Monday, April 30, 2018

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 80, May 1 2018

Click here for a printable version of Issue 80.

Interview with Joe Smolen

Joe Smolen is the Chair of the Friends of the Port of Alsea, and volunteered to speak to us to clarify the Bond Measure 21-182 in the May 15th election. The Gazette was unsuccessful at finding someone who would speak with us with arguments against this issue.

TYG: So, how did you get involved with this project, and what are your qualifications for doing all this?
Joe: Well, it goes back! We first bought a house in Waldport in 1999, and in 2007 I found myself on the Port Commission, because it’s all volunteer. They needed somebody, and somebody had left the position. They appointed me, and then I got elected for another term, for a total of five years. During that time, it was realized that the strategic plan for the Port was over ten years old. “Oh, better do something about that! We don’t have any money though.” So I said I’d go ahead and start writing that, and I basically wrote an amateurish strategic plan for the Port district. But during that time, I got conversant with what’s called the Ports 2010, which is something that Business Oregon developed. It makes it kind of standard for the ports all over the state, how all the strategic plans look so the legislature can figure out the apples and oranges. [laughs] Most of my life has been around the water. 22 years in the Navy. I worked for NOAA before it was called NOAA!

TYG: What was it called before NOAA?
Joe: US Coast and Geodetic Survey. At the time I was based on Surveyor.

TYG-Graphic Design: Were you based out of Seattle, then? I remember when they used to be on Lake Union.
Joe: Right, that’s where it was! All the ships were there.

TYG: [My parents] showed me where it was. Oooh, it was cramped! I think probably this transfer to Newport has been for the best. It’s been amazing for the community as well. 
Joe: Right!

TYG: You shouldn’t have to go through five or six locks to get to the ocean.
Joe: [laughs] There was an advantage to that—it kept the bottoms of the ships a lot cleaner. Of course now, with the invasive species deal, trying to control that... One other aspect of “qualification”—I’m simply a volunteer. All of the Port Commissioners are volunteers.

TYG-GD: So, you said you’re a former Port Commissioner—are you still involved with them in any official capacity?
Joe: Official, no, unless they came to me and said, “Would you help us with this.” You have another question down here about how the winter storm of 2015 affected all this. That really made the Port go, “Holy smokes!” In that freshet, over that winter, two of the pilings broke off. They just folded over. So they thought, “Oh my gosh. We don’t have any money to do this. We don’t want to go to the voters for a bond, but we’ve got to! Otherwise we’re just not going to survive.” So Rob Bishop, the chair of the Port Commission, went looking for somebody to help. When the time came to actually put a political action committee together, I went to a Port Commission meeting about this, and they said, “Oh, by the way, you’re going to be the chair of the political action committee.” [laughter] So that’s my connection. It’s kind of unofficial, but it’s volunteering. It’s like Yachats! Practically everybody in city government is a volunteer.

TYG: So what exactly is the role of Port Commissioner? And also, what is a strategic plan?
Joe: It’s a business plan.

TYG: So, it’s how the organization supports itself, then.
Joe: Yes. Basically, how it supports itself if it can. The Port district budget is about $110,000 a year. It gets about $40,000 from taxes, the 3.3% per $1,000 [dollars of property tax] that it gets now. The rest of it comes from leases on the properties it has; revenues from the boat ramp; a few thousand dollars from selling licenses to commercial shrimpers on the bay and commercial crabbers. Their budget now is such a balancing act—the revenue is almost exactly what the expenses are.

TYG-GD: So, I had a question about the 2015 storm and the pilings. In the newspaper article that I read in the Newport Times, it said that [the Port] had gotten state grants to replace the pilings. But then further down in the article, it said something about the pilings now being destroyed and rusted. So I’m a little confused as to whether they’ve already rusted since 2015, or if they didn’t get replaced, or if there are more pilings, or what the deal is with that. 
Joe: There are kind of two clumps of piling issues. Let me show you a picture: This little mailer went out last fall. This line here [points to the right of the Port structure] is a series of pilings called a debris boom. This is where they lost the pilings, in the debris boom.

TYG: So all the sediment and stuff would come down [and hit the boom], and that impacts the pilings.
Joe: Maybe a boat house... [laughs]

TYG: Have you had that?
Joe: Oh, maybe 15 years since I saw that! I happened to be looking out there, and see a boat house going under the bridge! [laughter] It went down into the Jaws and broke up. That must have been a pretty extreme situation.

