This is a guest post by my dear friend Murial Barkley-Aylmer.
If you would like to participate in the effort to unite “Hoover” and Woody, it’s as easy as sharing this message with your social networks in whatever way you do—help us to create a trending story so that we are able to get on the radar! If you are reading this and have a more direct connection to Woody, and are able to share Murial’s message with him, my heart would be so grateful, and the town of Chelan would love to thank you personally in kind.
This is the story of a meticulous metal dolphin and a movie star. Join us, as we optimistically set out to unite Woody Harrelson with our art, and our cause—fire victim recovery in Chelan, Washington. Use silly for good!
Theo Ramey is one of the most potent characters of my Lake Chelan childhood. I grew up perusing the shadows of his metal shop, creatures and vehicles and other beauty coming to life through his welding hands. His voice was gruff, his horseshoe mustache unparalleled, and his heart so incredibly kind. One of the greatest gifts I ever received as a child was made by his hands: a bunk bed of metered metal scrap and tin rosettes, all painted lovingly in the shades of girlhood.
When the fires raged through my hometown of Chelan, WA two weeks ago, I reached out to my artist communities for support. I was gathering donation “perks” (or prizes) for an Indiegogo campaign designed to raise money for those experiencing the most profound of the devastation: homes lost, forest charred, livestock, wildlife and pets displaced and injured. Almost immediately, Theo reached out. “ I have a sculpture for your cause. It’s a dolphin.” When I saw the photos, I was awed. Theo has been collecting her parts for 14 years—combing junkyards and antique store back rooms for perfectly comprised hunks of copper, brass, aluminum, and cast-iron. But when I asked for an approximate value, his answer raised my eyebrow. “Well, I was going to ask Woody Harrelson for $10,000…but I suppose that was the ‘movie star’ price.”
Turns out, Theo and Woody were neighbors once upon a time, working and playing in their own ways on Maui. While the two never met in person, Theo was friends with Woody’s cook and housekeeper. One day she brought Theo’s portfolio in to show her boss. When Woody marveled at the polished glory of reinvented junk, she told him, “I wish you could see the piece he is working on right now, a dolphin. It’s beautiful.” And Woody replied, “I’d love to look at it. Have him let me know when it is done.”
Fast forward 10 years, a thousand scrap metal searches, and a relocation to Western WA state: Hey Woody, the dolphin is ready! And her name is Hoover.
Now, I don’t know Woody Harrelson, but as far as celebrities go, I feel like we could be friends. A questioning, boundary-heaving, environmentally-minded activist with a penchant for spontaneous and silly? I’d like to have tea. And maybe it’s crazy, but I feel like he just might be the kind of person who would respond to the quirky plea of a desperate stranger.
Dear Woody Harrelson,
Rumor has it, this dolphin belongs with you. You were in the mind of the artist as he slowly collected its components. Its baby-steps toward existence occurred on a plot of land abutting yours. And when the artist donated its gleaming form to our fundraiser, he did so with your name, laughingly, upon his lips. You already have one foot in our story, and I’d love to invite you the rest of the way in. At ‘regular people price,’ obviously.
Washington state seems perpetually on fire, Woody. You and I both know that the Earth is losing patience with our mismanagement of her resources, of *her* art. The way the West burns seems a clear indicator for change. At the moment, however, my grief is too great to look beyond the immediacy of this wildfire’s aftermath—the people, wildlife, and loved animals that are displaced and experiencing loss in my hometown. I don’t have much in the way of money to contribute to the rebuilding, but I’ve got my words to use, artist friends with generous hearts, and an incurable case of ‘the optimistic’.
If Hoover is your dolphin, Woody, let me know?
Chelan (and me, Murial)
Grow the Love: Supporting Chelan Fire Victims is a collaborative fundraising effort of the grown children of Lake Chelan, WA. Through art, storytelling, and heart-centered reciprocity, we are doing what we can to help rebuild the magic that made us! All donations above $25 are responded to with an artful “perk”—handwritten thank you letters, jewelry, visual and audio art, healing work and services! Check it out http://bit.ly/lovechelan“