Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happiness is...

Happy New Year gentle reader! At the end of this 2008, I would like to take a moment and reflect on things that made me Happy. Yes...OK, this is sort of a top ten list that everybody and their brother does about this time of year, but mine are in no particular order and some are just kind of anyways,that's my story and I'm sticking with goes...

#10 Having two pieces accepted into the Tallahassee International Exhibition...great show with works from all mediums from people from all over! Nice catalog and great communication from them to me...unfortunately due to improper packing, one of my pieces was broken on the return shipment...still, I am happy about the show.
#9 Happiness was seeing my little 1st grader going to her new school in the public school big leagues and having a great first half of the year thanks to a dedicated teacher and bunches of nice people.
#8 Happiness was having a little gallery show with strange new pieces and selling well ...much to my surprise, people buy other things besides mugs!
#7 I usually gain a lot of enjoyment and happiness from music...I am a music freak...I love so many genres of music but tend to really listen in the present here are 3 Records (that's right kiddies, RECORDS), that I really was into repeatedly throughout the year...
Bon Iver...a mellow, winter time, staying indoors while it snows outdoors kind of record. Recorded by one guy all alone in a cabin somewhere further north of me.
Lanhorne Slim...I am still digging this record...great in the studio to work with...this is his latest...I have a couple of the early records and I do like them, but I really like this one a lot! Great back up band that completes Slim's folky, bluegrass -rooted, indie rock nasel-y vocals. I admit to having had several private, spontaneous boogie moments with this one.
Stephan Malkmus and the Jicks...There is a bit of nostalgia here...I was a big Pavement(Malkmus's old band) fan from the 90's and I like Malkmus's wry lyrics and dry delivery. Here he doesn't disappoint and even manages to kick it up a notch with his rocking little band. It was a kick butt summer CD that took up residence in my car and would not leave!
#6 Happiness is talking about music!
#5 My summer gig as Kiln MASTER!...that was really the you hear an echo when you say this title out loud too? Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY., lets say... it was interesting. The best thing about it was I met some really good people and that is why I stick it in this list of happinesses. Here are some shout outs...Ashley Dodge, Tim Keough, Caroline and Devan a.k.a. the "gallery girls", Paul, Kevin...Happy New Year to my seasonal "working with peeps"...visiting faculty were interesting and good people, some were more interesting than good people, but there were those that fell into both categories namely, Frank and Polly Martin, Adam Paulek Jeff Greenham, and Alec Karros.
#4 Happiness was getting into producing a lot of cups and mugs with successful surface compositions and interesting new forms in a range of temps and firings.
#3 Our big Disney trip with my parents was a huge blast! My daughter was blown away and we crammed in as much as possible in almost 4 days worth of house of mouse overload. We all had a great time and I reveled in the heavy nostalgia factor personally... for me it was a destination that was almost sacred as a kid growing up in Florida, and I loved returning to this mecca as a 42 year old seeing it with my 6 year old.
#2 Currently I am very pleased with myself in terms of mentally working out some new directions to explore in the studio this winter. I had a nice couple of "aha" moments that have helped to fully form these projects. More to come about this...One new piece is almost finished now and will be shown in a group exhibition in Pittsburgh with a number of colleagues from the IUP art department among others. The show titled, "Yes. Thank you." was curated by Tom Estlack and is in a cool space with a small catalog that will accompany the show to boot!
#1 and finally... Happiness is a warm puppy! Welcome Kaiser Maximus von Houser!


and I hope to see all of you and more in 09'!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Collection / Offering...

I offer up this post to you gentle reader...I recently received a disk full of images from my friends at I-Park...Agnes Miyuki has been diligently documenting my piece that I made as a site specific work while I was in residence there. It is titled Collection/Offering and consists of 41 shallow bowl forms ranging from 2 inches to 14 inches across. The collector bowl forms were laid to rest in the ground up to their lips, flush with the earth around them, on a small shaded hillside that accentuates a large green moss bed. They make a large sweeping curve around the moss with the largest of the forms at the bottom and slowly shrinking in size as the arc climbs the hill and seems to disappear in the woods.

I was fortunate enough to participate in this wonderful residency program there in the deep woods of East Haddam, Connecticut in September of 07'. The piece was a time marker of sorts for me as I was spending my 41st birthday big day also falls on the first day of Autumn, the 22nd, so it seemed especially relevant for me to create this piece that would begin to collect the falling leaves...among other things.

