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Sometimes as I'm into the zone of designing I go a bit haywire. (This is a very desirable state to me, and one which happens all too rarely these days.) I guess the haywire part comes from too long staring at pixels, sitting in a chair, in a dim room; or from being blocked in too many directions.
Anyhow, I think it somewhat explains this text, found in a Photoshop mockup for my forthcoming Portfolio page:
Large Temmoku Jar - 2003
9 x 13Ē
Redcution fired porcelain
This is dummy text. This jar was made in two pieces and assembled on the whee;. The glase is a hooza gazooza blah blah and the foot was found in a han dynasty tomb, whihc is really cool, iainít it?celain. I eat rabbits and like them in a porridge.
Preferably when itís somewhat cold out, and hte world has turned against me. Check the facts and youíll see that this is the Govís truth. Hazmat skiddilybop. Screw it.
I measure the fullness of my sanity one small drip at a time.
Wouldn't it be a trip if all the forecasted doomsday scenarios from the millenium happened this year instead, on sort of a time-delayed activation? I can imagine the supercomputer chips laughing at our presumptuous relief five years ago, when we thought nothing happened. Didn't see that coming, now did you, people?
Today I posted about 40 sketchbook scans to my St. Earth site -- the final nailing together of a project I dreampt up at least two years ago. (It makes me depressed to see a good idea take that long to rise to the top of the heap. Why does everything take so freaking long? Conversely, why are my expectations so wildly out of synch with what's reasonable?)*
Anyhow, as I worked at editing and organizing the images, I had time to think more about sketching and what it does for me. About this time last year, I guess it was, I made a conscious decision to draw more. I've kept journal/sketchbooks semi-continuously going all the way back to high school (some so old they're downright rotten!), but have always skimped on the drawing in favor of writing. As this blog demonstrates, I do tend to go on and on, lambasting the inner psyche and sharing my existential dilemmas with the universe. [see?] So, with 2004 coming to an end it's really nice to see that I actually did it -- and now I've got some of them on the web as proof. The page there at St. Earth explains a bit more about that.
I wonder more these days about the purpose of sketching, sketching vs. making pots, drawing consciously or not, trying to control quality or not. I believe that the real value of drawing to an artist is not to make good drawings - in fact, it can be the opposite: the get some of the bad out of the way! It's also to explore in a quick medium, to take chances with small consequences, to explore details and memories and such in a way that's free form, but recorded there in the bound pages. I enjoy the attempt to draw uncritically, or without plan; it's much harder than one might expect. Sometimes I deliberately get the sketchbook out when I'm too tired to be useful, or partially distracted by something else, like TV. I'd like to do this more. (The idealist in me imagines drawing for a bit every day - could that be '05's resolution?)
But for all that inexactitude, it is also very nice that they can turn out interesting in their own right, even when I wasn't trying to do so... Obviously, I put them out there for the world to see in an edited format, with the dumb, the boring and the bland removed and all the jazzy cool stuff polished for display. I'd have to be a lot more inclined towards performance art to scan and post the whole damn thing (and a lot more of an exhibitionist and workaholic to boot). But I'm proud of what's there; like so much of the other stuff cluttering up my web space, it's a momento for myself as well as anything... a scrapbook to flip through when I'm virtually searching for myself.
* A new project has already crept into it's spot on the to-do list, and naturally it's an entire order of magnitude larger: go back through the old sketchbooks of the last decade and harvest the noteable ones, then put them on the site too. Yay for me.
So my brother Mark's a new Dad, as of Dec. 22. Huzzah! That, naturally, makes me an uncle, my folks long-awaited grandparents, etc, etc...
Word has it that he and Sarah are working on her name (or keeping it under wraps for now), which is kinda cool. A person's going to have a name for their entire life - why not let it linger for a while at first? Perhaps we miss the power of naming when we rush to judgement, or pick them out far in advance, before even having a look at the kid. In any case, I expect it will be excellent, once chosen.
This calls for a rare blog photo:
She looks amazingly similar to Mark at that age, minus the xmas stocking, if my memory serves at all. Maybe it's all in the hair?
12.21.2004Ryan Adams, Minor Diety of Songwriting
Folks, cue up the Ryan Adams song "Sweet Lil Gal (23rd/1st)" sometime. (or use link to buy @ iTunes store - a 99c holiday treat!) Holy Guacomole! Man oh man, that one's a gem. So understated, deceptively paced, amazing voice. No wonder that guy's an a-hole -- if i'd written even one of his songs, i'd think i was jesus himself. I mean, really: Jacksonville Skyline, Losering, Houses on the Hill...? Un-fricking-believeable.
I love the line "hanging around/the cigarette machine," right at the beginning....
The grades are done, the new furnace is going into the house today, and the Arctic chill of winter means that the holidays are near. We're off to Maine for Xmas, briefly, then return for the pre-moving crunch. Ug, the packing alone is mind-numbing, and I suspect the cold of hauling all our earthly possessions across the county in mid January will freeze the rest. I've said it before, and will repeat it now: My Poor Brain! Gads. Stress is such an interesting thing, particularly once I recognize how self-created it is, and how relative to expectations.
