Friday, August 17, 2012

Nudged by the Universe

"A Poet and a Potter"
Presented on August 13th at Catbird Seat Gallery, Eastport, Maine
Heidi Reidell (gallery owner/artist), Chris Crittenden (poet), Shanna Wheelock (potter)

Donald Sutherland Ceramics: A Retrospective
on view at Catbird Seat Gallery, Easport, Maine

The universe gave me a little nudge last week. Alright. It was a big nudge. After ten years of teaching art in Lubec, I resigned my post. It was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make. Logically, it seemed I had no choice. Still, it is difficult to imagine not being at school at the beginning of the year greeting the kids. Whatever circumstances arose that led to my decision I have decided to focus on the new direction that I will take in my career. Though scary to leave what is known, it is exciting to think of the possibilities that lie ahead.
You know that old cliche: "When one door closes, another opens." Well, I do believe that to be true. The same day that I handed in my resignation at the superintendent's office, I was asked to exhibit my woven work at Washington County Community College. The irony is that the parking lot for the superintendent's office is shared with the college. Literally, one door closed, another opened....just a few parking spaces away. I took this as a good sign.

After I resigned I decided to keep the news quiet for a while. I needed time to process. Slowly I began to tell a few people here and there. Soon, another opportunity came my way. My former Heartwood MFA mentor offered me a week-long work-study position at one of her upcoming encaustic workshops in Kennebunkport. I am so excited about this! I have taken Kim Bernard's workshops before and she is a fabulous artist and instructor. Though I will be spending my time setting/cleaning-up, taking photos and film, and being a general right-hand-woman/gofer, it will be an intensive refresher course in encaustics with some new information that I have not previously learned. I will also get to spend time with friends and perhaps find, here and there, moments of quiet to reflect and plan.
I am excited about the fall and starting a new semester in the MFA program at Heartwood College of Art. Project proposals are due and I look forward to our pod's trip to Quebec City in October. The group of women that I have been working with the past two and a half years are phenomenal. Most of them are experienced world travelers so I will trust them to teach me the ropes. I haven't been to Quebec since a small child when my family would head north for camping.
For now, the pottery is a full time job and then some. I try to do most of my throwing in the morning and by mid afternoon attempt to get to lunch and either weaving or office work. Work on the Cobscook Pottery internet shopping site is in progress and though I had hoped to have that online this summer, it will take a bit longer than planned. In between the various tasks and errands, Chris or myself tend to shop visitors. It is tourist season here in Maine!
This past week Chris and I were guest speakers at Catbird Seat Gallery in Eastport. This was our first-ever co-presentation titled "A Poet and a Potter. The evening's discussion was led by gallery owner Heidi Reidell and focused on war and peace. Two of my political works were on display and Chris read some of his war-themed poems before a lively discussion ensued engaing much of the audience. Just being in the theater-turned-gallery is a real delight with its dramatic black walls, high ceilings, plush vintage furniture, and incredible artwork. Currently showing is a restrospective of ceramic artist Donald Sutherland. If in the Eastport area, or even if not, take the time to see this show. Sutherland was a much loved and respected Eastport artist who unfortunately passed away last year. His massive clay constructions will astound you. Really, go see the show. And, if you visit the gallery before Wednesday afternoon, two of my pieces are still on display: Grenade and U.S. Totem.

Some of Donald Sutherland's ceramic sculptures...
on view at the Catbird Seat Gallery, Eastport, Maine

Next week boasts a busy itinerary with Lubec Arts Alive meeting, Chris' birthday, friends, and two kiln firings. I am honored to be one of five speakers at the Eastport Art Gallery on the topic of "A Women's Aesthetic" (August 22, 12:00 noon).  I have a bit of work to do to prep for that and I best get moving on it. Farmer's market tomorrow morning. Taking the tent in the event of rain, but hoping for sunshine. I opted out of last weekend's market but heard that it was hopping despite the wet weather. Can't wait to get my 5 lb. box of organic blueberries from Hatch Knoll Farm and some free range meat and cheese from Olde Sow Farm and Creamery! There might be a loaf of bread in the mix from Boot Cove Breads and I'm hoping for some green beans, too.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back to Pottery after LAA events

Coming up:

A Poet and a Potter

FREE discussion and poetry reading at
Catbird Seat Gallery & Eastport School of Arts
3 Dana Street, Eastport
Monday, August 13, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

A pottery sculpture series, Pomegrenade by Shanna Wheelock, sparks discussion on war and peace with poet/ethicist Chris Crittenden. One wields words, one arranges earth. Both provoke thought.