TYG-GD: So all the [little bars] are pilings?
Joe: Yes. And one of your questions was, can anybody view the plans. This is a little tiny copy; it’s always available for viewing at the Port.

TYG-GD: So the boom [the white diagonal along the right of the plan] was the part that was replaced?
Joe: Yes. They got a grant. I keep on talking about the capital projects that have gotten done over the past three years. One of them was to replace all these pilings here [along the debris boom] with a grant from Oregon State Marine Board, on the order of $300,000. These pilings here [points to the ones along the main pier] [also need replacing]. An engineer went into the water, and he said at least half of the pilings in this area are rusted, 80 per cent gone. He could poke a screwdriver through them. [...]

TYG: So, I understand there is a bond for a total of 2.66 million dollars over the next 25 years to essentially rebuild the whole thing, according to these plans?
Joe: Yes, and the port is interested in what everybody has to say about it. This illustration is not hard and fast, but it’s the basic plan.

TYG: I certainly thought the kayak launch was a fantastic idea.
Joe: There is one down here [bottom right], but the only problem with it, really, is that you have to walk out this gangway, [which] is real steep and narrow, and it’s not real convenient to use. The kayak platform they have right there now, they’ll move somewhere else.

TYG-GD: So, who are the stakeholders in this project—who would this affect?
Joe: You’re saying stakeholders—in my mind, it’s converting to tax-payers. The Port District is a pretty good-sized area, a big rectangle: Marsh Street on the north—Marsh Street is about three miles north of Waldport—go straight east to the Benton County line, then [south] down the Benton County line all the way to the Lane county line.

TYG: So that includes Yachats, then.
Joe: Yes, Yachats down to the Lane County line. So there’s on the order of 3,500 voting households in that area. That’s a pretty good size. It comes from the statutes of 1911. That’s when the Port was founded. Almost all of the little coastal ports were formed at that time.

TYG-GD: That’s even before the highway was there!
Joe: Right! In fact, the Port of Alsea, in the 20s, they ran a little car ferry, a toll car ferry.

Car Ferry across the Alsea, Waldport OR (courtesy of the Lincoln Co. Historical Society and OSU's Oregon Online

TYG-GD: Wasn’t there also a lumber mill out in the bay?
Joe: There were a bunch of mills, a bunch of canneries; the Port managed a dock for Standard Oil—they used to have diesel schooners there, 100-footers. A couple of them wrecked there on the bay! But, you know what... in 1936, when the highway 101 was completed, that meant that there was no more ocean commerce—it pretty much stopped, because that had been pretty much how everything got in and out of the area. And then in 1957, all the commercial fishing on the bay went away.

TYG: What happened in 1957?
Joe: Well, gill netting got outlawed in 1948, and in 1957 it just went away. You know, everybody argues for years and years about whether something should be done, and then in 1957 they decided commercial fishing on the Alsea was done. Now there’s recreation, and a little bit of commercial, but almost everything the Port of Alsea does is for recreational users, and also for stewardship of the bay when it comes to somebody that interfaces directly with the state government about water quality and things that impact the estuary. The City of Waldport has its own estuary management plan that partly governs what goes on, what happens to the water and the environment in the bay. So the Port of Alsea has a three-punch impact: a little bit commercial, almost all recreational, and then stewardship of the bay.

TYG: So would the new marina look any different, either on land or on the water? I can see there’s going to be a new dock going out. But aside from that, would there be building changes? There was something about upgrading the public rest rooms. 
Joe: In terms of looking different, there’s going to be a twenty-five foot square that’s going to house the fire department’s on-the-water rescue equipment; they have a good-sized boat and a jet-ski. So all they have to do is go down there and jump in their gear.

TYG: It’s good that they’re finally getting that!
TYG-GD: So they tow down their equipment every time, now?
Joe: Yes, they’re towing it. You know, when there are a lot of people on the water, and 911 has to get out there—it’s a mess for them to get the boat in the water! And once they get their equipment in the water and they’re deployed, they stop everything else with the boat ramp and that doesn’t work too well. Some people get upset.

TYG: This way you can shut down only one of the ramps. [The improvements] say “dual boat ramps.”
Joe: Yeah, at this point the plan is just going to be a slightly wider ramp, and a pier with a finger down the middle of it so there can be two lanes.

TYG: If I remember correctly, it’s real wide right now for just one boat.
Joe: It’s wide enough for double usage, but people aren’t comfortable with it.

