Eastern Oregon University

State of mind

A short examination of three artists toward a general note of caution

In Part One of this two-part look at the La Grande and Baker City art “scenes,” I briefly mentioned the course my adventure took. My wife called it my “vision quest,” because even though I would be sleeping in the back of my truck with its canopy between me and night critters, I would be alone and on my own, deprived of both the conveniences and distractions of home. What I was really hoping for was to get the “flavor” of the area and find a context for much of the art I thought I would be seeing.

Not that I really needed context, for even though the center of our state, between Bend and Baker City, is considerably more wide open and with considerably fewer humans than the Willamette Valley, the populated areas are similar to what I experience every day. Both La Grande and Baker City are larger than the town I live near, and their sensibilities are quite similar. Of course, there are folks who are exceptions to this generalization, and I really hoped to find them.

My first night found me sharing a campground with a single group of three people. They were young, and while initially loud, eventually quieted down enough so I could sleep. The Super Moon had put a damper on my plans for a star-filled sky, so I doused my campfire and climbed into the bed of my truck. It was a cold night on Slide Mountain (in the Ochoco Mountain Range) and I opted to sleep in fleece sweats and fingerless wool gloves. It wasn’t until I crawled into my new sleeping bag that I discovered it was a tight fit making it nearly impossible to shift sleeping positions, but at least I knew I’d be warm. When I finally quit squirming, I was surprised at how absolute the quiet was around me.

I did not sleep well. I first woke after a couple hours and opened my eyes to have a look around in the bright moonlight. I was not prepared for what I saw. The windows of my canopy seemed to have several large, red parameciums affixed to it. Accustomed to an occasional visual anomaly such as “stars” or colors, I didn’t get too excited about this event and fell back asleep. I awoke again a couple hours later to find all of my windows decorated with large, pale white dogwood blooms. This time I became a bit more perplexed but figured it to be a matter of sensory deprivation—not lunacy—and made a mental note to have a radio softly playing the rest of my nights camping (a choice between country and religious but it worked) and sleep with my bag unzipped.


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