Friday, September 15, 2006

Kinetic and kinda frenetic

A day in Eureka can be pretty enervating.  That’s what we discovered anyway, with a first-thing-in-the morning visit to see what remains of Romano Gabriel’s garden. RG was an Italian emigrant who created what can only be called a top tier folk art environment in his yard, completely obscuring the small home he lived in with wooden flowers and figures that he built from old grocery crates.  After his death in 1977, the city managed to move most of the pieces to a glass-cased display in Old Town Eureka. Kind of a cross between a department store window and museum conditions.  (Don’t ask ‘em what happened to his hat!)  Anyway, the townsfolk were most accommodating, and a reporter from the local paper came around too.  Do we follow a script, she asked, which brought the requisite laughter, and hopefully some good press.

Then it was a short journey to a place called The Studio, where developmentally disabled adults learn to use art as a way of expressing themselves. The sign says ‘visionary” artists, and the results bear that out, especially in Bette Kuehnele’s “buffets”--food that’s both painted in a wonderful series of  “still lifes” and rendered colorfully in ceramics. The program’s been going for ten years under the supervision of Kristi Patterson, and remdinded us of GRACE in Vermont, without the funny accents!

And finally, though Duane “the most entertaining man in California” Flatmo stood us up, Ken Bierman delivered on his promise to show off the world-famous Kinetic Lab in Arcata.

That’s his “Flash Gourd’n” bike pictured above, one of last year’s entries in the annual Arcata to Ferndale Kinetic Race.  Ken’s a 5 time winner in that Lost Coast mechanical adventure, which calls for vehicles that can navigate with pedal power on land, sand and water, up hills and over dunes.  These guys are crazed, and deliver big on both art and engineering.  Rumor is they know how to party too!

A slightly overexcited Big Ball almost sent Ken to the ER, but he’s clearly a pretty tough character, and ultimately emerged from our visit unscathed.

Though we were invited for post-show beers at the Lost Coast Brewery, our prime ale tipper, Don, was starting to catch the coastal crud, and we declined. Rest is in order if we’re going to see more redwoods and art tomorrow.

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