Friday, August 1, 2014

Rough draft commentary on readings -- NOT DONE

Some notes and thoughts from the readings… ROUGH. Out of town and distracted but hope to edit later.
One Step Beyond, Richard Long
This guy got thrown out of school for doing too provocative of projects.
Quote:  "All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking," wrote Nietsche.
I like that his art wasn't necessarily recognized as such by others.  He left it out in nature.  People might observe a line or a circle made by rocks, and think any number of things about it.  He speaks of this about his art being both visible and invisible, depending on who looks at it.  His art is also about permanence and impermanence.
He also likes to work quickly.  "If it takes longer than 30 minutes, there's something wrong with it."  I agree and relate to this, which is why I have trouble with a lot of art forms.  I like to work quickly. He also says he isn't interested in ephemeral art (art that quickly passes), even if making it nature means that it does disappear quickly, but rather that he is interested in art in the moment, the act, at that time and place.
I thought it was cool that his teacher, despite his criticism, didn't make Richard back down or change his plans to do art.
I also like how he used such random materials -- it reminds me of my own play in the world, which is often random.
I like the idea (or truth) of landscapes being charged with powerful ideas.  This is certainly the case in many indigenous cultures.
He says that the unexpected can happen and that this almost always makes the work better.  He says that he is an opportunist -- that he goes out into the world with an open mind, and relies on intuition and chance.  "The idea of making art out of nothing, I've got a lot of time for that.  Walking up and down a field, or carrying a stone in my pocket, it's almost nothing, isn't it?"
This makes me feel embarrassed for being "bored" on the hiking trip that we took.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

My walking practice (& some reflections from hike) -- Laura Gibson

Video Presentation on Path Section 10 Marmot Road and E Barlow Trail Road -John Needham Tuohy-

Hope this is entertaining if not informative.
Hopefully everyone learns something.
Even ME!

John Needham Tuohy
July 30th 2014

If the Presentation does not load then please email me so that I can Fix It.

Pictures that inspired me in Section 10 Marmot Road and E Barlow Trail Road

My Video Presentation will be up Shortly
I can't seem to get it to Load

Here Are The Pictures That Inspired Me Along Marmot Road and E Barlow Trail Road
Day 3 Section 10 of our 5 day hike.
One Love

The Grover Walk

I think that my favorite part of the weekly walk-ins were the first one in which we were instructed to simply walk aimlessly. When I asked Eric for clarification later he said that we would have to find some way to randomize our decisions and that the only control over our walks destiny would be setting in motion's. Beyond that initial inception we were slaves to our device as it were. Now those of you that know me know that I'm a dog person and so it may come as no surprise to you that I incorporated my fuzzy friends into my equation and so began that very night. In order to simplify the experiment I subverted the dogs and walked one of the time not to mention the fact that I was curious if they would follow one another's paths or they would wonder about. Now I knew I was going to need all my energy for my younger dog but was unsure of whether or not I could bank on the big dog giving me a shorter walk or pacing himself and continuing into the night.

Well I figured this out when I thought to myself and so I strapped up my Trouble girl, yes her name is trouble, and set off of the door. After about 20 minutes of us know in the bush outfront we did sharp and immediate left. I find the difference in my dogs wonderful something about the way the younger Sheppard moved in the purpose where she went was I don't know glorious. Well we managed to the park a few blocks over at which point there was a timely stopover I didn't realize that she could smell several soccer fields thoroughly. Wild!  We went everywhere, everywhere.  I think I stopped paying attention to direction a long time prior to the walk actually pending and I remember thinking how wonderful it was to just muse, without a care in the world. Almost as if I was floating on a cloud of inquisitively and wonder because it seemed like every single thing the Trouble passed was exciting new. How fantastic to be that free.

