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Leading the way

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

When we were coming up with the action-word titles for each chapter in our book, some words came to mind easily, while others were a challenge. Since we had to include three different feminists under each umbrella term, we had to think outside the box of each word’s literal meaning. “Lead,” though, was a no-brainer, and one of the first words that sprung to mind.

Dead Feminists broadsides by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

The women we featured in that chapter were all natural leaders, both literally and figuratively. Harriet Tubman, of course, literally led people to freedom in the North. The four members of the Washington suffrage movement led the way to gaining women in their state the vote. And Shirley Chisholm was elected to lead her constituents in the U.S. House of Representatives—then led the way as the first woman candidate on a major-party Presidential ticket.

Women's suffrage picket line, c. 1912

So since today is Election Day in the U.S., Jessica and I have our minds occupied with the women who came before us, who forged the path that led us to where we are today. And we’ll be focusing on this topic in our talk today at the University of Puget Sound:

Pressing Matters: Election Day
Artist talk, book signing and pop-up shop
Today, November 8, at 4 pm, in room 020
Collins Memorial Library
University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA

1913 women's suffrage campaign program cover

First came the seemingly endless fight to win women the vote—

Women's suffrage illustration in 1909 Seattle Times newspaper

—not just nationally but also within their individual states. The amount of campaigning, organizing, writing, publishing, and picketing done by Emma Smith DeVoe and her colleagues was staggering, but their cumulative efforts built momentum that turned the campaign into an unstoppable train of force.

Historic political cartoon about western states leading the way for women's suffrage

Since women in Washington gained the vote in 1910, a full decade before women could vote in national elections, the suffrage movement saw our region as progressive leaders, trailblazing the path to political equality.

Shirley Chisholm election ephemera

More than sixty years later, Shirley Chisholm took the lead by running for President, which made her, in her own words, “literally and figuratively the dark horse.” Though she lost the 1972 Democratic primaries in the end, she fought hard to make the path a little easier for any women who came after her.

Women's suffrage campaigner in 1920

Today we stand on another historic threshold, where at long last, American women have the chance to vote for the first woman President—not just in the primaries, but in the main event. When we cast our ballots today, we’ll feel the presence of all the women who led the way.

Vintage women's suffrage and voting campaign buttons

A century’s worth of campaign buttons has got it right: your vote counts, especially if you are a woman. Please get out and vote today, and help us make history, not just write about it.

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Market day

Photo by Chandler O'Leary

First of all, thank you so much for your response to my crazy-long Empire Builder post! Your comments, social media shares, emails, and encouragement have been wonderful—and such a tonic for the nervewracking nature of putting something so personal and complicated into the world. Thank you for that.

Secondly, I was walking around my neighborhood yesterday and I passed this sign—which reminded me that I haven’t mentioned the Flea Market that’s coming up this weekend at the UPS Fieldhouse. The UPS Flea Market has been an annual Tacoma tradition since 1968—and in recent years has been expanded to include artisans and crafters.

(An aside: the new “Fieldhouse Full of Awesome Stuff” title is kind of…um, sort of entirely…all my fault. And it makes me giggle every time I see it in print. My friend Lynn is one of the chairpersons of the market; when they were first considering opening the event to artists, she approached me and Jessica to see if we’d be game to participate. She asked us what we might call the new hybrid event, since “Flea Market” was no longer entirely accurate. We were having just as much trouble describing it as Lynn was, and I just blurted out, “It’s like a whole Fieldhouse full of…AWESOME!” So, yeah. Sorry about that. I wasn’t at my most articulate that day…)

Anyway, Jessica and I will be sharing a booth (#7, on the main floor, if you’re looking for us) again this year, and we’ll each have new goodies (I mean “awesome”) to show you. Here are the details:

47th Annual University of Puget Sound Flea Market
(and Fieldhouse Full of AWESOME)
This Saturday, March 21, 2015
9 am to 4 pm
Regular admission $5 (benefits student scholarships)
NEW THIS YEAR: early-bird admission at the side door, 8:15 am, $10
UPS Fieldhouse
N. 11th St, between Alder and Union, Tacoma, WA

See you on Saturday!

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Blossoms photo by Chandler O'Leary

Spring made her grand entrance this weekend, sweeping in with the first warm, flawless day of the year—complete with guest appearances by Mount Rainier and the sun. ‘Round these parts, it’s almost criminal to miss a day like that—as evidenced by the sidewalks, parks and shorelines packed with grateful Tacomans.

So believe me, the significance of a big group of steadfast book and art lovers eschewing the perfect weather in favor of hearing me blather on about sketchbooks and photopolymer isn’t lost on me. Many, many thanks to everyone who came to either the gallery talk yesterday or the exhibit opening on Thursday (or both!). You made both events a huge success, and your enthusiastic presence made me feel so welcome to the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been the new kid on the block many times in my life, but I’ve never felt so at home so quickly as I do here in T-town. Thank you.

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To the Letter

Promo for Chandler O'Leary's 2009 solo show, "To the Letter"

Well, the threads are tied, everything is installed, and I’ve scanned for typos at least six dozen times. I think we’re ready.

Tomorrow evening is the opening reception for To the Letter, my debut solo show. On view are a wide variety of pieces revolving around the art of the letterform: letterpress prints, textile typography, the Feminist Broadside series, artist books, sketchbooks, and more. Stop by and say howdy!

To the Letter: Works by Chandler O’Leary
April 1-30, 2009
Collins Memorial Library, University of Puget Sound

Opening reception:
Thursday, April 2, 4:30-7:00 p.m.

Since handwork is another theme of the show (hand-lettering, hand-binding, hand-stitching, etc.), some of my process materials are also on display. Weirdly, this detail is the part I’m most excited about—I’m forever encouraging my students to include sketches, supplies and other behind-the-scenes objects in their gallery shows, but this is the first chance I’ve had to do it myself. My process tends to be particularly convoluted (probably a symptom of O.C.D. or something), so I’m hoping the sight of things like tabletop platen presses and double-pointed knitting needles will spark some interesting conversation.

Speaking of which, Jessica Spring and I are doing a double-header on Sunday. I’ll be giving a guided tour of the exhibit, and Jessica will give a lecture on her newest artist book, Parts Unknown. There’ll be plenty to talk about, so come and pick our brains!

Sunday, April 5, 2009
Collins Memorial Library
1:00-1:45 p.m. To the Letter gallery talk with Chandler O’Leary
2:00-3:00 p.m. Parts Unknown presentation with Jessica Spring

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’d better go check for typos one more time.