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ON RAIN matt love

North Coast photographers dive into the wet stuff.

Inspired by the courage of Oregon writer Matt Love to commit to a year’s worth of columns on rain, it was thus upon us. When it fi rst hit, (the rain) there was a collective response from North Coasters . . . shock. We had begun to get used to this “other worldly climate” ruled by the sun, somehow imagining it to be the new standard.

To creatively usher in the true season, HIPFiSH in partnership with Lightbox Photographic Gallery in Astoria, called upon the region’s photographers — whose medium has high potential to connect us with the moment. In these few pages they share images and impressions that may serve to transcend.

Also this month of November, the photographers on these pages, celebrate their medium at LightBox Photographic Gallery in the annual Members Exhibit. You’ll fi nd an ON RAIN exhibit in addition to a vast selection of images from the regions many talented photographers. Enjoy!

– Dinah Urell

Finally, the rain fell on the Oregon Coast, after a record summer/fall drought.

Thank
Ken Kesey! Now I can’t launch my new literary endeavor: a column on
rain for Hipfi sh, written in real time, with the modest ambition to
become the greatest column on rain in the history of world journalism.
And probably the only one.

I
live on the Oregon Coast, a place where a direct hit of black latitude
and white longitude (a small mountain range near the ocean) creates a
perfect gray cloistering and geographical claustrophobia that produces
and average of 300 cloudy days and 70 inches of orographic rainfall a
year. It is also a place that receives a vast majority of its
precipitation in the winter, as opposed to other areas in North America
east of the Rockies that receive most of their rainfall in the summer.

It
can rain 100 inches in one year here. The word pluvial is a noun
defined, “as a period marked by increased rainfall” and an adjective,
“relating to or characterized by rainfall.” The Oregon Coast is pluvial
in winter. That is the last time I will employ pluvial in this column.
It sounds terrible, academic.

I
recently fi nished a biography of James Cain, author of The Postman
Always Rings Twice and Mildred Pierce and came across a line that
startled me. This is a paraphrase: “A writer with ambition has to become
a pelagic fish,” meaning he has to swim out to open water where it’s
deep.

Is rain deep? Is there any chance a column on rain could end up a success?

A
national book deal where I sign the contract in a big city where people
dressed in suits wield umbrellas as a fashion accessory? What is
success in writing? What is ambition? I don’t know but I do know I want
to write about rain in a way no one ever has before. Perhaps I will
include some science, but I much prefer impressionism to meteorology and
making mix tapes to stored music in clouds. (Memo: while writing this
book, make a mix tape using only rock songs with the word “rain” in the
title.)

My portable
Italian typewriter, rescued from a Newport thrift store, a virgin,
stands ready to pound out this tome. I choose to write on a typewriter
because the sound of a manual typewriter in action almost exactly
replicates the sound of a hard rain hitting the skylights of my cabin.
Furthermore, I’m into tactile things these days and if rain is nothing
else, it is tactile. Rain will never be digitized.

I
don’t know where this column begins, let alone will end. Conceiving an
ending seems as improbable as locating compassion in a Republican’s
heart. I’ll just follow E.L. Doctrow’s lead: “Writing is an exploration.
You start from nothing and learn as you go.” I will explore the rain
with the same pioneering zeal as Jacques Cousteau explored under the sea
with his invented equipment. In his incredible memoir The Silent World,
Cousteau wrote:”Sometimes we are lucky enough to know that our lives
have been changed, to discard the old, embrace the new, and run headlong
down an immutable course.”

Actually,
I walked down my immutable course and it was raining, always raining.
During the winter I had suffered an emotional crisis and decided to walk
right into the rain in hope of discovering a secret passage through the
misery. I found it. I embraced rain and let it transfigure me.

Perhaps
I’ll write on my columns on that. Or perhaps it’s nobody’s business but
mine—and hers. She didn’t really get the rain. Is it any wonder we’re
not together?

Matt
Love lives in near Newport and is the author/editor of eight books about
Oregon, available at independent book stores or his web site at
nestuccaspitpress. com. He can be reached at lovematt100@yahoo.com and would love to hear your rain story.

 

d o n f r a n k

Father
and Son. If you don’t play in the rain, you don’t play. Of all the
lessons a father can pass onto a son, perhaps it is the tutorial from
the son to the father which stands out. Life is short, and messy, and
wet, and what are you waiting for? Time to play, especially in the rain.

m i c h a e l m a t h e r s

Flavel
in the rain. Knowing that a light was always on, I arrived at the site
pre-dawn , set up my 10’ ladder and 15’ tripod, so I would be level with
the house and not trespassing. Most important was my strap-on golf
umbrella. Some neighbors must have called the police, because 2 squad
cars showed up. As they got out of their cars, I said “Don’t shoot, it’s
only Umbrella Man. I’m a professional photographer.”

d a v i d l e e m y e r s

The
views from my home in Astoria are at once epic and intimate: big skies
and big water, thick with weather. Rolling clouds, fog, and every form
of water and wind. The light ranges from luminiscent to soft and heavy. I
have come to feel at home in this, to treasure the everyday and exult
in the extremes. Is it odd to find comfort in the rhythm of the rain on
my roof, of wind and hail on my windows? I think not: I suspect I have
company in this.

b i l l j e n s e n

As
a photographer native to the Pacific Northwest rain must be embraced.
It expresses itself as refreshment, a cleansing element, a power of
growth, a refractor of light, an atmosphere translator. A single fi gure
with umbrella hints of rain and a somewhat monochrome palette tells us
it’s likely winter. The division between cement and dune provides a
contrast and solitary, but safe and shielded, path through which to
progress.

z a n  h a r e

All
of us have driven to Portland and back in the pouring rain. Defroster
on high, wipers slapping frantically back and forth. I was on such a
drive recently with my husband. The sun was shining through the trees, a
tantalizing promise not yet fulfi lled. I captured this image through
the window expressing the rain experience that we all share.

don frank

The
Tides By The Sea has provided a dry respite for visitors since 1928.
The south Seaside landmark has an army of ocean front rooms to watch
both the rain and tide roll in from the comfort of a cozy sofa. The
glorious views belie the hard truth that the rainy season can be a rough
one. Buildings get battered, roofs ripped off, and trees torn down. But
all dogs need to get out for a walk and so we stray from the comforts
of our rooms and with luck, fi nd appreciation for the showers.

r e b e c c a a k p o r i a y e

In
this night photo, the rain falling on my windshield provides a light
show before my eyes, rain pounding on my rooftop provides the
soundtrack, and the silhouette of the VW punctures my memory. I have
been here before. Camera in hand, I set up for a fairly long exposure.
When I took this photo I had just moved here from the Arizona, where
rain falls mainly during a brief monsoon season. I thought I would miss
those remarkable sound and light shows. Now I know. Rainstorm drama is a
powerful Northwest photographic subject.

d o n f r a n k

The
futile attempt to keep equipment dry when shooting in the rain fails to
compare to the real challenge: How do I make this photo interesting?
For this project, I looked downward, not upward. The end of a raindrop’s
journey is the same as the Timeless Time smokes pack. Both wind up on
the ground, hardly an afterthought for anyone. The rain is supposed to
be cleansing, but in this case, it only mocks the ugliness of
thoughtless litter by making it a beautiful subject.

m i c h a e l g r a n g e r

With
the onset of the rainy season this photographer awakens to the drama
and the excitement of the approaching storms as visual and sensual
treats, never complaining of the gray wetness that bring beauty, life
and renewal to the North Coast.