The Grover walk really resorted more to a general description of feelings. Grover is of course the big dog a St. Bernard, loving and lazy by nature. Grover was no hurry, not to get out the door, not to leave the yard, not did it on the street. He just sort of went where he went with no sense of urgency like the wind itself was his guide.The thing was it was just as magical and justice reflective of the big guys character. I thought of life. Sometimes it takes slowing down that much to begin to see your reality for what it is. I just remember having overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy just for being a part of the world around me. I can notice things on my street I had never seen before although I have been here over a year. I could suddenly hear everything, as if now that I had taken the time to absorb the universe around me my mind had a connection to everything had never been there before. It was enlightening.

It only got better as the week wore on and I a better me because of it, I remain, grateful.
John Needham Tuohy

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Walking The Line: A Balancing Wallking Practice

This balancing practice began at least a year ago, when i began jumping up on balancing surfaces as I walked. It blends well into my daily walking as a non-car owner and makes it more interesting. I've always been interested in physical challenges, especially those that involve grace, but have never had much desire to add to my commute, go indoors, and pay a lot of money for a fancy class like aerial acrobatics or pole dancing. I think if I were a driver, I'd take classes like these. So, I'm glad I got into balancing and my practice continued with this class. Here are a couple balancing spots from one of my walks...

Fallen Tree! 

One of my favorite benefits of learning to balance better is being able to walk across rivers on fallen trees when I'm out hiking or exploring rivers. When you're barefoot, the trees are like superfast highways compared to the rocks.

Train Tracks

These are still a challenge for me, because it's been way too hot to walk those tracks in the sun! Also, their curved surface adds challenge. Mostly it's the shoes though. If I remember to wear soft-soled shoes, it works out a lot better. As I was balancing on this train track rail, I noticed that it helped to sort of "float" from step to step, never really letting all of my weight down in a single step. I have a long way to go, but hope to walk across a wire one day!

Walking Practice: Derek Hamm

Last fall I completed a project where I had people take me to local places that, though perhaps not special in any obvious way, carried significance for them. It was an effort to reintroduce myself to my hometown after several years away, and to share that experience with other long-term residents for whom the place may have grown a bit stale.

The initial idea was not to do places, but routes. I captured footage of our drives out to the various locations and audio of our visits, but it was for a public show and it proved difficult to condense the full experience into something digestible. For my walking practice, I've been revisiting this idea but focusing less on trying to document every aspect of the experience and more on the experience itself.

To do this I've been joining notorious local walkers on their routes, and talking with others in town about their relationship to walking and why they walk or drive where they do (initial skepticism to hearing I'm taking an art class on walking has proved a good conversation starter).

Most conversation on walking deals with urban/suburban or wilderness environments, and small towns don't quite fit into either category. There are sidewalks most places, but they vary widely in quality. The entire town is walkable in terms of distance, but because something a half mile away is deemed "across town" it can feel like a long distance in a relative sense. There are no walking trails, but with so little traffic, most streets are open to a variety of transportation modes.

To my surprise, a lot of the shifts from downtown to urban core to suburban are still present if you look carefully. About six blocks in any direction from the main intersection, sidewalks suddenly stop. Rapid development is hardly an issue, but new businesses still stretch out to fill available space or get close to the highway leaving Main Street hollowed out.

Notes on a couple of the walks I've been on:


LaNorma lives across the street from me. I often see her walking by my front window. She was just leaving for a walk when I arrived home one day, so I tossed my stuff inside and set out in the same direction. It took about a block and a half to catch up. We talked about the neighbors on her side of the street — there are a row of duplexes, so most are single, elderly, but very independent women with grandkids about my age.

She tries to walk about 12 blocks per day, but weather is a major factor. Rain, extreme cold, and extreme heat were all issues. The day we walked was incredibly windy, so she only made it about 10. She tried to vary her route, but retraced steps to stay on the nicer sidewalks — though she was unafraid to cross the street at a diagonal in search of a smoother path.

It made me think about the common practice of walking on the street — great for me, but dangerous for someone who moves at a slower pace. In a town with a large elderly population and a good number of young families, walking transportation should be all the more valued. We agreed to do it again.