TYG: So, how would the change impact surrounding businesses?
Joe: It won’t really change the port, exactly. It’s going to be the same facility, maybe just a little larger. Maybe part of the answer to the question is how the Port currently affects surrounding businesses. If you look at Ports 2010, it says right in there, it’s the State level talking: they tell us through different surveys that they accessed—there was one that the Army Corps of Engineers did in 2003, and one recently done by Business Oregon in 2014, and the semi-formal one I did myself in 2011 when I was working on the strategic plan—it’s all like a choir: they tell you that the reason people come to this area is the Yachats appeal, access to the Bay, and the natural beauty of the area. But all of the businesses here—well, almost all of them—the peak is the thing. They starve in the winter, and then May through October, that’s where they make their money, so they survive the winter. The Port of Alsea and access to the Bay is one of the three major components for why tourists come here. And also, because of the total package, the property values here are very much affected. One of the statements in the Ports 2010 is that one in six Oregon jobs comes from whatever goes on in the 23 ports in the state.

TYG-GD: Wow, that’s impressive!
Joe: That’s a lot of value. [...] The survey in ‘03 stated that over a million dollars came either directly or indirectly from within 10 miles of the Port of Alsea. The one from Business Oregon in ‘14 said it was over six million dollars. Even if it was exaggerating by fifty per cent, you can still see the value coming into the area because of the Port facilities.

TYG-GD: No doubt a lot of it is incidental tourism, like those RV places, other people who might come and stay at hotels, I guess, grocery shopping for your boat trip, and whatever!
Joe: Oh yes! The one the Army Corps of Engineers did—they went into great detail. One of the facts that I remember that they had on the cover, they said that a tourist that comes through the area, let’s say they spend fifty dollars. If they stay overnight, it’s four times that! So lodging in the general area is a huge deal.

TYG: So when would be the time frame for this project? I know the bond itself is for 25 years.
Joe: It’s got to get done in the winter of 2019-2020. November-December, January-February—that’s the in-water work period. You can’t work in the water outside of that time. The reason that period is there is because all the things that live in the water are spawning, and the young are getting going [after that].

TYG: Who would be in charge of the project?
Joe: Bergeson Construction, if they end up doing it. But also [...] Roxie Cuellar, the Port Manager. It’s going to have to be a cooperative effort. It’s like anything that you have built: you hire somebody to do it, you watch what they’re doing, and sometimes you go, “Wait a minute! That’s not right!” [laughter] So the Port will be paying close attention the whole time. After the Bond passes, and the Port District knows it can go ahead, the Port District is required to put the project out for bid.

TYG: How would this re-build combat future sand abrasion and storm wear?
Joe: One of the big reasons that the floating docks are in the state they are is because, probably starting right about the year 2000, somebody was watching a minus tide and saw that these docks were sitting on the bottom out there. These are rigid, concrete, floating docks, and of course the bottom curves. So that tortured them, and had a lot to do with the condition they’re in.

TYG: So they weren’t free, they were locked in.
Joe: So they were sitting on the bottom, and there’s a lot of strain there. The dredging got done—you know, another big project in the last couple of years—it got done around 2016-2017, and now at the lowest tide, the docks are six feet above the bottom. Also, the new docks are going to have some kind of new grates in the middle that are made of high-density polyethylene—that stuff is indifferent to this climate. So the effect of the sand is not going to be an issue. Also, the new pilings are going to be galvanized instead of mild steel. I understand that’s a steel that melts at relatively low temperatures.

TYG: I just don’t know how un-galvanized steel ever got approved for underwater.
Joe: You know, it’s just the times, the methods and the materials [didn’t have enough study data on them].

TYG: What are the requirements for an ADA-accessible crabbing platform? 
Joe: Specifically for a crabbing platform, I don’t know, but I worked for TriMet for 24 years, in Portland, and the accessibility for disabled people is a big issue. What the ADA said to us, was that, for instance, if you’re coming onto a bus, you don’t want people to have to go up anything steep; or getting off the bus, you don’t want the going down to get steep, or have a precipice off the edge of it. So you make it like it is now, basically: level, easily accessible, and there’s no way [...] to go off the edge.

TYG-GD: So there are going to be railings off the dock and ramps?
Joe: Yes.

