Thanks Jordon Essoe for the

a couple of corrections though:
The cover of Bob Dylan’s All I Really Want To Do is by Sonny and Cher (not the Byrds) and only Amy Berk is a wife and mother.

Visitor Last Night

My dad had a visitor last night. Luckily, he said he’s taken all of his guns out of his house to remove the temptation ….

Montana Part Eight:
Good Housekeeping

I’ve made many references in the descriptions of my work to the influence that my mother has had on my artmaking — her obsession with decorating our home while I was growing up and her love and making of craft-based work. She was actually the first person to introduce me to murals! When I was three, she painted a huge flower mural on my bedroom wall (it’s true — the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree). I’ve just recently asked her to look for pictures of this — she said that she does still have the fabric from the duvet and curtains that she made for the room, a floral design in olive green, turquoise, and white — can’t wait to see that again!

These are two small paintings that my mom did when I was about two. The one on the left is supposed to be her twin sister (I think I know now where I developed my obsession for getting a turtle); and the one the right is me. very cute!

So now I present to you — the home I grew up (from 5 – 16) in it’s current decor.

When I was growing up, the house was an olive green (as was our jeep) … and that’s just the start.

We used to have a huge pine tree (where the lamp near the car is) and a cluster of giant silver oaks on the far right corner. — it had a much woodsier feel to it.

View from our house looking down the block (Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando lived down the street in 1975 while they were filming The Missouri Breaks)

Starting with the kitchen. This is how it looks today.

When I was growing up it was apple green and white. All of the cupboards were painted apple green and where the blue and white wall paper on the stove top island is was an apple green and white gingham — as was the fabric on the window shades (though a larger pattern). The floor was white tile.

The very seventies stone wall divider between kitchen and living room.

The living room today (though it’s the classic misnomer since very little time is actually spent in the room). The textiles and pillow coverings are pieces that I’ve brought back from Indonesia and India over the years.

When I was growing up, the carpet was a green/gold shag; the curtains were olive green velvet; the couches were upholstered with a blue and gold/green plaid; the table cloth on the dining table had the same plaid as the couches; and the far wall near the dining area table was filled with a large collection of owl paintings in all different styles (my brother now owns the collection).

And now for my favorite room, which hasn’t been redecorated over all these years. When I was nine my parents added an addition to our house that included this large room, with a spiral wood staircase that leads up to a skylit balcony and a smaller bedroom (it was my room for several years — and now is my mother’s office). To this day, we still call the room “the new room.”

Montana Part Seven: Final Days

After Carolyn and Ayano left on Wednesday (July 5th), I spent the next four days with my parents in Billings and Red Lodge. As a child growing up there, I loved and appreciated the natural beauty of the state, though as I grew older during high school, I yearned for a more cosmopolitan lifestyle and had dreams of moving to a real city — Montana felt so remote and disconnected from the rest of the world. Now, after having moved away many years ago and lived in Boston and San Francisco, I have a greater appreciation for the life and history of my home state. I love spending time with my parents, who are both very interesting and engaging people. They’re great historians of Montana and have become my best resources. I also love hearing their personal stories of life there over so many years.

From my mom: the time that a horse galloped into her backyard and ended up sticking its head through the backdoor screen; the time that she found a baby deer in the back yard; the bat she found in the bathroom sink that she believed was plastic and had been planted there by my brothers as a joke — and learned it was real when she went to pick it up and it squealed; the woodpecker that got stuck in the fireplace; and the time she went out in the backyard at dusk to find seven little owls lined up on the tree limb with their heads all rotating in sync.

From my dad: the time he woke up to find a baby moose on his deck; the bear he had to shoot several years ago because it repeatedly destroyed his deck during the night — of course, he then had to call the authorities and turn himself in, which resulted in a hefty fine; and the woman who was stomped to death by a moose near his home. She was a tourist, and this happens all the time — not the stomping part, but tourists who come out to visit and treat the wild animals as though they’re like dogs or cats, trying to get close to them to get a good photo or pet them(?!). Not a good idea! A couple of years ago I got trapped for over an hour when I went for hike with one of the dogs (a border collie, who was as nervous as I was) and we came across two moose, a bull (male) and a cow (female) and had to wait for them to move on before we could hike back to the cabin.

dinner with dad and mom in Red Lodge

Red Lodge

The infamous Snow Creek Saloon. My dad told Carolyn, Ayano, and I that we were not to even step foot in the place because of its dangerous atmosphere; he told us that the majority of the cases he prosecuted stemmed from some association with the Snow Creek.

