We had some terrible flooding here in Western Massachusetts from Hurricane Irene (see earlier blog post for photo’s). My backyard is the Green River, a place I walk nearly every day. It has changed so much since the storm… some places hardly recognizable. Once the river went down enough and places were not so muddy that I could actually walk and not sink, I discovered some amazing beauty. There is an area were the earth is caked with clay and silt… large cracks nearly a foot deep everywhere the clay is drying. I came upon this one area where the leaves remained on top of the clay as the area around the leaves settled down with more rain a week later. I don’t know if the photo’s can capture the perfection of this magnificence of nature.
More on the arts and the economy.
There is so much natural beauty here in Western Massachusetts, and so much happening in the arts. But the biggest and most exciting happenings are right here in Greenfield! Between the recent International Brick and Mortar Video Festival, to the huge state grant recieved for a performing arts center! Greenfield Ma. is in the midst of a downtown revival, thanks in part to the many artists, and musicians that live in the valley.
I recently read an article in Preview (the valley arts magazine) about Greenfield coming back to life. In an interview with Ed Wierzbowski, artist and entrepreneur, and major player in the downtown revival, (restoring two central Main St. historic buildings). Ed talks about the ripple effects of the creative economy. He was quoted as saying for every dollar spent on the creative side, five more are spent locally. I see how that happened here with my recent pottery workshop. Money was spent at the B&B’s, restaurants, local shops, and farms!
When I think about where I live, I think about the vibrancy of the arts and the beauty of this area known as Western Massachusetts. I ask myself how do I want to see this place in five years? Do I want a Wal-mart? Or do I want to walk downtown and go to a great restaurant, a concert, an art opening, or a movie? Do I want to shop at the small locally run businesses, or get on my bike to go buy apples from the local orchard, or maybe just take a walk and see the scenic views? I think the answer is pretty clear… when you live in a special place that tourists come to all year round, (especially the Leaf Peepers this time of year), you should keep that a place that people want to see, taste, and feel with all their senses!
I live in farm country, and love to make pots that can be used for the many local products that are harvested here in the valley. Recently at our Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail, the owner of Hillman Farm (goat cheese) came to my studio. She asked if I made covered cheese dishes. I said no, but I would like to. I asked her about the details on size etc. She explained that many people have goat cheese at room temperature, but that it needs to be covered. Well this gave me a new pottery challenge. So the past week or so I have been playing with ideas for these covered dishes. Here is one that I have decided to move further with.
The softness, the silence, and the absolute stillness of the new fallen snow.
What do you feel on one of those quiet nights of freshly fallen snow?
I feel such absolute peace, and presence to what is surrounding me. It is a reminder, a gift from the heavens… stopping me in my tracks.
How could it not influnce my art?
As a utilitarian potter I seem to make a lot of covered containers. I really enjoy making them, yet I remember as a student they were the dreaded project. (Just as they seem to be for my current students!) They are definitely one of the more challenging forms. I remember back to my Junior Pots class at Alfred with Val Cushing; he had us focus on making those lids become one with the form underneath it, and it’s his voice that I remember so often as I am fitting those lids.
Below are a few of my cremation urns drying for this weeks bisque. These urns are approximately 12″ tall. Along side these urns are my teeny, tiny covered salt cellars, about 2″ tall. These are new little forms which I’m having some fun with.
The last of the three wonderful shows to report on from the Fuller Museum in Brockton, Ma. is the show about shoes. (Brockton was once the shoe capital of the world! ) “The Perfect Fit- Shoes Tell Stories” featured every sculptural way of interpreting shoes you can imagine… from hundreds of tiny origami high heels, to bronze baby shoes. The bronze baby shoes being my favorite. The piece is called Baby Opera, by Judy Haberl (check out her website). The piece was so intriguing. When you come upon the piece you first hear the sound of children’s laughter, and the pitter patter of tiny foot steps. You see hundreds of bronze baby shoes, some ancient looking, most, more modern. All the shoe openings faced you at eye level, like all these tiny mouths, telling you their story. The sculpture held a special place in my heart because my Dad used to sell bronze baby shoes. As a child I will always remember the sight when my Dad came home from work, carrying a dozen or so baby shoes from his sales calls, ready to be sent to the factory to be bronzed.
Today was an exciting field trip day for the Asparagus Valley Potter’s Guild. We took a two-hour bus trip to the Fuller Museum in Brockton, Ma. to see the wonderful Warren Mackenzie Retrospective. We also saw the up-lifting, and inspiring, “On the Line”, an installation, by one of our own guild members, Francine Ozereko, and her husband Frank Ozereko. And last but not least, an exhibit about shoes… totally engaging! I will report on the later two in the next few days. For now, here are some Warren Mackenzie pots to inspire!
Today was one of those gorgeous Sunday afternoons. We became tourists in our own county… or Leaf Peepers as we call all the tourists this time of year. We live in north-western Massachusetts, very close to the Vermont and New Hampshire border. Greenfield is in the valley, with just a five minute car ride the views are beautiful of the surrounding mountains. These photo’s are taken from the lovely area of Shelburne Ma. at Apex Orchards looking northeast to Mt. Monadnock, N.H.
Another nice place to visit in Western Ma. is Mt. Sugarloaf in Deerfield Ma. It overlooks the Connecticut river looking south to Amherst/Hadley/Northampton. I was hoping for a sunnier day. Maybe I’ll try again when the color is at its peek next week.