At noon it will be one week until Clay Fest set-up. I'm still waiting a couple of days for last minute drops and substitutions before I finalize the map and participants list and send it to press. I also need to sit down and make a list of everything I need for my demonstration, check the supply of bamboo, squirrel tail, epoxy. Fill up a couple of jugs with glaze, get a bisque firing done so I have bowls to decorate.
Meanwhile, I'm taking e-mails and making ads for Clayfolk, next month, throwing and trimming pots--four dozen mugs handled yesterday alone, with two dozen stew mugs waiting today--oh, and? Taking special orders for Christmas.
I have a lot of balls in the air this time of year.
Organization is always a challenge. My lists have lists of lists. But I took a little time Monday afternoon to examine my process for a podcast called Productivity Alchemy. The podcast, created by Kevin Sonney, husband of Hugo-winning artist and writer Ursula Vernon, talks about productivity and organizational systems, with weekly interviews, reviews of planners, and a Wombat (and later, Teenage) Test Subject.
Don't know yet when it will air, but Kevin says sometime before the end of November.
More when I know it.
I'm always willing to open my mouth, so I said, "Sure!" Was a little intimidated when I heard the company I'd be keeping: the other three vendors had all been members of Market for at least 30 years, one of them over 40. At 25 years in the booth, I was the baby of the lot. (Also the only guy. Not sure what that signifies.)
Interview day was a cold, grey morning. Not a lot of customers, not the best day to show off a vibrant marketplace. Photographer Colin Anderson arrived first, shot a few pics of me in front of the booth. In deference to the gravity of the occasion, I did not have a teddy bear in my hands, though I was tempted. Reporter Christian Wihtol arrived a little later, asked a bunch of very good questions, called later in the week to follow up and check his notes. Came back again the following Saturday to talk to customers and fill any gaps in his information. Said the story would print sometime in early June.
Well, the story came out yesterday, in the Blue Chip, the RG's local business supplement. And it was actually stories; they wrote a feature about each of us. Colleen Bauman of Dana's Cheesecake got the cover story, but I got the center spread. And for the first time in my experiences with journalism, he got everything right. No misquotes, misunderstandings, no bending what I said to fit a preconceived agenda. I'm impressed.
The other stories seemed just as good, as far as I can tell. I've linked to all of them, below.
Dana's Cheesecake (Colleen Bauman)
Screenprinter Diane McWhorter
Designs by Dru (Dru Marchbanks)
And, of course, Off Center Ceramics (me)
For the longest time, I've wanted to be on Oregon ArtBeat.
It's a public television program, produced out of Portland, that profiles visual and performing artists from around the state. Not just painters and sculptors, either. More than a few of my potter friends have been featured over the years, including a couple of Eugenians, Ken Standhardt and Faith Rahill. Being on ArtBeat is a sort of imprimatur, a seal of approval from Oregon Public Broadcasting.
It doesn't hurt career-wise, either. Both Ken and Faith reported a lot more interest in their work, and a number of new customers, after their ArtBeat appearances.
So it should have been a dream come true last January when I got a phone call from a listener on my public radio show, saying she'd seen me on Oregon ArtBeat the previous night.
Except I hadn't been interviewed. What the heck?
I watched the rebroadcast Sunday night, and she was right, there I was. For about 10 seconds. The crew had been in Eugene to record a feature about local painter Sarkis Antikajian, shot some footage of his retrospective exhibit, and decided to economize on the travel budget by shooting a feature on the Maude Kerns Art Center, where Sarkis' show was held. A feature that included footage of Club Mud.
So there's Don Prey, inspecting a bisque firing. There's Laura, teaching a kids' class. And there I am, way back in the back room, dipping and painting pots. There's a nice 3-second close-up of my hands painting chrome green onto a hummingbird bowl, and about 4 seconds more, speeded up, drawing a dragonfly on a salad bowl. Then cut to the education director explaining why the studio cat couldn't be the ghost of Maude Kerns. (It's a boy cat.)
I also like being back in the same building on the same date as the other craft guilds. More people come out for the combined event, and we spend free time cruising each other's shows, occasionally with intent to buy.
I don't have a work shift until 1 pm, so spend the morning in the booth, talking to customers, restocking pots and discussing pottery with the high school students who come in by the busload. Explain my decorating process to one pair, who take copious notes and wonder between them which of their shop glazes would make the best base for over-glazing. When another girl tells me she's only managed bowls on the wheel so far, I tell her how to make a canteen-style bottle by joining two bowls together, tipping it vertical and adding a coiled foot and neck. And make her promise to email me a picture if she makes one.
Baba Yaga Takes An Apprentice (I changed the title, after I glazed striped "witchy sox" in red and white on the little girl. Figured she's trying to make a good first impression.) gets a lot of favorable comments, both from customers and other potters, many of whom said they voted for me in the awards poll. So I guess I shouldn't be too surprised when the gallery host comes by mid-morning, says do I know that my piece is getting an award. They've moved it onto the front pedestals, and do I have anything else to put in the gallery? I don't have another sculpture, so give them a big oval platter.
