Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Flamingos, Flowers, and Cocks...

Finally...I'm posting new work that I have recently finished. This is all mid range stuff...cone 5 and then fired a couple more times to incorporate the laser decal images (04)and then the commercial decals and gold luster(018).
Its a very funky bunch, full of pattern collisions and assorted imagery combining together to create a sort of painterly surface. 9 of the best of the bunch have already headed to The Chautauqua Institution to be sold in the Strohl Art Center Gallery Store. You will be able to find the rest in my Etsy shop soon and in a Self Serve Pottery Kiosk near Speaking of Chautauqua, I was up at Little Mahoning Creek Pottery today with Nancy to meet with Judy Barie, the Gallery Director for Chautauqua. Judy was stopping by to pick up work for an exhibition that Nancy has been curated into there... in the "new as of last year" Fowler-Kellog Gallery. It was really good to see Judy again, she is a hard working gallery lady that does such a wonderful job putting together exhibitions and coordinating so many of the events that take place within the galleries. Seeing her today made me a bit nostalgic for my last few summers and I will miss some of the familiar faces that I have come to know over the last three years up in CHQ. as I will not be returning this summer to be KILN MASTER! here for my farewell post. It looks like my beginning ceramics class will make here at IUP for the summer and there's an online 101 class that I also hope to be teaching second session too. Anyways, it was great to gab about our past adventures with Judy and I'm sure I will see her down the line.

Check out the slide show of my snazzy new pieces...I hope to be posting more new work all summer!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Crackers and Sincerity Revisited...

I'm back in grey, overcast western PA after almost a week down in sunny FLA visiting my family. Its great to have family who live at the beach. I'm tanned and recharged full of Bloody Marys and fresh seafood ready to start making new work and teaching classes. I will stop "rubbing in" my sun filled beach lounging right after I tell you about an extra bonus that happened while I was there.

The long strip of beach living along 30A there in between Panama City and Destin is teeming with restaurants and bars and lots of young, good looking, hip folk who really appreciate good music. I saw a couple of good local bands while there but the highlight came from a place called Central Square Records(who apparently do not have a website) in Seaside. This is a great record store...a record store among record stores...a long surviving example of "back in the day" located directly across from the ocean. Its always a destination for me, not because I can get great food and Bloody Marys "to walk around with" at the restaurant next door but because I can go and hang new music and really geek out. They never disappoint's a pic of the place above from my cell phone...the record store is upstairs and there is an equally great indie book store downstairs. Below are a couple pics also from my handy cell phone of the in store event. David Lowery formerly of Cracker formerly of Camper Van Beethoven played a short but sweet mini gig right in the middle of the store. It was packed with beer toting, beach going hipsters from all over...Patrick Carney from the Black Keys even stopped by.

On another note, while I was baking in the sun I got a cool email from a potter who writes a blog that I have recently been checking out. Carter Gillies wrote a response to my sincerity rant/post. He emailed because he had a well thought out, "too long for the comment box", I decided to post it here. Its great to get some real dialogue happening once in a while. I often try and often just hear crickets. That's the blog world seems like a one way street sometimes, so I was thrilled to have some new content based on issues I have been scratching my head about. You should also check out his blog...good solid content(more consistent than me) and really nice looking pots...there is a link on his name here and he is also on my blog roll on the sidebar. So thanks Carter...nice to meet you online and its too bad your not closer because I think you would make a nice edition to our 7 dollar import pitcher night! Below is Carter's perspective on the issue of "sincere" and how it relates to him as a potter. Please chime in on the ol' comment box to add your own view...or bring a few beers and come sit on my back deck.

Kyle, I just tried to post this comment to your "sincerity" entry, but it was too long. I thought you' maybe enjoy my flailing about on this issue since we seem to be kindred spirits in a lot of ways. Here is what I tried to post:

Hey Kyle, I just found your blog today (which only means I need to get out into the internet stream more!). I love what you have to say. I know this post is a few weeks old but I've been wrestling with some of the same issues and I'd love to hear your further thoughts.

I think you are absolutely on target that these days art is so many things, only one of which is sincere. In my mind art is just one more form of human communication and as such it expresses an artist's take on things, events, and the culture's pervasive idioms. So sometimes art aims at being sincere. But with the establishment emphasis on 'content' quite often we are treated to commentary by artists whose agendas include everything from challenging the viewer to expressing abstract or mundane notions. And more. Sincerity seems to be more about a person's intent to communicate honestly than something that can be trapped once and for all.

For instance, two people can say the exact same thing but one person can be sincere and another not, or the same person mean it differently at different times. So sincerity also seems difficult to pin down, and can float through our fingers as soon as we try to grasp it. This especially seems to be an issue if we pretend our sincerity has been permanently placed inside some fixed material object. Whatever truth it has died the moment we change our minds and move on to new interests. Sincerity is like looking at a stop watch after a race: It embraces a mere moment in time.

And the reason potters are having such a hard time of it is that we don't do these other 'content' things very well. The idea of beauty and function is less important in the new art domain than it was in years past. Or maybe I'm making that up. But it seems like potters have sought refuge from the batterings of the establishment in ideas such as 'sincere', 'authentic', and 'original'. It seems as if we can't walk the walk in the other conceptual avenues very well, so we at least pretend to talk the talk with soul searching vocabulary like this. It gives us the idea that we are at least still clinging to the foot of the pedestal that contemporary art is occupying.

But it also seems like we are playing games with poorly understood words when we fixate on ideas like 'original', 'authentic' and 'sincere'. And because they are the new $10 words we potters often feel the need to apply them to our own work as well. The problem as I see it is that we also face a huge and incompatible pressure from our need to satisfy the demands of a marketplace. Customer's don't really want our authentically disgorged 'who I am at this very moment'. They don't want the sincere expression of how we are feeling at the moment. They would much rather have a stock answer of "I'm fine and this is the kind of pot I make". All that sincerity, authenticity, and originality is supposed to refer back to is really only a shifting target that grows as we experience new things, contradicts itself from one moment to the next, and is polluted by everything it sees, does, and experiences. But through this straightjacketing of commerce we force all those little inconsistencies aside and pretend to a relatively unchanging ideal of 'self' that hides behind the mask.

Sometimes our work as artists seems more habitual than anything else. We don't allow ourselves to break free of our momentum and this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The ruts of our habits become so deep that we can't change our art no matter how many different new things are going on in our lives, no matter how much what we like and don't like changes, and no matter how we have actually outgrown the tiny seedling that started the ball rolling in that one direction.

So I would say that if we really wanted to be honest about our sincerity we wouldn't put it in such tight little boxes. It might be something one day and something different the next, kind of like what I'm going to have for dinner this week. I sincerely like more than one thing, and only eating Mexican food for the rest of my life would be sincerely disappointing. We just aren't simple creatures. Except in how we express ourselves through art. Doesn't that seem strange?

I hope you had a good laugh reading this! You seem like a thinker and you obviously care about issues like these. I hope you take all my noise as the floundering it really is. I'm just trying to figure this stuff out myself. I wish I could have been there at the bar with you guys when you were discussing this. Maybe you can still talk some sense into me. I will read your blog with interest!



Saturday, May 7, 2011

And the livin' is easy...

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

This was time well spent.