Making Connections

The Methow Valley Independent Learning Center (ILC), our local school district’s Big Picture High School, recognizes the importance of connecting students with adults in the community who want to influence youth in positive ways through their mentorship program. Sometimes that means an adult has a specialized skill which they teach to a student who is interested in that subject area.

At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, sophomore Jed McMillan showed an interest in photography after using the school’s camera as part of an exploratory class at the ILC. Kelleigh McMillan (no relation), the ILC Mentorship Coordinator, thought of me, a local wedding and fine art photographer. Kelleigh reached out to see if I would be interested in working with Jed to increase his photography knowledge by working with him once a week at the school; I said yes.

Each Tuesday beginning in the fall, Jed and I met at the ILC on the TwispWorks campus and walked around Twisp, making images and talking about different techniques he could use to capture subjects such as dogs, old cars, tools, and horses. On some weekends, he took the camera home to make photos on his own time. The following week, we would download his images onto a school computer, talk about what worked, what didn’t and why. Jed is a quick learner and enjoys the opportunity to talk about the finer points of the art. Something awakened in Jed and he began taking photos and seeing in a whole new way, his artist self emerging.

After Christmas Break, I asked Jed what he wanted to do next with his photography and he said he would like to have a show. Over the winter and Spring months, with support from the school staff, we discussed how to achieve that goal and created a plan. Jed learned the many steps involved in creating and hanging an art show.

The newly relocated La Fonda Lopez, a restaurant in Twisp, agreed to show his photographs on their one empty wall. The Confluence Gallery in Twisp donated frames for his work. I cut the mats and helped get the photos printed. The Public School Funding Alliance contributed to the printing of the photographs through a ‘personal projects’ grant for the ILC students.

Jed spent many hours working through the various tasks associated with having an art show: creating a budget, choosing dates, determining names for his photos, cleaning glass, making a poster, etc.

At long last, the show, Behind the Barn, went up on May 1, at La Fonda Lopez, 102 Methow Valley Highway in Twisp, where it will hang until the end of June.

I hope you have the opportunity to see the work of this young man who states:

“When I’m taking pictures, I feel connected with the world.”

Photos of the horse, the old truck and the autumn leaves are by Jedediah McMillan. Photos of Jed and the show are by Teri J Pieper

Making Sawdust

What’s your art medium? Paint? Paper? Photography? Music? Stone? Theater?

Here in the Methow Valley, there are many artists creating art in any number of mediums. We are supported by our community and by Methow Arts and by other artists. It is one of the reasons people come here to live.

Each quarter, Methow Arts prepares a printed magazine highlighting the arts in our region and also drawing attention to a featured artist. I have been selected to photograph some of these artists in years’ past and was delighted when they asked me to photograph my friend Don McIvor for the Spring issue.

Don works with wood. His turned pieces can be found at The Winthrop Gallery and through his website. Besides turning wood, he creates cabinets and furniture; he has made a marimba for his wife Mary McIvor and a sink for their newly remodeled bathroom, in addition to countless other projects. His petroglyph pieces are particularly striking. The Methow Arts profile can be seen here.

Here are a few of my favorite photos.

Doggie Dash 2018

Methow Trails hosted the Doggie Dash at the Town Trailhead in Winthrop on Sunday and despite cold temps and a bitterly cold wind, many people and dogs showed up to participate and to watch one of winter’s most fun events in the Methow. The Doggie Dash is a six-legged race with people on skis connected to their dogs with a leash or rope. It is also a costume contest. There were three different races – the kids’ race, the adults with little dogs race and the adults with big dogs. There were enough big dogs for two heats. Afterwards judges awarded prizes for the costume contest including the much coveted Golden Poodle. And at the end there was a drawing for a season pass to Methow Trails for next winter. Roman Toga guy was very excited to take that away with him.

Some of the sponsors included Rocking Horse Bakery, Winthrop Veterinary Clinic, the Methow Valley Ciderhouse and of course, Methow Trails. Thanks to all of them and the volunteers that make this event so much fun!

Twisp Dance Party

Recently I had the chance to photograph some outstanding musicians in Twisp doing a benefit for the Methow Valley Community Center. Vocalists Nancy Zahn and Laura Love were backed up by a local favorite band, Family Dog, featuring Terry Hunt, Phil Woras, Wayne Mendro and others. Later in the evening, Jeff Herzog, harmonica player extraordinaire, joined the group to bring his own energy to the stage. It was a superb evening of music, and the locals turned out in droves to kick up their heels and support the Community Center. I think it’s pretty obvious from the images that the musicians had just as much fun as the audience, if not more.

Married at the Loup

What a great day for a winter wedding! Pat and Raquel rented the Loup Loup Ski Bowl for their big day! On a Tuesday. In January. Nearly 250 miles from a major airport. Over 200 people showed up for this event! It was so much fun!

We started out at the Methow Valley Inn in Twisp for breakfast and hair and makeup and then to the Loup for the noon wedding. There were dogs and kids and all manner of winter clothes. The bride and her sister wore their grandmother’s vintage coats. Local artist, Sarah Jo Lightner, made their incredible rings. The ceremony was both serious and happy all at once. More than one person shed some tears. The love these two share is magical.

Afterwards, some people retired to the cozy lodge for hot drinks but most stayed out to enjoy the snow. Official papers were signed in the ski patrol room.

The weather was pretty cooperative. It snowed in the morning til about ten coating the trees with piles of fluffy snow. Northern Farms flowers were a perfect accent in the winter scene. Going up the chairlift, we passed through a thick fog bank before emerging into the bright sunlight on top of the mountain! People who hadn’t skied in years (including me!) strapped on skis or boards and had a terrific time on the slopes. Others rode the chair up to see the views.

After the lifts shut down, everyone went back to town to change and head to the reception at the Winthrop Barn. It was beautifully decorated. Guests enjoyed a great party with lots of music and dancing. The sparkler send off topped off a wonderful day.