Fort further information, contact Heidi Reidell

Chris Crittenden, Auctioneer at Large, challenges the audience to "ride that hot air balloon with him and take it higher" during the Lubec Arts Alive Benefit Downeast Art Auction at Crow Town Gallery. Standing beside him is LAA committee member Lisa Tyson Ennis, who just happens to be holding her own toned silver gelatin print of the smokehouse that was on the block for auction.

 The Lubec Arts Alive Downeast Art Auction packed the house!

A Lubec Arts Alive tent was set-up at Flatiron Corner for children to try their hand at Gyotaku printmaking.

 Last weekend's Lubec Farmer's Market had not one.....
Sunrise County Ramblers

 not two.....
Three musicians who are associated with the Summer Keys program

 but three....THREE...musical ensembles.
Dana and Susan Robinson

The Sunrise County Ramblers offered up some bluegrass, then an impromptu trio of classical musicians from Summer Keys appeared. Soon after, duo Dana and Susan Robinson pulled out the fiddle and banjo to serenade us with some more folk and bluegrass. Their Farmers' Market song was quite apropo!

One of our incredibly talented downeast artists is Sherry Ashby Cunningham. 
Be sure to check out her upcoming show!

Women in the Woods
A narrative of the simple everyday kind of Spiritual Journey

Eastport Art Gallery
August 20 - September 1, 2012
If you'd like to meet the artist in-person, Sherry will be gallery-sitting all day on August 23rd.


A short FREE Art Talk
A Women's Aesthetics
at the Eastport Art Gallery
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 12:00 p.m.

Speakers: Lisa marquis-Bradbury, Sherry Ashby Cunningham, Sharon Kiley Mack, Elizabeth Ostrander,  and Shanna Wheelock

I'm grabbing a few minutes to finally get a blog post done. The past two weeks have been packed with all kinds of Lubec Arts Alive planning. This is our fourth year and though we said that we would take it easy this year, it was anything but. We had a baptism-by-fire moment pulling this year's events together which included printmaking for kids, art on the beach, and a benefit art auction. I was in high anxiety mode for a few days previous to the event, having never organized an auction. It was especially stressful taking-in artwork right up until two hours before the event, but somehow our tiny but dedicated team did it. Chris was the auctioneer, which was a new role for him. The evening turned out to be somewhat of one long comedy skit and all said and done, we had a fabulous time. All the worries quickly dissipated once the laughter began. The venue was exceptional. Bonnie and Ukey were gracious enough to lend their Crow Town Gallery space which has become a real cultural center for the area hosting concerts, art exhibits, and contra dances. Kudos to the artists who turned out some great work for a worthy cause. Lubec is becoming a bit of an arts mecca which is exciting from my perspective. 

Things are humming along in the pottery cave. I am learning the ways of owning a micro business and trying to meet demands put before me. There are a lot of challenges but I am feeling up to them, for the moment anyway! The kiln produced a successful glaze firing last week and just this afternoon bisque ware was unloaded which is being glazed for another firing on Friday. I am finding that I am already outgrowing my kiln which five or so years ago felt so huge. This is a good thing, though, because it means that I have gotten better at what I do! (I hope that's what it means anyway!) I often feel a few steps behind and unable to catch up, but when I really think about it, I realize that my main pottery production only began a few weeks ago. All in all, I can celebrate a successful production run this summer.

One week into August and the summer already feels to be speeding by. Summer is short in Lubec, perhaps shorter than other parts of Maine. The garden seems to be just coming into its own but before we know it, it will be autumn and the last of the harvests upon us. MFA classes at Heartwood College of Art will be starting up soon, and that means that sculpture kicks back into high gear. I have been visualizing possibilities but have not formalized any ideas on paper yet. 

The Lubec Farmers' market continues. Friday nights are hectic with packing boxes and car for Saturday morning, but I do look forward to my time downtown with all the vendors and the live tunes. Last weekend there were three different musical ensembles! The weather has been absolutely gorgeous every weekend so far.

Cats are mewing for some outdoor time and pots are waiting for glaze down in the cave.  Time for me to begin the work day.