Monday, April 23, 2012

In the moment

Happy Buddha Maxx von Diesel.
     I came across some amusing files in my office the other day. Some years ago, a woman I knew remotely via email got so mad at me in her final email send-off that she sent me, not one name-calling email, but five over the span of two days including the ending declaration that “maybe you should build that yoga platform on your farm and chill out!” Or words to that effect. I still have the email exchange. The irony of her vitriolic advice still makes me laugh. I can’t help but be amazed at how utterly oblivious to our own behavior we can be.
     Current work developments include a bisque firing and an upcoming glaze firing. I also dropped off a good chunk of my inventory at a local gallery shop in Midway, Ky. If you’ve ever been to the Bluegrass area, Midway is located in Woodford County, near Fayette County (where Lexington is located). Woodford is what I would consider to be the definitive “horse country” county as far as Thoroughbred racing in concerned. Maybe not in actual numbers but just the flavor of it, the rolling hills, the barns, the board fencing, the countryside. It has distilleries, famous horse farms, art festivals, vineyards and in the center is the terminally cute town of Midway, home to Midway College and home to Main Street. If you come visit the Bluegrass, make sure you pencil in some time to visit Midway. And, oh, some of my functional work is in this awesome shop run by Mary and Eric Thorseon, Damselfy Gallery and Studio. Fabulous people, fabulous shop.
     My current sculptural work still tends to refer back to sexual textures, gestures, suggestive shapes and so on. It's because I'm in the middle of menopause, I think, that I consistently come back to sexuality, whether I mean to or not. It's the hormones. They've taken over. As my good, older, friend warned me, it's gotten worse. The amount of fatigue I've been feeling and the utter empty chaos in my brain in the last two weeks is remarkable. Remaaaaarkable. Little Rascals remaaaaarkable. Really. I went out tonight to blanket my irises (yes, another possible freeze tonight) and in the midst of it, I felt that warm, creeping flush. Not from any exertion because I wasn't really doing anything physical. Sure enough, when I looked in the mirror after coming back into the house, my face was flushed, my neck was flushed, my arms were flushed, even the backs of my hands. 
Beach Blanket Bingo on the lawn.
     My hot flashes these days are no longer just about the sweating and redness of my skin, my whole mood is a hot flash. I find myself exploding in anger at nothing, nothing at all. A dropped spoon. Not being able to get my shoe on my foot. The butter not spreading on my bread. And so on. So far, my Vesuvius-like moments are contained at home, in private, with only my cats, dogs and horses to hear it. Since they are not of my species, they ignore me completely. At times, I get so suddenly enraged, it's as if I'm having this out-of-body experience. Mid-way through my solitary tirade, part of my detached, observer-self is wonders, "Good god! What's her problem?" It's usually over in an instant and then I'm laughing at myself and grateful no one was there to witness the outburst. What bizarreness! I was remarking to my friend, Buddy, the other day when we were making plaster molds that I worry about the outbursts becoming so common that I forget to keep them private. That would be bad.
My brain function recently.
     On top of this, my brain has become rather ping-pong-y. I have trouble remembering simple words, my train of thought – in mid-sentence – and staying focussed. I would like to say that it's because my mind is racing with ideas but really... nope, nothing. Not really anything going on. I meditate but I fidget and am restless. I try to observe my restlessness but I end up getting irritated. I've become tremendously self-critical. This seems to be happening more regularly recently. My husband calls these days my Super-Psycho Days. Lovely man, putting up with this shit. My brain is like random bits of hail dropping everywhere. No pattern, no purpose, mucking up the lawn, and then it goes away like it never happened.
Hot Flash Teacup
     Here is my view of an erupting hot flash in a teacup form. Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


25 Willett Street, 1870 census, Manhattan, District 7, Ward 13.
     I am working on some family genealogy. The story of my family background has been pretty static for decades, mostly because there were few people interested enough to do some digging (immediate family to me), and because, prior to the internet, it took longer to track down information. However, thanks to online search engines and databases, I have started to paint a picture of my family background prior to my parents. So far, I've tracked down my Cusick side to my great-grandfather George and his wife Mary. Boston Irish in origin, they moved to the NYC area sometime in 1870. I had found the 1870 census about a year ago and glanced at it, noting that they moved to New York but until the other night, I never really read the details. They lived on Willett Street in Manhattan in April 1870. At first, I thought it said Millett Street or Nillett Street, neither of which I could find on a map of Manhattan. When I located Willett Street in Manhattan, I realized that my relatives lived in the Lower East Side. Not just near the Lower East Side, THE Lower East Side. The "Give me your tired..." poor, immigrant, multi-ethnic, tenement housed, filthy, crammed, notorious Lower East Side.
While most people think of Orchard Street when they think of the Lower East Side, Willett Street was also part of the mix. If you look above, Willett Street is one block away from Sheriff Street, which had a large German population for some time. The stories about the Germans there at the time focussed on their "occupation" as "rag pickers" starting in the 1850's. Here's a link to a description of this area then. 
Delancy and the Williamsburg Bridge approach bisect this area now. This is what exists at Sheriff and Willett today.
     Humble beginning, hard life, they eventually moved out of that situation to Westchester County, N.Y., so some things got better for them. George and Mary both passed away in Connecticut, around the Hartford area. 
     I'm also looking into the recent release of the 1940 census. The US Archives have released the images of the pages but they are not indexed by name yet. If you know where your relatives lived, you can look through the maps to determine the Enumeration District (the area sectioned off for counting) and then find the census pages for that ED. You have to slog through the images, lots of scrolling, but I have found my mother's side of the family when she was 12-years-old. My uncle Vincent was listed as an Assistant Instructor for a "private golf course." The census was taken prior to the US involvement to WWII so it's an interesting snapshot of things before the shit hit the fan. Scanning the names has made me nostalgic for the East Coast, living here in landlocked Kentucky. So many lyrical Italian names! So many names of people I went to school with; I must be looking at their grandparents, their parents as children, cousins, aunts, uncles. Really cool stuff. Take a look. It's addicting.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Think for yourself

