A couple of years ago, I sat down with David Paul Bayles at his Philomath-area studio for an interview about his then-latest exhibit at the local museum. A talented photographer with a fascinating background, I enjoyed writing the feature.
Bayles’s work in the exhibit were from his “Falling Trees” and “Sap in Their Veins” collections. It’s 2,000 miles from here, but his images are the focus of an exhibit, “Still, Trees,” currently up at Middle Tennessee State University. Last month, he took part in a couple of speaking engagements — one of which was about his collaboration with retired U.S. Forest Service scientist Frederick Swanson. They worked together to document the landscape of the Holiday Farm Fire that destroyed more than 173,000 acres in 2020 in the McKenzie River Valley.
According to a press release about his Tennessee exhibit, Bayles has been in a residency at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest near Blue River “capturing new images of forests and other landscapes, including documenting floods, fires and other disasters, to show how the earth survives.”
If you want to learn more about Bayles, check out his website.
Elsewhere online, I came across a piece by Sarah Herrington on the Los Angeles Review of Books website about writer Devon Walker-Figueroa, who grew up in the Philomath vicinity. You may remember this Q-and-A with Walker-Figueroa that Philomath News published back in September.
Walker-Figueroa, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, authored “Philomath: Poems.” Herrington begins her essay with the story about how they first met “in a ghost town” — a town of nine residents in the mountains of Laconia, Greece. They were meeting this time in Brooklyn.
An excerpt from Herrington’s essay:
“When I opened her debut collection, Philomath, I saw this hunting, empathic eye in the context of her work. Philomath, winner of the 2020 National Poetry Series selected by Sally Keith, was named after her home, another ghost town, in the Oregon Coast Range. Philomath offers work both precise and spanning, poems that skip across the page, making use of white space and breath, or delivered in chunks dense as certain memories. The result is a lyrical testament to where we grew and what will never leave us.”
In that excerpt, the description of Philomath as “ghost town” is not literal — it’s a reference to the article’s theme, “On hunting ghosts.”
In the conversation that follows, Walker-Figueroa mentions Kings Valley, which she describes as “a literal ghost town, and you feel it when you’re out there. It’s also known for being haunted.”
Interesting stuff. Give the article a read here.
(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).