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The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico
Written by Tanner Ballengee   
Friday, 04 April 2014 10:50

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again.

So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.

Words & Photos: Tanner Ballengee

For weeks before our departure date I became terribly depressed. I had heard countless warnings and cries from very concerned friends and family members about how dangerous the Mississippi River is, and how many lives it claims each year. Everyone had his or her doubts that we would make it; either we'd give up somewhere down the line, or someone would die.

Hell, I even had my own doubts. Many told me that they didn't want me to go. They were terrified of what might happen (and so was I); yet there was no stopping any of us.

Eventually I had to come to terms with the fact that at least one of us was going to die.

I had to accept that at least one of us was either going to drown, or get killed by the countless predators that haunt the Mississippi (bears, alligators, bull sharks). I was forced to watch my mother cry when we met for dinner, for what she believed would be our last.

But it was a feeling that I'm starting to become comfortable with. There's that certain fear you must embrace when you take that first step out your door. I'd felt the same feelings the day before I flew to Thailand in August 2012. I decided that I wanted to travel because if I didn't, I would destroy myself at home—death by boredom, so to speak. But at the same time living a traveling, inconsistent lifestyle is like signing your own death warrant.

Well, I didn't die.

Three of those friends I started with called it quits around St. Cloud, MN, for various reasons, leaving Conner and I to set out by ourselves again. After over 50 days of paddling, we landed in Pepin, WI, where our trip would take a big turn.

It's an understatement to say that you learn a lot when you travel—about yourself, others, and the world around you.

For example: I learned that I hate canoeing. -->CONTINUE READING

Maybe not at first, but when it's eight hours a day, every single day, for 50 days straight, you have to be a really weird, fucked up person to enjoy that. I found myself constantly glancing at my watch, waiting for the hour when we could finally turn in and set up camp. It felt like a job, and that feeling sucks.

Pepin, WI, was the last straw. We were both fed up with canoeing and were trying to think of other options. So if you believe in fate, here's one for the books:

By chance, we met two men in Pepin who were so enthralled with what we were doing that they took us out to dinner and got us drunk. We spent the night telling them our travel stories and hi-jinx and watched their eyes light up brighter than the stars in the clear sky that night.

They asked us a question that we were asked often, "Why are you doing this?" And our answer was almost always, "We don't know." We told the two guys that we actually hated canoeing, and weren't sure why we were still trying to go through with it, especially with the harsh Midwest Winter on the fringe.

By the end of our outing, one of the guys, Robert Buntz, sat us down and with a very stern look on his face, told us he was giving us his 22-foot sailboat—entirely free of charge—to finish the trip in. The other man, Dave Sheridan, offered us a place to stay and a week of sailing lessons, also for free.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Expecting it to be merely a night of big boasts and false claims, I didn't have my hopes up when I woke up the next morning. That is, until I heard a knock at the door of our room:

"You boys ready to go sailing in your new boat?"

As amazing and overwhelming as it was, the excitement of our new boat and ultimately new adventure wore off within 24 hours. This is where I learned that I find almost no enjoyment in sailing, and honestly have little interest in ever doing it again. Traveling by road and traveling by river are very different. And I think I can safely say that I will not be traveling by river again any time soon. I can truthfully say that if Rob had not given us that sailboat, I would probably have quit and gone home with my tail between my legs. I think Conner would also agree. But quitting really wouldn't have been that bad. I was unhappy most of the time. It was hard fucking work. Traveling itself is hard fucking work. Unless of course you take the luxury route with hotels and amenities but god knows we couldn't do that (or afford it). I was cold for about 80 days straight. Finding a place to park a sailboat (for free) every night was a pain in the ass. I had bounding relationship problems that ended in disaster. I was a sad, pathetic pile for a majority of my travels.

But hey, it could've been worse, right? I could have been working. Though at times I wished that I still was. But I can't complain. I got to do things that people wish they could do in their lifetimes, but for many reasons, can't. I'm lucky to have been able to slip through the cracks of adulthood and responsibility and still act like I'm 17 at age 24.

