Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Down Memory Lane


The Fran Tree has brought along with it memories of my childhood. Coincidentally a childhood friend dropped by with a teapot they were given for a wedding present some 40 years ago. Of course he broke the lid and now wants me to save yet another good man’s ass. Being President of The CYA Club or Cover Your Ass Club how can I refuse to at least try? I know, I know this is going to a nightmare but he's a old friend and his marriage may depend on me. Such a cross I have to bare. 
 I will use my Rhodes Black Glaze for a black lid and it will look close to a museum restoration. He will get big time points at home. I will have saved yet another man.
Besides I needed to look at this Blue Mountain Pottery teapot to flood my gray area with memories. When I was a kid there was a piece of Blue Mountain Pottery in every house in our neighbourhood, probably all of Ontario and scattered all over the world. That green lead glaze was and is to die for.  The pottery started in 1953 and closed in 2004 for reasons unknown to me. I think the big box stores drove out the jewellery stores where we used to buy our treasured Blue Mountain Pottery.

My two brothers and I would pool our money to buy mum another piece for the china cabinet or to display in the front window to show off to the neighbours our status as suburbanites with a touch of class. Most of the Blue Mountain Pottery that I remember were swans, bears and critters. We had a fancy long necked swan bowl that was never to be used. The pick of the litter.  Apparently  Blue Mountain  is retro now and becoming collectible. You just have to crack the longevity question, wait long enough
and you just might be in again. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Finding a tear

My mum outlived my dad by 25 years. She never remarried or dated anyone else. She lived with my brother the bachelor in Medicine Hat, Alberta and she never ever, ever went to a doctor. Never, ever, ever did I see my mother cry. Not at the births of her grand kids, not at my dad’s funeral, not at any misfortune. She never showed a sad emotion. 
At age 90 she had an aneurysm that went to her foot. She thought she had twisted her ankle and of course didn’t go to the doctor. Gangrene set in and headed for her upper regions.  She was rushed to hospital where I was given a call at Utah State University. I was taking my MFA at the time. I drove up to see her. The doctor visited us and said to my mum “Mrs. Clennell you are going to have your leg amputated, you are going to have to go on dialysis and you are going to have to live in assisted living. She looked at me with a slight smile and then the doctor and said flatly “No, no and no!” She died a few days later. Like her I didn’t cry. I went to the studio at USU early and worked late. 

I have always wanted to plant a tree for her. I thought an Ironwood tree and then I saw this tree at Gerry the welder’s junk yard.  Gerry is a tough sort but beneath that rough exterior beats a heart and a creative soul. The perfect tree for mum.
After much negotiation and head ache with Gerry the tree came home on Earth Day to The Cactus Lounge in Uncle Donny’s 1999 Chevy pick up.  I didn't want to scratch the paint on the truck as he still has 57 more payments to make on it. 

I have cried for many lesser things in my life but there were no tears on the day of my mum’s death.

Today, I found that tear thanks to Gerry the welders tree. Fran the Iron Woman will soon be watching over The Cactus Lounge. Tomorrow morning I will open the kitchen window so she can smell the coffee. Thanks mum for giving me the mental toughness to survive being an artist.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Book of Nothing


Ever since my daughter Robin was a little girl she kept what she called The Book of Nothing. In that book she wrote sayings that she thought were interesting. I guess it is true the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as meaningful words have always been a part of my life.  This is one side of her fridge.  Looks like an interesting person lives in this house.
She bought me the beautiful hard cover copy on Banksy. I love the disclaimer by the unknown author about an unknown artist “ The ink is my tears. I distinctly remember setting fire to a little boat and setting it adrift in an old rusted bath full of tramp’s piss, a symbolic gesture, a farewell to any hope of ever being taken seriously as a writer”.
I think this blog is my Book of Nothing. It is now over 800,000 page views. If I had a penny for every word.  Here in Canada they ain’t making the penny anymore because I think they knew I was about ready to collect .

 I went down to her house in Little India in Toronto where she took me out to a lovely restaurant for my B-Day dinner which started with hummus.  Even writing the word gives me gag reflex.   I’m getting in practice for life with Dan at Starworks next winter. The contrasts between us are going to be interesting meat lover- vegetarian, coffee lover- tea nanny, Tennessee sipping whiskey- Highland Scotch,  and clean shaven- hairy. I’m looking at this time together as a sabbatical. Well come to think of it my entire life has been a working sabbatical.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Curating Your Own Show



Your home space is a space that speaks of your tastes. You are the curator! I love curating my own show.  So you don’t like my table. I don’t care! I do!  So you don’t like my Clyde Jones painting Two Snakes with Nut Eyes! I don’t care! I do! So you don’t like old painted furniture. I don’t care! I do! I am the curator of this show.
This table top was made for me by Stephen Hogbin some 20 odd years ago. It was fitted on an old set of legs that finally gave up the ghost. I love how my arms fit into the router marks when I’m eating.  Stephen gave me my first crit- He said “ Look longest at the things you don’t like. It is from that you will learn the most.” I have often had to check myself for looking at only things I like.
I asked Jesse Black to make me a new bottom with a leg stretcher so I can put my feet up on it. I love what Jesse created. Nice little details that allow me to take it apart if ever I should move again.  I painted the bottom black as my Windsor chair’s are black and I love the Windsor’s as an art form. Apparently I share this love with Hamada who had a collection of Windsor’s.  A big shout out for a Japanese guy that admires the chair. I wonder if he would like a George McCauley fork. I would! The fork and the chair are two of the biggest contributions to  northern civilization.

 I’ve had a self imposed bummer of a week so I thought I would set the table for a nice dinner. I have a Daniel Johnson plate, a Korean salad bowl, an Andrew cup and a Harry Davis side plate. Looking over dinner is Bruce Cochrane and some forsythia from my garden. Harry got invited because I’ve been thinking of him all day. For over 30 years I made all my pots on batts reciting Harry’s wise words “Why build in distortion?” Today I made cups and picked them up soft purposely distorting them and showing the marks of the maker. Sorry Harry I fell off the wagon.