Monday, January 1, 2018

As the Crow Flies

My new digs.
Bonnie waving goodbye at Crow Town Gallery. After three years as a resident artist, the keys are in my hand. Bonnie Beard has been the main gallerist since 2003 and is taking a break. I can't wait to get things rolling! I'll be taking a few months to think about the vision for this space then will re-open with pottery and art at this location in May 2018. I have a multi-year plan forming and can't wait to see how it all unfolds!

 Belvedere Handcraft Award
2017 was off to a great start when I learned that I was the recipient of the Belvedere Handcraft Award. 
(photo by Lisa M. Dellwo)

 I was a Crow Town Gallery resident artist for a third summer running. It was an honor to exhibit in the opening show alongside Richard Van Buren and Kathrin Hilten. In this photo, Richard Van Buren's colorful resin sculpture is in the middle, and my ceramic work is to his left and right.
 To the moon and back!
I have not been much of a traveler the past few years. I am sort of a nester, but....I could not pass up the opportunity to do a ceramics residency in Croatia at the American International School of Zagreb. I worked alongside phenomenal art teacher, Kendra Farrell, and loved having k-12 students from so many different countries.

Work by students in Zagreb.

Even though the teaching schedule was pretty tight in Zagreb, I managed to get to Zadar, located on the coast, for one weekend. The Roman Ruins were incredible to see in person!

Looks like the teacher in me is still alive and well even though I left public school almost six years ago. I am now teaching Art History at UMM (one class, part-time adjunct). It's been demanding time-wise.  I am like a new teacher all over again writing a curriculum from scratch. The students have been such a joy to work with, though!

Teaching art history, we cover many different periods/cultures. Bernie Vinzani (head of the book arts department at UMM) had this vase in the university art collection, a Korean vase from the Silla period (668-935 AD)

2017 marked my fifth year of creating the awards for the annual Bay of Fundy International Marathon. This year the theme was starfish. I love meeting the runners and hearing a bit of their stories. What an accomplishment for them! And this past year, an Ultramarathon was added!

The "New" year has begun and like most, I have been reflecting on the past 365 days. And like most, It can be summed up as a mix of both joy and challenge. I would say that for me, 2017 was primarily about limbo and transition.

While I was somewhat out of my element in 2017 with having to shuffle from space to space on a daily basis (home, studio, gallery, shop), I allowed myself the process, and from that process, learned much about my needs, goals, and probably most importantly, that I can move through the challenges somewhat gracefully as they are presented. While I understand that we are in control of how we deal with our challenges, I have also learned that there is so much out of our control, and that sometimes we just need to let things play out.  I am one of those that, thus far, has seen that even the difficulties in our life are part of the path that leads us to our ultimate personal evolution, and in the "end" it's all good. In a manner of speaking.

If we take the approach that all experiences are opportunities for us to learn and grow, it is perhaps "easier" to accept what is before us. Acceptance does not mean that we allow unhealthy things to continue. Rather, it means that we acknowledge the natural ebb and flow of life, and from each experience, we pick up from that point and move forward.

As 2017 approached, I was facing some of my biggest challenges thus far, but at the same time incredible opportunities were opening up for me. I learned that taking a leap (physical safety intact!) leads to new adventures. Is it scary to jump outside the comfort of what we have known for so long? Absolutely! But without leaving our comfort zone, there is seldom growth.

All this being said, I have had an incredible support team of friends and family behind me as I made these leaps. As soon as I was flying into the unknown, doors opened and new opportunities came into sight. In 2017 I rented living space from a friend, received a prestigious arts award, traveled to Croatia to teach, relocated my business to a downtown space on a long term basis, taught art history for University of Maine, exhibited with artists that I have long respected, created new artwork, met new friends, and bought a gallery.

In 2016, I did not "see" what was to come. All I knew at that time was that I had difficult decisions weighing on me. I was scared and had to face fears, push myself out of the nest, leap, fly, dream, and work hard. 2017 was a bit wobbly but now it is as if I am a plane that is finding it's smooth path once again after unsettling turbulence.

