Saturday, April 2, 2011

A thing of beauty

I borrowed this yunomi from Scott Roberts blog, I hope you don't mind, Scott. To me this is one of the most beautiful cups I have seen in a long while. I have some wonderful yunomi that we use every day, two from our friend Hollis, a couple from Doug Dotson that are the most amazing things to hold, and others I have bought from friends. But this one is just a thing of beauty. I have to say, and I don't mean this to be hurtful to anyone that is in the show, but I was disappointed in the AKAR show this year. Some of my favorite potters were not represented and some of my favorite potters had work in the show that to me was not quite up to their usual brilliance. And some of the prices were quite frankly, pompous. Yes, a potter or an artist deserves a decent price for their work, but really, some of the prices were a bit much.
Anyway, that is not the point of my post. Carter Gillies has a post on his blog right now that has me thinking and boiling just a little. It's a great post, go read it if you haven't yet.
I used to be a huge fan of Ceramics Monthly magazine. I was a subsrciber and couldn't wait for the next month's issue to come. Then, they took a path that I just don't get. The MFA factor thing does not interest me in the least. The "art" they are presenting each month I also don't get. I love beautiful things, I love thought provoking art, I love creativity. I don't mind controversial art if it makes an important statement and you can feel the passion of the artist. What I do mind are ceramic artists that blob some clay around give it some profane name or make a joke of it and get recognition for this work. Can I just say again that sometime the Emperor is not wearing any clothes! There is one statement from Carter's post that I can very much relate to:
A potter’s quest for humble and intimate beauty is simply less important than the grand ideas of…. Well, take your pick from any academic’s artist statement....
If you have read my blog for awhile, you know I have had some rants about academic artist's statements and academic art in general. I am mostly a self taught potter, I strive for beauty in my work with what skills I have at this point, I like simplicity and beauty. I know that there are other ceramic artists that are just like me. Brandon Phillips made a great point in his comment on Carter's blog about the time an MFA student spends working on their pottery as opposed to those who work at it day in and day out for 20-30 years. Those are the people that should be celebrated and featured, they earned their right to be there. A 4 year student should pay more dues, that may piss some people off, but it's how I feel. I'm paying my dues, I'm not getting a feature article written about me any time soon and neither are a lot of very talented potters out there. I'm getting off point, but this blog post has a lot of good stuff in there and I get more out of it every time I go back and read it.
Anyway, the post brings to mind one of my favorite quotes ever from William Morris: " Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful"

Another great quote by him that I love:

“If I were asked to say what is at once the most important production of Art and the thing most to be longed for; I should answer; A beautiful House; and if I were further asked to name the production next in importance and the thing next to be longed for; I should answer; A beautiful Book. To enjoy good houses and good books in self-respect and decent comfort, seems to me to be the pleasurable end towards which all societies of human beings ought now to struggle.”

I've really had too much espresso this morning, so I better stop now before I make someone mad:)
Peace, ya'll......


Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

It is the most beautiful thing, looks like it could float right off the surface its sitting on.
great post.

carter gillies said...

Hey Tracey,

We haven't officially met before, but I've been an admirer of you blog for a long time now. We are definitely kindred spirit, and I always appreciate the thinking and sharing that you put into you blog.

I'm glad you liked my post, and thanks for directing your reader's attention to it. These kinds of issues are things I think it is important for us to think about. We don't always have to agree, but part of learning is grappling with ideas from other people's perspective. I hope you feel like you can leave some comments on my post. I would really enjoy your participation in these discussions. I had no idea what to expect with some of my long winded ranting, but the response has been a pleasant surprise. I can see it getting out of hand at some point, but for now I am happy hosting and being a part of these discussions.

Its nice to finally be introduced! Happy potting!


Shortstuff said...

Hi Tracey, I love the way you speak your mind with no apologies. Great post and I've enjoyed watching the progress with the studio. So glad you have some place to build your beautiful houses.

Tracey Broome said...

Julie, my thoughts exactly, it does look like it's floating. Hi Carter, I could have left a very long comment on your blog, but after my adventure with the Michael Kline/Don P. post, I try to be more careful of expressing my opinion on other people's blogs. Thought it best to rant on my own space, but I will come back over and try to leave a thoughtful comment:) thanks for leaving a post here, I'm honored that you enjoy my blog!!
Hey shortstuff, if you think I speak my mind you should meet my mom, the nut falls closely to the tree! I do try not to hurt the feelings of others though, golden rule and all that!

Hollis Engley said...

Amen, Tracey. I'll go over and look at Carter's blog. Haven't seen that post yet. When I started to make pots 20 years ago, I read every old CM that I could get my hands on. In fact, the "library" at the school was diminished considerably by my reading. Not permanently, but for a while. I put them all back. Now ... most of the time I don't open the magazine more than once or twice. And then only to page through past the stories to look at the ads and calendar postings. You're right, it appears more and more to be directed at and appealing to art school MFA types. There's nothing wrong with those people, but the magazine speaks less and less to functional potters like you and me. I hate to cut off my subscription, and I haven't done it yet ... but it's close.
And yes, that's a lovely cup.

Kings Creek Pottery said...

yea, I too no longer subscribe...the mag. just doesn't speak to me anymore. Frankly, I find more useful information and interesting "articles" on the various clay blogs I follow. The blog photos are beautiful and people (like you) share from the heart...not from the long pole sticking out of their you-know-where...oh, maybe I went to far on that...I am sure there are exceptions. Regardless, your cheers to your post and I am heading to Carter's to read it.

