Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A great read from Scotland

If you appreciate the breezy and comical way the Brits have with what is, after all, their own language (I think we just rent it), you could do worse than click over there on the right on Hannah McAndrew's blog and read her current post. It involves autos and the deceptively lengthy short distances in the UK and train rides and pots and all, but it's fun reading.
The photo above is part of the collection of English pots that were recently donated to the Paisley Museum, the reason for Hannah to set off on a bit of a journey. And then to write about it. Take a look.

Monday, March 30, 2009

"State of Clay" opens with a crowd

I said the same thing about the opening of the Cape Cod Potters show in Dennis a month ago - it's great to see so many people come out to see clay. This time it was the sixth "The State of Clay" biennial at the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society in Lexington. So many people crowded into the Society's gallery that it was very difficult to spend any contemplative time with the work. But that is not a complaint.
This year's show is - as the others have been - a mix of work. It leans a bit toward the sculptural side of things, but the functional is not at all lost in the color, funk and flash of the rest of it. Juror Jim Lawton did a good job of winnowing almost 300 submissions from 106 makers down to 76 pieces. Jim elbowed his way back and forth across the room to talk about the show and to point out the virtues of the winners of a few juror's prizes along the way.
There were lots of potters there on a cold and rainy Sunday, including a few of us up from Cape Cod for the day. Craig Brodt and his family were there, his daughters Olivia and Caroline paying close attention to their father's explanation of carbon-trapping. And Frances Johnson, who fires her work in Chris Gustin's South Dartmouth kiln, was there to see her sculptural Shino vase ("Spiral Series 5") get pride of place high above the rest of the pots on one table display. Frances brought her mother Jean, a fine painter, and stepfather Dave, a storyteller and woodcarver, along with her.
My friend and former magazine co-worker Susan Elena Esquivel of Western Mass. was not there in person, but was represented by her wall piece "Lunar Abstract Diptych," a photo of which is above this text. Also among the photos here: "Woman With Beads," by Claudia Olds Goldie; "Tea Box," by John Bennard; "Good Enough," by Molly Cantor; "Carnival," by Diane Sullivan; "Jungle Trees," by Jeanne Garrison.
Color photographs of all pieces in the show will be up soon on the Society's website. See the item below this one for the website address.
Now I have to figure out how to get up there to see the show without 300 other people milling around.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Massachusetts Clay show opens in Lexington

"The State of Clay," a biennial exhibit of Massachusetts-related clayworkers, opens Sunday afternoon at the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society in Lexington. This is the sixth show the Lexington people have organized and it promises to be a good one. This year's exhibit was juried by Jim Lawton, head of the clay program at U. Mass.-Dartmouth.
I had two pots in the last State of Clay and I have one in this one, a carbon-trapped Shino vase. I'll attach a photo of the pot. It's always good to be recognized, especially when the notice of inclusion in the show comes in the deepest part of winter, when things are ... ummmm ... slow and cold around Cape Cod and in the studio. We need a little cheer about that time of year.
The opening is Sunday, March 29, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Arts and Crafts Society's gallery on Waltham St. in Lexington. Jim Lawton will give a gallery talk and there will be food and drink. See you there.
The society's website, with hours and directions, is at http://www.lexingtonma.org/LACS/Current_Exhibit.html

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tobago: Part Deux

I have a lot of pictures of Tobago. A lot. So, here are a few more, including: Alan's souvenir stand just after sunset on a quiet evening, a good meal of curried snapper at Lyda's, fisherman Grant who took us out snorkeling off Speyside and another interior at Lyda's, with Mark, Dana and Jens. Dana perhaps making an offer to Jens of three TT dollars to find a car to drive him back up the hill to his house.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Two weeks ago in Tobago, with rum and palms

Dee and I spent the week of my birthday, the first week of March, in the village of Charlotteville, on the north end of the island of Tobago. Tobago is one of two islands that make up the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, just a few miles off the north coast of Venezuela.
This time of year ... actually, almost any time of year ... daytime temperatures are in the low 80s (that's Fahrenheit) during the day, dipping into the low 70s at night. The sun shines, the rain clouds seem to come through in a civilized tropical manner one at a time over the mountains, the White Oak rum is reasonably priced at Lyda's Rum Shop and Jaba occasionally has really good shrimp roti at mid-day. And chicken roti. And vegetable roti. And if he has no roti - and even if he does - he has Stag and Carib beer.
Charlotteville is a small fishing town. The fiberglass-hull, outboard-powered fishing boats go out of Man O'War Bay at or before first light, out into the open ocean after dolphin (aka dorado), kingfish and sometimes blue marlin.
Those of us on holiday are on the beach - either at the lifeguarded public beach in the village or the pristine and shaded Pirates Bay a few minutes walk uphill and around the corner from the village. But we don't go to the beach until after we've spent a long, long time on the porch at our guest house, contemplating the multiply blue-hued bay, the sailboats at anchor and the fishing boats coming and going. Contemplating all of that - and the coconut palms, mango, banana and lime trees, and the ubiquitous chickens - over several cups of coffee. Our housemate Jens, who generously shared his Italian espresso many mornings on the porch, often looked toward the opposite side of the harbor and said, "I want sun at Pirates Bay." And, most often, he got what he wanted and headed off downhill through the village and to the beach some time around mid-day.
In the evening, if we were at the guest house, we would walk the steep road down into the village to Lyda's tiny bar by the seawall, where ex-pats gathered for White Oak rum and Schweppes bitter lemon, or Stag and Carib. Steve and Jackie and Louise and Henry - all from the UK - and Americans Virginia and Mark from Vermont and Jim from Maine and our friend Dana (our host, my first newspaper editor and still a teammate on The Radish, our summer softball team here on Cape Cod), as well as our German friend Jens and a number of other yachties and holidaymakers all hung out in the evening in front of and behind the bar as the sun set out beyond Man O'War Bay. Lyda sat by and watched, and one night made a spectacular Tobagan meal of curried snapper, callaloo, sauteed plantain and dasheen, green salad, salt fish fritters and mashed potato dumplings.
We ate, we drank, we drove back to the airport with Louise to get Dee's luggage three days after we arrived, we snorkeled, we swam, we read under the shade trees that come down to the beach at Pirates Bay. We very much liked Charlotteville.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Finnegan workshop rocks Chatham

Well, "rocks" might be a bit more active a verb than is appropriate for the Dan Finnegan workshop this past weekend at the Creative Arts Center in Chatham, but he kept most people from falling asleep over two days of stories and pot-making. Laughter and good back-and-forth between potter and students is a hallmark of what Dan does when he demonstrates, and these two days were exactly that.
Full disclosure: Dan is a good friend, a teacher of mine for a number of years and a firing partner in a couple of wood kilns. I like the guy, so I'm prejudiced. But any group of potters looking for a couple of days of exquisite and intentional pot-making, entertaining stories, thoughtful answers to questions, pottery history and an all-around good time could do no better than to hire Finnegan to bring his act to their studio. I think any of the members of the Cape Cod Potters who was at this workshop or his previous one a couple of years back would agree. Call Gail Turner at Millstone Pottery, co-president of the group, and ask her.
OK, end of commercial. I told Finnegan I would beat him to the blogosphere with this and a couple of photographs, but there will no doubt be more on his blog when he gets back to Virginia. He returns to the Cape, by the way, in September for a week-long wood-firing seminar using the new train kiln at Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill, down-Cape in Truro (www.castlehill.org). Take a look at the website and sign up.