Down By the River

JUXTAPOZ|Summer 2020

Down By the River
Martin Machado’s Unique Journey Through California
Martin Machado

Last summer, Public Land Gallery in Sacramento spoke with me about possibly doing a show. I pitched them an idea of solo sailing a twenty-six-foot boat up through the delta from San Francisco to a downtown dock on the Sacramento River near their space. I wanted to sail under wind power as much as possible and make most of the paintings for the exhibition en route. After thinking about it for a few weeks, they enthusiastically agreed. I spent many months preparing the sailboat that I share with some close friends, but as the midMarch departure date approached, there were still several things left undone to make the boat single-hand-able. Our outboard motor was acting up, and I had not been able to find a sail to fit the roller-furler that I hoped to install. In addition, news about a global pandemic was starting to seriously simmer in the Bay Area. I got a call from the gallery asking if we should consider cancelling. We didn’t know if or when a stay-at-home order might happen, so, despite the challenges, we opted to stay the course. What follows is an excerpt from the journal I kept on the voyage. It is only the first 24 hours of my week-long voyage upriver as I, feeling a bit clueless and isolated, focused on the job at hand: to navigate a series of rivers, sloughs, and drawbridges to make it to my destination. Oh yeah, and to make a bunch of paintings, in oil, on a small boat, mostly in the rain. It would be two weeks before I got the boat home and saw my family: meanwhile, the severity of our collective current situation had manifested.

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Summer 2020