Saturday, May 31, 2008

Only in America, maybe

John and I were having a delicious Italian dinner with a nice glass of wine at Biga Restaurant in Tulsa and ran into old friends and met new ones. Sometimes I wonder about the friendliness of Tulsa thinking it could be better but not tonight.

I remember sitting the the airport in Honolulu and talking to a wonderful and interesting man from Ecuador, a genuinely friendly person and looking at the round a friendly faces in Hawaii. Next I turned to a less friendly couple next to me and they nearly spit out there hesitant words and it turns out they were from Broken Arrow. When I met John at the airport he mentioned the unfriendly couple in the airport without knowing about my conversation with them earlier. One trip with a basket through wall mart and I find almost no one but me saying excuse me etc. This does not include my wonderful long list of friends

Last night we decided instead of pouting about not being together on our 36th wedding anniversary, we would celebrate twice. Once before and once after. John is on a business trip on our anniversary teaching teachers to teach about Native Americans.

We wanted to go somewhere not to loud and commercial feeling and eat outside. We cannot afford Biga very often but we have both been working hard and feeling the stress so we rationalized a nice evening out. Just a quiet night on the patio sharing food at Biga.

Yes you can spend a fortune there but we never do. We split everything and get a chance to taste more.

First we ran into Karen Keith, sweetheart that she is and her husband and talked Mexico and travel. Then we met a new couple next to us as we passed on eating tips of the evening. The food was delightful. We always rely on Shellie the waitress to help us order.

Meanwhile our new best friends who we gave some ordering tips to turned out to be an interesting lady with her nice lawyer husband. We had so many friends and things in common we found it difficult to not keep talking.
On the way out of the restaurant she whispered in my ear and asked if she could take me to her plastic surgeon "Rick" and have him copy my dimple. My dimple from a car wreck when I was 6 years old on a dark country road in Indiana. Only in America! I guess the doctor could cut the right muscle and pronto, original plastic surgery! I did appreciate the compliment but I must say they made a lovely couple dimples or not.

Good wine, great company and delicious food. What a nice evening.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Watching People Learn

I have the most interesting students. It is really fun to watch people discover their creativity. Somehow, really nice and kind students gravitate to Brookside Pottery. I always appreciate my students. And, the joy of seeing others discover what they can really make and the joy of creativity.
Many times the creative ego has been nearly tossed out and then they think"it might be fun to take a class." Yep, there it is again. It reappears that feeling maybe you had as early as kindergarten. Look what I made Mom! It is one of those beautiful things to see in life and it is just as fun at 50 or so.

I taught a 3 year old last week. Her mother called me with one of the "I have a very gifted child." conversations. Ok, I broke down and gave her a private lesson. She was delightful ans we both had fun. She had a good balance of her own ideas and was still able to take direction. She made a "girl" and insisted on putting a large brain on her forehead. She had been arguing with her Mom about where the brain is located and insisted it is large and just over the eyebrows. She of course helped reinforce this idea by putting it there on her "girl." I took her sweet little hand at the end of our lesson and went to the restroom to wash off the clay and she looked up and said, "I love you." "I love you too." I told her.
So, sometimes taking a minute out of a very busy schedule can be a moment of peace, quality life, a special treat for us both.
Reality struck again when her mother who drove her 45 minutes from out of town for class said, "She loves this. She could spend all day here. I will have to bring her back and maybe we could.,.." It was fun but obviously I could not do this that long in a busy pottery shop but it was a joy for the time we had.

Remember the quote, "Too much of a good thing is wonderful." May West.
Too much art feels great.

And there are the perks of teaching, the surprise gifts from earrings to chocolate. I was so tired teaching last night and another generous student pulls out two delicious candy bars and says here, just for you, chocolate. Sweet! And even better I look over and she has created a beautiful birdbath.

My students are often so generous. Gifts have included everything from clothes for Hawaii, a hand painted sarong, big wooden shelves to store clay and many more bookshelves as well, a $125 dollar bottle of champagne complete with wine rack. I could list so many more items as well.

One time in class I mentioned I needed new socks and the next class period a student brought me an entire grocery sack full of socks. Be careful what you ask for!

Creating and helping teach others to create, making new friends, chocolate, earrings, handmade soap and a small glass of wine. What could be better?

Yes, that is why the pottery is more than just a working pottery studio. It is a way of life.

When I talked to my wonderful acupunturist about my hesitation in creating the new art center and how I would not want to work 60 hours a week to make it happen he reminded me,
"The art center is already there, in you and where you are." Now there is a thought.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wise Words

We attended Kansas City Art Institute's graduation on Saturday.
One of the foundation teachers shared his wise words and what he tells his beginning students.