TYG: Perfect! I think that’s ADA, and also just clumsy people. [laughter] I know I would just fall off unless there were serious safety measures, just because I’m that kind of guy. So, what sort of refinancing of loans and properties would be involved with this bond measure?
Joe: The way I understand that question is, is money going to be borrowed against property? Something like that, you’re thinking?

TYG: There was mention in the ballot of a loan that currently ate up like 30 per cent of the Port’s income, and they could get that way down.
Joe: About seven per cent, actually. That’s a piece of property that the district bought about five years ago, something like that. They got a loan from the infrastructure finance authority of Business Oregon for that, a really low percentage loan. That loan has about $100,000 outstanding on it, and we’d pay that off. They’re paying about nine thousand dollars a year against that loan, which is going to start going into a bank account. The big issue with grants, is that, “Well, we’ll give you $100,000 in grants, but you have to come up with $25,000 in matching funds.” The way the Port is now, on a razor’s edge budget, they don’t have the money for matching funds. So they have to get a lot farther into the black. So paying off that loan will allow the Port to begin that.

TYG: Begin to build up a stockpile.
Joe: Yes. They’ll have some money so they can do their part in a grant application.

TYG: What sort of land holdings need to be discussed in order for this project to go through?
Joe: There’s [nothing] new—the Port doesn’t have to acquire any property.

TYG: Does [boat traffic] just stay in the bay, or does it go up river?
Joe: Just in the bay. There are a couple of places way upstream, just before Tidewater, where you can launch. I’ve been with guys on a couple of occasions who have gone up as far as the Highway 34 bridge, like six or seven miles up. That’s probably the limit. Seven miles up, or down to the Jaws. Sometimes, under the right conditions, you can go right out into the ocean, but that’s risky. The bar changes real fast. The bar right now is only about six feet or so. So if the tide drops down that can be real rough.

TYG-GD: I was wondering, because [earlier] you were talking about the tall ships coming into the bay—it must have been different. 
Joe: It was a lot different.

TYG: Maybe they just did more dredging.
Joe: There was never any dredging down there. As I understand it, in 1875 Waldport opted out of having jetties.

TYG: What, if any, changes would you like to see made to this bill?
Joe: You know, I haven’t been involved in the planning of it, and as far as I can tell, it’s a good idea. You know, one of the things is that it’s well thought-out; the planning goes back a long ways. Starting with when they decided that they needed to get going on a new strategic plan, all the way back to 2011, 2012. I think that the fact that it’s going to be a little bit larger is going to be of benefit. It’s going to take some pressure off the boat ramp, and also it’s going to have people who are mooring boats for longer during the year—that will help the revenue stream for the district.

TYG-GD: How many boats are moored there currently year-long? Does this allow for that?
Joe: Yes. In fact, that would be ideal. In Ports 2010, the ideal situation is all year long, 75 per cent full. [laughs ruefully]

TYG-GD: So does this increase how many boats can be moored there?
Joe: Yes.

TYG: It looks like it would triple it, almost.
Joe: Well, the moorage will increase from 35 to 48 spaces.

TYG: Well, thank you so much for your time and patience!
Joe: You’re welcome. There is a website that the political action committee has, called They have maps and will have some other information there pretty soon.

TYG: Great! Thank you so much!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 79, April 1 2018

Interview with Emily Crabtree and Tom Beare

Emily and Tom are artists who have recently settled in town.

TYG: So how did you guys get to Yachats?
Emily: Hmm. You’re going to start with that one.
Tom: Yeah. I graduated from Portland State University, and I had friends living on a farm up-river. Next to Lester’s old property—100 acres. They were renting it, and it was beautiful. I went out there and did some work in their garden, and ended up staying for two years. [laughter] I’d just graduated, and I didn’t have any job prospects, and I didn’t really care to start working right away.

TYG-Graphic Design: What did you major in?
Tom: Economics.

