The Mountain Mouth

Home of Mountain Mouth Press

Kernville’s got The Gallery January 28, 2015

Colley and Vellutini Gallery opening

Dear Neighbors,

We live in a small town. Ten thousand plus, spread out over more than a dozen communities around a lovely, but fake, lake.

So big-town-type happenings are not expected. Yet today I was taken to a new gallery opening in Kernville – less than six miles in a straight line from my place- so I said ok-  I have attended gallery shows and openings from sea to shining sea. New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, L.A., and more…

Still. At the new The Gallery in Kernville, the opening had it all. The place was mobbed from noon until the nudging of the late comers and hard art partiers out the door a half hour after the advertised closing time. The Gallery is a new joint venture partnering KRVAA (Kern River Valley Art Association) and Kern Paiute Council and “Nuui Cuuni”, (Native American Intertribal Cultural Center.)

The small space which used to house a flower shop, was well hung, and dominated by art with local themes, From industrial car-paint drip art, to painting on animal skulls and shells, to my personal show favorite discovery: 86 year old Joan Montano Grant, whose retro style is heart-rendingly persona, evoking War- era magazine illustrations; yet her living subjects, from poets to ponies, have enough personality to jump off the canvas.

There were exquisite woven baskets and painted gourds from local tribe members. Striking oils of Arabian desert people; gorgeous and sensuous glass works. Intricate wood scroll art depicting California wildlife.

There was even controversy: an artist who was asked to move her paintings due to their subject matter.

"Raven Scolds Klansman, Kah, Kah, Kah," Acrylic 2014  Jennifer Colley

“Raven Scolds Klansman, Kah, Kah, Kah,” Acrylic 2014
Jennifer Colley

Jennifer Colley’s painting “A Raven Scolding the Klansman, Kah Kah Kah!” offended some of the artists whose work was also accepted into the show. Colley, Vice President of the KRVAA, responded by transforming the outside space into as much a gallery experience as inside; and despite having to mount her controversial painting on borrowed wood pallets, sold it before the event concluded, to the private collection of artist Kelly McLane.

There was music by OMG, raffles, great wine, comfortable chairs and food.

When a Saturday afternoon provides this kind of social and cultural thrill, all was missing was a great restaurant with any food not based on beleaguered cows, pigs and chickens, which we would rather pet than eat. If only there were a food truck slinging veg Pad Thai that we could take with a couple beers to an outdoor table we would have achieved Saturday Nirvana.

Alas – yet hurrah- it’s Kernville, so of course, we know somebody, and follow them to their crib and the party goes on, friends show up a banjo and guitar materialize; and people you have seen for years, but don’t really know, look you in the eye, share their dreams, and you have a new friend…

Home, without a fifty dollar cab ride. I spent my day with art, artists, and friends. I love the big city museums and galleries – but equally: Kernville Rocks.

KRVAA Kern River Valley Art Association: A not for profit dedicated to serving local artists and craftspeople since 1962. P.O. Box 588, Kernville, CA The Nuui Cunni Native American Inter-Tribal Cultural Center is a not-for-profit run by the Kern River Tuabtulabal Paiute Council


“Way Off” April 30, 2010

Dear Neighbors,

Well, spring’s officially here; it turned out we weren’t found buried under a pile of chicken bones and feathers after all. This winter was really a challenge, but not like last year, when the driveway piled up so much snow we had to leave the cars at the bottom. You just have not lived until you’ve dragged fifty-pound bags of chicken feed up a half-mile, steep and slippery driveway on a toboggan. In the winter, the closest neighbor is about four miles down that road which becomes a death-slide with a thousand foot drop off….

All in all, we survived the Continuous Blizzard of 2010 fairly well, living here at 5000 feet, at the edge of the Sequoia National Forest.

The horses, mule, and chickens survived outside; the six cats and five dogs had to be bribed to come out, those entitled slackers. Butch and Little demand their little coats. Even though providing a coat for a canine is an embarrassingly American thing to do, they so appreciate it. What can I say? The dogs have me well-trained to provide for their every comfort.

I have lived off the grid almost eight years. It’s something I think everyone driving a Hummer should try. It makes you hyper-aware of your energy consumption, for sure.

Things I don’t miss: Noise. Traffic. Looking for a parking place. Being able to see in your neighbor’s windows. Being able to “run to the store”. Malls. The dubious luxury of leaving computers and lights on.

Things I sometimes miss: using plug-in appliances.

Things I do miss: Pizza, Thai and Chinese food delivery. I have resorted to delving into “Real Thai” and now can whip up a mean Moo Satay.

Once you get used to the fact that that light switch won’t do anything without the house inverter being turned on, once you train yourself to take a flashlight to bed, once you get used to buying propane instead of paying Edison, living off the grid ain’t bad.

I don’t even miss the telephone. That’s right, no land line, no cell service… not one bar. Oprah’s car is a no phone zone. My damn house is a no phone zone. I realize a modern woman should posses a home phone, a cell phone, and maybe a Blackberry. Hands free phone earpieces always makes me think we are being invaded by a new race of bionic humanoids: half man, half phone.

Picture a place where the phone never rings. I’m in control. I can check messages when I’m “in town”. I don’t worry about telemarketers interrupting dinner, or phone scammers or the devil’s spawn, bill collectors. When I’m in the mood to connect I just switch on the inverter, grab the laptop and thanks to wireless, I can sit wherever and check FB or do some writing.

So life here is very rustic but not entirely Paleolithic.

Thing is, for thousands of years, humans did without phones, four slot bagel toasters, computerized coffeemakers, microwaves, refrigerators that deliver ice cubes and defrost themselves, clock-radios, outdoor sodium lamps that banish the night sky, Blu-Ray, Guitar Hero, and, unbelievably, even computers. And it still may be possible to do so!

Without all that distraction, I can actually think… sometimes. Tucked into bed, it is so quiet the only sound is Ted the dachshund’s snores. Up here we replace watching sitcoms with starring in our own (extremely hilarious) reality show. We replace hours on the phone with actual face-to-face conversation; and homemade music. And sometimes the soundtrack is only the wind through pine needles. Other times you can hear us laughing a mile away – or so I have been told.

Yee Haw,

The Mountain Mouth