Sunday, July 4, 2010

Living Quaintly

Artist Geer Morton with sketch of our back door entryway.

Close-up of Geer's sketch

Our back door entryway

Cobscook Pottery and Fiber Arts shop entrance

Entryway into the studio space

Fire Circle with Earth Loom

The Fourth of July signals an influx of tourists and summer folks to Lubec. I love this time of year because it's when the town really seems to come to life. Don't get me wrong. I love the Lubec winter as well, which offers time to "hunker-down" and be in solitude. Artists love that sort of thing. But the energy of summer brings a different kind of experience.

Yesterday brought us the return of Geer and Pat, who are counted among some of our 'favorites". I was excited to see the familiar van roll-up our birch-lined drive. We were greeted by Pat's infectious laughter and beautiful smile, and Geer's saracastic and much-adored wit. In tow, their friend Shula, a teacher from Chicago.

Geer Morton is what I consider one of those "hidden-treasures" in Lubec. This town is full of accomplished artists who seem to make their hideaway here on the coast, in the furthest reaches of the U.S. He and Pat spend most of the year in San Diego, but for a few months in the summer they are "the regulars' in our little town. I first met Geer when I was still fresh to teaching in Lubec. He offered to visit my art classes to speak about the experience of being a painter. I soon began to trek my students to his studio which is in walking distance from the school. From there, the four of us began a ritual of an early fall waffle breakfast date.

So yesterday, Pat, Geer, and Shula showed up, which totally made my day. I had been in a cranky mood from a bum glaze firing, but Geer and Pat snapped me out of that quickly. Pat and Shula toured the newly-arranged shop space in the barn and then came inside the house to see the new studio. When Pat called to Geer from the doorway "do you want to come see the studio" a quick reply "busy" was bellowed out.

Outside in the van, Geer had his sketchbook open and pencils laid out on the dashboard. He was feverishly sketching our back door entryway. I was a bit embarrassed at first, noting the crackling paint on the cedar shingles, the plexiglass window cover, and overgrown grass. As an artist though, he views the world around him differently. Artistic appeal has little to do with the appearance of "Martha Stewart Living".

He said that our entryway was "quaint".

Quaint: "Strange in an interesting or pleasing way."

Hmmmmm. Should we be offended by this?

Okay. I accept it. We are strange folk, Chris and I. Yes, that is a jawbone of some unknown creature in the window, and the plants are overgrown, and there is dead wood from the walnut tree perched against the house. We have strange weaving contraptions scattered about and the paint is chipping off the shingles, but we always seem to be too busy in our clay and poetry worlds to tend to them. There are piles of rocks here and there (I mean, you can always find a use for a rock, right?).

So, I am accepting that as time passes, our home (and perhaps we!) are getting a bit more bizarre each year. Chris is the hermit in the hut in the woods, and I am the bumblee bee flitting about from the shop to weaving studio, to pottery cave, to garden. We live with a gargoyle, piles of rocks, stacks of interesting driftwood and tree limbs, a mandala shaped veggie garden, and wild healing plants. Our huge cat "Bello" guards the yard and greets the customers, and a hummingbird often flies into my studio space. There is a nine foot high cedar log loom warped for weaving and artwork crammed into every nook.

Strange? Yes. But somehow, all so perfect.

A couple summers ago when Pat and Geer arrived to town, we all sat by the fire circle drinking pineapple spritzers. Geer sketched Chris while we conversed, and the sketch in turn provided inspiration for the following poem by Chris.

On A Sketch Of The Poet

(sketch by Geer Morton)

poem by Chris Crittenden


and jaw hung low

like a chuckling


scribbles frantic

in the hollows,

and the slit of the chin.

askew eyes

mocking order,

a pose hunched

yet strong—

part ogre, part pensive

like Rodin.

lips racked

in a rude smirk-smear,

hands like fumes

of neck-biting



like a saint

who waded too many

garbage dumps,


too many sins,

legions of the crumpled

and begrimed.


Owl Who Laughs said...

Another fantastic blog. You make our life ... well, come alive!

Geer is a very special person and I was heartened to see him here.

The poem in the blog, I will mention, was originally published by the journal Offcourse, and can be found here:

Thank you, wonderful Shanna, for making the journey of my life very special indeed.



Anonymous said...

When I was in college, it was just the opposite; during the spring and fall, the town would be busy, and it would quiet down in the summers. How I loved the summers!


Anonymous said...

Shanna Quaint is good! Strange is even better! It is better to be unique then like everyone else! I love that you have "strange things" around your home, life would not be as interesting otherwise! The Hermit and the Bumblebee... Lovely! Pam


thanks, owl :) same back at ya!


Ransi - winter the hopping time? Are you on the other side of the globe perhaps? Or a ski resort town? College town? So quiet here in winter...

Thanks for checking out my blog!


Pam!!!! Thanks for reading my blog. Can't wait to see you this fall. Congrats on your fellowship!!!