Going into 2018, I am excited to see how the journey unfolds. I sit here typing from my big comfy chair, newly relocated to Crow Town Gallery. As May approaches, I will be setting my intentions for this space and will re-open with excitement and new vision. A lot of folks have been asking what I plan to do here. Taking the advice of a friend, I have chosen to take time to work out the plan while I resettle, and will reveal more fully in a couple months. For now, what I can comfortably say with certainty is that my pottery will be located here starting in May. Yes, some things are changing from the previous gallery format. While my pottery and art will be sold from here, there is a larger vision for this space, and that will require much planning.

And patience....

The universe has its own timeline.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Follow Your Bliss

Cobscook Pottery Pop-Up
Through November 2016

Cobscook Pottery has taken it downtown!
Handcarved stoneware by the Easternmost Potter in the U.S., fine art, and jewelry.
Located at 37 Water Street, Lubec
Nestled between Lubec Hardware and the Lubec Brewery in Karen Burke's "Daylily" building.
Hours are by Chance or appointment

Rice Festival
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Cobscook Community Learning Center,Trescott, Maine 
I'm on the schedule to demo my encaustic painting technique. Come on down and say hello!

Stone Soul Rise
Encaustic on birch panel, stone

 Crow Town Gallery 2016 Season

Raku Vessel: Mowry Beach #6 by Shanna Wheelock

It was a successful season showing alongside fellow resident artists Bonnie, Beard, Sheryl Denbo and Kathrin Hilten with guest artist Nina Bohlen. Stay tuned for info on the 2017 Crow town Gallery season....we have some goodies in store!

2016 Maine Craft Association Exhibition at
Common Street Arts
September 30-November 5, 2016
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 1st, 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Factory Construction 2
Ceramic/wax/iron, Shanna Wheelock, 2016
On exhibit at Common Street Arts, Waterville


 Located at 93 Main St., Waterville, Maine
Gallery hours: Wednesday-Friday 12-5, and Saturday 10-1

Drawings on these vessels are inspired by ink drawings that I have done that depict local factory ruins and environment. Once drawn and bisque-fired, vessels are raku-fired. See pic below!

Raku-fired vessels by Shanna Wheelock. Fresh from the kiln and cooling on the grass!

Raku vessels from the most recent kiln firing were on display this past summer at Crow Town Gallery in Lubec.

A little bit of Hamilton Cove, in Lubec.

Kundalini Rising (raku-fired ceramic) and ink drawings by Shanna Wheelock.
at Crow Town Gallery.
(That one stone, third from bottom, was driving me crazy. I edited the sculpture and shifted it to the left a bit. Much better! The sculpture is sold and going to a very good new home!)

 What a treat it was to visit the studio of sculptor Richard Van Buren! 

Van Buren with his cast-resin sculptures

Detail image of a sculpture by Richard Van Buren.

Sculpture by Richard Van Buren.

River Flames
Raku-fired clay, Shanna Wheelock, 2016
On view at Common Street Arts, Waterville

Boot Head, Lubec, Maine

 Karen and Barbara have kept me well-stocked with flowers in the shop!
Thank you!

A rainy, foggy afternoon in downtown in Lubec.

Ten years ago it was that I opened the tiniest of pottery shops in an 11x9 section of the barn. At the time I could not envision myself as heavily into production as I have been the past few years. I recall the advice of a friend and business counselor who suggested, when I said that I wanted to be a successful artist, that I make and sell pottery to help me move toward that goal. I had the basic skill in place and with time at the wheel, I found my little business growing a bit more each year. I think that I could have continued down that path exclusively as a full time potter except that the artist spirit in me kept calling to bring into the physical the ideas and visions that kept my mind colorful and awake at night. My life is blessed for sure, living the artist's life, following my bliss. Of course there is a fair share of grunt work and frustration that goes with any job, but as far as jobs go, I have a good one.

Being in Lubec fifteen years now, I have watched a transformation from "ghost town" to "on-the-verge" of something very VERY cool. Okay, Lubec is already super cool, but what I am talking about is a growing community of visionaries: artists, writers, musicians, farmers, and entrepreneurs.  It's still small scale and I expect it will stay that way, but what a beautifully eclectic mix of creative souls we have. And to top it all off, this little corner of the map is surrounded by gorgeous terrain, powerful tides, and abundant wildlife.