One thing he said especially caught my ear. Sometimes you have to let loose of the banana to get what you want. It was based on one those interesting monkey tests. Some monkeys were enticed by some bananas in a cage. It was a trap. The monkeys reached in the cage to get a banana and wham they were trapped. They grabbed the banana and would not let go. They were trapped. All they had to do to get free was let go of the banana. If they let go they were free, if not they stayed trapped. OK, so I must let go of the banana to have freedom.

Be yourself to find yourself. You are already you.

And of course, you learn by making mistakes. I always tell my students if you don't fail at a project or part of it, you have not pushed yourself hard enough.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another generous soul

I was in my pottery the other day and noticed 2 stools were really wobbly. The stools get heavy use on a concrete floor and every now and then they just give out. I could tell they were once again beyond safe. My friend Jerry said, "No big deal I will take them home and fix them for you and no one will get hurt."
After all my "You really don't have to do that." comments he insisted.
Next thing I knew in he came with 2 new stools. "Tried to fix them and they split so I bought you some new ones!" Good grief. Some people are so kind and generous. Jerry specifically.
It was nice of him to offer to fix them but new ones as well?
That was one of those more specific random acts of kindness. It is a delight to see such a helpful and generous person. I always am amazed how much my friends help me.
Thank you dear friends.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

In Tulsa's Rose Garden, Ian and Rachel's Graduation Pictures

Photo Booth or Fashion Runway

Three new pairs of glass earrings! Thank you Kim!

Almost! Gee our hair smells good!

How do we all get in this photo and smile?

You know how all the sweet young girls do that digital camera thing where they aim it at themselves and look like Victoria Secret Models well...maybe we need some practice.
Kim my generous pottery student left 3 colorful little packages for me Kristine and Amanda and said not to open them until we were together. So we did and when we opened them we had each had a lovely pair of glass earrings she had made for us. We were delighted and wanted to send a thank you photo. One of those glamorous digital self portraits. Well, aiming correctly is important and being close for a three heads in one shot is important and having fun is the most important. We were thrilled with our gifts now if we can just get that Victoria Secret look down right. Smile!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Looking for El Cheapo Studio Space and a beat up truck

The search continues as well as massive cleaning of the shop.
If anyone spots a cheap studio spot with potential let me know. You know the place, handyman special with elbow grease, paint and hope. I do have followers and people who need what I sell so it is not like starting totally over. I need water, and to be able to hook up my kilns. The spot cannot be to scary at night because I teach class.
And I need an old mini van or toyota truck. I suspect it is the type with one fender the wrong color but runs good. I hear they are hard to find. No one wants to give them up. I'll bet some of those monster like SUV's will be cheap now with gas prices soaring. I will just rent a wreck if need be but there are a lot of moves around here now and a truck or van could come in handy.

Happy Mother's day to everyone.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Back in the Swing of Things Again

It is fun to teach my pottery classes again. Not only is it a great way to show people how creative they really can be, I learn from my students as well. Sometimes I see unusual techniques they invent as novices on the spot and sometimes it is general life info. They usually think of new ideas they want to create and love playing with textures in clay. They kind of get to be a kid again.

This week I did the finishing touches on the Tomato mans urn while my advanced students worked on vases and dinnerware. One student produced dinnerware set for her graduating senior. Imagine that, a 4 piece dinnerware set including 4 plates, 4 pinched bowls and 4 cups made for the daughter by the mother. That is special.

In the general life lesson department, I learned about a a great "stuff "cleansing one of my students did in her last move. She and her husband sold everything they had in a garage sale and moved to Tulsa only with their ever so loved tee pee and no jobs. They soon got terrific jobs and a house and all the things you need to live. They "clean out" and extras now once a year. She said it was a great feeling and refreshing getting rid of everything. Can I do this at some point?

The shop is doing fine even with the construction and dust flying as they improve our street. Both of my children are going to graduate. One from Kansas City Art Institute and the other from Booker T Washington high school.

My energy is flowing back into my shop and creativity. Dental surgery is now behind me and my tennis elbow is slowly healing. All is well and I will soon post picture of new pots in the shop and those soon to be finished.

Anyone who reads this blog and comes to the pottery before Mothers Day to buy a gift can receive 25% off any of my pottery or gift items in the shop. Just tell me the magic words "Mother's Day Blog Discount" and ask for 25% off. Happy Mother's day to all!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Art Sudio Questions

I recently sent our an email to many on my mailing list asking for general info on those who may be looking for studio space. We have a terrific studio idea that may come to pass and thsi is the kind of info i need from responsible Tulsa artists. This is in the early planning stages and may or maynot come about. Email me and tell me if you fine this email realtive. So sorry I don't have everyone's email that I wanted to ask these questions. So see what you think.