TYG: Good field!
Tom: Yeah! Good field. It didn’t lead me to a career, but I enjoyed learning it. [laughter] Became a staunch communist for four years, and then I graduated, and it was welcome to the real world. [lots of laughter] But I lived there, moved back to Portland, and when Emily and I started dating, three weeks in or something, I brought her out here, and she immediately said, “This is where I want to be.”
Emily: Yeah. I was like, “I know we just started dating, but I’m going to move there.” And he’s like, “But that’s where I’m going to move!” And I’m like, “Well then, I guess we’re going to do that thing that people say don’t do right away!” [laughter] 
Tom: We did it for a year and a half before we moved here.
Emily: Yeah, it was like a year and a half before we were able to find a place to live. You know, the housing issues here are so much. I was ready to come back to the country; I grew up in rural Virginia, and really missed living in the country. I’d been living in Portland for the last—I’m bad at numbers—13 years? A while. I was just ready to come back to Mother Nature. Portland was getting really hard to live in, too. When I first moved there, it was kind of hard to find a job, but you could also find rent for not too expensive, and there was a lot of underground art. There’s still underground art, but then it was all free. [laughs] By the end of it, it was like, oh my gosh, six women, one bathroom, really nice Craftsman home, but still... but it was really kind of nice timing that we both met when we were ready to move to another stage in our lives.
Tom: Perfect timing when I got evicted, and then a house opened up here! [laughter]

TYG-GD: Why did you get evicted?
Tom: Oh, it was kind of the thing that’s been happening in Portland a lot. Landlords buy a house cheap, rent it for a few years, the prices are going up, and sell it for dear. And so I got evicted just because they were selling their house.
Emily: So nothing bad. They kind of have to go through this process. This is happening really rapidly to a lot of us.

TYG-GD: That’s terrible!
Emily: Yeah, all the artists, all the people, most of them are being displaced. And it’s something [that repeats]: we move out to another neighborhood, then that gets cool, and... I also think there is going to be more of a move back to the country with a lot of folks around our age. It seems like everyone’s really talking about wanting to do that.

TYG-GD: Where did you grow up in rural Virginia?
Emily: I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, on the Shenandoah River. It’s very beautiful—Appalachian, which is gorgeous, but also a lot of the ideals just really didn’t match up with my family’s. [They]’re very liberal, and open-minded...

TYG-GD: Yes, that is weird.
Emily: [laughter] I’m like, “Why did you guys move there?” So I moved out of there—I put myself in boarding school in tenth grade. And I was a good kid! Well, kind of good. I didn’t get caught, so I guess that doesn’t count. [laughter] So I moved out early to see more of the world, and then I got to the west coast from high school. College was in Santa Fe, and then I went and moved with one of my best friends to Olympia, Washington. Unseen, because I was really ready to get out of Santa Fe, and Olympia has really cool record labels.

TYG-GD: Were you into music?
Emily: Yes, yes. More as a spectator. My family are all musical, and my Dad says I was too strong-willed to teach. [laughter] But moving there was really interesting. I got to start performing, and meeting with other like-minded people. I was only there for a year, and then I moved to Portland. Olympia and Portland are like little feeder cities for each other—[there are] a lot of the same people. Musicians and artists kind of bop back and forth—a natural progression, sort of.

TYG-GD: So, what kind of musician are you? 
Emily: I sing, write music, guest on a lot of tracks. I have a friend who’s an electronic musician. He doesn’t sing, so if he has certain tracks that he wants vocals on, he’ll ask me. I’ve done that for a metal band as well, which was sort of interesting and fun. Then I’ve had my own groups. My friend Andrea, who moved here, she’s been in three of my bands with me. And then since I’ve moved here, I bought myself a really nice semi-hollow body electric guitar, and a bunch of guitar pedals, and I’m trying to teach myself how to play guitar, which is a steep learning curve, so if you know anyone I could take lessons from... I just need someone I can be accountable to. That’s mostly what it is. I just don’t practice enough. I think for me, music is this beautiful epicenter to be surrounded in every other aspect of art. When you’re in a band, you have to know Photoshop to make your pictures look good. You have to be creative for your album cover art. So it’s a fun way to encompass mixed media stuff. That was really fun. Plus, it was a way to soothe my social anxiety, because I really liked going to shows, but it would make me [blows up her head gesture] sometimes. So if I have a reason that I’m here, I’m allowed that because I’m playing, so that would give me a reason to be somewhere, to feel involved.

TYG: Certainly, to me, going to these shows where it’s body to body, completely packed... I’d kind of just rather listen to records or recordings.
Emily: I feel you! I went to a show in Portland a month ago, and I was like, “I’m too grown up for this front row!” [laughter] “I’m going to go up in the balcony and calm down, and just enjoy myself...” Yeah—there’s a time and a place. It’s funny how that mood can change.