Dennis Allen said...

My artist statement-" I make dishes and trade them for money".

cindy shake said...

OUCH my head hurts for my first morning's heavy-duty Blog reading with my cup of tea here at the cabin!

Beauty, Art, Creation, The Gift of creativity, The Freedom of Expre$$ion, Commercial Art vs. other(?) Art, Starving Artists syndrome -fact or fiction, MFA myth or reality, Paying Your Dues vs. Paying Your Student Loans, Create or Die, Is it really selling out... holy cow there's about 6 months worth of blog posts right there!

There is a true distinction between an artists retrospective and an emerging artists work and I feel it's always interesting to see both represented in a show -though it can be confusing to see both grouped without explanation. A good show should inspire and awe more than create controversy.

Aesthetics have always been paramount in my life, my surroundings, my art. To be able to create a "thing of beauty," most often for me is just creatively expressing something I've seen in Nature.

FetishGhost said...

I've got to play devils advocate on this one. I don't often agree with the MFA perspective on ceramic art, it's often over analyzed bull, but I do appreciate that someone taking the time and effort to move the medium forward. Clay is not just about pots any more, it's a medium that can do literally anything. We're getting left in the dust not because we are irrelevant, but because we are dinosaurs.
Lets enjoy the pageantry of youth... in the end, we all rise up together.

Jackie Klaumpus said...

I have been reading Carter's post for a couple of days, deciding whether to comment or not, it is an issue that I have a lot of opinions about, but tend to get too worked up to get them together coherently. Carter is right about many things, and I would frequently see his comments on Sequoia Miller's blog.
I no langer subscribe to Ceramics Monthly, or to another formerly good ceramics mag - Ceramics Art and Perception, because they now seem to feature more and more of what I call "red rabbits holding machine guns." This is my shorthand for the kind of weird, ironic, cynical, theory-laden, preachy, artless, craftless bullshit that Carter referrs to, although in a more genteel way. Many times in the past year CM has gone flying, literally, across my living room , as I became angered by a featured artist or MFA article. There is never any mention anymore of the "non-degreed" potters or sculptors that have learned on their own, or in a less structured way. Apparently, we don't count, unless it means giving CM or their advertisers some money, which by the way, is the reason all these magazines are changing to the "Art" aspect of ceramics, because they think that's where the money is.
Maybe it is, but mine won't be there.
thanks for another great post, and keep making YOUR work.

Wesley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracey Broome said...

(Sorry, that was me before, but signed in as Wes.)
Wow, you guys, I think CM should be reading my blog! Look how many of us they have lost....
I'm sure I could go the other way and argue for the students, I like some of the work that I see, and if you are creative you are creative, age doesn't matter, but everyone should get equal time if they are making great work,it's featuring the bullshit that I can't stand.

DirtKicker Pottery said...

That is a gorgeous tea bowl!
I find it difficult to even look at some of the featured art in Ceramic's Monthly. I get more from reading blogs than from magazines. I think someone should publish "Pottery Blogs Monthly". Feature the best Blogs of the month.

Tracey Broome said...

that's a really great idea!

madpotter1 said...

and so goes the world of pottery........

in my small little clay community of Cleveland, Ohio we have the potters and the MFA ceramic artists, never the twain shall meet.

It has hurt this small community of producers, buyers and lovers of clay. We have tried to have guilds and groups over the years but to no avail due to pissing off the other group.

I read a Dr. Seuss book to my kids when they were little called; The Sneeches. It does indeed describe the clay community.

I no longer subscribe to CM or attend NCECA as I got tired of Dead Baby MFA art. I mean really does anyone 20 years old have enough life experience to be that angry? Maybe...... but alas I subscribe to the thought, round is good. (now there is title for an nceca show!)
I struggle with the reality of dustables vs. functional........... the dustables make more $$ and the bills need to be paid, I make a lot of dustables.

thanks for a great post........ deep in thought and so it goes......


Michèle Hastings said...

i agree with you Tracey about the MFA factor section of ceramics monthly and i am not interested in looking at what i call "scary babies" sculptures. i was happy to see last months (short) article on Daniel Johnston's 100 jar project. Daniel isn't an "MFA" potter, he learned to make pots by apprenticeship. CM has done a couple of articles about his work. It is too bad that there are not more articles about potters and sculptors who have learned their art outside of academia. Those articles are few and far between.
I have an extensive collection of old Studio Potter magazines that I love. i can no longer afford a subscription but have to say that since Gerry Williams has retired as editor, that publication just isn't the same.

Scott K Roberts said...

Tracey, wow, Thank you !

TropiClay Studio said...

That is indeed a lovely cup! I would not turn that one down if it was offered to me.
I too have followed the discussions on Carter's blog, and I have to agree with most of you about the best place to view good ceramic art, and learn even more... your blogs. I have learned more from the 100+ blogs I follow, than I learned in my college classes or from "the ceramic monthlies".
I agree with FetishGhost, that the MFA's are moving us all forward with new ideas, pushing the envelope if you will. However... some of the *&@= that they go on and on about in the monthlies is ridiculous. It is always good to remember our roots... where and why that particular form came into being. What part of it is functional and where the decorative part came from, and why.
Sometimes I speak my mind too Tracey. ;)