority

“We are magnets in an iron globe. We have keys to all doors. We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

What drove your interest in the Seaport? Why did you think it was something worth being a part of, something worth supporting? If you’re a sailor, what moved you to sail? What inspired you to sign in to Ship’s Articles? What nudged you into giving up two weeks or more of your “real life” to live as so many did before compulsory education and airlines and global e-trade?

For many of us, it was the crew. We came at first to see the boats but we returned to see the family. Before long we were part of that family. No matter how shy, no matter how boisterous, how weak or how strong, we each found our place.

But what is family, anyway? Isn’t it a place to learn and grow? A place to put down roots so that you can stretch up to the sky? No one stays on the boats forever (although for some of us it may seem like it), but where do we go? And what do we take with us? You’d be surprised…

Join the family

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A Writer by any other name is just… a Reader.

What do you do when you’ve read so much that your brain has become too bogged down, too exhausted to write?

Lately I’ve been reading books. Books for bookclubs, books to entertain preschoolers, books to review before they are released into the big wide world… And then it happens. I sit down at my computer, and I drift. I look at the bookclub forums. I wonder why I’m still called “Contributer,” instead of “Frequent Contributor” or “Enlightened Godess of Plot and Character Interpretation.” I refresh my email. I look at my sister’s photos of Summer Vacation 2007.

The most writing I’ve done at one time lately is to make four posts to one of my online bookclubs in a single afternoon. When I first joined these sites, I marveled at the frequent posters who did not write, apart from their silly games and occassional “I liked it/ I hated it” reviews of contemporary fiction. These people who are so well-read but do not write. I never imagined I’d become one of them.

Yesterday I received my brand new business cards, with my name and title right there at the top: Sarita Li Johnson. Writer. Boldly bisecting the back of the card is the web address of this very blog: thelandlockedsailor.wordpress.com. I proudly inspected my new glossy declarations of identity, but the pride and excitement quickly faded, with the realization that I have not been blogging at The Landlocked Sailor! How can I distribute these cards to the world, only to show them what I do not do? How on earth have I become a Reader Who Does Not Write?

Right here and now I have decided that the 4th of March is not too late a date to make resolutions. From now on, for every literary response I construct, I will create an equally read-worthy piece of my own. How will I measure this? For each subject (not each post) that I respond to in a reader’s forum, I will write on one other subject, of my own devising, on this blog. Sounds doable to me. Who’s with me? Readers of the world, let’s write!

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Eleven Days

I got off the boat eleven days ago. I worked there for $40 a day.

Today I found a 9-6 receptionist job for $15 an hour. With an hour for lunch, this boils down to $120 to sit in an office all day and be nice to people. I can do that. In fact, I’ve done it before. I’ve counted on those hour-long lunch breaks to get my reading, studying, and even exercise done.

That seems like a different world.

For the past year, I have spent at least six days per week at work, at an average of fourteen hours per day. I was actually very excited to find a job in my field that paid $40 a day! These were labor-filled days. Keeping up the boat demanded heavy lifting, climbing, cleaning, hauling, painting, sanding, teaching, and in all kinds of weather and all kinds of conditions. Some days the students were screaming because there was water washing over the deck and they couldn’t keep themselves upright. Some days were so hot and still I couldn’t even get them excited about petting fish.

Eleven days… off the boat for eleven days. Most of these eleven days I’ve been sitting on the floor staring at this computer screen: sometimes surfing, occasionally chatting, but mostly job-hunting. I’ve had a wireless connection from the first moment of consciousness in the morning until finally drifting off, unable to type another word. I haven’t had to work twenty-eight consecutive days for each day of leisure, and I haven’t had to travel for an hour to the nearest e-cafe for Internet, just to spend my last $1.50 on chamomile tea because it’s the cheapest thing on the menu. I haven’t woken up in the wee small hours of the morning to discover that I’m laying on deck in the middle of a torrential downpour, having to run around closing hatches and putting in weatherboards before rushing off to my stuffy cabin, looking for dry clothes and dry blankets before drifting off for the one or two remaining hours of sleep I might be able to squeeze in.

I’ve had a grocery store, a movie theatre, a library, a bank, even a Target within walking distance these eleven days. I’ve been able to see new places in broad daylight- during business hours, even, and been able to buy souvenirs.

I’ve been offered what I consider to be three days’ pay for half a day’s work. I’ve slept in till noon. I’ve watched movies and read magazines. I’ve washed the dishes that only I have dirtied. I’ve had a hot shower every day. I haven’t run out of toothpaste, deodorant, or clean clothes. I’ve even been to the nail salon.

Eleven days… Maybe day twelve is where the fun begins.

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