There is really something special about receiving a handmade gift from someone who used what they purchased from me to make it. It returns to me transformed. It has new life and energy that has been added. It reminds me why I do what I do and why I enjoy it. When I send something out I get to wonder what will become of it. Sometimes I receive emails with photos or links showing what folks have done or made with their purchases. I receive stories. Some are simple and heartwarming, some are funny, some are sad, and some are transformative. They are all good. There arises a circle -like the moon, a give and take -like the tides, that connects us. So although it hardly seems enough for all these riches, I want to thank you once again. Thanks for sharing your abundance of creativity-with me and all the others in your lives.
indigo moon detail by Therese S-H
mounted on a card, many tiny stitches on indigo and pomegranate by Therese S-H
When I make new things I explore them a bit knowing that once I add them to my shop offerings the receivers will expound upon my ideas or create their own- even better and more wonderfully creative things. This has been an intention of mine for a long time now. I wondered why-how I came to it. I’ve had a lot of years to come to understand why that is- too much to explain in a simple post. It’s enough for me to understand it in my own life.
I returned here the other day to reread this post upon the news that my favorite ceramist Harrison McIntosh passed away locally at the age of 101. You can read about his life here. I can’t really add much to all that has been written about him and his life/work except to say that I have really admired his ability to integrate the two things seamlessly (and perhaps a message to him to tell Woody I said hello).
Harrison McIntosh (screen capture from Google)
And if all this isn’t enough, with everything that has been going on here I did not do my usual announcing or my upcoming (this weekend!) workshop at the JANM. We will be focusing on mandalas on vintage silks and there are still spots available. You can sign up here through the museum-and I apologize for the late notice here.
There’s more, but enough for now…
As an artist (using that term since it seems to be what others perceive as a convenient term to describe what i do) I am searching like many people are to find answers on how to best create a sustainable and practical lifestyle doing what I do (which is making things by hand and selling them- very non-artsy by many artists’ definition). Toward that end I take in many things and most recently two things come to mind- one, the current show at the American Museum for Ceramic Art now showing the first comprehensive review of Harrison McIntosh’s nearly 60 year career as a ceramic artist and two, recent writings by Charles Hugh Smith (Survival+) on understanding our puzzling economic times and how one might perceive it if one dares. (thanks to one of my pocket square customers who is a professional economist & FB friend) Often I am accused of over-thinking but nonetheless sometimes the juxtaposition of certain things that cross my path, while seemingly unrelated, just scream out for me to make certain connections.
Harrison McIntoshes are not created every day. Only when stars fall into certain alignment and a person is wise (or dumb) enough to follow along the path steadfastly do artists of this nature arise and endure. I think the one thing I find myself admiring most about this man and his work is his desire and ability to stick to a narrow focus, cultivating his studio methods and techniques to near perfection day by day for nearly 60 years! Much like Ichiku Kubota, he surrounded himself with beauty and design and allowed it to inform his work. Unlike Kubota, he focused on simple and classic design rather than the ornate and highly decorative. These days our desire for instant success and recognition often gets in the way of allowing for artists to create and develop slowly- as is necessary to achieve such a body of work presented here in this retrospective showing of Harrison McIntosh’s work. Much like he did on his potters wheel on a daily basis, Harrison reminded me that becoming centered is key and that a main component to a successful pot is in the treatment and execution of it’s footing. A good lesson for any artist to make note of. Beautifully displayed in a gallery with lots of natural light, I just wanted to move into a corner of the room and take up residence with his work for a while just to really breath it in. Seriously, if you are in So Cal or plan to be, consider a visit just to bask in the simple beauty of this exhibit. It’s on through January, I believe. Plenty of time to make time. I plan to go back on Oct. 10 for a book signing- my guy Phil bought me the catalog which is excellent. Thank you Phil!
Now on to number two. Definitely less fun but very thought provoking as well. Charles Hugh Smith runs a blog/website called Of Two Minds and is a very compelling writer of both fiction, weblogs and essays covering topics such as “Marketing in Crisis”
In the end, I discover he’s also a closet musician! His writing on the economy (Survival+) is very brave considering I think it is what we all really know and think yet feel helpless to change. He has a knack for clarity and lays out a plan that points in a refreshing direction (truthfulness)- it’s the difficulty in actually getting there that gives pause and makes me wonder if we actually have the guts to do it. As he points out, we most likely will not have a choice. We aren’t really making our own choices anyway-that is unless you are in the 1% that either owns or controls the 2/3 productive assets of the nation.
So, now you may be wondering how and why I come to connect these two things not only to each other but to my own work as well. As a maker, I strive to work with my materials, repeating a process over and over until it becomes second nature to me. Until I reach a point with it that no longer requires me to think, freeing me to allow for the work to flow and guide me instead of the other way around. That is what I aspire to. It gives me a sense of well being for some reason. I suppose that is why I have always been drawn to a process and a production method as it is in this type of repetition that I find mastery. At the same time, producing objects for sale means considering my role in our consumer driven culture and economy. I find myself teaching more and encouraging others to experience the same sense of well being through creating and exploring art and craft as opposed to finding it through mindless consumerism that really only serves to oppress us into debt-serfdom. This doesn’t mean that I will abandon making and selling- as I too am just one of the masses with bills to pay. Shibori anyone?
