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Rereading the map

50 States pictorial map illustrated and hand-lettered by Chandler O'Leary
I finished this map before the airwaves were inundated with red and blue election maps—and today it’s a good reminder that America is more than its electoral divisions. That there is good in every state, and that there is so much to love and celebrate in every nook and cranny of our nation. This is why I started the 50 States project three years ago, and I’m taking the fact that I happened to finish the series right before the most divisive election in living memory as a sign that I need to remember this fact going forward. After all, the real work of our country involves all of us.
 
Those of you who read my travel blog know that I express my love for every state—blue, red, purple, whatever—through my drawings. I will continue to do so, to feature the beauty and wonder and hilarity and kooky humor of every state. That is what will get me through the fear and sadness and anger I’m feeling now—and I hope it will help you in some small measure, as well. So the break I took from blogging to focus on our book is over; Drawn the Road Again starts back up again tomorrow.
 
In the meantime, you can celebrate all 50 States with me tonight at the Ted Sanford Gallery at Charles Wright Academy in University Place, WA, where the entire series is on display through November 29. From 5:30 to 6:30 tonight I’ll have a gallery reception and small pop-up shop. Let’s talk about the good that’s out there—from Paul Bunyan to Elvis to the World’s Largest Frying Pan, and everything in between, from sea to shining sea.
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Tell-tale feminists

Hand-lettered illustration from the book "Dead Feminists: Historical Heroines in Living Color" by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color has been out in the world for a few weeks, and most folks have been excited (beyond our immediate families). A common response has been one of surprise: “it’s a real book!” Dashing expectations of a coffee table book, Dead Feminists is more than 180 pages of the women, history and social issues entangled in our series of broadsides. Questions about the writing process have come up, from assumptions that we worked with a “real” writer, or that Jessica did the writing while I illustrated. While we definitely worked with talented editors at Sasquatch Books who steered the book towards “real” bookness, both of us did the research, writing and photo research over nearly two years. We also both contributed imagery in the form of illustrations—hand-lettered images from me and beautifully-printed vintage cuts and patterns from Jessica.

The Woman's Bible, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Many of our dearest Dead Feminists are writers, artists, or both– evidence that we all find a way to tell our stories. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who launched our series, wrote most of the speeches delivered by Susan B. Anthony. Some writers and their books are well known, like Gwendolyn Brooks and Rachel Carson—who both confronted ongoing challenging social and environmental issues—and their voices can guide us still. We have mere fragments of poetry from Sappho and carefully handwritten letters from Jane Mecom to her brother—they give us insights into their lives and eras when words from women weren’t often valued or recorded. In the chapter entitled Tell, we focused especially on women who had stories to share, like Virginia Woolf, who carefully crafted and composed both the pages and handset type for printing. Knowing the time and care involved, there is little doubt in my mind that the act of being writer and printer sharpens both crafts.

Historic image of woman printing, from the Library of Congress

Without the discovery of Rywka Lipszyc’s diary found in the ashes of a Auschwitz crematorium she would have disappeared from history. Sarojini Naidu dreamed of independence for India through her poetry (“Waken, O slumber Mother and be crowned”) and was revered as a nightingale, filling the night air with song. We hope you’ll explore these stories more in depth through the book—and for local folks we have some opportunities in the next few weeks to join us in person.

Dead Feminists event at Ada's Technical books, part of Lit Crawl Seattle

Here’s what’s coming up this week and next, when you’ll find us invading first Seattle, then Portland. You can find future events and more info on our events page.

LIT CRAWL Seattle: Book signing and artist talk
Thursday, October 27, 2016, 8 pm
Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe
425 15th Ave. E, Seattle, WA

BROADS AND BROADSIDES
A retrospective  exhibition featuring our series through broadsides and steamroller prints
Reception, book signing & costume party
Come dressed as your favorite historical feminist!

