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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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The road goes ever on and on

Mission San Juan Capistrano photo by Chandler O'Leary

I just got back from over a month of traveling—first by way of a road trip to the bottom of California and back, and immediately afterward, a one-way Florida-to-Washington drive with a friend. In 33 days I logged well over 8,000 miles, and crossed several vastly different regions of the country. So even with the help of my trusty sketchbooks, my memories of the trip aren’t terribly linear. They’re more of a jumble of images flashing through my mind—so in that spirit, here is a similar jumble of images.

Grave Creek Bridge photo by Chandler O'Leary Bixby Creek Bridge photo by Chandler O'Leary Elephant seal pups photo by Chandler O'Leary Weeki Watchee mermaid photo by Chandler O'Leary Ybor City tile photo by Chandler O'Leary Solvang windmill photo by Chandler O'LearyPalm Springs photo by Chandler O'Leary Mt. Shasta photo and sketch by Chandler O'Leary Mt. Rainier aerial photo by Chandler O'Leary St. Roch's Cemetery photo by Chandler O'Leary Mission San Francisco Solano photo by Chandler O'Leary Shields Date Garden photo by Chandler O'Leary Mobile, Alabama photo by Chandler O'Leary Beltane Ranch photo by Chandler O'Leary Pt. Bolivar lighthouse photo by Chandler O'Leary Tucson photo by Chandler O'Leary Saguaro National Park photo by Chandler O'Leary Saguaro National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary Sausalito house boats photo by Chandler O'Leary San Antonio Riverwalk photo by Chandler O'Leary Alamo photo by Chandler O'Leary Texas flag photo by Chandler O'Leary Marfa photo and sketch by Chandler O'Leary Laguna Beach photo by Chandler O'Leary New Orleans photo by Chandler O'Leary

Now that I’m back in the studio, I’m trying hard to get my momentum back on my ongoing projects—and to suppress (for a little while, at least) the ideas that are coming as thick and fast as the images in my memory. We’ll see how long I last before some new project (or twelve) comes out of this trip…

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Fiberglass and frames

Installation photo of "Drawn the Road Again" exhibition by Chandler O'Leary

‘Scuse the bad photos—all I had on me was a mobile phone and a shaky hand. But that’s okay, because if you’re local, you can see the real thing. I just finished installing my newest solo show, featuring sketchbook drawings of roadside attractions!

Installation photo of "Drawn the Road Again" exhibition by Chandler O'Leary

I went for a wide variety of favorite fiberglass and concrete monuments—not just here in Washington, but all over the U.S. (and even in Canada). The result is 30 drawings of roadside kitsch, from giant food to warring twine balls to bovine behemoths. Here are the details:

Drawn the Road Again: Roadside Attractions sketched by Chandler O’Leary
On display through October 25, 2014
Handforth Gallery, Tacoma Public Library
1102 Tacoma Ave. South, Tacoma, WA
Reception: Thursday, October 16, 4 to 5:30 pm

For the reception on October 16, I’m trying something a little different: instead of an opening reception, it’s more of a closing one. And that’s because I’m teaming up with my buddy Jessica Spring to do double receptions that night, with a joint keepsake! Here’s how it works: stop by my show first and pick up a commemorative illustrated postcard. Then head down to Jessica’s reception at the Old Post Office (which is just a few blocks down the hill at 1102 A Street), and print a saying on your postcard with Jessica’s antique platen press. More details on her show can be found here (scroll down).

Installation photo of "Drawn the Road Again" exhibition by Chandler O'Leary

Many thanks to David Domkoski and the Tacoma Public Library for hosting me and providing such a great and visible space, and to Mary-Alice for helping me hang the show and stay sane! (Also for wearing the best Chuck Taylors I’ve seen in years.)

Sharky's Souvenir Shop sketch by Chandler O'Leary

One more thing—if you can’t be there in the flesh, you can find all the fiberglass on the Drawn the Road Again blog! I’ll be featuring roadside attractions from now through the end of the show (new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday)—many that are in the exhibit, and some extra goodies that are just online.

See you there—in the meantime, watch out for sharks!