Mud on the Wall

My daughters have a way of telling me that not only are we, as a family, not normal, but they wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Getting a head in life...

This is the cover of the postcard for my show that opens in Woodstock, NY in May...

If you are in the area stop in on the 24th, (3pm to 7pm), for the opening and to have a chance to get an on-the-spot-from-life caricature made of yourself in clay!

The host is the wonderful Galerie BMG on Tannery Road...

See you there!

Mud-Slinging without Politics...

What an excellent way to wrap up the sculpture class!

This photo was taken just about an hour ago at our home in Saratoga... Our tiny apartment was filled with the sounds of animated conversations, laughter and the non-verbal sounds of discovery and delight as the students from my last sculpture class came to share fine food and see the final firing products of their own imaginations!

I insisted on doing all of the firing for the class myself, in my own kiln, after the terrible experience of the first class (fired by the school)... even though it was a consummate pain in the patootie to haul things back to the studio, move them in and around the studio work and, well, you get the idea, it was all worth it when ALL of the work came through all of the firings looking fabulous.

To see all of the work laid out on the long tables and stuffed overflowing in the boxes! And what a sense of comraderie and delight in each others accomplishment... All I can say was it a perfect way to end this class!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

She was Gracious...

Well... Having survived the economics of the latest Art Show, but having thoroughly enjoyed the companionship and comraderie, we took some time on Monday to go into the city and spend the day at the United Nations.

It was a different experience from when I was there last with my fifth grade class... this time we spent quite a bit of time going through the security tent, we couldn't wander around the grounds and very few of the 'public spaces' were open to the public any longer... made it a bit tougher to demonstrate to Xan (our 13 year old) the grandeur and intention of the designers of the plaza.

We had a a good tour guide- a woman from France- whose presentation was complete enough to anticipate most of the questions we might have put to her. We saw the various rooms and had their functions explained to us; we saw various gifts that different nations had presented to the UN, (I was amused to find out that the gift that Nancy Regan presented was a mosaic of a Norman Rockwell painting that was rendered in Italy); and then we went to the General Assembly room where our tour guide talked to us about how the organization functions on an ongoing basis.

She told us that the UN budgets for two years at a time. The entire budget for all of their operations for 08-09 is about 4.5 billion worldwide... the burden is shared by all of the members based on the wealth of the nation and it's ability to pay... the U.S. is responsible for 22% of the budget. Roughly 500 Million a year. Roughly about half a day of "War on Terror" money...

Now here is the really amazing part: We, and by this I mean the U.S., are a year and a half behind in our payments to the UN!!! How is it possible that we can spend billions each week on this war and yet we can't manage to make an annual payment that represents Dick Cheney's lunch money?

I was ashamed to stand in front of this young French woman and have her tell us what slackers we Americans were. She was very gracious...

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Free Rhubarb anyone?

I was thinking about all of the bragging that we've been doing about our $10 building and it reminds me a lot of the free box of rhubarb that Victoria got last year...

Victoria works at the Farmers Market and her employer had a case of rhubarb that he wouldn't be able to sell, so he gave it to Victoria! Free! A full case of rhubarb that amounts to about 35 pounds...

Well... Victoria has a wonderful recipe for rhubarb marmalade and so we had to get a 25 pound bag of organic sugar (about $2.50 per pound), about 10 pounds of oranges and lemons and then the jars and pectin... The "free" rhubarb cost quite a bit by the time we had an opportunity to give away the marmalade to our friends...

So... I have a feeling that our $10 building is another case of "Free Rhubarb"... of course, we are still going to make it into an amazing, welcoming place- a free form creation produced by all four of us and the rest of the community in Paducah...

It is going to be delicious!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

We have The House

We got a great little email this morning... someone in the City Hall of Paducah let us know, unofficially, that the Urban Planning Committee has decided to let us have the house!

We have the house.

We went on about our busy days and met again- after singing lessons; after classes; after working and shopping and all of the other thousand tasks- and we took ourselves out to a fun dinner in a fun place nearby, in celebration.

We have the house.

We've been planning and drafting plans and thinking about the space and all of that... observing that the kitchen space in the upstairs will be as big as our entire apartment here... everyone will get their own room... Victoria will get a loom large enough to make rugs...

Hey! Guess what?

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Today, I wasn't here...

Back from the show in Hartford, CT and a frightening view into the economic fear of our friends of the arts...

It was great to see all of our buddies in the art show community after the winter- lots of hugs and laughs and stories to share!

Victoria, in her role as missionary for the adventure, was telling the story of our Paducah move and should probably get a commission for each inquiry she generates for the Artist Relocation Program there... She is a natural inspirational speaker and probably could have filled two buses by Sunday!

Today, in the midst of the freezing rain and the slush, I find myself thinking about storefronts and how we will move people toward our upcoming place of business. We will have a porch that virtually touches the sidewalk but that means that the actual windows that people would be looking in are an additional 3 feet up in the air and 8 feet away. How do we attract the eye into the gallery and the Kookie Bar?

Today, as I'm in the sculpture studio at Skidmore college, I'm thinking about which type of kiln I should plan for and how to fire the larger work that I'm doing now. Wondering what the new Art School that is moving into Paducah will emphasize and if there will be opportunities for me to teach.

Today, while I'm making dinner and running out through the snow to monitor the kiln in the barn, I'm thinking about what it will be like to cook with vegetables from our own garden again... thinking about how to include a chicken coop in the back... thinking about warmer days.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Next time, we'll try the beer...

Here it is, Saturday Afternoon, (tea time actually), and the NCECA conference has come to it's timely end... (NCECA is the huge annual conference for all of the clay people and educators- people from all over the world!).