Marlin and Cheryl

Katherine and I see these two out walking almost every night. They generally complete a wider loop around town and almost always use the street. We have a shared interest in exploring small towns — though my Nissan looks nothing like their Harley Davidson — and when I brought up my walks around town they said they often stop in other towns with walking trails to see how they've implemented them.

Cheryl was on the town Tree Board that was looking into constructing a walking trail the around town, but said it would require the involvement of several private entities for both funding and permissions.

A major part of this trail would involve converting the former rail passage through town into a walking/biking trail. Inside city limits this might be doable, but efforts to convert the entire former railway into a biking trail were opposed by strongly by some local landowners. Marlin explained that when the rails were torn up the land returned to the surrounding landowners who are concerned they could be held liable for claims made on trails running through their property.

Rural towns tend to have a strong sense of community, but the idea of shared "public" land is often viewed with skepticism or even hostility. The railroad could take land using money and force, but to willingly relinquish control is a tough proposition. This paradox of being pro-community but anti-public is something that I want to keep exploring.

Weekly Walking Assignment: Derek Hamm

Draw a shape on a map and attempt to follow the path.

Bruno Munari is one of my favorite artists, designers, and thinkers. Here he is articulating the role of design:

"Today it has become necessary to demolish the myth of the ‘star’ artist who only produces masterpieces for a small group of ultra-intelligent people. It must be understood that as long as art stands aside from the problems of life it will only interest a very few people. Culture today is becoming a mass affair, and the artist must step down from his pedestal and be prepared to make a sign for a butcher’s shop (if he knows how to do it). The artist must cast off the last rags of romanticism and become active as a man among men, well up in present-day techniques, materials and working methods. Without losing his innate aesthetic sense he must be able to respond with humility and competence to the demands his neighbors may make of him.

The designer of today re-establishes the long-lost contact between art and the public, between living people and art as a living thing. … There should be no such thing as art divorced from life, with beautiful things to look at and hideous things to use. If what we use every day is made with art, and not thrown together by chance or caprice, then we shall have nothing to hide."

The cover for a book of his work, called Air Made Visible, contains a unique shape. It seemed a fitting shape to try to attempt to walk in town, though its curved shapes in a town built so perfectly on a grid made it an interesting task.

A few takeaways:

- The path took me to places in town that, even thought it's a small place and I've been back many times, I hadn't been to in many years.
- Alleys were particularly interesting. My friends and I used to ride bikes and play in alleys all the time but I felt nervous heading down the first one, as though I was trespassing.
- One of the things I enjoy about living in a small town is how quickly you can transport yourself to wide-open space. Houses that feel very much "in town" have unimpeded views for miles.
- Though the town is small, circling a good portion of it still took around two hours.
- Businesses owned by entities outside of the town often were the most difficult to walk to or around.

Urban Patterns: 2 Walks in 1 Day

When I thought about the shape I'd like to walk, I thought it would be interesting to survey the busiest parts of my Sellwood/Moreland neighborhood. I walked a rectangle twice in one day, morning and evening. It was one of the hottest days and I noticed how peoples' patterns had changed with the heat. In the morning, it was very quiet. A bench with a view over Oaks Bottom (in drawing) was a quieter spot than usual. As it began to cool down near dusk, on my second walk, the neighborhood was bustling. Everyone chose to be outside in the cool of the evening, shopping, exercising, gardening, hanging out on porches. 

                                                    Drawing of the view from a favorite bench.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Omar Lara’s Blog – Building a Walking Practice

Since the beginning of our class I tried to create ways of walking that would allow me put in practice different walking-styles. As an example I wanted to create styles where I could reduce stress, and help me to engage myself with meditation. I wanted to find ways of walking I never tried before, after sometime I finally got some ideas. It took me no time deciding which style I was going to try, and my idea is as follows:

     The idea implies using a dice with only three numbers on it, those numbers are: 1, 3 and 5.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Walking Mindfully as a Practice

The most significant takeaway I can claim from building a walking practice is--

Make a conscious choice to enjoy your present experience.

