Monday, November 30, 2015

Potters are Everywhere!

Eek! They're coming in the window!

Well no, but there are lots of us, and in places I don't think to look. A month ago, I was in Alpine, Texas, a fairly isolated small town in very empty west Texas. It has a small university, other towns within 20, 25, 50 miles, and an inordinate number of art galleries. Together with Marfa, 25 miles away, it is an art center. And the local potters are fine.

I met mostly with Gregory Tegarden, art professor at Sul Ross State University there; he said he loves being there. The local artists write a lot about a passion for the Big Bend country, and its influence on their work. One of the students I met was full of excitement about a really marvelous glaze variant he had created, substituting local (their standards: 80 miles away) clay he had dug, for a usual ingredient. They know their area, and are grounded there.

Gregory Tegarden is half the art department, teaches all the 3--dimensional art classes, but basically he is a potter. They have a big, well-equipped, lively studio with serious students. So of course I bought one of his cups, with the chance to pick around the university studio and choose one. This one came off  the top of a kiln, a left-over I think from a sale. Pretty fabulous leftover.

It feels great in the hand, round but interesting in texture. The shape is one I always like, and the textured decoration makes 3 varied sides. Who'd have thought you can wave the rim of a cup,  and have it work? It does!

 I'm particularly struck by a quality I don't often reach, a confident hand, visible in the cup.

A good artist/craftsman, and not at all isolated. The world is big, and even full of us!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"The Beautiful One"

My daughter and I were looking at a case full of pottery in a Navajo crafts store. "Ooh, look at that one!" I said. "Which one?" she asked. "I said "the beautiful one!" She looked at me doubtfully. The saleslady stood behind us, with an odd smile on her face. I think she's heard it all.

For me, one pot in that case was clearly the beautiful one. It jumped out of the background, into my attention and admiration. For my daughter, it was not different from the others. For the saleslady?

I was at the San Diego Potters Guild show this morning. Such variety of work, all with technical skill and in one medium and place and time. Some were wonderful, some I found ordinary or uninteresting, some I actively disliked.

When I sell my pots at a craft sale, I find particularly discouraging the people whose eyes slide over all I'm offering and snag on nothing.

What makes a piece jump out as the beautiful one? Why is that effect so different for each of us? Why don't you see what I see?

Unanswerable questions, for me at least and now.

I have a fairly good sense for my own taste in pottery, but often find I like something outside the ways I'd describe that taste. Here's a mug, right down the center of my preferences, by Roberta Klein.

Oh, her glazes!

And this small plate by Ellen Fager; I love the delicacy of the decoration, on a background that is strong and simple.

These questions are probably the same we could and do ask about people: what makes one person stand out from a crowd? Some affinity, some connection ...