Saturday, October 29, 4 to 7 pm (the show continues through December 16th)
October 29 through December 16, 2016
School of Visual Concepts
2300 7th Ave., Seattle,WA

DEAD FEMINISTS and RAD WOMEN: joint author event
with Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl, authors of Rad Women Worldwide
Thursday, November 3, 2016, 7:30 pm
Powell’s Books on Hawthorne
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR

LIT CRAWL Portland: Book signing and artist talk
Friday, November 4, 2016, 8 pm
The Big Legrowlski
812 NW Couch St., Portland, OR

WORDSTOCK: Portland’s Book Festival
Chandler & Jessica appearing on an author panel
with Danielle Dutton, author of Margaret the First
and Laurie Notaro, author of Crossing the Horizon
moderated by Elly Blue of Microcosm Press
Book signing to follow
Saturday, November 5, 2016, 1:30 pm
The Old Church
1422 SW 11th Avenue, Portland, OR

BEACH BROADS(ides)
book signing and artist talk on the gorgeous Oregon coast!
Saturday, November 5, 2016, 6:30 pm
Beach Books
616 Broadway, Seaside, OR

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Centennial stamper

National parks cancellation stamps photo by Chandler O'Leary

I don’t know about you, but on this, the National Park Service centennial, this millennial is paging through her big fat stack of stamped pages, proof of a lifetime of national parks love. Apparently I like to cram that ink into every nook and cranny of my passport—but that’s good, because I’m trying to leave room for many more to come. Happy 100th birthday, NPS—here’s to many more!

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Jaunt + Jot

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at the Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma event.

Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma

If you happen to be in or passing through Tacoma soon, I’ve got a new show of sketchbook drawings up right now, at the brand new Feast Arts Center on Hilltop.

Installation of "Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

Like the way I do it on my travel blog, the images in the exhibit are arranged thematically rather than chronologically—this made curating the show something of a challenge, since I have frillions of drawings to choose from. So I did a practice run on my living room floor, with a notebook in hand to jot everything down (seems fitting!).

Installation of "Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

That ended up being a really good idea, because pre-arranging everything beforehand made the installation of the show much, much easier. All I had to do was measure and level everything, rather than try to make any aesthetic decisions on the fly. Still, you can see from the above photo that hanging a show is always a big, big mess—no matter how prepared I am ahead of time. Everything is total chaos until the last possible moment!

Installation of "Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

The show consists of ten original sketchbooks, paired with reproduction prints hung on the walls of the gallery. Displaying original sketchbooks is always another challenge, since it’s only possible to show one page at a time, and the books are delicate enough that they can’t stand up to constant handling during the show. But the folks who run Feast, Todd Jannausch and Chandler Woodfin (yes, there are two Chandlers involved here!), had the great idea of displaying the books in unobtrusive, handmade glass tabletop cases.

Installation of "Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

Here’s Todd putting one of them together—

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at the Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma event.

the end result is sleek and professional, and it made it easy for me to come in and turn the pages of each sketchbook once a week or so, to change things up during the show’s run and give folks the chance to see multiple pages over time.

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

These little map cards tie everything together, providing a little context behind the drawings and explaining my rationale for the themes I chose for the prints.

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary

I’m so pleased with how the show came together—this has quickly become my very favorite solo show. So major thanks to Todd and Chandler for making it happen and handling the logistics!

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at the Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma event.

Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma

As an added bonus, the folks at Artist Trust, a statewide arts organization, hosted an event to tie in with my exhibit opening. Since Artist Trust recently funded me with an artist grant to continue my sketchbook work, they asked me to speak about my process at the opening. I brought my very first travel sketchbook with me, and it was great to talk shop with the crowd that showed up that night!

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at the Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma event.

Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma

The show closes on Sunday, June 12—here are all the details, if you’re looking to visit:

Jaunt + Jot: a solo sketchbook exhibition by Chandler O’Leary
May 19 through June 12, 2016
Feast Arts Center, 1402 S. 11th St., Tacoma, WA
Open Saturdays 12 to 4, Sundays 9 to 1, or by appointment

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at the Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma event.

Photo by Shawn H. Nichols, taken at Artist Trust on Tour: Tacoma

Or if you’d like to try your hand sketching yourself, Feast, Urban Sketchers-Tacoma and I are hosting a special ad-hoc sketch outing this Sunday, June 5, as part of Feast’s Sunday Coffee series! The event is free and open to anyone who would like to try their hand at urban sketching—no prior experience is necessary, and all you need to bring are your own sketch materials (paper or sketchbook, pen or pencil, watercolors, or whatever you like to use).