It goes without saying that this was an amazing and life-changing experience. I got to see snapping turtles fucking, sleep in a national park where a wolf attacked a teenager the week before, risk my life dodging tows and barges and ocean liners, meet hundreds of remarkable humans, roll a canoe on a skateboard past an outdoor wedding just as they said their vows, look up homeless shelters on a smartphone, see my face all over the local news in the Quad Cities, pick up hitchhiking canoers, listen to Rancid in an ambulance, sleep at a fire station, and countless other memories that I'll never forget.

What's in store for the future? Another "Barge"? Another zine? Another book to start writing and not finish? I don't know. I guess we'll all have to wait and see. All I know for sure is that I'm not making any plans from now until forever.

FOR MORE WORDS AND PHOTOS FROM THIS GREAT TRIP, CHECK: http://theharshbarge.blogspot.com/

Alison Blickle @NYC's Kravets Wehby Gallery

Los Angeles based Alison Blickle who showed here in San Francisco at Eleanor Harwood last year (PHOTOS) recently showed new paintings in New York at Kravets Wehby Gallery. Lovely works.


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Peter Gronquist @The Shooting Gallery

If you like guns and boobs, head on over to the Shooting Gallery; just don't expect the work to be all cheap ploys and hot chicks. With Make Stuff by Peter Gronquist (Portland) in the main space and Morgan Slade's Snake in the Eagle's Shadow in the project space, there is plenty spectacle to be had, but if you look just beyond it, you might actually get something out of the shows.


Jay Bo at Hamburg's Circle Culture

Berlin based Jay Bo recently held a solo show at Hamburg's Circle Culture featuring some of his most recent paintings. We lvoe his work.


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Fifty24SF opened Street Anatomy, a new solo show by Austrian artist Nychos a week ago last Friday night. He's been steadily filling our city with murals over the last year, with one downtown on Geary St. last summer, and new ones both in the Haight and in Oakland within the last few weeks, but it was really great to see his work up close and in such detail.


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FRENCH in Melbourne

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Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


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Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

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The Albatross and the Shipping Container

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The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.



contact FF

Alexis Anne Mackenzie - 2/28
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 10:21

SAN FRANCISCO --- Alexis Anne Mackenzie opens Multiverse at Eleanor Harwood in the Mission on Saturday, Feb 28th. -details

a_m


 

The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 10:34

When works of art become commodities and nothing else, when every endeavor becomes “creative” and everybody “a creative,” then art sinks back to craft and artists back to artisans—a word that, in its adjectival form, at least, is newly popular again. Artisanal pickles, artisanal poems: what’s the difference, after all? So “art” itself may disappear: art as Art, that old high thing. Which—unless, like me, you think we need a vessel for our inner life—is nothing much to mourn.

lead

Hard-working artisan, solitary genius, credentialed professional—the image of the artist has changed radically over the centuries. What if the latest model to emerge means the end of art as we have known it? --continue reading

 

"Six Degrees" @FFDG
Friday, 16 January 2015 09:30

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17_ms

Work by Meryl Pataky

 

In Wake of Attack, Comix Legend Says Satire Must Stay Offensive
Friday, 09 January 2015 09:59

Ron-Turner

Ron Turner of Last Gasp

"[Satire] is important because it brings out the flaws we all have and throws them up on the screen of another person," said Turner. “How they react sort of shows how important that really is.” Later, he added, "Charlie took a hit for everybody." -read on

 

Solidarity
Thursday, 08 January 2015 09:36

charlie

 

SF Bay Area: What Might Have Been
Tuesday, 06 January 2015 09:36

tiburonbridge

The San Francisco Bay Area is renowned for its tens of thousands of acres of beautiful parks and public open spaces.

What many people don't know is that these lands were almost lost to large-scale development. link

 

1/5/14 - Going Back
Monday, 05 January 2015 10:49

As we work on our changes, we're leaving Squarespace and coming back to the old server. Updates are en route.

The content that was on the site between May '14 and today is history... Whatever, wasn't interesting anyway. All the good stuff from the last 10 years is here anyway.

###########
 

Jacob Mcgraw-Mikelson & Rachell Sumpter @Park Life (5/23)
Friday, 23 May 2014 09:22

Opening tonight, Friday May 23rd (7-10pm) at Park Life in the Inner Richmond (220 Clement St) is Again Home Again featuring works from the duo Jacob Mcgraw-Mikelson & Rachell Sumpter who split time living in Sacramento and a tiny island at the top of Pudget Sound with their children.