TYG-GD: [To Tom] So, I know you’re an artist, because I’ve seen your paintings! [Tom has a couple of paintings on display in the back room at Ona Restaurant and Lounge.]
Tom: Yeah! I paint, a bit; do print making, a little bit of collage...
Emily: He writes, as well.
Tom: I write a bit. I run the gamut. We just moved into a new place, and I have a nice, big painting studio. So this winter I’ve got to buckle down. I’m making prints of local dogs. That’s my new thing. [laughter]

TYG-GD: Really? That’s awesome!
Tom: Woodblock and linoleum prints of our friends’ dogs.
Emily: They’re pretty great!
Tom: It’s kind of crafty, but yes, it’s fun.

TYG-GD: I don’t know, I did linoleum stuff and I really liked it! 
TYG: And you did [rubber] stamps for years!
TYG-GD: That’s true! 
Tom: Yeah! I enjoy it a lot. Doing a few different layers, or just one.

TYG-GD: Have you talked to Mike Guerriero?
Tom: Oh, he’s a print maker—did he have a show at Ona?

TYG-GD: Yes!
Emily: He did the big fish.
Tom: And the big landscapes... his work is beautiful! I’ve talked to him in the restaurant. But I haven’t hooked up artistically.

TYG-GD: So how does your economics fit in to your art?
Tom: Ooh! [laughter] I paint a lot of patterns. I like them as a design concept. Conceptually, I think—it was my third year in college, I started imagining a work of art describing visually a planned economy, or a volatile capitalistic economy. I think patterns sort of emerged. We have a bunch of similar commodities going one direction, and they’re processed in this way—and the outcome, visually, is patterning.

TYG-GD: That’s a cool way to think about it!
Emily: I see it in the things you choose—the sort of architectural imagery you pick to represent this stuff.
Tom: Definitely. Right on! [laughter] I’ve strayed pretty far from economic thinking in my life... [laughs] I think that aspect of my personality comes out more in game playing.

TYG: Oh, you play games?
Emily: Big time.
Tom: I play a lot of games, yes.

TYG: Computer games, or...?
Tom: Chess, right now. My favorite game for years was Magic, the Gathering. I was on the Magic, the Gathering pro tour, in Valencia, Spain. I got to go—it was fun.

TYG: Nice!
Emily: I was like, “Wait a minute! There’s a game that will fly you to Europe?” [laughter]
Tom: Yep! [...] It was five years of my life, and I was just obsessed with it. Then I got to the pro tour, then I was like, “Okay! I can probably calm down now.” [laughter] [to Emily] I was actually in Spain when I saw your dating profile!
Emily: That’s not how we met!
Tom: It’s not how we met! It is how we recognized each other.
Emily: I didn’t. You did. I was like, “What are you looking at?” [in a growly voice]
Tom: Heavy metal show in North Portland.
Emily: [laughter] He kept walking by, and I was in a bad mood. “What are you looking at?” And he’s like, “We’re talking.” And I’m like, “No we’re not.” [laughs again] 

TYG-GD: How’d you get her out of the bad mood?
Emily: Beer...
Tom: A couple of drinks, yeah... [laughter]
Emily: Portland rent is really expensive, so if someone wants to buy you a drink, you say yes.

TYG: [to Emily] So, what kind of art do you do?
Emily: I do a lot of different kinds. I started doing photography in high school, and I’ve always really loved that. And on and off over the years, depending on whether I could afford film, or to get it developed. But I’ve always done it. And I bought myself a medium format camera—the film is bigger, and the grain is really small, so if you blow the photo up, you can make it really, really large and it still has all the clarity.

TYG: Nice. So that’s like a professional film camera.
Emily: Yes. This one is a Yashica—it’s really cool, you open it up and look down in it, and it’s multiple mirrors. It’s really cool looking. And that camera is from the ‘60s. Then I have a bunch of other cameras too, but that’s my favorite one. So actually in our new house, Tom’s going to help me build my own dark room.

TYG-GD: Wow! You still have film? 
Emily: Yes—so much. I have bags of undeveloped film.

TYG-GD: And it hasn’t gone bad?
Emily: Who knows if it has or not—I mean, the light flares can be weird, but sometimes that gives you really beautiful, strange stuff that happens, that you can’t plan.

TYG-GD: Sure, absolutely. 
Emily: So I do photography, and I do collage art as well. Right now I’m working on a collage that’s commenting on how American culture sort of eroticizes hyper-masculinity that’s found in the Army, the Navy, as this kind of way to sell it to young men. Which I find really kind of horrifying.

