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1997 Camp Brotherhood Sculptor's Symposium - Sept/Oct 1997

This is for those who haven't attended Camp Brotherhood, but wanted to or at least wondered about it. This year was my first. Take my word for it, it is big. A huge centrally-located compressor and four or five generators keep the ground throbbing during all working hours, but it quickly becomes a given and you mentally tum it off. There were 91 people. Some you never get to know beyond an exchanged smile and pleasantry. Maybe because there just isn't time, but possibly because your paths weren't meant to cross any more than that at this time. There are "cliques" in the sense of old-timers who know each other very, very well and will SEEM to be a closed society, but ask anyone of them questions and they eagerly and willingly focus on you. Look at it this way - you're broadening THEIR circle of friends by breaking through YOUR sense of awkwardness.


The stone vendors had more variety and bigger sizes than I was used to (witnessed by a forklift for moving and positioning some of them). This allowed you to see more types of stone worked at one time. The (to me) heretofore "lowly" limestone was present in quantity and worked in ways that were so inspiring I purchased my first piece. The check -in, scheduling and notices for classes, meetings, and even impromptu functions were organized, clear and hard to miss if you ate breakfast and dinner at the lodge. The lodge is an all-purpose building that truly sits "up the hill". The first time I wheezed up the hill, I thought I wouldn't survive ten days. Not so. By the end of the week, it was easy to go up and down several times a day and I still miss the exercise. I slept in a tent along the edge of the field instead of in the lodge for two reasons: 1) I NEVER pass up the chance to sleep outside, and 2) watching the sunrise slowly creep into the forest behind me each a.m. was too beautiful to pass up. I could also easily crash anytime of the day when I needed to, and did Because it's the middle of summer, it is hot and there are mosquitoes, but the days are so long, it's a tradeoff.


There were people who worked on work-in-progress and didn't finish; people who finished more than one piece; people who finished one large piece, etc. There were no rules and no pressure. When I asked Vic Picou what "Symposium" meant, he said " ... an exchange of ideas." I would say that it's an exchange of ideas AND energy. When I tried to explain to co-workers why I went to symposiums, I paraphrased a quote from Nancy Ackerman's The Natural History of the Senses, "It is the province of art to throw buckets of light into the dark and make life new again." I told them I was going to get "buckets of light." Everyone should try Camp Brotherhood or any of the other symposiums at least once. You can't possibly come away with less than you started. And if you're "afraid," then you have to try one. These places are the safest in the world to be afraid because of the love, support and energy from people who not only let you be yourself, but encourage you to do so.


Some of my highlights: little Ward Lynch moving huge stones with a come-along in his class (I promptly bought one - the hardest working tool you'll find for $30); the Montoya video watched one hot afternoon. I learned more, technically speaking, in one hour than I have in the last year. The stealthy, exciting growth of the outdoor "Gallery" as pieces were quietly added; an especially tender moment when a fellow sculptor attending for the first time admitted that just before he arrived, he was really :afraid:; Tracy Powell's gentle graciousness played off Meredith Earl's stream of comedianquality, self.<Jeprecating sarcasm; Amy Brier's "Ball Series" that had to be seen; the shocking. awesome evolution of Kathy Ellis's sculpture started at Silver Falls in May, quiet Dennis Joram's astounding portfolio; Gary Cox's progressious from hand tools three years ago when I first met him. to electric, to pnewnatic and hack to the peace and meditative quality of hand tools; Vic Picou's constant gentle admonishing to live the moment, look where you are, BE HERE; Michael Jacobsen's characterization of Shameless McArt and his ringing battle cry to "Sculpt Proud!" that still makes me laugh; and dancing off peot- up energy until 2 a.m. at the party during which Ken Barnes showed me the moves to the Village People's YMCA (Yes. that was me that finally turned off the stereo.)


Postscript: Typically when I drive home from these sort of things, my mind doesn't want to focus on reality and gives me a bit of trouble starting out This trip was no different First, I headed the wrong way, that is, north instead of south. When I realized something was wrong, I stopped two women on bicycles and found they didn't know where they were either. I fInally found the freeway and at Kent broke my rule of not pulling off for gas unless I could SEE the station from the highway. At the off-ramp stop sign, I was bumped hard by the kid behind me when I stopped for a fast truck. I didn't care that much about the car because the huge cup of tea between my legs slopped (you guessed it) into my crotch aud seat I pulled off aud sat there thinking there was NO WAY I was going to get out of the car when the kid who hit me drove offi Now you have to understand this sort of reintroduction to the so-called REAL WORLD after the bliss of symposiums is so normal to me. I expected it and just took down the license number.

