Signal Hill has long been a communications point on the Southern California landscape. In an earlier era, Native Americans signaled their brethren with fire and smoke, from Santa Catalina Island to the foothills of the Coastal Range bordering what is now L.A.

Today the signals are electronic, connecting us--at the click of a mouse--to vast, new worldwide networks.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Poetry of Artist Annie Stromquist

Artist, author and teacher Annie Stromquist, from the Long Beach neighborhood of Bixby Knolls, takes vigorous walks almost daily on the Hill. You see her zest for life on the trail and in her art.

Maria and I had set out for a rare early-morning walk on the Hill to help our niece and nephew--Marcia and Lee-- shake out some of the jet lag cobwebs lingering after their return flight from a vacation in France. Maria and Lee made first contact with Annie up on the Panorama Promenade; later the five of us had this Pleasant Encounter on the Hillside trail.

At age 35, Annie left her job as associate dean of Occidental College to pursue her life-long interest in the arts. After getting a third master's degree--this time in Fine Arts at Cal State Long Beach--she took up the life of an artist.

Now, a print maker, Annie creates mixed media works on paper which she calls "'monoprints', made by pressing a variety of found objects covered with ink into wet paper." What propels her forward, she writes, "is a fascination with process, and how I might push the medium I'm using in new, interesting ways."

She even wrote a book about print making: Simple Screen Printing: Basic Techniques and Creative Projects.

Her work is abstract--neither symbolic nor representational. Much like a Zen master preferring gesture over words to point directly to a thing's essence, Annie lets the materials, and her intimate connection to them, speak for themselves. She writes, "When an eloquent form emerges from a process that is, in equal measures, controlled and fortuitous, it conveys the essence of the revelatory of which art is uniquely expressive."

That's a pretty eloquent use of words, too! No purist, she told us on the trail that she's found that writing her blog, One Artist's Life, is (surprisingly?) helpful to her art.

Take a little time to click on the above links, and tell me, Would you agree that Annie Stromquist is both poet of the visual and the verbal?

(For the full Pleasant Encounters on Signal Hill project, scroll down or see slideshow on sidebar to the right.)


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