Bits 'n' Pieces: Mapmaker's daughter designs heart-felt exhibit

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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As a mapmaker's daughter, Janice Arnold said she learned early how to simultaneously appreciate the tiny details and the global view.

She described her father, the late Phil Arnold, as "someone whose passion was the intricacies of a map. "Even a simple road — a straight line: We take it for granted, and he'd focus on it with magnifier glasses," she said.

That one spot, in turn, "was part of a whole map of a city," she said.

That cartographer's perspective helped influence Janice Arnold's own future as a felt artist, she said.

Those creative paths intersect in "Uncharted Territory," a father-and-daughter exhibit of two ancient traditions that opens at 5 p.m. today in Vancouver City Hall, 415 W. Sixth St.

Several of Arnold's felt creations were installed in the lobby of City Hall several weeks ago. In Phase 2, she has added new creations and some work by her father, who died in January after having mapped the city of Vancouver since 1947.

He will be represented by maps, as well as some of the hand-drawn creations that were part of producing his maps, such as sheets of mylar coated to hold the ink from his pen.

Janice Arnold also has added some informational panels that describe what went into her City Hall felt art. Some of it is 34 feet long — it started out as 68 feet of material before shrinking during the felting process.

Many of her felt creations are heavily textured, Arnold said, and viewers occasionally note another link with mapmaking. Her textiles can look like topography, with the swells and contours and lines in the felt resembling an aerial view of a landscape.

She will discuss the project in greater detail at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at City Hall in the Aspen Conference Room. The artwork will be on display until Thanksgiving and can be seen during regular business hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The exhibit is part of the Vancouver Downtown Association's "Art in the Heart" program.

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.