Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sugarplum Fairies and the Blue Lizzard!

     The ballet.  Is there another single word that conjures up as many images?  For some it's grace, beauty, elegance; the perfect union of music and dance.  While others think boring, pretentious, absurdly tight pants, and how do I fake a deadly fever to get out of going.  Admittedly very few of us have much exposure to ballet other than as a cameo appearance in a movie or being referenced in a sitcom during a "You never take my anywhere!" argument.  Community theater gives everyone a chance to experience ballet without the expense and commitment of a Broadway performance.

     Today Cindy and I had the pleasure of attending The Nutcracker for the first time.  Though we were both excited to finally see this Christmas classic, we had a touch of apprehension because we knew the matenee was generally attended by families... a.k.a kids!  To be honest, the young ones actually made the atmosphere much more relaxing and loose.  Forget black ties and gowns.  Our t-shirt and University of Montana sweatshirt ensambles were a perfect fit for the crowd!  As for the performance?  BRAVO!  There were very young children who turned the wrong way, got distracted by balloons and glitter, you know, kid stuff!  Yet they also poured themselves into the parts.  Quite honestly the little mice nearly stole the show during the big battle scene.  As the age of the performers increased the dancing parts became more involved.  Sure there was timing that was off and a couple star struck faces,  but it was quite obvious that even the most awkward, inexperienced dancer on the stage was doing something I will never be able to do in all my remaining years.  Finally the oldest performers were absolutely incredible.  The combination of strength and grace was stunning.  Whether it was from toddlers dressed as fighting mice or the amazement of the skill in the young adults, I found myself with a huge smile etched on my face from start to finish!  I can only imagine how touching it would be to see a  production by one of the great ballet troupes in New York or Moscow.

     One thing was for certain; though not professionals, it was quite obvious the incredible amount of training, practice, and desire these dancers had put into thier art.  They did Oak Ridge and all of East Tennessee proud.  And the audience?  Rousing applauses mixed with laughter, oooohs and aaahs only enhanced the fun and pride one feels knowing that your community, on this day, was no different from the World's elite centers of culture.  In fact, probably better.  Better because community arts are truly for the people, by the people.

     As a side note, after the Nutcracker, we walked across the street to a community art and craft show.  (Do you see a theme here?)  Not expecting much, we walked through mostly smiling and nodding to the craftspeople with the obligatory  "Nice work.".  Then, out of nowhere, the lizzard painting!  It was mine, period.  I was not leaving without it.  Why?  Because it made me smile.  An uncontrollable, from the inside smile.  And it was a steal to boot!  So now you can say it.  You read an account where someone referenced the ballet and a blue lizzard painting in the same story!    ENJOY!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Few Of My Favorite Things....

That song....I can't get it out of my head!  Every Christmas we hear Julie Andrews list off a few of her favorite things as Maria in The Sound of Music.  Any list of favorite things is bound to be very subjective.  Yet the song tells us that no matter what our favorite things are, thinking of them when you're down is sure to lift your spirits.  Even dog bites and bee stings can be forgotten with thoughts of kitten whiskers and apple strudels!  O.K., I can see the point with apple strudel..... Mmmmm... [ note: add apple strudel to own list. ]  What brings a smile to your day?

   This past weekend I was walking through our living room with "the song" running through my head when I stopped and took notice of the great collection of art on display.  What makes our collection so endearing is not the popularity of the names signed on the pieces, but the meaning behind each one.  Several are gifts or purchases from dear friends.  Others are small pieces purchased at shows where wide eyed new artists were just getting their feet wet.  And some are things I've made over the years that I just can't part with.  The item at the top of the page is something my Uncle Larry made for me before he passed away.  He called them "Chicken Balls", and would laugh out loud every time he said the words.  We had a lot in common including our sense of humour and I miss him dearly.  But every day I pass his Chicken Balls and can't help but smile.  A perfect example of a "favorite thing". 

   Below are some photos of other items that carry the distinction of being labeled "favorite" for various reasons.  Enjoy!

A stunning pen & ink with watercolor from a young lady in Oak Ridge.  It depicts the story of a Japanese Snow Princess, with the text written in the background.  Cindy and I fell in love with this at the Open Show and it become the first real art purchase we made together.