I am signed up for several web blogs, newsletters, emails, etc., to do with marketing your art, your website, your craft, your pottery. About 10% of the time I find bits of information useful and interesting so I stay signed onto these things, just in case. The rest of the time I wonder, just who the hell is writing this shit and what kind of a world do they live in?
     Recently, I ran into another listed article the other day explaining how to write a blog. When I say "listed" article, you know the kind. They have to count everything: "5 New Ideas for Baking Potatos," "10 Ways to Clean Your Catbox," "6 Reasons You Will Be De-friended on FB," and so on. Anyway, beyond the usual anxiety-ridden questions about "should I or should I not write a blog?" this article gave tips on what constitutes The Way To Do It Right™. You should focus on your customer, your reader. You should tell them how reading this blog benefits them. You should tap into their needs for reading your words. Give them tips, show them cost-cutting measures, explain step-by-step procedures... and I thought, "What a load of clap-trap."
     What business is it of mine to tell you what you need, how to do something or what to think? If I was a technical expert in something and I felt a need to pass on some information about how to make something, yah, maybe but let's get real, I write this blog to self-express and open a small window onto one tiny individual's world. That's it. You read at your own peril, to your heart's content. You make up your mind whether I have something interesting or thought-provoking to say. You form your own opinion about what I'm saying. You make the decision about what your needs are, not me. I write this blog and put out the word with zero expectations that anyone will read it. The way I look at it, if people do, it's a surprise and a bonus. Like extra cake on your birthday.
    And that's where I'm coming from, briefly. I write this blog to announce shows, new art developments, new ventures, fun things I've discovered, to gripe and bitch, to express my point of view. Sometimes, some people find it interesting or thought provoking. Most times, I expect, they give it a passing glance or they don't find anything interesting. Is this exercise of self-expression on the internet a narcissistic exercise? Yes, it is. Nearly anything to do with any form of self-expression is narcissistic by it's very nature, as far as I'm concerned. We all have narcissistic needs; it's part of human nature. Acknowledging this is okay and is not exclusive of empathetic expression. Lately, probably because of the advent of the social media explosion, I have found a tendency towards dismissing connectivity and interaction between human beings on the internet as being "narcissistic." The implication is that it is an either/or proposition. You are either narcissistic and self-centered or empathetic and outward-looking. Bullshit. The internet is simply another medium, another way we humans interact. It does bring its own complications, the primary one in my mind being: on the internet, no one knows you're a dog. But beyond that, you might as well have millions of potential pen-pals and an unlimited supply of postage and envelopes. Plus the ability to mail packages of pictures and videos at minimum cost.
   Which brings me back to this garbage that gets spewed by crappy writers of canned articles on the internet vomiting sage advice about how you should be pigeon-holing your art/craft identity. Do what you do. Do it as best you can. Express yourself. And fuck everyone else.
<insert bow>

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bad Electricity

<Insert whine about computer problems here>
I think I've fixed some things.
     So anyway, in the in-between time, I've been throwing items for some salt/wood firings, mostly the carved Paleolithic drawing-type thingies. I think the wood/salt effects are appropriate for that cave-man like feel.
     I am still carving and sculpting the more organic items, mostly in the teapot and serving dish mode.

     I am sticking to my one-sculpture-a-month schedule. Still all about the seed forms.
Uncomfortable Surprise2012, Stoneware, Glaze, Beads
Also, I have a piece in the upcoming Dogwood Regional Arts Festival in Knoxville, TN. My husband and I toyed with an overnight to make the opening but after our five-and-a-half-hours-stopped-in-traffic odyssey on the drive back from Knoxville following dropping off the artwork, we have decided to forego that. What should have been a two-and-a-half to three hour drive turned into sitting in traffic for nearly twice that amount of time. As a result, the round trip ended up being 13 hours long. Seems there was a bad wreck on I-75 and we just happened to be in the absolute worst section on the highway, nowhere to turn around, nowhere to turn off, nowhere to pee. It was awesome. I hope they have fun in Knoxville but I'd rather not see that section of I-75 for about a month. The exhibition runs from April 6-27th at the Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville, 100 Gay Street.