The work is meant to be left in the be unobtrusive to the existing landscape...only to add sky blue polka dots to the hillside. Being there at I-Park, surrounded by 450 acres of woodsy beauty to walk around on, me and the other 5 residents were always picking up natural materials and bringing them back into our studios. I came up with the concept of Collection/Offering while there and quickly began to throw all my forms. The idea is that the natural surroundings helped to inspire us in different ways a sense, offering up its beauty for us to make sense of in a variety of ways.
The forms collected leaves and debris which were then sort of showcased against the clean, bright blue, ceramic interiors. As the months went on and the seasons changed the piece times it disappeared completely covered in the snow...the moss died back then grew back... it grew around and over the collector forms, obscuring some completely with help from the fallen leaves and branches. Nature is in the process of taking back the space I encroached upon... returning the mossy hillside to the way it was and my footprint of this work becomes an artifact to be uncovered much, much later.

With a combination of my original images, Agnes' documentation through the seasons, and a digital sound recording of me force cooling all the pieces, I have the makings of a nice size installation piece. The sound element was recorded by fellow resident Sonja Hinrichsen is a potter's nightmare piece...20 minutes of random Gamelon like pinging in clear digital technology.

It was hard to choose just a handful of images for this post...I am showing restraint in only posting these. It is still a work in progress with a lot of details to be worked out, that includes finding a place to show as well. Many thanks go out to Agnes at I-Park for her help with the seasonal documentation ...its not often I can leave a large site specific/time based piece in place and have it documented through out the months for over a year! That reminds me...I have got to get some summer residency applications out...until next time gentle reader...stay warm.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My other life...

After a recent back and forth of e-conversations with my friend down in North Carolina, Keith Phillips, I decided that I do in fact have something to post see, I feel like I have not been getting in the studio like I should...not making work, period. Not making work...well, lets see, how can I put SUCKS. There is a number of reasons that contribute to my lack of productivity, but the biggest is the J-O-B. I honestly should not complain, times are tough and I am lucky to be working and especially lucky to be working within my field. I work as a half time Associate Professor teaching the 101 classes that nobody else wants to teach and I am also the Director for the art department's gallery. So you see, its not that bad...and in fact the gallery gig is pretty interesting. So I decided to post about the show that I am about to take down...Alastair Noble's installation...Babel / Random Access. I feel it is my job to provide a variety of interesting media in the gallery...something a little different, edgy, challenging... and challenging this exhibit was to many.

The piece was an installation that he configures based on the space that it will be shown in...the content of the work centers on a story by Jorge Luis Borges about a library that goes on and on forever and is housed in the tower of Babel. All of Mr. Noble's work is informed by literature and seems to be what obsesses him. This piece consists of standing panels that are printed with fragmented text taken from the likes of Blake, Poe, and Mallarme...the configuration allowed the viewer to wander through this hexagonal labyrinth and read the broken bits of text. The panels opened to the viewer as if they were open books standing on end and the light created an interesting effect on the tight mesh fabric. The illuminated transparency of some of the panels created new layers of meaning and worked well in contrast to some that were opaque.

I enjoyed my time with Mr.Noble during the install and dragging him around to speak with all our grad students too...he was patient, easy going, and good to have a pint or two with. The work perplexed some who only know their art as hanging on a wall or sitting on top a pedestal, but that is why it is important to have work that is challenging to the norm. Art exists in so many forms these days and as I lecture to my students, its very difficult to put a neat definition after the question, "what is art?". So, you see gentle reader, what I have come to realize is that my own work takes many forms as well...I am not always in the studio at the wheel...sometimes the studio is just in my head... and I am sometimes pecking away at the computer working on images or working closely with other artists helping put together exhibitions...whatever I am doing I should understand that I am fortunate to be doing it in the arenas I am interested in...thanks to those who inspired this post...Keith's Uncle Gravy and also my buddy here JR Sherburne...until next time...hope your work is satisfying, no matter what your work is.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

are you kidding me...

Snow in late happened this past week...Tuesday and Wednesday before Halloween were a sign of things to come perhaps. It didn't last and did not stick much and by the afternoon on was gone. But for a few days and nights it got real cold and whatever in the garden that had not been frosted, did not escape this cold snap. Although this last bit of weather was the killing blow to anything left in the garden, on my way to to the office this week, I was struck by the beauty of the effects of the freeze. Probably like any other potter out there, I have bowls and pots that litter my flower beds and deck. I'm always interested in what has collected in the bowls laying around...or better yet, what my daughter has deposited in the bowls. With all the precipitation and cold weather the contents in the bowls became moments of swirling and floating materials frozen into a still frame. With the sun bright and not too high above, the interiors started to melt and the bubbles became a cool element in the icy landscapes. Enjoy was a great looking morning and the light was perfect...most of the snow had melted and that brief winter moment had passed...but I know its just a glimpse of the future.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Potters Tour Pics...

The kilns were roaring that couple weeks prior to our regional Potters' Studio Tour. It was a good thing we were firing up the kilns because it was a good weekend! I believe everybody involved was a little concerned due to our tanking economy...would people drive out from the city and neighboring small towns to visit the 7 participating studios, much less actually buy the work?! After speaking with all involved, things seemed to be good...most of us only showing a little less sales than the year before.