Here’s how it works: Feast Arts Center will open at 9 am on Sunday, so visitors can see the exhibit. Anyone interested in sketching will gather at 10 am at Feast for a quick meet-and-greet. We will then split up and sketch around the Hilltop neighborhood; you can choose to stick around Feast, or wander farther afield and sketch whatever strikes your fancy. Some people sketch in groups, others go off by themselves. Then we’ll all meet back at Feast at 12:30 for an informal show-and-tell of our sketches. This part is completely optional (so if you’re nervous about showing your drawings, you don’t have to!), but it’s always fun to see everybody’s different styles, materials and points of view. Feast will remain open until 1 pm. Here are those details again, in digest version:

Ad-hoc Sketch Outing, sponsored by Urban Sketchers-Tacoma
Sunday, June 5, 2016
Feast Arts Center (open 9 to 1)
1402 S. 11th St. Tacoma, WA
1. Meet at Feast by 10 am
2. Sketch in and around Hilltop
3. Show & tell at Feast at 12:30

Please note that this is not a class or workshop, so neither I nor any Urban Sketchers members will be offering instruction. But this is a great opportunity to meet other sketch artists and find inspiration. People tell me all the time that they’d love to try sketching, but aren’t sure where to start. This is a great way to get your feet wet amongst friends—so don’t be shy! Grab your pencils, and we’ll see you this Sunday!

Creation of this work was made possible in part by Artist Trust Grants for Artist Projects. Special thanks to Artist Trust, Feast Arts Center, School of Visual Concepts, and Urban Sketchers-Tacoma.

"Jaunt + Jot" exhibition featuring sketchbook drawings by Chandler O'Leary. Photo by Mary Holste.

Photo by Mary Holste.

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St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Tulips photo by Chandler O'Leary

Inside the house we have these this morning…

Photo by Chandler O'Leary

…but Valentine’s Day looks a little different in the yard. Spring is already on its way here, so we have to seize the moment and get going on the massive pile of landscaping projects we have planned for the year.

Photo by Chandler O'Leary

So we’re spending our romantic weekend with chainsaws and tree stumps. Hope your Valentine’s Day is a special one, too—whether you stick to tradition or not!

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Monkey business

Monkeyshines medallions illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

Well, now that it’s been a whole year since I first showed you these, and the secret no longer needs keeping, I can tell you about what I did today. Today is the start of the lunar new year, and here in Tacoma we have a tradition that proves how wonderful this town is, year after year. The tradition is called “Monkeyshines,” a public treasure hunt through the city that falls on (or around) the first day of Chinese new year each year. The name comes from the Year of the Monkey on the Chinese zodiac cycle, exactly twelve years ago, when an anonymous artist going by the name “Ms. Monkey” created a few hundred colorful hand-blown glass floats, each one stamped with a monkey design, and hid them all over the city. Anyone who found one could take it home with them, and since only Ms. Monkey’s inner circle knew about it, it came as a complete surprise to those lucky few who found treasure that year. Over the years the tradition has grown and the secret has spread like wildfire, with more and more beautiful pieces of glass art being hidden around Tacoma with each cycle of the zodiac. Since the only rule is “take only one,” many people have taken to rehiding the ones they find, or contributing their own handmade treasures to the hunt. Not that it’s easy to find multiple Monkeyshines—or even one! Even now that there are thousands of treasures hidden each year, it’s still like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. I’d never been lucky myself, coming up empty-handed year after year.

2015, the Year of the Ram, completed the 12-year zodiac cycle that started with that first treasure hunt. Ms. Monkey approached me (no, I won’t tell you who she is!) and asked if I would contribute some “Monkeyshines” of my own to the cause. I jumped at the chance: even though I’d never found a glass float myself, I loved the hunt, and by then I’d amassed a mental database of potential hidey-holes. By then I was more excited about the prospect of hiding treasure than of finding it. Besides, even though my work has been moving away from letterpress printing in recent years, it was fun to do a printing project again.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

So I whipped up a little medallion design, and hand-carved it in linoleum.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

Then I threw it onto my tiny tabletop press, and set to work.