TYG: It’s immature, but it’s like, “We need recruits!” 
Emily: Yeah, so I’m working on a collage of that. I’ve always wanted to figure out how to make them bigger, in a way that’s not just blowing them up. Now what I’m doing is cutting the pieces, organizing them, and I’m going to scan them, and print each piece large and put them back together, so it’s still actually collage. Because every time that I’ve just enlarged them from a photo or a scan, it loses the texture of the collage.

TYG: And also, that’s going to make it feel like it’s much closer to a memory. Because instead of having just one, clear image, you have smaller images, but they’re still separate, so they’re more like what the human eye remembers and sees. 
Emily: I’m excited about it—I think it should be fun. Sometimes it’s slow-going—I have bursts where “Oh! I’m almost done!” and then like, “Well, I’m not almost done.” [laughter]

TYG-GD: So when you say “big,” how big are you talking about?
Emily: Um, I don’t know, four feet by four feet, maybe? A lot of times I work in a square format, because I use old record sleeves. I collect vinyl records, sometimes from thrift stores, where the record will get messed up but the sleeve is there. It’s just a really nice, heavy weight cardboard to work on. So a lot of times they end up being square. So yeah! I do collage stuff, photography—I write, as well. Since moving here I write a lot of poetry about the ocean. Not sure how great it is, but usually right after, when I read it to myself, it seems amazing. [...] I also do micro-stories—really short stories. Maybe a page, or something. That’s been fun. My great-uncle—my grandfather’s brother—passed away two years ago, and I really got into researching who he was, and I got some good short stories out of that, going through his memories and stuff. I haven’t had a big flush like that for a little while. I think it’s coming soon, now that we both have our own art studio! It’s so awesome!

TYG-GD: So, now that you have your nice, big house and studios, do you have any big projects planned? You said you were going to work on some new paintings?
Tom: Ah! I have the dog prints that I’m still working on... I do have a big project planned! I built a four foot by three foot light table for tracing. I’m tracing these images from this print series—I can’t remember who put it out—about Napoleon’s adventures, Napoleonic history. So these really cool old prints of famous works of art, or any work of art relating to Napoleon. Lots of French soldiers in lines, lots of coronations. So I’m using pieces of those images, those reproductions—because someone made a reproduction of them—pieces of those images, sort of putting them together into a pattern over a five foot by three foot sheet of paper. So creating almost like a piece of wallpaper, but politics and history and war, using or stealing these other images. And then I’m trying to figure out how to interject sort of a little bit of humor, or guiding principles into the pattern, with disparate objects that aren’t from Napoleonic history, like plumbing diagrams, parking lots, things like that [laughter] ... if that makes any sense.

TYG: No, it makes perfect sense! It’s like straight plumbing, straight plumbing, [makes a dropping noise and motions downward]—that’s when he invades Russia. [laughter] 
Tom: There you go! [...] So that’s my big [project]. It’s long-term.

TYG-GD: So you’re tracing these things... are you reproducing them just by moving the pattern underneath?
Tom: Yeah! So I’m sort of learning the process—the big pieces haven’t really started coming out yet. But yes, so you have one piece of this image—I can copy it a couple times if I want, using the light table or just drawing it, or tracing paper—and then I can sort of play around before I actually commit to the pattern, like where everything is going to be placed. I can move it around under the light table and see how it’s going to come out. So that’s why I built the light table. It’s pretty fun. You get to really work it out before having to put it to paper.

TYG-GD: Wow, that’s pretty wild. What about you? [to Emily]
Emily: Me, let’s see. My big thing is this summer, I really want to save up and get myself a really nice digital camera, because as much as I do love working in film, it’s really nice to be able to do both. But I love to take photos, and then sort of digitally keep—on my phone, there’s a program where if you keep on over-editing, the program gets confused. And in ways you may not anticipate, it sort of degrades the image, but in this way that I find really, really interesting. I call them over-edits, and then layering of images I think is really fun. I do a lot of self-portraits, mostly because I’m around myself all the time. [laughter]. It’s easy to do, and convenient. And then I have bigger photo project ideas that I’m going to need help with—we have a lot of willing friends. And I recently had someone who’s like my god-brother give me a really beautiful computer, so that’s very exciting. So when I can get it together I can have something to edit with. Which is really great. Now I have a place to record my music, a place to edit my photos... I think that with being an artist out here, it’s just so nice to remind yourself that you have time, and not to measure the success of your own inertia. You do it just because of how therapeutic it is to do it.

