Since my last post I spent a week out west and am gearing up to go to Cape Cod for two weeks. Each day requires me to be out of the studio. It’s an odd state of affairs, especially since the days leading up to last week’s trip involved so many studio deadlines. I wish I could tell you that last week’s trip to Colorado and New Mexico was educational, inspirational and productive, but it wasn’t. It was relaxing, adventurous, raucous and extravagant. I browsed ceramics shops in Old Littleton, Colorado and Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico. There’s lots of impressive stuff out there. What struck me was the pricing of ware that is similar to mine- almost half the price, retail. How is this possible? I guess their cost of living must be alot less than mine, those lucky ducks. I can’t afford to sell my work at those prices, not with my taxes, the cost of my chemicals and utilities. Depressing. I saw some really really nice raku and crystalline ware though, and I drooled over the work in the back room at Santa Fe Clay.
I managed to pick up some nice pink stain at Santa Fe Clay. I can’t seem to find just the right shade I’m looking for to make slip. I wonder why that is- is it the chemical composition making it prohibitive, or is Steve Jaskowak (the studio manager at MAM) correct in his uber male logic: no one wants to use the color pink? Maybe a little of both?
I picked up a new “kiln saint” for my studio. Every potter has a kiln god protecting his/her firings. I’m Catholic. I have kiln saints. Don’t want to get in trouble with the Man Upstairs by worshipping false idols or anything. This is Saint Michael the Arch Angel. I got him in a church gift shop in Taos. This version is pretty cool, I was especially attracted to his foot stepping on the devil’s head. For those of you not familiar with him, St Michael is one of the highest ranking saints. He stands next to the throne of God ready to go to battle. He has a big sword and carries a shield and wears armor. He is the quintessential uber action hero. The prayer to him starts, “Saint Michael the Arch Angel defend us in battle…” and goes on to ask him to protect us from the fires of hell and to send the demons back down below, cool stuff like that. If he can’t protect a firing, no one can.
An interesting side trip was to the Stations of the Cross in San Luis, the oldest town in Colorado. We walked up the side of a big hill along a path that had statues representing each station. At the top of the hill was an awesome church, and just as wonderful, a bathroom. I typically don’t take pictures in churches unless they are really irresistible. I’m too busy praying and being awestruck. Behind the church was a wooden cross where pilgrims draped rosary beads. I find expressions of faith like this very powerful. Why did these people feel the need to do this? Was it an act of thanksgiving or desperation? These token gestures drive alot of my sacred art work. They remind me of one of the Stations: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus, when Veronica wants to help Jesus in his agony. She can’t save him or do anything tangible other than to wipe his face with her veil. A simple act of charity and love by an average woman with not alot of resources. It reminds me that sometimes the simplest things can make a huge difference in someone’s life and to never turn away from someone in need just because the obvious solution is not at hand.
On the way back to Colorado from New Mexico we stopped at a cafe for breakfast and a bathroom break. The bathroom was festooned with art, alot of it bad. This sign was hanging next to the toilet. I am of two minds about art theft. On the one hand it really ticks me off as it’s hard enough to survive and scrape by living on the proceeds of one’s art, but hey, if someone liked it enough to steal it, it is kind of a complement. Kind of.