Prompted by a visit to the LA County Fair which ended this weekend I offer the following post. It was originally written for my other blog and is posted there as well. I think you might find it interesting and since I don’t have a new post here at the moment…….
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about art and kids. Really. Several times a day if you have to know the truth.
I don’t even have kids in school any longer. Both my boys are now in college pursuing their interests in
music, performance, and recording arts and sciences. I have always advocated for them to do what they love. Obviously not for the money- that will come in time- but for the enjoyment and love of life itself. Working a job you hate just for the money is no way to go about living life. But I digress.
The current state of affairs in the fourth grade classroom this year is that they simply are not interested.
Not interested in having two people who are passionate about art and kids come into a classroom once a week and give an hour long lesson for free. Supplies included for the most part. Generally we spend a minimum of 10 hours a week between the two of us in discussions, preparation, online research, and gathering of materials. This is public school. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
We have decided we are not going to pursue it any longer. We’ve sent emails, had our phone # given to the teacher and had no response whatsoever. We are looking for a new classroom. One that wants us there. We will be taking applications this time. We have requirements. If you think you know someone who is interested in applying, let us know. This is not about the individual teacher-she has said she wanted us to return. But I think that we have a system in our public schools that just really ties the hands of the teachers and forces them to do so much testing and crazy nonsense that they are really not free to teach anymore. Yes, I know we could probably go to a private school but I really believe in educating everyone equally and public school is it. At least for now. Even after school programs don’t interest me as much.
Or perhaps we will find somewhere else to spend this energy that benefits kids. We will reconvene after I return from the Houston show. We are thinking about what we are doing wrong. And right.
I also just returned from a visit to the LA County Fair which just ended this past weekend. I always like going there and seeing the student art displays. This year was no exception. It gives me hope. That there still are some public schools out there teaching art. I saw some marvelous student work.
I visited the Millard Sheets Gallery and saw some fabulous work in the current exhibition “Footprints” directed by Tony Sheets, Millard’s son. Many of Millard Sheets paintings and works are displayed courtesy of the Sheets family. Millard Sheets believed and acted on his commitment to “Bring Art to the People” by designing and overseeing the building of the arts building at the Los Angeles County Fair site in Pomona and filling it each year with a show of paintings and art. Never before had art of this caliber been available at a county fair.
the following is from Millard Sheets obit in the NYT from 1989:
“Millard Sheets, a prolific painter, a designer of more than 100 buildings and for 26 years an art professor at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., died at his home in Gualala, Calif., on Saturday. He was 81 years old.
Mr. Sheets was born in Pomona, Calif., and graduated in 1929 from the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. In 1943 and 1944 he served as war artist for Life magazine, stationed in India and Burma. During the early 1960’s he founded Millard Sheets Design Inc., an architectural firm in Claremont that designed banks, schools, malls and private homes mostly in California and Texas. He served as the chairman of the art department at Scripps, the art director at Claremont Graduate School for 16 years, and as director of the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1950 to 1956. ”
I was introduced to Millard Sheets and his work by my friend “Woody” (AKA Melvin Wood) many years ago (say 30) as Woody used to work in Millard’s studio during the Home Savings and Loan days when Millard designed, built and installed the many fabulous public art pieces that were commissioned by the bank and are still there today. We used to go on jaunts with Woody around the southland on weekends and in between visiting our favorite cactus or orchid nurseries we would drive by many of these sites and admire the craftsmanship and design. Woody was famous for his stories about working with Millard and the many artists from Claremont and Pomona Colleges that abounded in that era. His relationship with Millard Sheets brought him into contact with the many great artists of that time including Sam Maloof (furniture maker), Harrison McIntosh (ceramist), & Rupert Deese to name a few. He put us in touch with the concrete men who did much of the casting for these sculptures and these guys came out of retirement and cast our piece for USC back in the late 70’s. Another interesting fact about Woody was that he was one of the original artists on the “Gumby” television show, doing the claymation work that allowed the figures to move. Pre- Nickolodean! Many good stories about those times as well. Woody was a great artist in his own right and I have a number of his pieces that I hold dear. Millard and Woody shared a common interest in teaching at the college level and Woody retired from teaching art at Cerritos College before moving to his moutaintop in Mendicino where he passed away more than a decade ago now. I often think of all of them and imagine their combined creative energies whenever I encounter their work in my world.
If you are interested in seeing a great exhibit of Millard Sheets’ work, you can visit the exhibit Damngorgeous: Millard Sheets and his California Legacy
September 13 – Jan 4
at the Oceanside Museum Of Art