I like these little pots (about 4" high) because they look like they were dug up from an ancient pit. Contrary to what usually happens with my glazing, this was exactly what I hope to accomplish. Sometimes the Kiln Goddess smiles on me.
I tried to sell them at the Student Art Sale but no one was interested in stuff that looked "old". Including me, I'm sure. One of the nice things about growing old is how invisible you become to most people, which means I don't have to shave everyday.
But growing old does turn you into a Cranky Consumer. Younger people seem to be oblivious to (or have never experienced) the notion of "Customer Service", as in "I want to help you efficiently so you'll appreciate my company/product".
From my Consumer Complaint Department, Consumer Complaint #1
(#1 for now, but there are still more hours left in the day for challengers):
You receive your new credit card to replace the expired one.
You call the number on the card to activate the card.
"Thank you for calling to activate your new card. Please hold while we process your activation."
Then you are forced to listen to 2 minutes (yes, t-w-o) of a disgustingly cheery spiel about some other crud they want to sell you before they finally say "Your card is now activated." Click.
You and I both know they could have activated that card immediately, because that's the way it used to be. Back when I was younger. And less cranky.
I had a scrap of clay left over, crunched it up and tossed in in a box. Later on I put some pieces for raku glazing and firing in the box. When I was glazing the "good" pieces I noticed this piece (about 3" high) and since I had some extra glaze, I just slapped it on it. When I did the raku firing I tossed this piece in, just to do something with it.
Sometimes, art happens when you aren't looking for it.
These nichos are starting to incorporate some markings that I am beginning to consider as "Map Markings." Susan has always been intrigued by maps and now I'm starting to see the attraction.
The color difference (aside from the photo background) is due to the various types of oxide stains I put on after the bisque firing. The stain is applied all over the entire piece and then wiped back off with a damp rag - a very messy procedure - leaving the resulting stain in the markings and texture of the clay.
Cy Twombly said he was "very happy to have the boat motif" in his work, not only for its autobiographical relevance (as a child, he spent his summers with his parents by the sea in Gloucester, Massachusetts) but also because he like the "reference to crossing over" associated with it. In this sculpture (shown at the MOMA), a boat is conjured through a hull-like slab of wood mounted with plaster atop a boxy wooden form.
Every time we go to Houston to visit museums we include the Menil's Cy Twombly Gallery on our list. It is a small building on a quiet street, just a few large rooms containing his magical paintings. The word "magical" is Susan's and she swears that although it might look like scribbling, it is impossible to scribble like that, even if you are 5 years old. Unless you are Cy Twombly.
I'm not that big a fan of his stuff but I did find the boat to be interesting and am thinking of ... boats.... clay..... drippy glaze.... boats..... We'll see.
Susan is bouncing off the walls so I picked these pictures all by myself for this blog entry. This is a raku pitcher I made, about 14" high. I liked making it but don't think I'll make any more of them soon because I've got another concept idea in mind. Stay tuned.
Why is Susan bouncing off the walls? Three words: Time Warner Cable.
1) Our online printed bill comes with 4 pages.
Page 1 is the summary of the costs and Page 3 gives the current service pricing.
Any good reason why Page 1 says the billed Standard Cable TV cost is $67.99 but the Listing of Service Prices page says $65.99 would be the cost? They have no idea but they will "research the issue".
2) Five years ago they started using my Social Security number as a password for account information.
She insisted they stop using that and let her designate a specific password. That worked fine until today when they told her they had no record of any password whatsoever and she'd have to give up my birthdate for account access.
3) She had the nerve to ask what she had to do IF she decided to cancel the cable TV service and just keep the internet service.
There will be a $39.99 charge to do that.
What if she canceled both the TV and the internet service (all the services we have with them), thereby closing out the account?
There will be a $39.99 charge to do that.
4) About 5 minutes after she hung up, the phone rang with an automated survey about her "experience" with Time Warner.
She had to answer the various questions by pressing 1 for "Absolutely No" and a number up to 10 for " I Love You" (or something like that).
When they asked a question like "Would you recommend our service?" she would press 1.
Everytime she pressed 1 for a reply, the automated survey would then say "You pressed 1. This means Absolutely No. Are you sure this is correct? Press 1 if yes ...."
But this is the crab nicho before it was fired, you saw it back in September. Once the piece was raku fired it had some nice crackle marks on it but the crab shell just didn't look right. A little paint magic took care of that and it all seemed right. This nicho went to one of my favorite Kiln Goddesses, Julie.