Red Lodge at dusk

Red Lodge

Dad’s new office — love the brick

road to dad’s

dad’s truck loaded with firewood — probably the tree that he was chopping when a piece landed on his foot and broke it.

downtown Billings

train tracks Billings

downtown Billings

downtown Billings

downtown Billings

downtown Billings

mural in downtown Billings

downtown Billings

Great refinished old truck

Another one, not refinished

Toilet paper hit — this was a regular activity when I was in junior high

Montana Part Six:
Home of the Champions Rodeo Day 2

Montana Part Five:
Home of the Champions Rodeo Day 1

The Home of the Champions Rodeo is a three-day event in Red Lodge that includes a parade each day, a “mutton busting” contest for which kids are placed on sheep, wriggling and giggling as the clock times how long the little dogies can ride it out, and the rodeo itself which features bareback, saddlebronc, calf roping, team roping and steer wrestling (among others.)

We went to two days of the Rodeo — the 3rd and the 4th. The first day it started to rain after an hour.

My dad and his friends (the emblem on the baseball hat he’s wearing is the brand for my great, great grandfather, John Vernon Kemp’s cattle ranch.

Carolyn and cowboy Johnny. Johnny sat down by us and had his eyes on Miss Carolyn. Slathering on the charm, he asked us to meet him and his friends later to go out dancing at the Bull and Bear later. My dad was sitting several rows behind us watching all of this, fully amused. When the rodeo ended and we were walking back to the car, he slyly asked us who we were sitting next to and talking it up with. We told him it was some guy named Johnny. He proceeded to tell us that it was John so and so and that he’d prosecuted him for assault with a deadly weapon against his ex-wife and that he’d put a knife to her boyfriend’s throat.

Montana Part Four: Downtown Red Lodge

Following the parade on the 4th, my dad, Carolyn, Ayano, and I stopped in at the Bull and Bear bar and then spent some time walking through downtown Red Lodge before heading out to the Home of the Champions rodeo.

Dad and me

Ayano and cowboy

posing with the local cowboys

(I think they think we’re nuts)

Inside the Snag

Montana Part Three:
Red Lodge 4th of July Parade

Montana Part Two: Red Lodge Day 1

My dad picked Carolyn, Ayano, and I up on Monday morning to head up to Red Lodge where he lives 7 miles outside of town in the mountains. Red Lodge is a small (about 2,000 residents) ski/mountain town, an hour south of Billings, not far from the border of Wyoming. To read more about the history of Red Lodge, click here. Red Lodge is part of Carobon County and my father just resigned as the Carbon County attorney to return to private practice and take a break from the stress that handling many cases of domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse (there’s a huge meth problem in the area) has created for him. We had a great time — barbequed out on the deck next to the river for two nights, took walks through the heavily pined area, slept in the treehouse, drove up to the Cooke City pass (we got caught in a hail storm), went to the 4th of July parade, and attended 2 days of the Home of the Champions Rodeo.

drive to Red Lodge

drive to Red Lodge

Dad’s home

common Red Lodge pets

more pets (Lilly, Blizzard, and Liberty)

Carolyn and Lilly

driving up to the pass

the treehouse

view from tree house

Montana Part One: Billings

I just got back from a week in Montana, visiting my family. My friends Carolyn and Ayano came along to experience the 4th of July, Home of The Champions Rodeo, and get a taste of where I grew up in Big Sky country. Carolyn’s from LA and Ayano’s from Tokyo, so neither have had a trip quite like this.

Billings sunset

Carolyn, Ayano, and my mom in downtown Billings

Rainbow Bar, Montana Street, downtown Billings

Me and Ayano in the Rainbow Bar

HBar Hatworks, downtown Billings

downtown Billings

downtown Billings

downtown Billings — looking out a the Conoco oil refinary

Conoco refinary with American flag flying and No Right Turn sign

Train passing through

downtown Billings

downtown Billings

Rand’s Hatters, downtown Billings

mural on Rands


mural on Rands

downtown Billings

Yellowstone Garage, downtown Billings

There was a national Harley Davidson convention the weekend we arrived so many of the businesses had Welcome Bikers signs posted

pawn shop, downtown Billings

mural, downtown Billings

mural, downtown Billings

graffiti, downtown Billings

downtown Billings

downtown Billings

downtown Billings

Me with my parents — complete mix of the two

More soon!