Behind The Issaquah

1972 - Behind the Issaquah

This scene was done back in 1972 out behind the old Issaquah in my "sepia pen & ink wash technique." It was one of twelve original drawings that I created to be used at the time on my Master's project for San Francisco State College. These scenes combined with my still photographs and colored slides were filmed from to create a short film that hopefully captured the feeling and look of the houseboat community back then. My friend Lawrence White, who was working on his BFA at the Art Institute in San Francisco at the time, worked with me to create the film. We worked together the winter of 1972 on Shel Silverstein's boat the "Evil Eye" while we were care taking for Shel. Apparently, Shel felt that spending the winter in a room at the Playboy Mansion would be much wanner. As Shel put it when he was suggesting that Larry & I might watch his boat for him "Hef just called me and offered me a room at the Mansion. I don't know whether to stay here on my boat through the winter freezing my ass off or take him up on his offer. He then added, with a twinkle in his eye, it WOULD be much wanner there & there would be GREAT visuals." His decision was obvious! The timing couldn't have been better since Larry & I were looking for a space big enough to work on our film together and Shel's boat was perfect. Re-imagined as a private floating home (which was built over the hull of a World War II balloon barge) by Chris Roberts, an architectural genius who lived at the community, the Evil Eye had the space we required for filming. After spending the winter filming, while also working on Shel's boat doing some hull scraping etc. that was needed, by spring my project was ready to present. Rather than take the film and all the art work we filmed from into a sterile classroom at San Francisco State we invited the head of the Creative Arts department and a couple of my professors onto Shel's boat for a showing. This was a real "happening" to say the least. Many of the ladies at the community put together a wonderful meal. With an abundance of wine, and the movement of the boat combined with the many smells from the feast, fun was had by all, AND I got an A+ on our project. I got my Master's Degree in Creative Arts in 1972 then stayed on at the community until 1978. Larry got his BFA from the Art Institute in 1974 followed by His MFA in 1976. His current work can be seen on his site We are both proud to have spent the past 4 decades since we lived at the community as creative Artists, each capturing our surroundings in our own unique ways. My site shows 4+ decades of timeless scenes I have created around the world.

The Issaquah ran the line from Rodeo to Vallejo over the Carquinez Straits. In 1929, the Carquinez Auto bridge ended the need for ferry service and the ferryboat Issaquah. World War II brought her back into service to bring workers to the Mare Island shipyard. Finally, in 1948, the Issaquah was placed out of service, purchased by Argues for $1,000. and moved to his shipyard at Waldo Point. Her engine and other valuables were removed and she was then used as a houseboat on Argues' property. While I was at the con 'inity between 1970 & 1978 various people were living in each of the pilot houses. Eventually (and thankfully AFTER I left the community in 1978 during the houseboat wars) she Wa. completely demolished for safety reasons etc. The only things to survive are the pilot houses that now stand at the entrance to Galilee.

Speaking of the houseboat wars reminded me that Saul Rouda lived at the time I created this scene on the boat to the right of the Issaquah with his girlfriend back then. Filmmakers Saul Rouda and his friend Roy Nolan, who lived and worked on the waterfront, told the story of this encounter brilliantly in their classic film "The Last Free Ride." Don Argues, who owned property at Waldo Point and had a laissez faire attitude towards his collection of old ferryboats, allowed people to live on the rapidly deteriorating watercraft. This became a haven for writers such as Shel Silverstein and Sterling Hayden, artists like Jean Varda, Chris Roberts and myself and filmmakers such as Larry White & Larry Moyer, philosophers such as Alan Watts and Piro Caro as well as bohemians anxious to be unshackled from the conventions of ordinary society and the demands of landlords and mortgages. I was VERY fortunate to be at the right place at the right time in this creative environment.

Over time the residents of this unique world built a sprawling free-form floating community of salvaged lifeboats, old sailboats, and hand made free-form houseboats, competing to see who could create the most outlandish designs (led by Chris Roberts) living rent free on their floating sculptures until city officials - backed by real estate interests - launched a war to evict them. The "Last Free Ride" captured this incredible story in a home-made film with all the naive charm of a theater presentation, with beautiful photography and amazing reporting that could only be captured by people who were actually living the life. To see this film featuring Joe Tate and his scrappy rock band the REDLEGS going through their daily lives of playing music, hanging out, boat building, partying, and ultimately battling the cops for their floating homes - go on line & type in THE LAST FREE RIDE. A film that truly captured that magic time, it shows a group of creative people not just living for free, but freely. IT WAS THE MOST CREATIVE PERIOD OF MY LIFE and led to what has been a life long career as an Artist & free thinker.

Behind the Issaquam

Prints & Pricing
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