Hi dear friends and fellow artists,
As most of you know my block has sold and I am in the process of making "space" decisions.
My questions are-
1. Are you interested in renting shared but separate studio space? Like warehouse space? Do you need space now? Can you play well with others?
2. How much space and how much money can you afford for a space? What would you expect the space to offer you?
3. Are you primarily interested in gallery space, work space or both?
4. Have you ever been in a lease for work space before and how many hours would you speculate you could be involved in such a space per week?

Does this idea interest you at all?

Thanks, No obligations on your or my part yet. Linda Coward. Brookside Pottery

The Insecurity of time and space

I really want to be past all this. I am thinking of moving my shop home and scaling down while waiting for bigger things to happen. The insecurities of not knowing a real time frame and the threat of the rent sky rocketing is taking a toll on my emotions.
I have always believed in creative problem solving and meet most life challenges head on and full speed ahead. I am tired of indecision.
My friend and fellow potter in Austin Texas as a child had a sign in her club house


So how do we know how much to worry? The whole 37th street block is just riding the wave. I just want to get my work done but this little cloud follows us all. We will likely survive but it takes great patience and confidence. Now where is that trust fund? Maybe in my next life.

And on top of it all I found out Friday I am having dental surgery Monday morning. Now isn't that my most favorite thing? At least it is not a front tooth! The glass is still half full.
And my injured arm is still hurting but now has some sort of steroid boost and I am waiting to feel better soon. At least now I know it is those little hand movements that cause the pain. So maybe I will only make monster pots, giant ones!

Luckily, Ian is taking care of the shop graduating from KCAI and Rachel is heading to University of Missouri photo journalism next year with scholarships. John is very supportive and helpful during all this drama. It is nice to have a generous loving husband. And thank you, all my friends who call and come by to check on me and the shop during these unusual challenges.

The force be with us all!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Poems from the middle of the night

I love reading poetry in the middle of the night from old books on our bookshelf.
Tonight I am enjoying translations edited by Robert Bly from The Sea and the Honeycomb
A Book of Tiny Poems, A Seventies Press Book.

Robert Bly writes
A poet who writes a short poem is like a man who has found his way through a stone wall into a valley miles long, where he lives. He walks back up the valley, and opens a door in the wall for an instant to show you where the entrance is. The more imaginative readers are able to slip through in the twenty or thirty seconds it takes to read his poem. Those who expect the poet to give them ideas see only a vague movement on the side of the mountain. Before they have turned all the way around to face the poem, the door is closed.


An American Indian Anonymous

Sometimes I go about pitying myself,
and all the time
I am being carried on great winds across the sky.

Chippewa language, adapted froom the translation by Frances Densmore

Translated by Robert Bly:

I look into a dragonfly's eye
and see
the mountains over my shoulder.


The old dog bends his head listening...
I guess the singing
of the earthworms gets to him


Now listen, you watermelons-
if any thieves come-
turn into frogs!


Jose Juan Tablata
The little monkey looks at me...
He wants to tell me something-
that he has forgotten!


The temple bell stops-
but the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.


Anonymous Pashtun Poet

Call it Romance

Call it romance, call it love,
you did it.
Now pull up the blanket,
I want to sleep.

Translated from the Pashtun by Sadudin Shpoon

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Tomatoe Man Dies

I am honored to be asked to make the Tomato Man's Urn. I knew him and once traded one of my straw hats I was wearing for several tomato plants. Never a dull moment.
I met his wonderful daughter and was really impressed with her stories and her relationship with her father.
The urn will be most appropriate with tomato plant leaves presses in it with garlic images as well as glistening tree leaves on the lid.
Thank you for asking me to make this very meaningful pot. He will be missed by the entire community of tomato and garlic gardeners and many more.
The services are next Thursday. More details later.

The Block has sold

Yes it happened
One of the Allen brothers came in and told us it happened. Living month to month on a rental contract with Brockman Properties for 15 years has finally come to an end. They handed us each 2 letters. One told us where to mail our rent and they are our new landlords and the other talks about people coming in and measuring our shops as they make changes which are still unknown to us.
The rent will increase and probably more than double but we don' t know when. We are all guessing and riding a roller coaster ride of emotions. Stay, go, run, hide, deal, panic and don't worry about it. It is emotionally exhausting. It is no surprise and we are all actually handling it ok considering.
Thank you Mrs Pitcock for being a supporter for artists on our block and making it possible to create such a creative area in Tulsa. You were so good to us.

We still do not know much about what is going to happen.

Part of me wants to go home and work and concentrate only on my own work and do it in the most simple way. But the other part wants to build a fantastic new art center with a wonderful new friend. I am gathering information and thoughts and wisdom from very supportive friends and will know what to do soon.

What can I afford? How much energy do I have to devote to community arts again?

More later after I have thought more and measured the pros and cons.