Here's why:

Any time we cast value on an experience, we're influenced by a lot of factors that we don't necessarily credit.

You know how music can influence experience?

Well, I've learned that taking a walk while listening to Kid Cudi is a totally different experience than taking a walk while listening to Mac DeMarco. And that if a song comes on that I don't like but I don't skip/change it because I'm distracted by my thoughts and not paying attention to its effect on my psyche, I can quickly become increasingly agitated and suddenly am not enjoying my time on the walk. Similarly, I'm more likely to perceive things consistently positively if I'm really enjoying the music I'm listening to.

I didn't mean to integrate listening to different genres as part of my walking practice- but my walks evolved into that. It was funny what different types of things I would notice depending on what genre I was listening to- hip hop highlights pretty different stuff than 60s-era country, for example. And my feelings about whatever was playing always had a strong impact on my mentality throughout the walk.

This practice basically reminded me how subjective every experience is.

If we find negative feelings regarding a circumstance outside our control, there are probably measures we can take to reach a more pleasant mindset.

Just like changing the music when we hear something we don't like, we can change our attitudes as we walk through life, yielding a totally new experience.

Walking Practice

When I began a walking practice almost a month ago, I decided to walk to the top of a hill every day. It didn't have to be a huge ordeal, just a simple place where pavement or a trail flattened out. I live in SW Portland, so there was no lack of hills, and I found this practice really beneficial. There is something so rewarding about reaching the top of a hill. It always feels like an accomplishment, where the difficulty is rewarded with level ground. In the bigger picture of life, this is true as well. Physically walking to the top of hills has helped me mentally and emotionally make it to the top of hills as well. Instead of feeling like certain tasks or situations are impossible, I can imagine them as a small, or large, hill and just slowly work my way up. Our strides shorten, we must take smaller steps, and we must not look at the very top, but rather step by step.

The journey to Timberline Lodge was the same, only on a much grander scale. Each day, I told myself to not think about the entire trip. I was only going to think to the next stop sign, to the next turn in the road, the next few miles. And after 5 days, I could look back and realize all the little landmarks built up to one big one.  After 5 days, I had walked the entire way. It was a very humbling experience. I hurt a tendon in my heel on day 2, and spent much of the rest of the trip in pain. But the pain came and went. I could find a rhythm, and could find myself walking 14 miles on a hurt foot, without really even realizing how much I was in pain, or the significance of the distance I had traveled. I was simply putting one foot in front of the other, and observing how my body felt. Once I relaxed into the pain and the situation, it stopped hurting as much. My life is becoming more and more parallel to this trip, with painful moments that seem as if they will never leave. But the more I look back on these moments, I don't remember the pain. I remember that it was hard, but all I can see is how far I have come, and step by step I have walked my way into a new way of seeing myself and the world around me.

Timberline is really just a parking lot in the sky, but for this journey it was a goal that none of us could truly imagine reaching. Until we did. 11 of us started as mostly strangers, and ended up an entire support system. We accomplished something huge. Physically, mentally, and emotionally we walked ourselves into a new way of seeing things. Even if it was just for a moment. Walking is one of the most rejuvenating activities; when we slow ourselves down, we experience the world and ourselves differently. Over the course of 60+ miles, this has a very real impact. Wherever we all end up in life, we can look back and understand that for 5 days, we came together and walked up a hill together. We made it to level ground again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Learning From the Landscape as a Walking Practice

Learning From the Landscape as a Walking Practice

Walking is a liberating motion that can be for pure enjoyment or accompanied with a sense of determination and purpose.  Most walkers would describe their trips as common walks to the store, work or school.  For those reasons, most people jump in cars for efficiencies sake instead of making the trip on foot. Because of the current busy pace of life, there is just not enough time to walk very often and really enjoy various walking practices.

Deliberation in purpose can help to set aside specific frameworks for walking practice.  Learning from the landscape is an easy form of gathering walking observations.  Taking roadside samples of pictures, drawings or brief journal writings can compile information about biological habitat, human interactions and use, geological conditions, historical events and other vicarious discoveries. 

