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nceca for me

updated fri 9 apr 10


Kelly Savino on wed 7 apr 10

I've been dragging my feet about posting my NCECA experience... partly beca=
use I arrived home to a backlog of work, partly because I can no longer pul=
l that many late nights (or drive 1200 miles) without being tired afterward=
... and partly because I am just about talked out. Roomie Snail and I are p=
retty much the conversational "perfect storm", lol...

We roomed with Lee Burningham's high school students, and it was great to g=
et their opinions before I went out in the morning... these glasses, or the=
se? These earrings with this shirt? They were quite helpful. (I am not only=
a middle aged mom and uncool, I am now unaccustomed to clothes without mud=
on them, or shoes that aren't hose-able.)

Before the conference I had penciled and graphed out every lecture and pane=
l discussion, morning yoga to late night program, but when I drove into tow=
n with Edith as copilot, I decided that it seemed too much like my daily li=
fe: running from one task to another, mentally about half a tick behind. So=
I wandered instead, bumping into people I knew and following them. I saw t=
he last half of Terri Gross, the first half of Jack Troy... I didn't watch =
the clock.

I wandered to the La Mesa show, and the Artstream show which had outgrown i=
ts trailer and taken over a room at the Marriot. (I met Ron Meyer, which wa=
s a treat.) There was an odd little collection of gallery shows all togethe=
r with intriguing work, the K12 competition, and the Cup sale -- all standa=
rd annual visits and always providing a year's worth of inspiration and foo=
d for thought.

The show in the clayart room was especially marvelous, as we went back to c=
hat with those pots again and again, at the elbow of this clayarter or that=
... photos showed the evolution of each invited artist's work over the year=
s (some more than others.) Bravo, Jean... marvelous work.

I had a nice Greek dinner with Potters Council, ate for free at Steve Tobin=
's party, and in general managed to pinch my pennies pretty effectively. I =
had brought a stash of cash just in case I had a chance to go to soma faaab=
ulous restaurant with Vince, but alas, no Vince... no Dave McBeth... and I =
didn't have the heart to go to the dance at all without Nan or Steph around=
. No Alisa, no Hank, no Wayne, and I missed Marty Morgan (for whom I am sti=
ll carrying a pot!) Lots of familiar exhibitors were missing form the hall,=
too. We did get to a nice Burmese restaurant after the Potters Council's "=
Show of Hands", which was fun.

I sat in on a dual demo, just to give it another chance, but I'm way too ov=
erstimulated at NCECA to sit still for that long and watch other people wor=
k. There are people who are good potters but not good talkers, and anyway w=
atching people make pots on a screen, for me, is like watching people make =
love on a screen: kind of dull and two dimensional, and nowhere near as int=
eresting as doing it yourself.

The valet parking service managed to wrap one side of my red van around a y=
ellow concrete pole, which I didn't notice until I arrived at Steve Tobin's=
studio with a carload of roadweary passengers and had to walk around to op=
en the passenger side door. Yikes! Still waiting to hear from their claims =
people. But I soon forgot to stress about it: Steve's studio was just mind-=
altering, worth my drive to Philly all by itself. The enormous metal root-t=
ree sculptures, the warehouses full of work, and train cars full of work, t=
he store room of raw materials and the houses made from slides or bronze-ca=
st matzoh, the glass, the brass, the found object work, and the dynamic ene=
rgy of the artist was both daunting and inspiring.

Apparently when he goes to speak at art colleges he isn't invited back, bec=
ause his advice to art students is, "Quit." He tells them that their teache=
rs are failed artists, and that's why they teach... and that teachers will =
teach you to be just like them. That both intrigued and insulted me, and it=
has inspired a lot of soul searching since (and a 65-response thread on fa=
cebook as well!) Steve has been willing to take big risks, work outside the=
established ropes, plan projects that may take a decade to bear fruit, and=
keep some kind of spirit of exploration and experiment alive, and I respec=
t that.

On the other hand, my children are fond of shoes and groceries, and though =
I consider myself pretty productive, I am kind of bound to my artistic hams=
ter wheel for now. So that bar is a little high for me to reach for...

Philly was an interesting city from what I saw, educated and modern, local =
flavor and a good mix of people, historic and shiny-modern at the same time=
, kind of a renaissance-man-in-a-sports-car. I have to say I still love Pit=
tsburgh, though... it was the city version of the midwest boy w/ big arms a=
nd a hopped up Chevelle...

Snail led me to the Mutter museum the last day, which was marvelous and hor=
rible, a cabinet of medical and anatomical curiosities. Back in the politic=
ally incorrect days of my childhood I was the kid who loved the natural his=
tory building at our zoo with the glass jars of pickled embryos and the rea=
l shrunken head, so I anticipated that same kind of gruesome thrill and awf=
ul beauty, and I wasn't disappointed. Skeletal, mummified, wax-cast, dried,=
stuffed and pickled in jars at the Mutter were the kinds of horrors we rar=
ely see anymore in daily life. I will admit to being really glad to step ou=
t into the fresh air when we were done; the fetal and stillborn deformities=
section kind of wigged me out, and the ceramics show there paled in compar=
ison to the medical histories recorded behind glass.

I am still processing pots and images, likes and dislikes, conversations wi=
th old friends (too brief) and with facebook friends now connected to real =
life memories. I always rent a dumpster after NCECA for a massive spring st=
udio cleanup, and the bar is always raised by the quality of work I have se=
en so that all my "iffy" pots are easily recategorized as landfill-worthy. =
Now, though, those projects have to wait for the weekend. Tomorrow will bri=
ng studio students in the morning, college classes all day and then potter'=
s guild classes at night.

Meanwhile spring is sprung, the grass is riz. Eleven chicks are discovering=
the grassy world outside the brooder, with much random springing about and=
flapping of stubby wings. Seedlings of tomatoes, amaranth, ground cherry, =
odd eggplants and leeks are under lights or moving out to the hoop house a =
tray at a time. Tyler had his first date, with a girl in his fencing club (=
they went to the zoo.) Connor and Molly went out in the thunderstorm tonigh=
t with a flashlight and brought home a coffee can full of worms, a wet toad=
, and a crawdad who is now waving his pinchers at me from a jar of water on=
the countertop. The kids all have spring break this week and their dad is =
taking them for bike rides and to the zoo while mom heads off to work, so I=
am feeling a little sorry for myself... but I will never again complain ab=
out any job, as I know too well what it feels like for a family to be witho=
ut one, and too many in my struggling town are in that boat still.

Big hugs to those I had a moment with at NCECA, and to those I sorely misse=
d... to the marvelous Snail who has the smartness, to the spooky-brilliant =
Jon Singer who proofreads my stuff and Polly Beach who publishes it, to Phi=
l P who forgives me my trespasses, for mel who is such a good mentor and da=
d to his clayarters, to the beloved mugettes, to Lee B. who got out the vot=
e, to the potters council folks with the big plans and tall orders, to thos=
e who make me laugh, and listen to my stories as if they haven't heard them=
already... every year at NCECA I remember how much I love clayarters, ever=
y one of them, talky and quiet, bubbly and morose, young and old, quirky an=
d serious.

Night, all... my pix are on facebook and I don't have the energy to post th=
em again, and we're all so much better looking in person.. .though May's im=
ages are really stellar!

Kelly in Ohio (website) (blog) (store)