Friday, May 27, 2016


I've been dreaming of Titans. I've been dreaming of Titan arms grabbing at fire and orbs and elements of the cosmos.

Last night, when I couldn't sleep, I wrote. The poem that follows, "Titan," and the chalk piece born of it are rough-and-tumble drafts of dreams.

This first draft of the poem took about 20 minutes. The chalk art took about the same amount of time.

I've alternated details of the chalk art and the lines of the poem.



The Titan’s hand
holds a fruit of the kosmos

orb      star      sphere

gem of immense beauty
oracle of end      and death

The Titan’s mouth
parts to reveal an abyss
maw      mouth      mere
saw of shark teeth
row upon row      upon row

swallow stones

and shit into the street

new life




View more photographs of "Titan" HERE.



If disc golf can be a form of prayer, and I believe it can, then I prayed hard today.


This past week, I was given a some discs that belonged to a friend of mine who committed suicide a few years ago. Derek was a kid who I  served as Sunday school teacher to when he was in high school. As an adult, he discovered that the two of us shared a love for many things—especially disc golf, craft beer, and heavy metal music. Occasionally, we would get together and talk about God and faith and life, as well as the darkness and depression that we also shared.

He and I talked about getting together to play disc golf a couple of weeks before he took his life, so we never did get out on the course together. I wish we had. I wish we had been able to have another one of our discussions about the world and our places in it. But we didn't.

So, today, I added two of his discs into my bag and headed off to the White River disc golf course. I listened to Australasia by Pelican in the car on the way there. It was an album that he recommended to me and I picked up almost immediately after he did so.


At White River, I exclusively used his Gateway Apache as my driver and his Gateway Element as my mid-range disc. I've never thrown Gateway discs, but I loved both of these. I am pretty sure that I'm going to use the Apache as one of main drivers, since I liked its slightly smaller diameter. It was easier for me to throw than some of my other drivers and definitely more controllable.

I played a 65 (+9) from the red tees. (All holes are par 3, except hole 14 which was par 5 and 735 feet from tee to basket.)


I played and prayed for Derek, that he may know God's mercy and love, wherever he is as he awaits resurrection and new life in Jesus Christ. I played and prayed for Derek's family and the immense loss and sorrow that they feel in his absence, and for healing for all of them. I played and prayed for my own mourning at the death of someone so young, who seemed so full of life, but who hit a moment that he thought he couldn't escape from in any other way. I played and prayed for my own healing, since disc golf started as a form of physical therapy for me after a disc blew out in my back.


Derek, I thank your father for the discs. I am glad that I got to play them today. I would rather you had been there on the course with me, in person, but know that I played them (and prayed them) in memory of you. Rest in peace my friend. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Step 1. Photographic "sketch" for "Grasp/Star Hand."

Step 2. Pencil sketch for "Grasp/Star Hand." Pencil on paper. 5 1/2" x 4 1/4".

"Grasp/Star Hand" by Troy's Work Table. Tempera paint, sidewalk chalk, and chalk pastels on chalkboard. Tuesday 17 May 2016. 22" x 22".

A layer of tempera paint is applied on the chalkboard in the shapes I want and allowed to dry. Then I add details in sidewalk chalk and chalk pastels.


Each step gets a bit further from "in real life" and as it does flattens out a bit more, but I love each of these steps it its own right.

My muse had insisted that I chalk another larger-scale version of "Pluck" in sidewalk chalk at Frost Park, but I had something else in mind. I was very unhappy with the resulting chalk piece, but I should have known better than to disobey my muse. Anyway, she requested later in the day that I do a companion "hand" piece to "Pluck," so I did. The muse was happy! (And so was I.)

Friday, May 13, 2016


Tokonoma at Pacific Bonsai Museum. All of My Love and Apologies, acrylic on wood, 2016, by Joe Vollan.


The Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way, Washington is an underappreciated treasure. It's a botanical garden focusing on bonsai and it is always free. (10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday)


Right now, they are showing an exhibit that highlights some of their bonsai alongside skateboard decks hand painted by Pacific Northwest street artists. Traditionally, tokonoma are small alcoves in the entrance of Japanese homes that highlight (1) a (usually) seasonally-themed scroll or artwork and/or calligraphy; (2) a bonsai; and (3) flowers or an accent plant. Pacific Bonsai Museum has played with the notion of tokonama a bit by (1) showing their tokonama outside; and (2) substituting the scroll with skateboard decks.


On the morning I was there, I arrived right at 10 a.m. when they opened and essentially had the entire exhibit to myself. I was able to wander through the exhibit multiple times, returning and spending additional time with the pieces that spoke strongest to me.


I highly recommend a visit if you enjoy gardening, looking at flowers and plants, street art, or skateboarding. It runs through October 2, 2016.


Pencil sketch of "Pluck." Pencil on paper. 4 1/4" x 5 1/2".

The muse was pressing on the notion of the Titans and the tasks to which they were fated—Atlas holding up the firmament of heaven; Prometheus stealing fire from the Olympians; Kronos eating a stone thinking it to be his infant child—as well as two non-Titan mythological figures that I conflate with the Titans—Sisyphus eternally rolling his boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down, whereupon he has to start again; and Tantalus, reaching for fruit he can never quite grab.


"Pluck" by Troy's Work Table. Tempera paint, sidewalk chalk, and chalk pastels on chalkboard. 18" x 22". Thursday 12 May 2016.

So the orb for me is that which is plucked, be it fruit or fire or cosmos or stone. The hand doubles as instrument of plucking and pedestal. It seems as though a tree.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


One of my favorite food and beer pairings is The Wife's homemade chicken piccata accompanied by a glass of Anchor Steam beer. The bitterness of the capers is an excellent match to the light brininess and malts of the beer. I always keep one bottle of Anchor Steam in the refrigerator for whenever the wife next makes this dish. Once it's gone, I head off to my favorite beer store to restock the bottle, as well as pick up some other ales and lagers.

Monday, May 09, 2016


"If you enter this world, what will strike you first is its total absence of color. It's a furrowed, battered, bristly world of rugged places and reliefs, enormous fixed or moving waves. But the sea in it is neither green nor blue; it is gray, black, or white. White above all..."

"In Melville's work, whiteness returns like a leitmotiv of demoniacal horror...Melville suffers from a very special kind of color blindness: he is condemned to strip things of their colored appearance, condemned to see white."

—page 138, from "Herman Melville's Moby Dick" by Jean-Paul Sartre, as found in Selected Prose: The Writings of Jean-Paul Sartre, Volume 2