My blog has been sparse lately because my Blog Wrangler has a bad cold. She's promised she'll get back to work soon. Besides, we've run out of kleenex.
The image above is Superwoman, 1973, by Kiki Kogelnik, shown at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. My own personal Superwoman, aka BlogWrangler, is Susan and she's been ignoring the blog lately because:
a) we went to Washington DC (via Fort Worth and Dallas) for Thanksgiving, and
b) she was getting me ready for my Austin Community College Student Art Sale tomorrow.
What did we see? Special shows of work by these artists:
Richard Diebenkorn, Jean-Paul Gaultier (ok, not exactly an artist, but very creative), Degas (does he even need a first name?), Andy Warhol and Mel Bochner.
Miles driven (to Dallas and back): 400+
Flights taken (from Dallas to Washington DC and back): 2
Hotels stayed in: 2
Nights at hotels: 7
Number of times we had to ask for a properly maintained room:
1, in Dallas
Number of times Susan chewed up and spit out a Manager because the cleaning service goofed up badly:
1, in Alexandria.
Number of free nights we got because of that: 1
Number of museums visited: 10
Number of art galleries visited: 1 - but it was the Torpedo Factory which has over 80 open studios and galleries.
Number of Belgian Brownies bought and consumed: 4
Once all the dust settles and our suitcases are unpacked and laundry done, the pictures will be sorted out and blogging done.
And....and....and.... I'm keeping up with my email!
All by myself.
Susan has little drawers full of fancy strings and ribbons. She calls them "fibers". Whatever. When I needed to wrap the little ceramic packages she suggested I look in the various drawers. Then she hovered over me, telling me which ones I could use and which ones were "...I'm planning to do something with those...". We all know not to ask details about PIMMs.
PIMMs? Projects in My Mind.
Every year we go together to the International Quilt Festival in Houston, where there are about 600 vendors selling all sorts of good stuff. I look at the metal doodads and jewelry findings, she looks at fabric and fibers. This year I got to meet a special friend of her, Connie James, The Fiber Goddess and Diva Cord Maker. Connie and Susan laugh every year about Susan's addiction to buying more fibers but never using them because "If you use them you won't have them to fondle and admire!"
Connie and I bonded immediately because I know about serving in the military in bad times and Connie has a son in Afghanistan. And because I liked her fibers. I promised her I'd make more packages to wrap up with her fibers. Do you visualize Julie Andrews and hear the sound of music in the background, "...brown paper packages tied up with string..."?
Yes, I also looked at a lot of quilts. We both agreed we were underwhelmed at most we saw but one by Joyce Seagram had great colors and design. You only see a detail portion in the photo because they set the quilts up with big hunks of plastic tape in front of them so no one will touch them and this makes your photos look weird so we just don't take full photos there anymore.
We both play Angry Birds on our iPhones. I'm struggling at level 3 but Susan is stuck in level 9. She says she's that far ahead because she spends a lot of time playing while she is waiting in lines, on hold and waiting for me. We would both be a lot farther ahead but someone told us she never moves forward until she gets all 3 stars so we have been intimidated into perfection on Angry Birds. Could our lives be more superficial?
It has rained in Texas - not enough to ease the drought for the farmers and not enough to lift our burn bans but just enough to let us do raku firing in ceramics class. This is Big Angry Bird. His head lifts off and he is a container of sorts. He stands about 10" high. I wanted to get a defined dark shape (which is the smoke effect) on his front and his back and I feel I was very successful at that. Raku firing is a lot of smoke and crackling of your glaze. The best part about raku firing is that you put it in the raku kiln and you have a finished piece a few hours later, as opposed to a 10-24 hour firing cycle and 6-10 hour cool-down time.
The worst part about raku is that you don't have much control. That's why Big Angry Bird has a dark off-center belly button and a long vertical clay crack right down his side. Damn!
Say hello to Blippa, another one of my Little Dudes.
Enough about my art. When we were in New York City we were hit with that huge snowstorm. This shot is inside the Metropolitan Museum, looking up in the atrium where the Robert Lehman collection is.
Another favorite is the Museum of Artsand Design. It used to be the American Craft Museum but ... let's just leave it at this: I craft art.
This piece, Intrinsecus, by Jennifer Trask, was fascinating and even more so when I finally took the time to read the documentation. Maybe you can read some of it if you click on the photo below. Got to start collecting more bones!