Later, when I walk by the gallery, I see that Ginger Steele has a teapot on the spot, and Terry Axness has a beautiful big sculpture, featuring a crab, a pelican and a giant tortoise. I figure Ginger for the Bennett Welsh (surface decoration) award. Since Terry's piece is on the highest pedestal, I figure me for second place, which is still pretty nice; highest I ever did before was Honorable Mention, two votes below the third place winner.
Comes six o'clock, and Dawn announces that Ginger, indeed, has won the Bennett Welsh award. Then she announces second place to… Terry Axness!
Guys, I won Best of Show. Serious bragging rights, and a $250 prize. Also? While I was on sales shift this afternoon, I met the people who bought the sculpture.
I actually had a lot of fun with the TV interview. Reporter Megan Shinn was warm, engaged, and prepared. We had a nice talk, she timed how long it takes me to throw a soup bowl (two minutes), and I also got to watch her interview Dawn Marie so have a better sense of the balance of the story. Empty Bowls is first, but it hadn't really soaked in how many bowls I've donated over the years. Dawn Marie crunched some numbers last year, and came up with the statement that in the 26 years they've done the sale, I've given them something like 2-1/2 sales worth of bowls--eight to 10 percent of any given year.
So it makes sense to invite me to share the spotlight this year. It also gives them a new way to tell the story, which keeps Food for Lane County in the public's awareness.
Megan says the story will air with Tuesday evening's news, possibly to repeat Wednesday morning. I'll post a link to KMTR's website when I have it.
Don't put yourself forward, don't brag, don't show off. Makes me a little uncomfortable in the limelight, especially if it happens too often. I was just on KLCC's Viz City a couple of weeks ago, and this morning, there's a TV crew coming to my studio.
Makes me wonder if I'm the only potter left in Eugene.
Okay, there's reasons. I was Viz City's second choice, recommended by another potter who didn't have time to talk to them. The TV crew today is doing a story about Empty Bowls, so Dawn Marie Woodward from Food for Lane County asked if I'd talk to (and throw pots for) them. She'll be there for the interview as well, so it's not about me. And heck, I've been donating a hundred bowls a year for a while now, so it makes sense to put me forward. Not to mention that 25 years on radio means I'm not microphone shy.
The business person in me says Yay! Publicity! But the tiny voice of my Wisconsin childhood says Show-off.
The radio interview I did with Viz City's Terry Way and Sandy Brown Jensen is airing today. You can also listen at the KLCC website, see photos, and read an expanded version of the interview there.
I think they did an excellent job in finding a narrative through-line, and the glazing-noises sound bed rocks.
Sandy came a little early and shot some video for her blog; Terry recorded my ramblings and some ambient audio as well: I stirred glaze and dipped pots noisily for a couple of minutes to be used as a sound bed.
It was kinda fun to be playing with audio again. I'm looking forward to hearing the final piece.
Guess we're now the face of Holiday Market. 'Course, the picture's two years old, but we haven't changed that much. A few of the pots may still be on inventory.
And we look even better on their website...
So actually, this is the only picture I have from last night's ArtWalk, posing with volunteer Renee and and oddly familiar piece of pottery. Once they opened the doors, we were all just too busy.
Talked to a lot of people who've been buying my bowls over the years, showed off some brushwork, even sold a few pieces out of my display. Had a nice talk with Mayor Piercy and a pretty sizable turn-out with the ArtWalk. Came home, stumbled through a late supper, and crashed hard.
Woke later than usual (6:30 am rather than 5:30), scrambled to get down to Saturday Market for another working day. Fame is fleeting.
Still not quite sure what to expect, though I fear that, with the exception of the scheduled ArtWalk stop, I may be totally overlooked in the rush to get the best bowls. Actually, I'm probably okay with that.
Meanwhile, out in the parking lot, they're preparing for the main event. Dawn Marie tells me they have somewhere around 1,040 bowls this year, so my contribution is almost 10%. She introduces me to the volunteers sorting and pricing pots, and I get a nice round of applause.
I've been involved with Empty Bowls for years now, basically since Local Clay took it over from OPUS 5 gallery, somewhere in the 1990's. I've been EB vice-chair, then chair for Local Clay, organized our first "Throw-a-thon" at Club Mud, and try to give them at least 100 bowls every year. This year I think it was 106.
I've written elsewhere about why Empty Bowls is so important to me. This year, they're showing that I'm important to them as well.
This year's sale is on the first Friday of the month, and so they're participating in Lane Arts Council's First Friday ArtWalk. They're the final stop on the tour, and have asked me to be Featured Artist. I'll have a display of my non-bowl work (including a couple of sculptures), bring along some hand-made brushes and demo paper (don't think I'm quite up to actually glazing pots), and figure out something clever to say to the guest tour-leader.
Mayor Kitty Piercy.