• Keep on Talkin’

    On: May 12, 2009
    In: Artmaking, Studio Journal
    Views: 737
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    When you sign on for a year-long project lots of things happen you did not expect. Last post I spoke of being happily surprised that folks who appear in the weekly Santa Cruz Good Times Local Talk column are so pleasantly countenanced. (I am basing my 2009 one-a-week small face jug project on these faces; first 13 weeks crammed into the shot above.) I guess anyone who agrees to answer the question man is, well…agreeable!

    Some things I have never seen in the column: an answer without a photo…..a dog or thing instead of a human in the picture, someone really mugging, or with their hands in front of their face, turned sideways or backwards…or even looking miserable like in a booking mugshot. Does that mean my facial sampling is skewed a bit towards the thoughtful, articulate, courageous and well-socialized among us? Sure! And, I am fairly sure that sometime in the past, one or all those things I don’t recall seeing have actually been there. This year, however, I live in a bit of dread about them. What, artistically, will be my response if it happens? Maybe I don’t want to know. Maybe I will pick that shot and really get stoked on the relief of seeing something new. Maybe I will play it safe.

    Oh, yeah, and please, Good Times, don’t cut the budget for this column this year! I have thought of alerting the publication to my efforts, but it feels both wrong and premature. I need to let it all unfold as it will, being a patient B.S.-in-Sociology participant-observer! It’s heady enough (pun intended) sharing it with my family, friends, Art Salon and you out there in the cyber ethers. Let’s keep it our little secret and surprise the Good Times later, OK? And let’s hope they don’t surprise me too badly first.

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  • Work in Progress: Local Talkers

    On: May 5, 2009
    In: Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 735
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    Now for some dramatic new art! Here is a stage-y shot of most of the First Quarter of 2009’s year-long small face jug project which I have set for myself.

    Some of the backstory about this project: Our local entertainment weekly rag, the Good Times has run a column for all the 20 years I have read it called Local Talk. It’s a Question Man-type column, the kind where the reporter hangs out somewhere like in front of the bookstore, stopping random folks and asking them the burning topical question of the week, or even some general-interest question like, “What did you eat for breakfast?” The peeps who are amenable get their picture taken and their answer published in the column. I have even appeared in it! (And, interesting side-note, after I answered the question on the spot, I changed my mind and wound up calling the reporter later that afternoon to tell him my new opinion! That’s a Libra for you.)

    Anyhow, years ago, when I was new to ceramic work, the Local Talk column asked, “If you were a vessel, what would your purpose be?” The range of and reasons for those answers still astound me. Those five people said they would be containers like ships, sustenance holders, and blood vessels! They would carry truth, food and oxygen in the interests of peace, cultural sharing and fun. I just never thought outside the utilitarian ceramic “vessel” until I read that column.

    Somewhere soon after that column came into my life, I got the idea to make a piece of art each week based on one of the faces from it. Well, it took nine years, but this is the year I am doing just that. Each Thursday morning I go out early and grab a Good Times, bring it home and gently tear out the column and date and number it with the week. I pin each one to the wall in my studio until I can make two or three weeks’ worth of face jugs at a time.

    I never know which of the three or four faces I will pick. Some weeks the faces are just so tantalizing and choosing is difficult. Some weeks, everyone just looks the same. Fortunately I have never sought to make portraits, but rather to use facial features, expressions, accessories and hair/hats as springboards for a fun little jug. Sometimes I am so lost in the faces I never even read the question or the answers!

    I sign and date the bottoms and stamp the week’s number into the leatherhard clay when I am done. They are bisque-fired, but I am waiting to have the entire year done before I color and/or glaze them.

    A side benefit to this project which I did not foresee: almost everyone is smiling or at least has a pleasant expression. They are a gentle, amicable bunch, this First Quarter grouping. I have a bit more to say about actually making them, so will write about them again soon.

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  • Inspiration Sources

    On: March 26, 2009
    In: Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 727
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    Honestly, I think “waking up” is the wellspring of all inspiration.Being fully present to what is alive in us right now allows us to make whatever creative connections we are capable of, and not just in the visual arts.

    Consciously using a prompting device is as old as humanity. What do you have? The new moon? A bracelet of any kind? A smell? A smile? Wake up!

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  • Artist’s Statement

    On: March 12, 2009
    In: Art Biz, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 818
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    I am in the throes of forging a new, for-the-time-being manifesto, commonly known as my Artist Statement. What defining words are possibly the truest and most adequate for telling anyone about my current art and my process?

    The latest version literally has more questions than statements. I have asked several diverse, sensitive and dedicated groups for feedback. I am grateful for what they have responded with:

    1. Could be shorter. Hmm, a lot shorter in the main section, really.
    2. Not so many questions!
    3. Love, love, love the concluding paragraph! (Paranoid me wonders if that is because it is finally over.)
    4. You sure can write some heady stuff!!!!

    This is great to know. I can do this. Better to shorten than to fluff and all that. Do the words sparkle? Are the concepts true? YES!!!! I just need to wrangle them into a smaller, terser corral. Practically done.

    What’s left is the greater question of what the hell is an Artist’s Statement? It can be nearly anything. There are guides out there to help us write them: Alyson Stanfield and Ariane Goodwin, to name some VERY helpful contemporaries. Even with rules and suggestions, they don’t whisper a word about it being easy.

    Harder still is to come to terms with why do we write Artist’s Statements? Just because that is what’s done? To springboard off of Elizabeth Gilbert from her recent profoundly wonderful TED.com talk on genius, (http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html): You don’t see Chemical Engineers struggling over their Engineer Statements! Why is that?

    A slight glimmer of why Artists write Statements: provided they are well written and ring true, their friends, collectors, interpreters, the general public and me often find them just as fascinating as the work itself. It Explains A Lot. I know I have been able to go much deeper into many an artist’s exhibit with a good written revelation of both thought and process.

    Work that usually springs from that wordless place in the brain gets better in valuable ways when it circles all the way to the forebrain and back. So, short answer: We write so others can more fully understand us…but in doing that writing we can more fully understand ourselves!

    So struggle away. Write your truth with vigor and honesty, knowing that we all benefit from it in ways beyond and in addition to the words, words, words, words.

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