RAIN ON THE PARADE
I’ve long been enthralled by the grand and bizarre opulence of parades. As a child I was hugely impressed by the local Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama. The Fourth of July parade in Ketchikan is a big deal, too, but it always misses the mark for me in representing what this strange and beautiful land called Alaska is really about. So I decided to do my own artist-biologist version of a “half small-town Ketchikan, half big-city Seattle” style parade. Several of my artist and musician pals can be seen in this gigantic charcoal dust drawing, along with many of my favorite fish (wolf eels, a sailfin sculpin, and a musically inclined red snapper). I’m in the lower left with a ratfish on my head. Farther back in the crowd is a Tlingit sculpin headdress as a kind of parallel presence. My wife, Michelle, and her good friend Hilary are in the drawing as well. I rubbed black charcoal dust all over a gigantic piece of white paper, then drew the entire image with a kneaded eraser. My studio became a complete sooty mess and my lungs ached for weeks.