I continue to find inspiration in all that is around me and after a summer packed with artwork and openings, I have spent the past month focused on carved pottery production. With holiday season upon us, my hands are never idle. After this long run of production, though, I do look forward to the coming silence of winter and time to paint and draw.

In the meantime, though, I continue to pot, fire, and glaze while tending shop downtown. In August I moved out of the barn for what was to be one week in a vacant storefront. A pop-up of sorts. It was successful and taking it a week and month at a time, I am now planning to rent through November. My annual holiday sale (mid November) will be housed there this year. Being downtown is a bit of a mix of both business and pleasure. It's been a real treat to neighbor The Lubec Brewing Company (locally crafted organic beer) that hosts live music four nights a week. On the warmer eves, I could be found sitting on the stoop, carving pots while listening to the tunes and looking out at the narrows.

Before I sign off, I will mention that I will be demonstrating my encaustic painting technique at this year's Rice Festival at the Cobscook Community Learning Center, October 8th. A lot of people ask about the process, so here is your chance to see my playing with the wax and learn a bit about how these paintings are made. On top of art demonstrations, there is live music all day and other fun activities. Check out the schedule and come on down! (Or up, or over!) Click here to view the schedule of events.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Back to Blogging....

Save this date!

SACRED: Women in Vision
March 1-31, 2016
University of Maine at Machias Art Gallery

March 15th, 5-7 p.m.
Live music by Kelly Bryand and Anthony Branca

The show is up and looks great! We are grateful to Bernie Vinzani who did a wonderful job of hanging the work of five artists with varied styles. Women in Vision is honored to be showing in this space for Women's History Month!

River Flame
Raku, by Shanna Wheelock
Created while participating in the Tim Christensen Pottery Intensive at the Cobscook Community Learning Center, February 2016
What a great week!

Raku Cup
by Shanna Wheelock, 2016

The new carved design for 2016, The Harbor Seal.
I am in the thick of it working on the awards for the Bay of Fundy International Marathon.

Stitched in Stone
Photo from the granite path to the Breakwater Lighthouse.
I'm just back from a yearly visit to the Samoset with family.

Johnson Bay
Lubec, Maine

2015 season at Crow Town Gallery was so fabulous that I decided to return for the 2016 season! It's a great line up with four artists: Bonnie Beard, Sheryl Denbo, Kathrin Hilten, and myself.

Sun Halo
Incredible to witness!

Photographing the McCurdy Smokehouse in downtown Lubec never gets old....especially on a foggy day!

 Waiting for warmer days to meditate on the rocks at West Quoddy (warmer...and BEFORE the hiking population picks up!!!)

 Enjoying my canned mackerel from my first out-on-the water mackerel fishing experience last summer. It was great fun (and work!!!) catching lots of fish then canning and smoking them with Celia and Billy. It was a long, wet, and stinky day!!! Yummy, too!

The fluid-edged carved whale bowls have been a hit. I'm looking forward to showing my handcarved pottery this summer at Ironbound Gallery in Camden, Maine.

     I am attempting to return to blogging after a many-months hiatus. Same old story. I've been wrapped up in the everyday goings-on that go on in life. Every day seems to be an adventure and I am keeping myself busy with creative tasks as well as social time with friends and family. That may not sound so odd, but it was not so long ago that I was one of those "all work and no play" types of girls. So, I am enjoying life while keeping on top of the demands of being a full time artist and potter. Let me translate for you. Full time = way more than 40 hours a week. Still. I love what I do and I am blessed to be able to do it.

     Last year was full of gallery shows, vending, running shop, dancing, and hiking. This year is shaping up to be the same. Rest-assured, this "routine" is never boring. I'm working on the marathon awards again and preparing for a second season at Crow Town Gallery. I'll be creating all new work for those three shows this summer. Currently the Women in Vision group is showing at the UMM Art Gallery. It opens on March 15th. Hope you can make it to the reception!!!

     While I am returning to blogging, I am not quite awake enough to return to writing a lengthy text. I'll keep this one short and hope to hop back in soon with some creative ramblings. We'll just assume that since a picture is worth a thousand words...I already provided enough with the stream of photos above!

     My love affair with Lubec continues.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Save these dates...two pottery events coming up!

