On Friday, Nils and I took a mini-break to the coast, to Cannon Beach. If you don't live around here, I'll just tell you that Cannon Beach is an appealing, adorable and artistic little beach town which has the added benefit of being right beside Haystack Rock, one of the largest monoliths in the world. The rock sits just offshore, close enough to overwhelm you with its size and energy, and also close enough to walk to at low tide.
But I digress....On each trip I have made to Cannon Beach, I have had to stop and admire a building right on the main street that is whimsical, creative and looks sort of like a piece of my found object art grown to full size. It looks as if it was built from all sorts of unusual pieces that were integrated into the building as they were found. The exterior is weathered wood, ornate woodwork, shaped shingles, stained glass, odd window trims....you get the picture. In a way, it looks like it grew there, and in a way it did.
The building is a studio/gallery but it has never been open when I have been there. Saturday we lucked out and found the artist was having an opening that day.
It would have been a disappointment to walk in and find the inside nothing like the outside....or to find uninspired art inside...but it was anything but disappointing. The tiny gallery/studio (about 10' wide and 20' long) was rustic wood inside too, and in the overhead rafter area, there were huge carved wooden supports. A tiny loft was above the back part of the gallery, and there an Australian shepherd watched the people below through the railing, and behind him was a tiny woodstove and a comfortable overstuffed chair.
The art on the walls was whimsical and fantastical, created by a man in his 70's with a gentle but self-assured manner. One painting was entitled, "The Floating Pirates", just to give you an idea of the type of thing he created. The artist's son entered with two exquisitely detailed bronze creations of the father's.... fabulously playful jousting knights in armor on amazing horses...and the artist burst into a genuine smile. He had not yet seen the creations fully cast and finished.
Then, as we were leaving, we spied the artist's "studio"...a 6x6' space in the corner with windows behind him. Shelves holding brushes, colored pencils, and paints surrounded his chair at about elbow-length. His work table was about 3' wide and only 18" deep, and it apparently swiveled out to let him into his tiny work space. It was a picture of efficiency and of someone knowing exactly what he needed to do his art.
We both walked out with smiles on our faces. I realized that it is too seldom that we encounter such a cohesive and charming "package" in this world of too much, too new, too big, too commercial. My hat is off to you, William Steidel.
(La Plage, copyright Diane Lou. )