Sunday, September 19, 2010

What our Art Collections Teach Us

Like many of us, I have artwork treasures I’ve purchased, traded for, been given and accumulated from my own making. Day in and day out these pieces bring joy and beauty to our home life and I tend to take them for granted. But several pieces have called to me lately and have given me pause enough to look closer at all the rest. (My apologies for a photo of only one...)

“Exit Stage Left -- the Lovers” is an abstract painting I purchased from a friend’s fundraiser sale for cancer treatment. Sid‘s wild abstract lines, images, colors and energetic treatment of the paint seemed totally foreign to my way of thinking when I first became acquainted with her work -- chaotic and troubled. It was a piece I could afford from those being offered, had a great title that I could related to, and we could support my friend with our purchase. I liked it but didn’t know why.

For several years a lovely Glenn Burris abstract glazed tile piece was hung next to it because his piece seemed to be an ordered “simple” abstract next to a complex one, and yes, the colors related. After I moved the Burris abstract to a new location Sid’s painting seemed to come into focus as a very systematic grouping of character types. I remember how she used to apply the paint with such energy and speed, yet how organized and harmonic the finished painting. Is this just a function of my brain persisting in making order of chaos until it gets it? Or was its simple layout there all along? She knew when to quit.

Many of the pottery pieces we have are styles I could never begin to do or master. Pieces with hours of decorative work, or special glaze effects requiring years of trial and error are prized possessions. During my teaching years any particularly interesting contruction method was acquired as an illustration for another thing for the students to try and gave me a fairly good excuse to support many potters.

Above our stove is this Wally Schwab platter with a lively dotted decoration that would be mind numbing glazing for my taste. Under Wally's mastery it comes alive. This plate called to me from an entire booth of similarly decorated wares--many larger and brighter glazed than this one. Wally chose to place the hanger so the glaze drips are going “up” rather than the “down” as one might expect. Sometimes I wonder at that as I stir or watch a pot. It causes a yin/yang dialogue in my brain of whether or not it’s hanging “right” that tickles me when I realize I’m thinking about it for the hundreth time.

As potters, many of our works are treasures because of the maker as much or more as the pot. Time and use have taken their toll on some pieces. When a favorite plate got a major chip knocked off, I superglued it back so I could still use it because this potter no longer is doing pottery. Some of our pottery pieces have just the right heft. Others are fun to use on special occasions. All are reminders of the super greater arts community that I belong to.