TYG-GD: So, you recently went to England, and you have lots of artsy friends there too! 
Emily: Yes! It was really fun. One of my best friends I grew up with in Virginia—her name is Nikki Kvarnes—she’s incredible. She’s a musician, she was in a very successful band called Those Darlings, and she was able to have that be her job. She comes from a line of musicians and painters—she is also a painter, an oil painter. She just now, actually, has announced that she’s having a show in a gallery in London. I’m really excited—the stuff I’ve seen is incredible. She does really beautiful portraits of people, and she also does fruit that’s in half decay, flowers that are falling apart—it’s just really beautiful stuff.

TYG: That sounds incredibly hard to capture.
Emily: Yes! I can show you guys sometime—it looks like you can touch it.

TYG-GD: So where do you guys think you’ll be in five years? You guys did get married, right?
Emily: Yes!
Tom: We’ll still be married. [laughter] We’ll have five acres up river...
Emily: There we go. Dream big, baby. [laughter] 
Tom: ... a barn...
Emily: Ooh yes, big barn, big studio, where I can do huge art. Maybe a sculpture or something.
Tom: Hopefully we’ll have started paying for our own house. Separate out-buildings for our own projects. I’d like to still be here. We fantasize about moving back to the city, but...
Emily: I think if we moved to the city, it would be what we’ve fantasized about becoming ESL teachers and going to live in Thailand. We hope to go back maybe next year. But all my friends keep on getting married, so we put off our trips! [laughs]

TYG-GD: So you’ve been to Thailand before? 
Emily: Yes! Not last winter, but the winter before.

TYG-GD: Wow, so what was that like?
Emily: It was incredible. We loved it.
Tom: Stunning. We stayed for a month; we traveled sort of up and down from the Island of Ko Tao, up through Bangkok, the ancient city of Ayuttayah—just as tourists, stayed each place about a week, got settled in, enjoyed the food, the temples...

TYG-GD: Did you know any Thai?
Tom: We learned [a couple of phrases]. If we go back, we’d like to take like three weeks of language classes so we can start getting the hang of it.
Emily: Because we really appreciated that country—I think we need to do our due diligence the second time, to show that. It was really, really beautiful. The people are just... everyone is stunning. We got into watching Muay Thai boxers. Typically boxers ... but these boxers were beautiful. I was like, “Are these models going to fight?” [laughs] There’s really a lot of Buddhist mysticism, which was really neat. Everyone was just so gentle and kind.

TYG-GD: So, is there anything else you’d like to share with the community of Yachats?
Emily: Oh, I do, yes! I’m on the Yachats Annual Pride Planning Committee, and [Pride] is June 1, 2, and 3. It’s going to be really fun. It’s not only been great to just hang out with folks in the community and plan something, but we’re getting a lot of artists from outside and inside the community. To come, there’s going to be, on Friday night, a cabaret show. It’s going to have some of my friends in Portland. I brought this friend who does a pet psychic drag act; it’s totally weird and out there. My friend who’s coming is a DJ, and there’s going to be a good dance party. On Saturday there’s a trans tea party, which will be for folks in the community to just come and ask questions and be educated on trans issues and all that stuff. What’s really sweet is that the Lions is donating their hall for that. After that, Cris [Williamson], who’s a very influential, lesbian folk musician—she has quite a following—she’s coming. Last year she was really popular. And then after that there’s going to be dinner and Bingo in the Commons, with acts in between. For Bingo, my friends’ band HURTUR is going to play—they’re kind of a synthwave dance band, emotive, and there’s a light show. They’re really fabulous friends of mine and they work really hard to create a whole experience. And there will be food trucks, and a beer garden. And Sunday there’s going to be a hike in the morning, just up the 804 trail, and there will be a person to talk about plant life. After that, there’s a picnic in the Commons picnic shelter. It’s a potluck, but also lots of stuff is going to be provided. And then there’s an open mike with some music, and then a Puppy Parade—dress up your dogs and bring them. [“Aw”s abound] [laughter] You don’t have to dress up—it can be just you and your puppy. And after that there’s a seminar about navigating consent in relationships. My friend Cassie, who’s a teacher at Waldport High and runs their LGBTQ club, she’s getting a lot of the kids involved in volunteering, and they might do some acts too.

TYG-GD: This sounds very awesome!
Emily: It’s going to be fun!

TYG: That is going to be so cool.
Emily: So, that’s the biggest thing I have!

TYG: Well, thank you so much!
Emily and Tom: Thank you!