Story Chairs: The First Bear

Two ceramic bears by Jeffry Mitchell

Two ceramic bears by Jeffry Mitchell

Yesterday I joined about thirty other people for a walk through of Like a Valentine, Jeffry Mitchell’s remarkable survey exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery. Five of us, including Jeffry, talked for five minutes about one work each. The afternoon was relaxed and intimate and a fine excuse to return to the show. The work just keeps on giving.

Experiencing the show again before the walk through, I thought about Jeffry’s love of the alphabet and its recurrence in the work, and about the steady return to other iconic imagery: elephants, flowers, Asian and American ceramic conventions, even the color pink. To me, this beloved imagery is like an alphabet, holding every possibility for telling his story, whatever it may be, just as the alphabet holds every story within its construct. The exhibition gives that sense of richness, the abundance of life offering itself up in beauty and loss, light and shadow, a tale spun from nothing and everything. The exhibit remains up until January 27. Run, don’t walk.

For my Story Chairs I’ve been writing a series of stories about encounters with animals, bears among them. This story is about the first bear I had a direct experience with. Some details may be slightly off – was I in a car seat? Was it me next to the window and not my sister? No matter – memory is a storyteller in its own right.

Listen to The First Bear

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About Tina Hoggatt

I am an artist and writer and work for 4Culture, King County's cultural arts organization.
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