A platter from Anne Snijders. 
LOVE this piece!!!

Goldfish by Tina Curry.  I tried to win a pair of these in a silent auction, but was out bid by my friend Roger the back-stabber art thief, grrrrrr...... ( just kidding, Roger. )  In comes Tina to the rescue!  She tells me she has a better pair I can get!  Take THAT, Roger!!!  Tina is an incredible sculptor and a sheer delight to be around.

A pot by Bill Capshaw.  Bill is the person responsible for me getting into ceramics and has been a splendid mentor.  We have several of his pots, but this one has always been my favorite.  It is the ultimate, "Hey, look at me!!!" piece in the room.

A copper plate etching..... One of my first purchases and still one of my absolute favorites.

Two small tri-pod dishes by Jane Cartwright.  She is not only a phenomenal friend, but one of the most creative people I know.  These particular dishes are two of Cindy's favorite things.  I have it on good authority that the model for the dog was our newf, Lance! 

The centerpiece of our living room!  The photos are of Lance and Katie.  Even though Lance is now gone, we have this giant daily reminder of how silly humans can ruin a good dog walk by taking out the camera!  The marimba is our pride and joy.  Cindy because she never thought she would actually get to own one, and me because it brings her so much happiness. 

A collection of etchings, prints, and photos of domed architecture.  The bottles are some pieces I made that seemed to be a perfect fit for the collection.  I've always had a love for unique architecture, and it's funny how that interest has influenced my work through the years.  The dead stick is also a good representation of how bad I am at keeping things alive out in the yard! 
  So, look around you.  What is it that brings a little smile to your face when you're feeling down.  A photo?  A child's drawing on the fridge?  A television the size of a roadside billboard?  Or just simply the company that you keep?  Take time to smell those proverbial roses and and put your worries of the day on the back burner.  Aaaah... that's better.   The Sound of Music, anyone?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

     Fall is in the air!  For many people that means cooler temps, fall leaves, and football!  For artists and craftsmen, it simply means CRUNCH TIME!  Shows and sales are almost weekly between now and Christmas, and galleries are looking to stock up inventories.  Problem is, many of us have been drawing in sketch books, experimenting with new designs and materials..... oh fine, just admit it, we procrastinated!  And now we have weeks to do months worth of work.
     Recently I posted a photo on Facebook of my clay studio after a day of  blitzkrieg pottery.  Oddly enough, instead of  being ridiculed for the disastrous mess, most of the comments were very positive!    Then again, most of them were from artists....  ;)    I make no apologies.  I was measuring out chemicals to new glazes as the raku kiln raged outside, slide over to the sink to dip another vase, pet the dog, add some cobalt carbonate, wax another bottom, check the kiln...... you get the point!

     Is it necessary to have a studio space to be creative?  No,  but we don't really "need" a lot of things like shoes, transportation, the five senses.......  but we won't readily give these things up either.  A space of our own allows us to pursue our interest with minimal interruption.  Others occupants of the house are also shielded from the mess, noise, smell, and crazy mood swings when things aren't going quite as planned.  This photo of my clay studio reveals WAY too much about my working habits!  The other half of the studio ( to the left of the photo ) is my painting and two dimensional workspace. 

     I feel very blessed to have so much room in my house dedicated to my artwork.  I also have a wood shop and outdoor kiln.  How did I bribe my wife out of so much square footage?  Her idea, actually!  Is she the best wife ever?  Well, yes actually;  in my mind for sure!  But it could also have something to do with her music room sporting a huge drum kit and keyboard.  or is it the concert marimba, snare drum and guitars that reside in the living room?  She is a brilliant musician and I love hearing her play the wide variety of instruments.  Currently the last remaining spare room is being converted into a library/reading/listening room.  This will make roughly 75% of our house into creative space.  All inhabited by our cow sized dog who has a "creative" streak of her own.  Emphasis on streak, as in "streaks" of drool stuck to impossible places!  But she watches over the place for us and we love her dearly.  The one thing both of our "studios" are missing?  More time to use them!