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Camp B THis Year - Sept/Oct 2008

My truck is packed – all full of the regular accoutrements one requires to holiday: air hammer, die grinder, chisels, diamond pads, angle grinder, air hose and extension cords, plinths to carve upon, a tent to sleep in, beer cooler for important storage and a guitar for random entertainment needs.


This is the annual trip to Camp Brotherhood Symposium 2008 near Mt Vernon, Washington where over seventy people from ages 21 to 81 gathered to carve stone for eight days without another care in the world. With no meals to think of cooking, no regular vocational responsibilities and no tedious domestic safety, Camp B is a place where you can absolutely be at home without being at home. There is clarity in the generosity of spirit that seemingly everyone who attends Camp B is imbued with. Inclusiveness is paramount, and sharing one’s knowledge is both rewarding and inspiring. So, if you want to feel illuminated by diverse spirit, to find yourself immersed in art, human wholeness, and general miscreant fun, then you really should find yourself at Camp-B next year.


The camp itself is a bucolic farmland with morning and evening light that makes one wish to paint. It offers undulating landscape replete with cows, rabbits, a donkey, a few sheep and several Jurassic Emus beating out a sonic percussion that resonates throughout the property. Tall, straight trees, bountiful gardens, moonlight nights and Paul, the caretaker of the farm, who shows nothing but welcoming kindness.


I know I'm sounding pretty positive here, but really it is like some kind of undeserving dream. I know of nowhere else like this.


This year the formidable Alexandra Morosco, who put together our cadre of instructors, invited architect Bob Leverich and stonemason Shannon Wean to design "A Hearth Effect." Under their guidance, we built a beautiful fire circle for which the granite was cheerfully donated by Marenakos Rock Center. We basked in the warm glow of the fire every night of Camp. For years to come it will be a place to commune in the evening for us folks from NWSSA as well as the many diverse groups that attend this facility throughout the year.


NWSSA is a volunteer run organization and, I believe, something worth protecting. It was started about 20 years ago as a means to have conversations about stone, to compare processes, to find friendship, but moreover to teach art through sharing. And this is the crux. If you have, or if you think you may have a passion for stone, you are welcome at any level and at any age to come see, learn and above all to participate in carving stone.


As with most volunteer organizations, NWSSA must engage in fund-raising, which allows us to promote valuable education within the association. One of the most enjoyable ways I can think of to raise funds is to have an auction where people donate quality items and other people bid on these items. Where else can you get a $10.00 T-Shirt for $60.00 and feel good about it? On Wednesday night, aglow with laughter and wine, everyone who had fallen in love with the feisty and prodigiously talented, featured guest artist, Nora Valdez, showered her with gifts that I'm sure she will take with her on her travels as she carves monumental sculptures around the globe. People were unabashedly generous in raising well over $4000. It made me so very proud to be a part of that generosity.

I'm home now, giddy with inspiration. My tools are unpacked and I have a couple of fresh rocks to carve from the ubiquitous traveler, Canadian stone seeker,

Randy Zieber of Neolithic Stone. And I have some new tools from Scott, Kentaro and Alex of the fabulous Marenakos Rock Center. NWSSA and Camp B have given me a sense of being able to accomplish anything through hard work and a diligent focus. I must confess to each and every one of you that you have found a place in my heart. In particular, this year’s outgoing director, Arliss Newcomb, has once again suffused Camp B with her unfailing warmth and considerably benevolent hospitality. Happy ‘retirement’ Arliss!


To quote the wisdom of Tracy Powell after attending his first Symposium 16 years ago, "I have found my tribe."


I raise a toast to memories of 2008 and look forward to July 2009 where, I’m certain, we will successfully meet again. Rock on!!

By Gathering, We better ourselves and Our Art - March/Apr 2009

Pick up a newspaper; listen to the news whether on radio or TV. Another year has passed, and OH! What a year for our country. Words describing the economy seem to only start with letters at the front of the alphabet, words like abyss, bankruptcy and corruption. Well, I won’t go on, it all seems a little too Shakespearean.

Let’s say we go to the other end of the alphabet: stone, sculpture and symposium. Now these are within our control. When we think of what these words evoke, the waters quiet down from tsunami to golden pond. On Golden Pond we can spend wisely on that which sustains us and nurtures our souls. We can come together in a place without sanction, a place not only to survive, but to thrive. We call it a symposium.


Your tribe awaits you at Camp Brotherhood this summer. A place of shared hearts where creativity flourishes, bounces off the meadow, mingles with dust and dreams and ends up on a pedestal in the grass; a cup when filled that will sustain through the many months when we might be working alone. It’s a place where we can fill up our pantry with the ideas and the wonderfully shared fellowship that can sustain us for the months in between.


There are surely those around the circle on the last day who possess the resolute strength to endure without others in their pursuit of Art. But even they would admit that their cups get filled at the symposium and they come home with renewed vigor, strength and joy to approach their art. It’s about regeneration and the only pharmacy I know that carries that prescription is the symposium.


Yes, it is easier to stay in your studio all set up in your space. There’s no packing, you have a good bed, and you don’t have to spend any money. But the tribe misses you. We need you. If you seek a life full-filled, the answer might lie in the gathering of kindred spirits for purposes that only they understand; spirit worlds that even our partners do not fully realize. Failure to provide the gathering is not an option, and we who gather, make up the over-soul that comes to life, at one time, in one place. Plan to come to Camp B this summer and renew yourself.

The Last Flower & Garden Show - March/Apr 2009

Moving the NWSSA booth down to the main sales floor was a huge success for attendance, interest and sculpture sales (17). Of the five days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday were elbow room only! We were lucky to get a corner booth to catch people from two sides. Our hand carving demo booth was in the front corner where people stopped to watch and lined up to give the stones a whack. Both adults and children were excited to see how carving is done while experiencing a couple of minutes with hammer and chisel.


Displayed next to the carving booth was a roughed-out  s alabaster mother with ducklings on her back along with a photo depicting the inspiration by Nicky Oberholtzer. This is a vital stage in understanding the process of carving.


To get more interest and understanding about our symposiums, Leon created a story board across the back curtain with 8 x10 photos from Camp B. Showing the layout of the field, sculptors working under their canopies, the stone yard and a night shot with a group sitting around our new fire pit. This visual seemed to help folks make a “connection.” Having handed out several hundred flyers, the true test will be to see how many sign up for a symposium.


I wish to thank Nicky Oberholtzer, Jim Heltsley, and Tom Francis for assisting with the prep work and sitting shifts. A special thanks to Nicky who worked the booth daily from 9am to 8pm with endless enthusiasm. Her Grande Mocha’s really helped!

Many thanks to other booth sitters, Bob Olander, Gus Schairer, Rich Andler, Sharon Feeney, Bill Laprade, Tamara Buchanan, Terry Slaton, Susan Harris, and Lonny Morgan who is not yet a member and drove up from Portland, Oregon to see what we are all about!


Ed. Note: According to the media, this was Seattle’s last Flower and Garden show.