Friday, August 10, 2007

Willamette River Rat opens tonight!!!
An art installation by Scrappers
Room 232, 6-9pm
It will also be open 8-5pm on weekdays

You know the expression “go with the flow”, it's usually how hippies like me handle failure. I'll admit in these first words, the day the Willamette River Rat installation opens to the public, that I went with the flow. Maybe my intentions were to big for my britches, maybe I didn't really have a plan, or maybe I had too many plans and not enough time. Maybe the lesson here is to let go and go with the flow.
Originally I wanted a big solo project to work on this summer. I heard that this river themed art-fest was going on and thought that it would be a good chance for me to buddy up with Portland's recognized art scene and maybe touch some new hearts with my work.
The River Rat idea started as a secret illegal artist's retreat on Ross Island (in the middle of the Willamette River), but due to poison oak, millions of bloodsucking bugs and loud wake-boarders with their boom box boats, my plans changed. I then tried to find a space close to the river where I could build a show made of all the treasures I've found along the river's edge. I even have a nice collection of driftwood I was going to paint scenes of kids catching their first fish, rope swings, styro-foam beer coolers floating lazy down the river from a capsized canoe, jean cut-off shorts with the pockets hanging lower then the shorts, and portraits of all the wonderful critters that live along the river (even hobos), but I only finished a painting of the shorts. Another idea was to display the show by canoe, so I could physically get more people into the river.
I thought since my wife Amy works for the Willamette Riverkeepers and we have paddled from Eugene to Portland in an event called Paddle Oregon that I would have many personal little stories about my relationship with the river. Stories that would make you laugh and warm your heart enough to trick you into visiting the river more often, or maybe volunteering to help battle urban run-off and stuff But the only story I keep thinking of is kind of sad and maybe I shouldn't share it with you.
When the brain tumor finally destroyed my invincable brother Greg, I had just moved to Portland. When I got the news I instantly grabed my fishing pole and headed towards the Willamette River. Under the Saint John's bridge I lost about six or seven fishing lures on rusted metal and submerged shopping carts before I just sat in the muddy sand and watched the water flow by. That day Greg, the River and I build a very strong connection.
I think we all reconnect with our innocents though nature. For me it's the water that keeps my mind young, for you it might me the snow, I don't know. I'm at a point in my life where I can't seem to find a good job (a paycheck) no matter how hard I work. I'm in constant battle with adulthood and mantaining an innocent relationship with the world. It's a constant pain with squirts of pure joy. Maybe going with the flow means waiting out the pain until the good times pop up?
“Going with the flow” seems like a wimpy answer to life's harder problems. I prefer to work harder and smarter to find creative solutions. Maybe it's a combination of both, work and flow.
So in the end the Willamette River Rat installation has become a sort of monument to the lesson I learned from the river, go with the flow.

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