Jacob Magraw will be showing embroidery pieces on cloth along with painted, gouache works on paper --- Rachell Sumpter paints scenes of colored splendor dropped into scenes of desolate wilderness. ~show details

park_life

 

NYPD told to carry spray paint to cover graffiti
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 10:37

nyc_graffitiNYC --- A new graffiti abatement program put forth by the police commissioner has beat cops carrying cans of spray paint to fill in and cover graffiti artists work in an effort to clean up the city --> Many cops are thinking it's a waste of resources, but we're waiting to see someone make a project of it. Maybe instructions for the cops on where to fill-in?

The NYPD is arming its cops with cans of spray paint and giving them art-class-style lessons to tackle the scourge of urban graffiti, The Post has learned.

Shootings are on the rise across the city, but the directive from Police Headquarters is to hunt down street art and cover it with black, red and white spray paint, sources said... READ ON

 

//////////
Wednesday, 16 June 2010 17:39


Headlands Center Fundraiser -6/4/14
Tuesday, 20 May 2014 07:54

SAN FRANCISCO --- The Headlands Center for the Arts is preparing for their largest fundraiser of the year set to go down on June 4th at SOMArts here in the city. Art auction, food, drinks, live music, etc and all for helping to support a great institution up in the Marin Headlands. ~details

ABOUT HEADLANDS
Headlands Center for the Arts provides an unparalleled environment for the creative process and the development of new work and ideas. Through a range of programs for artists and the public, we offer opportunities for reflection, dialogue, and exchange that build understanding and appreciation for the role of art in society.

headlands

 

Congrats, Dudes(ette)
Monday, 19 May 2014 09:29

Just want to say congrats to Fecal Face's Rachel Ralph for graduating from SFAI with her masters in curatorial studies. Also want to congratulate Alex Ziv who also just got his MFA in painting. Also a high five to the talented Mario Ayala who also just graduated from SFAI as well! --- All super talented artists (thinkers), and we're excited to see what the future holds for them!

 

 

 


 

 

 

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Interview w/ Kevin Earl Taylor

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Peter Gronquist @The Shooting Gallery

If you like guns and boobs, head on over to the Shooting Gallery; just don't expect the work to be all cheap ploys and hot chicks. With Make Stuff by Peter Gronquist (Portland) in the main space and Morgan Slade's Snake in the Eagle's Shadow in the project space, there is plenty spectacle to be had, but if you look just beyond it, you might actually get something out of the shows.


Jay Bo at Hamburg's Circle Culture

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NYCHOS @Fifty24SF

Fifty24SF opened Street Anatomy, a new solo show by Austrian artist Nychos a week ago last Friday night. He's been steadily filling our city with murals over the last year, with one downtown on Geary St. last summer, and new ones both in the Haight and in Oakland within the last few weeks, but it was really great to see his work up close and in such detail.


Gator Skater +video

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Ferris Plock Online Show Now Online as of April 25th

5 new wonderful large-scale paintings on wood panel are available. visit: www.ffdg.net


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BANDES DE PUB / STRIP BOX

In a filmmaker's thinking, we wish more videos were done in this style. Too much editing and music with a lacking in actual content. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.


AJ Fosik in Tokyo at The Hellion Gallery

Matt Wagner recently emailed over some photos from The Hellion Gallery in Tokyo, who recently put together a show with AJ Fosik (Portland) called Beast From a Foreign Land. The gallery gave twelve of Fosik's sculptures to twelve Japanese artists (including Hiro Kurata who is currently showing in our group show Salt the Skies) to paint, burn, or build upon.


Ferris Plock - Online Show, April 25th

FFDG is pleased to announce an exclusive online show with San Francisco based Ferris Plock opening on Friday, April 25th (12pm Pacific Time) featuring 5 new medium sized acrylic paintings on wood.


GOLD BLOOD, MAGIC WEIRDOS

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Jeremy Fish at LA's Mark Moore Gallery

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John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.


FRENCH in Melbourne

London based illustrator FRENCH recently held a show of new works at the Melbourne based Mild Manners


Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

Mario Wagner (Berkeley) opened his new solo show A Glow that Transfers Creativity last Saturday night at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco.


Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.


NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.


Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding


"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.


Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.


Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.


The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


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