For instance, pick five landmark points that you would like to visit in your neighborhood and map out your route on paper.  Prepare to set out on your first walk by making an equipment list of things that are important to you for the trip, such as writing paper and pencil, camera, food, and other items that you determine as useful, taking into consideration your ability to easily transport them along the way.  Proper clothing and shoes are important.  Expect that your first several trips will be experimental in nature and subsequent adaptations of your gear are expected. Whether fancy or simple, the goal for the walking trip preparation is to be sure that you are as comfortable as possible throughout the trip.

Monday, July 21, 2014

From Start to Finish

I started the walk from Portland State to Timberline Lodge knowing it would be hard, but not realizing how much I would learn along the way. On the academic side of knowledge, presentations of the history, politics, and ecology of places along the way were incredibly engaging. Walking through a space forced me to pay attention to my surroundings. Hearing about history while I was standing in the space that it happened allowed me to connect to the information, and experience it firsthand. I left the trip knowing more about the Oregon Trail, urban growth boundaries, and small communities along the way than I could ever have remembered from a textbook. And the knowledge will last with me forever, because I experienced the area, and I created real memories of it all. From the Springwater Corridor where Mt. Hood looked like a speck in the distance, to the Glade Trail where the top of Mt. Hood peaked out from the clouds, this walk was challenging, rejuvenating, engaging, and fun. No other class has taught me more about myself and what I can accomplish.

Garden Graze Walk

Garden Graze
It is not possible to walk without making some decisions,
unless perhaps you are sleep walking.
Follow your eyes, nose, taste.
Follow a bee, moth or slug.
Observe, compare what is greener, what is fading, why?
Move up and down, lower to the ground.
Crumble the earth.
and wiggle your toes and hands,
Move on.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014


This course will examine various aspects of Oregon’s regional natural history and contemporary urban and rural issues through place- based art experience and by exploring ways that walking plays a role in contemporary artist practice. Five days of the five-week, 6 credit, class will be spent walking, presenting, and camping out on a route from PSU to Timberline Lodge. Leading up to the walk classes will meet online to discuss readings and prepare for the journey. All student participants will be responsible for presenting research related to the environment we travel through, and for documenting using various approaches (photography, video, drawing, audio recording, etc.) the experience. The documentation will be used after the walk as part of a web based presentation about the project. To see video documentation of a previous similar project go to: Exploratorium Project. If you have interest in the class and/or would like additional information regarding timelines and student responsibilities, email Eric Steen at esteen(at)

Additional Information

Course Numbers
Art 410/510

Harrell Fletcher and Eric Steen

Course Dates
June 23-July 27. The class will meet online, once a week, for the first three weeks. All students will be required to attend preliminary meetings in person on July 14th and 15th. The dates of the actual walk are set for July 16-20. During the final week, we will wrap up the class online.

Here is a list of class meeting times:
Tues. June 24 / 5-6:30pm / online (or in person if you're in Portland)
Tues. July 1 / 5-6:30pm / online (or in person if you're in Portland)
Tues. July 8 / 5-6:30pm / online (or in person if you're in Portland)
Mon. July 14 / 1-4pm / in-person
Tues. July 15 / 1-4pm / in-person
July 16-20 / Walk from PSU to Timberline
Thurs. July 24 / 5-6:30pm / online (or in person if you're in Portland)

Our Route
We will soon post our route on Google Maps.

What Supplies Do I Need?
We will camp out at various locations on the way. For students who do not have the necessary gear, the PSU Outdoor Program will provide some camping and hiking equipment. Some food will be provided through course fees. Details will be discussed together.

Not A Current PSU Student?
But you still want to take this course? Here is information about signing up for classes as a Non-Degree Seeking Student.

Video Documentation
On our walk, we will be joined by a PSU videographer. He will create a short documentary about our journey for use on the School of Art and Design website, and to promote the class in the future. Students may be on that video so we will ask students to sign release forms.

If you have unanswered questions about this course, email Eric Steen at esteen(at)