 Cobscook Pottery Annual Holiday Sale

 November 6-8, 2015
At my shop/studio
Lubec, Maine
Fri. 3-7, Sat. and Sun. 10-4

Pottery, jewelry, encaustic painting, drawing
Refreshments, raffle, and holiday cheer!

Cobscook Pottery at the 
United Maine Craftsmen Show
 November 14th and 15th
At the Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
Sat. 9-4, Sun. 10-3

 Bouli, hanging with the art in studio main.

An early autumn bonfire.

 Mowry Beach has the biggest heart I've ever found.

 Hamilton Cove 

 Lubec pier on a foggy afternoon, high tide.

 A successful show this summer at Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, Maine

I enjoyed my first season as a resident artist at Crow town Gallery. 
I look forward to next summer with a line-up that includes three exhibits, intriguing artists, 
and live music.

 Lots of carving in prep for holiday sales.

 I'm about as messy as they come when it comes to potters!

 West Quoddy State Park

 Johnsons Bay, Lubec, Maine

 harvested some Chicken of the Woods Mushroom. Yummy!!!

 Sliced and ready to be dehydrated, wild Chicken of the Woods mushroom.

It  seems my weekly blog posts are a thing of the past but I felt the pull to begin writing again these past few days. Facebook covers the day-to-day happenings (of which there are plenty!) and so lots has piled-up from the past three months of eblogger silence.  There is too much to recap fully here so I will just leave it at it was a summer-into-autumn full of art, music, family, friends, and continuation of self-growth.

Mostly what I am reflecting on is all the change that has occurred in the past couple years. I think we all have times in our lives when things ramp up and lessons come at a speedier clip than normal. If I were to look back at blog posts from three or four years ago, I think that I would mostly find weekly work accomplishments listed in paragraph form. I could still do that, as life doesn't ever seem to really slow down. What has slowed, though, is my presence within the whirlwind of everything around me.

With the MFA behind me and a shifting of gears into the rhythm of pottery and art, I find that the freedom of flexibility in my schedule allows for deep reflection on a fairly regular basis. By nature, my work hours are dictated by the needs of the clay. Some days I am at it from wake until sleep and other days I may find myself only in the studio four or five hours (or not at all....rare but it happens!). In an effort to work on self-love, self-care has become one of the main focuses in my life. When I was teaching full-time, building the pottery business, and going to school, lots of things for my own well being were put on the back burner. I now fully appreciate the "little" things like being able to break in the middle of the day for a walk, exploration along the beach or in the woods, a solid meal, baths, meditation, sleep, time with friends, or an evening out.

I am a domestic nomad. I move from space to space at home determined by which spot feels most beneficial to creative expression. When carving, I may find myself outdoors (weather permitting) where I listen to birds and wind in the trees, or if cold or rainy, I may be plunked down in my favorite chair fireside. While my hands are preoccupied, my mind is free. I use that time to either gain new knowledge through youtube videos (there is lots of interesting stuff out there!!!) or I find myself (most often) sitting and working in "silence". Two years ago, this was something i would seldom do, as silence was uncomfortable. I filled every moment with sound.
Now it is something that I have come to crave. True silence I have not yet experienced, but the most basic level being removal of voice and the drone of mechanical sound, I partake in as often as I am able. Noise is ever present and I do not know that it can ever be fully escaped. The closest I can come is a winter day when power kicks out. In winter, there is a stillness, even if the howl of  wind passes over snowy white mounds. Electricity has a constant hum that we seldom notice until its presence ceases.

Intrigued I am, still, that even in those conditions that silence is not found. While meditating in a windowless, enclosed dark space a few nights ago, I could still hear my own heartbeat and breathing, along with the currents of energy passing through electrical cords to items I thought silent....alarm clock and heater.  It's interesting how loud a heartbeat sounds when all other devices are "off" and darkness surrounds.

So for now, "silence" means an inward focus on self and the experience of the relative quiet of nature. More and more I long for that space, fortunate to find on my walks in the woods or at the beach or at home during hibernations. As I find myself still at times racing against the clock with  my seasonal work schedule, I fantasize those short, dark days of winter when the most quiet silence descends for solitude and deep introspection.