We spent all of Tuesday driving (11 hours) from upstate New York to get to Pittsburg. Victoria got us an internet deal at the Hilton, a scant (and brisk) 10 blocks from the conference!

I walked over to the convention center on Wednesday morning and spent the day talking to vendors about kilns and clay and glaze and all of the things that no one but a clay person has any interest in at all! Spent a minimum amount of money (<$35) on tools and brushes and things like that... picked up about 40 pounds of printed materials! Stayed right up to 5pm, when they closed the hall. It was a good wednesday! I quizzed all of the folks with the ceramics engineering degrees about the possible merits of kiln coatings and layerings and heat sinks getting, predictably, a host of different responses and no new clarity. Damn.

Walked home and we walked from the hotel to a little hole-in-the-wall Greek place for dinner and then back to rest.

Thursday the Seminars, classes, and panels began and I moved through the day, up to 6:30pm, without a break, (or a cup of coffee), listening, taking notes like I was 19, and chatting with some interesting and amazing artists. Hung out with Sandy Brown (from england) after she was done with her demo! Saw pictures of the new wood kiln that Bill just built in North Carolina, and ended up with lots to think about.

Friday was much like Thursday, with the exception that I bumped into William Shin doing a demo with an extruder that stopped me in my tracks! I ended up getting a great 'at the Show' deal from my friends at the Clay Center in Tacoma, WA (Thanks!) on a new extruder of my own!

Stopped and looked at the Orton Box Show- all of the submissions have to fit in one of the old 3" by 3" by 6" cone boxes. Met the curator and she encouraged me to send in something for the next show. No one actually used a cone in their sculpture (a natural, I thought). Ducked in to the 'la Mesa' show as well and enjoyed that as well. A gallery in Santa Fe has put together the show of items for the table- all for sale- ranging from about $40 to $2500. Saturday, Xan, after seeing the show, bought a plate of her own at the show... she has such good taste!

I spent a bunch of time chatting with people about workshop possibilities (teaching) and networking in the Kentucky part of the country... met even more charming people!
Clay people are the best!

Victoria asked me at lunch, on Saturday, if I had fun at the conference. I thought about it. I had a good time. I enjoyed so much of it but it wasn't 'fun'. Maybe if I had traveled to the show with a group from a school, or if I was meeting buddies from other parts of the country and hanging out, or even if I'd been here before and wasn't so intent on seeing everything on my list... you see, next year will be fun!

I did really enjoy walking up and down in the city with my family and finding a nifty place to share our evening meal... I really wish that Victoria was feeling better! They tell me the beers here are tremendous...

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

On the side of Light (ing)...

After finding an actual limit to the excuses for not actually accomplishing the task of re-shooting all of the photos for my work, I went out and bought $25 worth of plumbing parts and constructed an full-sized photo booth for product. I made it out of 3/4 inch PVC Pipe and, after carefully marking all of the parts, fully intend to take it apart and re-use it again later!

I have a couple of borrowed photo umbrellas (the type that you bounce the light off of so that there is no reflection on the surface of things) and a borrowed tripod. I painted my own transition background after pricing it out... and I'm using a cheap little digital camera that actually belongs to my youngest daughter, Xan!

With Victoria sick and on a nearby couch, I was able to try different lighting scenarios and upload them to the computer and have her eagle eye critique of the background vs. object texture... She is good! Always my best editor!

At the end of a full day of this exercise, I have done all of the items that sit on a surface and have re-set the lighting to shoot the things that hang on the walls (tomorrows fun). Aside from the acrobatics of climbing in and out of the lighting and hanging each item, it seems like it works as advertised... Please comment on these shots and lend me your collective wisdom!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Willing suspension of disbelief...

The new website ( is almost finished! All of the parts that I can do are, in fact, done, and I wait now for my friend and paid 'digitizer-for-hire' to do the last of the database work on the 'back end' for it to be a complete and functioning work.

I'm hoping that people click through and look at it; give me feed back; etc... It has been such a struggle to create and serve all of the people that I want to serve, (the Galleries, the Collectors, the shoppers, the fans and friends).

We've included not only the commercial aspects of the website, but also a lot of the community aspects of our lives and friends. This will be our portal for at least a few years!

The design aspects were something that Victoria and I have been talking about for a couple of years at least and I got much of it figured out over a year ago... then came the browser de-bugging process that no one in their right mind wants to hear about unless they are having difficulty falling asleep. The last part (the interactive databases) is almost invisible to the end user and I am promised will be done by the end of next week.

This feeling reminds me of having things sent to the printer, years ago, where you've done everything you can do and now you just have to sit back, while someone else does things to your baby in a far away place, and see what comes back to you.

Do let us know what you think! Blessings abound!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

on the side of Service

I have just re-joined Regis Brodie's evening Master Class at Skidmore... this time not as his assistant but as a fully paid member of the ?graduate/adult? student body... and yet it seems as if I've fallen right into that pattern of being asked and saying "yes"...
Yesterday, I went into the studio to use the extruder and before I knew what was happening I was re-working the hoses on the compressor driven extruder and agreeing to go out and buy C-clamps... I never managed to do the work that I had intended to do there and, even though it is ego-stroking to be back in the studio where people are very welcoming, etc., I did have the intention that I would be focusing on my own artistic development...
My daughter points out, (in a thrice, I might add), that she has learned this 'service' behavior from me (therefore when she says 'yes' without meaning to it is my fault). I certainly admitted it with the caveat that I continue to struggle with this response to need even though I am an 'adult'.
I don't know if there is hope for me, but I sure hope that my daughter, having figured this out so soon, will sort it out before too much longer.
If not, always better to err on the side of 'Service'.