A beautiful basket by Lillian Elliott, displayed in front of a window looking out over Columbus Circle.
It wasn't all art. We walked to Bryant Park, watched a performance by synchronized skaters doing a dance thing at the ice rink, watched protestors at nearby bank, browsed at Kinokuyina, a Japanese bookstore (the art supplies are in the basement) and people-watched from the generous collection of chairs in the park while having a coffee break. The obligatory cup of coffee was purchased at Le Pain Quotidien where Susan spotted their Belgian Brownie and insisted on it. The clerk asked, "Just one?" and we said yes, we'd share. She asked, "Are you sure?" Yes, it was a really large brownie.
And oh boy, was it ever good and I'm not even that much of a chocolate fan. While she was eating the first one Susan was moaning so much ("Oh, yum. Good! Sooo good!") I looked around to be sure no one thought I was misbehaving. Fifteen minutes later we were back inside, asking for two more to take back to our hotel for our late night snack. The clerk just laughed at us and gave them to us as a freebie. Thanks, Chris, you helped confirm our belief that some of the friendliest people around are New Yorkers!
I have replied back to over two months of various comments and emails. True, I didn't have much to say but then if you get to know me better you'll find out that I don't usually say much anyway. I'd like to think I'm "pithy" but maybe not! Anyway, if I missed you it's because 1) your comment reply address was blocked or 2) I accidentally deleted your email. Sometimes I get confused with all my choices and accidentally delete something I should keep -- It's accidental, honest!
I also looked at a lot of blogs that I've been ignoring lately. You people are really productive and creative! I'm appropriately humbled.
I promise to be a better person in the future.
Susan speaks: That probably means he'll take one month to reply. But trust me, he does appreciate your comments - every day he asks me "Did anyone comment? What did they say?" and every day I say "Read your own damn mail." It never ends.
Susan seems to always gravitate toward the artwork that has greys, blacks and whites in it. Then she'll stare at it for a long time and take a photo. I have no idea why. The first piece below is a collage by Esteban Vicente, the second is a detail from a large painting by Pat Steir (both at the Metropolitan). Do a Google Images search on their names and you'll pull up some great eye candy.
Not until we were putting this blog entry together did we notice the similiarity between her photo of Steir's painting and the photo below. She checked and sure enough, the title of the painting was "Waterfall..." (She usually takes a photo of the documentation right after the photo of the artwork).
One purpose of our trip to New York City was for Susan to go to the World Trade Center Memorial and make sure her step-brother's name was shown correctly (he died in the plane crash at the Pentagon). Susan had always been impressed by the Pentagon Memorial and was worried this Memorial wouldn't seem "right". Her fears were unfounded as the sound of the flowing water at the Memorial seems to block out the city noise and gives it a serene feeling.
On October 31 we found this little kiddo watching the street action, ready for his trick-or-treat night.
Every morning it's my job to go out, buy the daily newspaper and Wall Street Journal for Susan and forage for breakfast that we eat in our room. (Want to travel a lot but have a small budget? Don't eat in restaurants.)
I found great breakfast scones as big as softballs at Donna Bell's, just across the street from our hotel. Those along with the Belgian Brownies would increase my pants size except for the fact that we were on our feet all day long. My abs look almost like this guy's (from the Metropolitan Museum, Greek hall). Almost. But not quite. At all.
Here is Alippo. I've been busy lately. Austin Art Garage has been patiently waiting for me to produce something for them but I've been doing the usual "farting in a colander" and doing everything else. I finally got "or else" orders from Susan, accompanied by a lot of yelling and dire threats.* Being retired is hard work!
To compound the problem of a lack of productive work, we took off for a week and went to:
Yep, New York City with Times Square for Halloween once again. Before that crazy night we had the (dubious) pleasure of a beautiful snowstorm. Through rain and wind we went down into the subway at 51st St.....
.... only to come up at 81st St to blowing snow. These shots are from within the Metropolitan Museum, the perfect place for a snowy day but not exactly a good choice for a snowy Saturday. Just us and a zillion other tourists.
*Susan speaks: Very dire threats. He has orders to respond to comments from a month back (yes!) and to read his emails all by himself. Dire threats. The man is not going to get lucky anytime soon.
Have you forgotten yet?... For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days, Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways: And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go, Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same-and War’s a bloody game... Have you forgotten yet?... Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.