My uncompromising/perfectionist nature comes out in peculiar ways... there are some things I just have a hard time letting go of. For example, while it doesn't feel evil to splurge on a steak at Outback (OK, kinda evil), I just can't get over the idea of paying someone else to, say, paint inside the new house, or do the small handyman type stuff that I should be able to tackle. Seems too privileged, too wasteful. I wonder if that comes more from my die-hard DIY Dad, or the thriftiness of my Missouri farm-bred grandparents? In the end, does it really matter? My inclination is to say yes; but when I think back on all the hours spent on our current/old house, fumbling through weekend projects and making multiple trips to the hardware store for a simple job, another part thinks no.
I took some more photos of the new place, particularly the barn, and they're sitting on my hard drive, waiting for time to edit and compress them and get them on the site. The automation tools in Photoshop and such are great, and I suppose I could learn to use them more efficiently, but I long for the magic button that would do it all in an instant. I'll get them out for public consumption sooner or later, I guess. The photographer always outpaces the archiver. [I guilted myself into it!]
12.18.2004Leaving La Studio
I posted some final pics from my "old" studio, though in truth I'm not sure what old and new mean, with stuff partially packed up in one, and not ready to move into the other yet. Anyways, the nostalgia is charging up, and I'm already wondering how I'll remember that very important room in the basement on S. College Ave.
The photos are a nice archive, thanks to Cindy's documentary eye, of all the bits and details - mostly on the site to serve as my person photo album and shrine. Some parts of it are downright sculptural... concoctions of stuff, stacked just so by use or neglect, or both. I've made my last pots there, and it's all over but for the tearful goodbye. And the hello to my new shop out on a hill.
I not only want to save and use our barn, I feel this compulsion to circle out into the surrounding counties and save the others too; a strange pilgrimmage of timber frame architecture salvage, not so much to possess it as to build a small shelter for it in our part of the world...
Am I nuts? Why do I love them so much? How can I even be thinking about yet another way to spend my time and energy, with so many threads tangled up and fraying on an hourly basis? What a romantic...
I was just updating my ceramics web resources page, and remembered the recent change at the old American Craft Museum in NYC. See, someone decided that a single museum, in all of New York (art capital of the world), with the word "craft" in the title was still one too many; but that there just somehow weren't enough with the word "art"... so, they renamed it the Museum of Arts & Design. Note the "s" on the end of "art", to make it Arts; apparently, this is now the acceptable term for stuff that involves craft skills, functional stuff, low-dollar stuff, stuff that is designed rather than conceived. Yes, that sound you hear is my grinder slowly chewing on the blade of a hefty old axe.
So, with no authority whatsoever, I hereby nominate AKAR Design of Iowa City, IA - perhaps the best ceramics gallery in the country - as the new Museum of American Craft: Ceramics Division.
Evidence, you say? How about this: the recent Ron Meyers show.
So did I mention that I have a barn?*
By which I mean that there's some land that we signed a million-year mortgage on, which has a triumvirate of buildings upon it, clustered on a hilltop near a place called Fillmore, Indiana; and one of them is a ramshackle red barn, greatly lacking in roofing and siding and reliable foundational material; in other words, it's there and I can pretend that it "belongs" to me; and I will soon eat and sleep and make pots very nearby, and stare at it, and be amazed at its age and texture, and love it and try to save it from falling into the ground or being torn apart by winds.
I spent some precious time out there this weekend just past. Precious because it's been so jammed full lately (was my sale just last week?), nailing the needle to the top of the stress gauge, lists of obligations and chores stretching to unimaginable lengths, and refilling overnight like zombies feasting on the corpse of the previous day. (OK - now we're getting off the subject. || swerve||)
The barn is full of stuff - random conglomerates of stuff, some sensical, some baffling. Old refrigerators. Plastic snow sleds. Hundreds of bits of metal machinery, farm implements, livestock parephenalia. License plates so old they're almost illegible. A plastic bag of xmas decorations. And just... stuff. So, perhaps not baffling, not now as I list them individually. But collectively, yes. Very strange. At least two generations of previous people lie archived there in the bits they left behind, and perhaps many more. Who put that slice of metal, blown from the roof some indeterminate number of days ago and twisted around itself mercilessly, down in the cellar? Who dumped the slabs of concrete, and a big stump, and the old telephone pole against the east side; was their hope of propping up the giant timber frame out of desperation, or neglect, or optimism?
I wandered, and looked at things really hard. I tried to get a bit of understanding about the place, to imagine what used to happen in each small room. I searched out all the signs that my amateur mind could process of decay, and danger to it's continued uprightness... which beams are missing and rotten, where the rain and snow infiltrate the worst, which floorboards have been covered too long with unused hay. I found an old pitchfork, well-worn by use just like it would be if this were a poem, and I pushed some hay around with it and soaked up its smell and watched it fly across the loft through the cold wind, scored by the sound of the roof panels banging in time. Like a true weekend farmer; there just long enough to get cold, to gawk at the realness of it all, to pretend yet not accomplish any actual work, to wander and play, and pray to the Barn God that we could forge a pact one day soon.
* I should add that we have it, Cindy and I -- it's merely convenient self-ism that makes me use the "I" pronoun instead of "we". Where the distinctions between the self and the spouse are defined, I suppose I'll never know. Some parts of the brain just want certain things to be mine instead of ours. Others want it vice-versa (e.g. our mortgage!). (I couldn't avoid throwing in this aside; my brain is faulty because it's Monday.)
12.01.2004We Bought the Farm
At last, at last.
After a 14 month search, seeing over 50 houses, serious consideration of at least 8, (failed) attempts to purchase 2 of them, and a 10 week wait to wrap this one up, we finally closed on a house yesterday. [some pictures]