artistsMaria Sykes

Geoffrey Holstad

artistsMaria Sykes
Geoffrey Holstad

Frontier Fellow February 2015

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Plein air graphic designer, printmaker, citizen meteorologist, and morning person. Subscriber to a strong fun ethic, simplicity, chips & salsa, lake surfing, trail running, always ever optimism, bad coffee, classical radio, reading out loud, homemade haircuts, and the snow belt. That air is straight from Canada, we’re stoked.

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Love That Whitewater

Arrive Moab 10:45am (Canyonlands Field), propeller plane, flying low, dip the wing, a nod to the canyon. The river is so green, must be the one. I think I saw Green River (the town) from the plane, under a single cloud. Mary ferry into town through a Maynard Dixon-y landscape. Quick hellos over a taco truck lunch. Around town tour with Mary, more introductions, get settled into my studio corner for the next five days. Welcome pizza lasagna dinner at the Whitehaus and reading through Mary’s zines, recapping new projects since seeing everyone last. So sleepy, early to bed, early to rise.


Moab morning with Mary and Ginny. Breakfast at Love Muffin Café, with lots of terracotta-dusty mountain bikers, huevos rancheros. Finally got to see Ken Sanders’ Back of Beyond Books. Ken is an old friend of Ed Abbey’s. Far worthy of another solo visit, to really dig through everything. Thrift runs, pick up a bike tire for Armando, a stop at the Rock Shop on the edge of town. The extra dirty rocks outside are cheaper. Car tour and light hikes through Canyonlands on the way home, big sky, no fellow visitors, off-season. Back in Green River for some kickoff computer work and then set up camp in the canyon. Cold but welcome, the river surprisingly loud. Set up the tent fly to cut the wind and collected more than enough firewood (dead, twisted, exposed roots on the shore of the river) in an hour. Read “The Pony Express” before settling in to bed in all the clothes I brought (my bag is empty). Thanks to that strategy, not cold a bit, and slept really sound.

Back to the office at dawn. Truck is packed and the crew is ready to hit the dirt road to Goblin Valley, and BLM-bits outside Green River. On the road, along bumpy, washed out two-track. An exciting, snowy haze makes everything cloudy and muted. It looks cold, and soon feels so. We drop our bags at the yurt, and hit the trail for an 8-mile hike through slot canyons and snow down Little Wild Horse Canyon and out Bell Canyon. So beautiful, and hauntingly quiet. No trace of man, outside of wandering, sandy, narrow singletrack. More snow, the deeper we get into the canyon, through gravel washes and boulder fields. I record whistling free jazz scores, directed by the tracing of single falling snowflakes from the top of the canyon walls to the mud-puddle floor. Is it easier to hike the loop this way or the other way? Sandwiches and summer camp stories back at the yurt, the candles lit long enough to see the snow accumulate.

Snowy day! A shame to have to hightail it back to Green River. Spend the day finishing up design on the Canyon Country Filmstrip Nite Handbill. The evenings’ screening went swimmingly thanks to Tim and Maria. Great turnout, stoked to share this project with everyone!

The rest of my stay this trip is devoted to beginning work on a longer project to design a suite of tee graphics and assets for Epicenter, the John Wesley Powell River History Museum, and the City of Green River. Skateboard for three-a-day coffees from Shady Acres, evening Northern Exposure work dates with Chris and Mary. Two quiet studio days and studio nights.

Self-led tour through the abandoned Grand Circle T-Shirt Shop, an old print-to-order souvenir tee shop on main street in Green River. Dust colored whitewater rafting tees, still hanging around the perimeter of the ceiling, waiting for their season. I take nothing but photos, a Xeroxed catalog, and a sun-faded postcard of Delicate Arch. So much graphic inspiration for this tee project in Green River, showcasing the town as the unique, outdoor recreation destination that it still is today.

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I hit the road west with Mary, on U.S. Route 50 (The Loneliest Highway) for Lake Tahoe, tired and inspired. Hot spring hopping, crawling over snow covered passes, petroglyph sites, and Western Family Cinnamon Candy Hearts.

Have you seen Bob?

Watch “Canyon Country Filmstrip Nite” On Watch This In A Yurt Google Doc.
More Photos From This Residency Here.