Posts Tagged With: life and art

On Storms and Life and Pottery

Have you noticed how life is what happens in the middle of the storms? Or maybe it is the other way around: storms are what happen in the middle of life. Either way, there’s a co-mingling, that if not omnipresent, happens enough to deserve notice.

Pop-up storms often come at inopportune moments, don’t they? We’re living life, going about our business, and here they come: pop-up storms raining down on our parades.

Like the car accident that my Dad had the day before my brother’s wedding, or my Mom’s false teeth breaking just a couple of days before I got married. There she was home by herself holding her broken teeth in her hands and no car to get her to the dentist. Like any resourceful woman planning a wedding, she wrapped them in a napkin and walked the 6 blocks to the dentist’s office to have them glued back together avoiding all conversation with neighbors along the way.

Sometimes storms do render us speechless like that. My first time to the Grand Canyon, I drove into Arizona from Nevada and then did a circular loop north through parts of Utah before turning back west toward Las Vegas. All in one day! That was a bit of a storm itself, you might say.

I was awestruck by the beauty of the canyon, the colors, and the grandeur. Then, it stormed. Not where I was, rather off in the distance. Like one of those Las Vegas shows with spectacular visual and audio effects. Except I couldn’t hear a thing, I could only see it. An artistic display of lightning and rain in a backdrop of sienna, reds, oranges, yellows, bronze. A silent movie that rendered me quiet, less I miss something. I remember the canyon. I cannot forget that storm.

The other day I was “living” part two of one of my 52 Dates with Myself: the pottery throwing date. I’m still pondering that one.

Sitting with my instructor at the wheel, she a young art student from the local college already appreciating the nuances of her art and grasping the art of teaching others. My lump of round clay successfully turned into a nearly round bowl under her tutelage.

I was glad of it, this end product. But really it was the process and the feeling of it that intrigued me most.

So many different things happening at once and all acting upon the clay. My foot pressing down on a pedal causing the stone wheel to turn. Clay plopped in the middle of the stone. Drizzling water over it. Thumbs working from the center of the ball. Turning, pressing, angling, feeling – the process of molding.

Like life that spins round with pressures and choices and emotions.

It was easy and fun to experiment with various choices at the pottery wheel. Spin faster and adjust the angle of my thumbs. Apply pressure from the inside, now the outside. Pull up. Pull out. Every adjustment had an impact on the shape, the feel, and the look of my clay.

I felt the power of it. I impacted its stability. I determined its usefulness and it’s functionality. I established its beauty.

I felt the responsibility of it, too. With one small movement I could change its course, do damage, give it purpose or leave it be.

At once, I felt the fragility and the possibility. Needy. Malleable. Useful. Willing.

Yes, so much like life.

Now, a couple of weeks later here I am ready for the next steps. What to do with the hardened bowl? I can leave it as it is, a rough, hardened clay form. Or, I can try my hand at decorating and glazing it. Definitely, I want to do that.

So, on a bright, sunny, hot summer day I make my way to the storefront studio, pick out my colors and paint brushes, and excitedly establish myself at a table where I begin to paint.

Unbeknownst to me, the storm is brewing. It quickly shrouds the day in a blackness filled with 80 mph winds, hail, and heavy rain. The glass storefront windows shudder and shake. Water begins pouring in from under the door and even between the seals of the windows. Leaves and small branches sail by. Cars stop in their places along the road, as their drivers can no longer see to make progress. With the young clerk, I look around for our best option of a protected area. But we don’t go. Instead, we watch and speak only in glances.

Very quickly, the storm moves through and is over. Sunshine reappears giving a momentary glistening effect just before it absorbs the moisture and reasserts itself as a humid summer day.

The mood in the pottery studio relaxes. I paint. The storm has come, and it has gone, inserting itself again into one of my life experiences. Co-mingling with me in the journey. No doubt, we’ll meet again.

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Categories: Artistic Dates, Challenges, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why have you made me like this?

“Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” ~ Romans 9:20b-21 (NKJV)

Wheel-throwing clay during my recent date at Bisque It Pottery in Fort Wayne. My teacher is Ashlyn Emberton. For more info on their classes visit their website: http://www.bisqueitpottery.com/Clay.html

Categories: Artistic Dates, Date Ideas, Date Night, Pure Fun, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Life in Art

Photo by Dr. Eugene M. Gillum

What do Kodachrome film and Dr. Eugene Gillum have in common? They both hitched a ride to Guam in World War II and came back with stories to tell.  Introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1935, Kodachrome was a mass-marketed color film for 74 years.  Kodak stopped selling it in 2009. Dr. Gillum outlasted it.

I met Dr. Gillum and his wife on a recent date to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art’s exhibit of his WWII Aircraft Nose Art. A young man in his early 20’s, Dr. Gillum’s draft notice led him to serve with the 20th Airforce in Guam. Before he left the U.S., Gillum stuffed a roll of the film in the bottom recesses of his bag. There it would stay until September 1, 1945 – 15 days after Japan surrendered.

Dr. and Mrs. Eugene M. Gillum

Then Sgt. Gillum and his buddy, Sgt. Bob Dutcher, talked their way into the use of a military jeep and drove to the tarmac where the 20th Airforce’s B-29 fleet stood. With his roll of Kodachrome, Sgt. Gillum captured the artistry and life of the men of the 20th. Not until seven months later would the images come to life in a U.S. development room.

Depictions of life easily emerge in the themes of the art work.

  • Sexy women – all kinds of them in some degree of undress.
  • Mission – “The Laden Maiden” indicating the 500 pound bombs the planes carried, “Jus’ One Mo’ Time” perhaps both perseverance and prayer, and “Moonshine Raiders” a hillbilly in flight with a moonshine jug and outhouse.
  • Family – “For the Luvva Mike” a young pilot’s son, “Belle Martinez” a pilot’s gal, and “Fuzzy Fuz IV”  named for the cat belonging to the wife of the Commanding General.
  • Patriotism – “Liberty Belle.”
  • Honor – “Rose Marie” the surviving wife of a pilot who had been killed in action
  • Exhaustion, yet still a sense of humor– “Miasis Dragon”

Dr. Gillum stood for over an hour sharing stories of his early years, his journey into World War II, his detailed knowledge of the aircraft of WW II, and how his photos of the aircraft nose art came to be. As his time concluded he walked over to a table, picked up a picture of a current day Air Force officer, and share the story of how the man had recently come to visit him. Then, he turned, looked at us and said, “I delivered that young man when he was born some 30 plus years ago.”

Ah, there it was, the art in life meeting the life in art.

Thank you, Sgt. and Dr. Gillum.

Categories: Date Night, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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