At the gas station, the restroom was in front and required a key from inside (of course!), so I drove around back and wedged the car into a corner of the lot with my door against a building and slid out of the sopping seat aud nonchalantly (the only way to handle situations like this) pulled off my wet pauts/underpants, d"ed with the paut-Iegs and pulled on dry clothes. After carefully checking the car over. I decided to go in and get a cold drink aud let this all sort out aud did so. promptly locking my keys in the car in the process! Mind you, rm laughing because I've come to believe this is the way I pay for these times off to myself. Sitting on the curb in my dry pants. drinking my cold drink, wondering who to call fIrst (AAA to get the car keys OR the police for hit-run) I wondered if just maybe my husband had replaced my hide-a-key in the bmnper Sure enough. there it was. When my augel said, "Carole, just go home," I did.

On Site at Camp Brotherhood '98 - July/Aug 1998

At the Camp Brotherhood Symposium in Jnly 1998, interviews were done by Becky Kosowski, Steve Sandry, Arliss Newcomb, and Nancy Green.

Becky Kosowski spoke to Vic Picou and Lee Gass, who attended the very first NWSSA Symposium in 1987.


"About 30 scnlptors from Canada and the US participated in the first symposium held at Rich Beyer's ranch in Pateros, WA. The accommodations were rustic, participants camped, ate outdoors, and bathed in the Methow River. An harmonic convergence occurring at the same time was cause for a mountain-top celebration for some people."


Vic and Lee remember working on two group pieces, one was a marble owl which was completed during the session, the other was a four-ton boulder that Rich tipped on end for everyone to carve on. For many, it was their first experience with a compressor.


Vic commented, "The first and subsequent symposia have a lot in common, with the educational events being more spontaneous at the first." To Vic, the most striking thing was the international flavor.


Lee said, "The only people who really knew what they were doing were Rich Beyer and George Pratt." At current symposia, "there are so many people who know what they're doing and, for any problem, there are four or five ways to solve it and they're all good. Our culture has grown up about how to do this. It's hard to· imagine this working well without a few rules."

At the end of each day, Lee remembers "crashing in my tent and dying, and then getting up the next day and doing it allover again."


Steve Sandry interviewed Jan Willing of Bellingham, WA. This was her first symposium.


SS: Jan, what was your main impression coming to Camp Brotherhood?

JW: This was a life-altering experience. It will take time to put into perspective. It was an intense experience, both creatively and logistically. It required me to stay in the present within myself and with the group.


SS: How did the symposium structure help you?

JW: It frustrates me! I felt torn between going to meaningful workshops and doing my work, but it was a rich experience."


SS: How did you do on your own sculpture?

SW: "The three pieces I worked on here had the theme of feeling safe and secure. This is what I was looking for. To know it was okay to work the way I do (with the spirit of the stone, direct carving). I got a lot of encouragement and appreciation. I appreciated Michael Jacobsen's advice. "Don't question your muse." This stopped my doubts about the piece I was sculpting. The major benefit to me was learning that I'm not alone in loving this work."


SS: Thanks, Jan. Hope to see you here again next year!


Arliss Newcomb interviewed our youngest attendee, nine-year-old Amber Adams. This was her third year at Camp Brotherhood.


AN: Amber, what are some of the most interesting things about coming to Camp Brotherhood?

AA: Lots of people work many different types of stone and carve many sculptures.


AN: How about the people you have met here?

AA: All the people at Camp Brotherhood have good personalities and they help me.

AN: Do you have plans for next year?

AA: Yes, I want to come again next year and carve and catch more butterflies.


Nancy Green interviewed David Cohen, a first-time attendee.


David didn't know what to expect at the symposium. He had had no experience carving. It wasn't clear to him beforehand that there was a beginner's workshop. He thought, from looking at the schednle, that workshops wonld be throughout the day and that one conld go to each at their leisure. He was looking forward to Ward Lynch's lifting workshop and planned his threeday stay for that, and was disappointed that the schedule changed.


