Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Smithsonian Craft Show

The Smithsonian Craft Show is on NOW! The show is held in the gorgeous National Building Museum (worth a visit to the show just for that!) and showcases amazing artists from across America, producing functional beauty by hand. Go see it!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Silence is Golden

"Silence is golden..." I think that quote came about because those who work (making the "gold") all the time are never heard from! My silence has been the product of long hard days full of starched shirts, hot plates, aching feet, hungry people, and beautiful annual flowers coming in by the truck load. Spring has brought a different sort of rain this year and work is flooding my days, whether at my garden center or at my restaurant or in my studio.

Because my passion and focus (art/pottery) is not a clear cut job to apply for and work in solely, I find that I often forget that I do have a passion. What do I mean? Well, as I rush to the kitchen on my first rounds, dropping off dirty dishes, entering the order in the computer, and picking up another server's drink order, I know that serving is not my passion. I'd like to have one job, a job where I can be paid to do what I know, want to learn and am passionate about.

My best friend is a chef. She is enthusiastic and beginning to focus in a particular direction with her culinary talents. She just got a job at an incredible restaurant with the ideals she holds and the passion she exudes. Good food, exceptional food cannot be replaced by microwave boxed meals. Because real cooking, fresh cooking, is still somewhat practiced in homes across America, people can recognize a good meal. People seek out a good meal, share in it, are willing to pay for it, and enjoy it. They have experienced it once and want more, hence the typical longing for "mom's cooking" or a "fine home cooked meal." What they've experienced is real substance, prepared by human hands.

Unfortunately, artistry and craftsmanship of America is lost amongst the mass manufactured. While fresh home cooking has dwindled in the 15 second meal in a box (hopefully being revived by movements like "Slow Food" or Farm to Table"), art education is dwindling even more. And I don't just mean education in the formal sense. Education, especially in something like art and craft, can come from experiencing them.

Bernard Leach writes about this in "The Potter's Challenge". While he, of course, is speaking of pottery primarily, this can be applied to a much broader picture of art and craft - cooking, textiles, painting, photography, etc.

"One has to live with fine pots in order to appreciate their character, for they are intimate expressions of peoples and their cultures. Human virtues such as nobility, generosity, breadth, simplicity, sincerity, and charity -- virtues common to both man and pot -- are there to be discovered in shape, texture, color, and pattern."

It is in the familiarity with these hand made pieces, in knowing the maker, getting comfortable with the various aspects of the meal, of the picture, of the pot, that we really do learn.

[images: 'Cafe des Amie' sketch and 'Chef' sketch by Sarah Coffin]

Friday, April 9, 2010

Posts from a Spanish Diary: #8 Sketches

My time in Spain produced far fewer drawings than I imagined. I think I was a little overwhelmed by the already romantic, picturesque surroundings and intimidated by the rustic beauty of every scene. I did draw pots quite a bit and sketched here and there. I thought it might be fun to share a few of each plus some notes. Enjoy!

A mug by Seth Cardew and a pitcher by Michael Cardew. Drawn in the kitchen after using both for breakfast.

Seth's music room. Listening to Seth play piano, trumpet, or clarinet was one of my favorite aspects of my time there. He would play while I cooked dinner and I almost wanted to continuing cooking just to hear him play a little longer. He learned songs that were familiar to me and introduced me to some gorgeous pieces I didn't know.

Seth always looked so comfortable at the piano and sat at the grand piano with sculptures, pots, and books surrounding him. The side door was usually open, letting the warm, dry Spanish air swirl around the loose paper and music sheets.

Learning Seth's rules for lettering..

Dr. Vogel, Seth's sculpture professor, created this huge reclining nude. Seth proudly displayed it right next to his grand piano.

Wooden spoons in a Cardew pitcher.

Learning Seth's rules for bowls.