The images above are of the front of Nancy's house...she showed her pieces on the side porch... the back door off the porch leads out to the studio where I was set up...
The studio and kiln are located just behind the house next to the garden where only the sturdy Amaranth was still standing after our recent frosts.

I was camped out in the studio all cozy and warm with the new corn burning stove heating up the place. Luckily, I clipped some of my big Dahlias before the frost came, because more often with me, I put flowers in my pieces more than anything else...unless it is a mug...I do love my coffee!

Our neighbors on the tour were right down the street...Smicksburg Pottery...a great little retail gallery with a nice studio attached to the back, complete with big salt kiln and terraced garden. Betty Hedman is the owner and main potter there, but these days Josh Floyd is a big presence there as well...Josh lives upstairs of the gallery and works there with Betty...that's him in the picture above. Both make great pots, and there was several other local potters' work on display there also. I made a mug trade with Josh as well as Nancy this year...I had to add to my ever growing mug and cup collection!

I wish I had taken more pictures at different studios but I didn't have the luxury of visiting others while so many people were stopping by our studio...which is a good that was just a taste of the tour...if you missed it...better luck next year...and if you stopped by, well, thanks!
So until next time...cheers!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pots and Pumpkins...

Finally...sometimes it is hard to find the time to do anything, that includes pumping out a blog post. This weekend is the big Potters' Tour for our area. It is actually pretty big this year...7 studios and 18 potters total participating...including me. I will be showing at the studio with Nancy just like last year. Its a beautiful weekend for the tour ...crisp, dry Autumn in the foothills with the leaves at their peak. Hope its a good turn out.

We fired the train for the second time and it went a little easier. I only had about 10 pieces in this load. Nancy, Cindy Rogers, and Dan Boone filled the kiln mostly so they did the long haul through the night, and I came at 7 am to finish up.

We were all pleased with the end result after we opened the kiln...Nancy's candlesticks and cups looked great...even loved the crusty birdhouse that sat in front of the ash bed.

Here's a shot of my group from the train and a shot of the train chugging along early in the mornin'.

My new decal images worked really well on a few of the new pieces...

The images are from my garden passing and some of the herbs going to seed. I have taken those flora silhouettes and mixed them with other various elements to create these small, strange, garden dream moments existing in a world of wood ash, shino glazes and pebbled surfaces from the soda.

Well, gentle reader, I am glad I could finally share this past firing and some of the work that came out of it...I will snap away at the tour this weekend and post next week...if your in the area,I hope to see ya..and if your not...well, then I guess your just not...until then...Think pumpkins!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


...thats sort of how its starting to feel this lazy Saturday afternoon...heavy clouds are rolling in and the breeze is steady and a little cool. In the foothills surrounding our little town, the trees are turning as well. The green leaves giving way to red, yellow, and orange. Football is on in the other room and I am thinking about making chili. As the summer fades and Autumn begins to kick in, my garden's late bloomers and die hards are having their day in the sun...literally.

The climbing roses are still putting on a little show hanging around Nancy's bird feeder. My giant dahlias are going strong and most likely will keep it up until the first good freeze.

Even the big dinner plate size white dahlias are about to pop for yet another round.

Even as I clean out the faded sunflowers and overgrown under plantings making way for the oncoming cold weather, I am surprised to find areas of interest among some of the tucked away corners of the garden. Like the nasturtium still hanging on to its jewel of morning dew this late in the afternoon and the weeds growing up through the rabbit's tiny Adirondack.

The garden is deceptive this late in the season. It requires a careful eye near the end of September to find the growth still taking place among the decline. These bird house gourds hiding in the lace of the Eskimo Marigolds, growing along my split rail fence, are still in infancy and possibly may not make it to the size I was hoping. But the race is on, and I am pulling for these funny little forms. I even have a handful of Roma tomatoes still ripening on the vine and I am flush with basil just waiting to be pesto.

Once where there was a big bed of coneflowers, now the birds are helped to a buffet of sculptural seed heads...perched and picking out the thistle of the spent Echinacea and Black Eyed Susans. The only thing left on my deck are the pink plastic flamingos spinning their whirly-gig wings in the wind...and a lone little Foxglove that has started to grow in the basket.

I pulled the mammoth sunflowers out by their roots and hung them out to dry as an offering and an acknowledgment to the Fall season. They are impressive in their size and fascinating hung horizontally on the back of my old shed. Their sturdy stalks support their unnatural repose and their heads become an all -you- can- eat buffet for birds and critters. I missed communing with my garden this summer so it seems right to spend some quality time with my outdoor space now. I have been photo- documenting the passing of some of these flowers and plan on turning some into digital prints and others will appear as decals on new ceramic pieces. Which reminds me...I need to get to work...upcoming potters' studio tour in a few weeks...but more on that another time and I am still feeling lazy... so, I think I am going to just finish soaking up the day. Hope your doing the same.