He didn't realize that there would be so much free time to carve, so he asked people questions about carving. The people and the teachers were so willing to share, he was delighted. He never did any actual carving, but he bought hand tools and stone and is ready to carve at home.


Because he never attended a summer camp, he figured the symposium was a camping experience and he found it "extremely enjoyable." He had some concerns about the food to begin with (he is into organic), but he found it very good, especially the desserts.

Silver Falls Symposium: And the Band Played On - July/Aug 1998

Well, it's over. Silver Falls for 1998 has come to a close. You can only tell we've been there by the silvery afterglow of creation shimmering in the moonlight. (And maybe a few mud holes reminiscent of a feedlot). From the ankles up, it was an unqualified success! From the ankles down, it was soggy, but our spirits were not dampened. It takes more than a little ... well, a lot of. .. mud to conquer people who gather to be creative. It was overcast. We carved. It rained. We carved. It rained some more. We carved. And carved. And carved. We slogged on, wearing our rubber boots, rubber pants, rubber coats-and smiles. If you didn't go this year, you missed out on a unique experience. They've given us a nice high-and-dry site in case it rains next year.


I look forward to going to the Silver Falls Symposium. I know that the basics are taken care of very well, the location is beautiful, the lodges are clean and warm, and the food is always good. And I know that I will be free to have a wonderful time. But I'm never truly prepared for the spiritual and creative boost I get. It's always more than I expect-a transfusion that lasts for months. I used to read about artists gravitating towards each other in Paris or London or New York, and I would think, "Oh, that's so nice. They can talk to each other and show each other their work." But it's much more than that. Each person's creative urge feeds that of the next person, and back again. It's effortless. We don't feel that we're giving anything up, but that we're receiving. It's a true glimpse of how powerful and limitless the creative force is when we can all be given so much through each other.


On a more down to earth note, I talked with Stu Jacobson, and, as the Coordinator, he's also happy with the results. He said we even turned a small profit. Thank you, Stu, and thank you, Peggy! AI; far as I know, she's not a member, but she also put in many long hours to make this a success. Her only connection is that she's Stu's wife. I know it was a lot of work for her as well as for him. (As far as I know, they're still married.)


Our instructors were excellent, and they complemented each other very well. Paul Buckner was our newest instructor. For those of you who haven't worked with him yet, he proved to be very gentle in his approach, very available, and very knowledgeable. I hope he returns next year.


George Pratt was back by popular demand and showed the newcomers why we love him and why we'll keep asking for him. He was, as usual, top notch. He did a presentation on marketing art, and brought a tape of his ttu1y rugged adventure carving with the Intuits. Before that tape, I thought I knew what an obstacle was. From now on, when I think I've encountered an obstacle, I'll think of George's sculpture out on the shore of a barren cold island with an iceberg sitting on top of it. Then I'll keep my little obstacle in proportion.


Sudha Achar was available again to help the newcomers with power tools. She was very willing to give information and advice. I was next to her at the symposium and she saved my back a couple of times.

Terry Kramer did a repeat performance of his face-building lesson, but in much greater detail this year. He was also our Master Auctioneer. He was in top form and he had 'em rolling in the aisles. I was in the background, feeding him items for auction, and Kathy Ellis was tracking who gave the top bid on each item. We almost pinned him to make him slow down the show so we could get the names of the top bidders. The auction was a resounding success, almost doubling last year's total.


The lovely Masseuse de Sade, Carolyn Anderson, also returned. She was very generous with her time and with those fabulous hands. We didn't bave to ask which lodge she was set up in. It was the one that people crawled into and later floated out of, looking like newer versions of themselves.


John Pugh was there again with his tool truck, and a good selection of soapstone, alabaster, marble, chlorite, and sandstone. I hope he left with his load sufficiently lightened. (I know I helped in that cause.)

AI; happened with Camp Brotherhood, the Silver Falls Symposimn has come together, bit by bit, year by year, until it looks like the kinks are out. Or maybe that was just Stu and Peggy giving a magic touch in the background. I know Stu was a relaxed (he said he was concentrating on that part) and capable leader this year.

Next year is too far away ..