Monkeyshines medallions illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

I printed close to 500 medallions (until I ran out of paper and the block started to break down!), and then hand-assembled them in the style of my other letterpress ornaments.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

And then came the fun part: hiding them all over Tacoma.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

Since there were so many medallions, and I had to go out of town over Chinese new year, I enlisted friends to help, and staggered my own distribution over several weeks. Together we managed to canvass almost the entire city map, hitting both well-traveled areas and less-visited neighborhoods.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

The hiding was, indeed, the best part. I loved walking inconspicuously at weird hours, my hands stuffed in my pockets and posing as a searcher, waiting until the coast was clear to pop another medallion into one of Tacoma’s nooks and crannies. Sometimes I’d hang around and wait nearby until someone came by and discovered what I’d left behind. It was a thrill every time.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

I saved this pictured for last because it echoes this year’s odyssey, when my chance finally came. Fast forward to this morning, and it’s the Year of the Monkey all over again. Since it’s now become a tradition as ingrained as Christmas, there was no question that I’d resume the hunt. A friend came to pick me up at 4:30 am, and after a quick swig of coffee, we set out.

Monkeyshines photo by Chandler O'Leary

And in less than an hour, in my eighth year of searching, I finally found my first glass Monkeyshine! Just like the previous picture, it was in the mouth of a fish sculpture—this one in the middle of a fountain downtown. Luckily for me, there was only about an inch of water in the fountain, so all I had to do was climb in and step right up. And yes, if the fountain had been full of water, I would have gone in anyway, 35-degree weather be darned. I wouldn’t have been the only one—tales of people braving murky koi ponds and polar-plunging into the Bay have become the stuff of legend around here. For some things it’s worth getting soaked and dirty!

My friend is still searching for his Monkeyshine—we spent the rest of the morning hunting on his behalf, but even if he doesn’t find one this year, we made sure to pay it forward by hiding a few small monkey-themed treasures ourselves.

Monkeyshines photo by Chandler O'Leary

So now I’m back home, refreshed after a nap and a hot cuppa tea, admiring the Monkeyshine that’s serendipitously in my favorite color. SO many thanks to Ms. Monkey, all her fellow ‘Shiners, all the friends and friendly strangers I hunted with this morning, and my art-loving city. Thank you for making this happen year after year, for making my year so far, and for bringing us all together for a chance to play explorer in our own hometown. Gung hay fat choy!

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A blank page

Holiday cards by Chandler O'Leary

A lot of things had to fall by the wayside in the past few months (including this blog!), while some major projects ruled my life. The big deadlines still hold sway for now, but I’ve started to catch up in other ways. The holidays are done and dusted, the end-of-year to-do-lists are crossed off (mostly), and this huge stack of greetings is in the mail. Here’s to turning the page, and writing (and drawing!) the next chapter.

Happy New Year!

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…and to all a good night

Christmas photo by Chandler O'Leary

Tacoma photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'LearyTacoma photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'Leary

Shooting grainy on-the-fly night photos doesn’t always yield the best results, but it’s done a great job of documenting this year’s Season of Light. I hope yours is as warm and bright as ours has been, and that you are surrounded by joy while the sun makes its way back to us.

Good Yule, and Merry Christmas.

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Seven for seven

Orcas Island sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I can hardly believe it, but I’ve now lived in the Pacific Northwest for seven years.

Mt. Rainier sketch by Chandler O'Leary

In that time I’ve done my very best to see as much of the region as possible, and document it all in my sketchbook.

Yakima apples sketch by Chandler O'Leary

So in honor of seven years, here are seven sketchbook drawings—

Seattle houseboat sketch by Chandler O'Leary

—presented in no particular order—

Columbia River sketch by Chandler O'Leary

—of some of my very favorte places

Panama Hotel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

and moments

Tacoma sketch by Chandler O'Leary

in the place I now call home.

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We did it!

Constellation pattern illustrated by Chandler O'Leary

Holy cow—we made our Kickstarter goal three days early! I can’t tell you how much it means that you helped us reach our goal, and so quickly. This project has truly been a labor of love, and it feels so good to know that you support local and women-owned businesses like us.

Production is going to begin shortly and the coat will start being shipped in early fall, so I’m sure I will have updates to give you in the near future. In the meantime, there are still three days left of the campaign if you’re looking to get in on the coat and other rewards. And the Tacoma News Tribune did a great article about the women involved in the project in today’s paper—you can read about it here.

Thank you so much again for all your support and help spreading the word. We truly could not have done this without you, and we are so looking forward to the day when we can all wear our coats! Many, many thanks.

NOTE: I am working away from my studio and inventory for a few days. The shop will reopen on Monday, July 10, 2017. I apologize for the inconvenience!