On November 5, 2013, Oregon Cartoon Institute brought Heaven And Earth Magic to Harry’s hometown. Matthew Holtmeier and Kaveh Askari, who teach film at Western Washington University, arranged a screening at the Pickford Film Center.
Kaveh Askari opened the program by introducing his new experimental documentary, Harry Smith Of The Guide: Field Recordings & A Location. Askari’s meditation on place combines images of places Harry Smith lived (or, in one case, site where a home had previously stood) with audio recorded by Harry Smith during his Bellingham years.
The Pickford is not far from one of the Bellingham homes in which Harry lived. The Mt Baker Theater, built in 1926, and presumably one of the movie theaters Harry Smith patronized as a child, is only blocks away.
Using period authentic equipment – two 35mm xenon slide projectors and one 16mm movie projector – Dennis Nyback live projected Heaven And Earth Magic to a sold out house. Unlike the Hollywood screening in Portland, or the Seattle screening at SIFF Cinema, in Bellingham we presented Heaven And Earth Magic without live accompaniment, just with Harry Smith’s original score unadorned.
Harry Smith’s magpie aesthetic, on rich display in Heaven And Earth Magic, was already in evidence during his teen years in Bellingham. He began collecting rare 78s here, while he was in high school. Dennis and I prowled the used bookstores of downtown Bellingham in his honor.
Ruminations on Bellingham: I was struck by the contrast between Bellingham’s tiny size and its industrial past. I had accepted, unquestioningly, the descriptions I had read of Bellingham as a rural town. I had to see visit it myself to understand that Harry Smith did not grow up in a rural town. He grew up in an industrial town in a rural setting.