Friday, April 30, 2010

Little Monsters

Today my kids were nothing of the sort, monsters that is! They were golden. I've been feeling swamped these days with all sorts of to do lists before we head home. In particular we had this one scholarship application postmark deadline for today, and despite efforts to work on the package over the course of several days - it inevitably came down to the last few hours to get it in to the post office. Both Isla and Roscoe were as understanding as can be, for a two and a four year old, and we did manage to get it off in the mail on time.  As a reward for their patience we took them out for ice cream despite the drizzling and winter-like conditions outside.  

 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Say it ain't snow


Yesterday we woke up to a blizzard, and this morning mild flurries, but seriously????? 

This is a photo of my forlorn looking cherry blossoms that had just blossomed out the day before the weather made a drastic change for the worse. Most of the snow had melted by the end of the day, but air has remained cold and not springlike at all.  

Hopefully the weather won't hold back the folks that intended on coming out for the annual Ceramic's Guild Spring Sale. All the studios have been cleared out and mopped down. The sale starts tonight and will run through until Saturday. I had been hoping to cut a few of the cherry blossom branches to set out in some of Robin's large jars. 



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Earnest Gentleman





It's been awhile since I posted an interview feature on the blog, but I didn't want this guy to slip away before he saluted ol'USU farewell. Ernie Gentry is a third year graduate student in the ceramics program, a long standing resident here in the studios of USU and one heck of a funny and fabulous character. Ernie has been around these parts for the past six years, arriving back in 2004 one week after getting hitched to his southern belle, Sage. Ernie is also a southerner, hailing from Clinton, Mississippi and a product of Ol'Miss' a.k.a. University of of Mississippi's BFA program. His classified 'special ' student status here in Logan eventually led him into the MFA program, which he began in 2007 and is now about to finish! Hooray Ernie!

Why USU?
Back at Ol'Miss, Ernie had based his undergraduate thesis work on John Neely's salt firing research, for which he was keenly interested in. But when prompted as to why he picked USU to do graduate studies, he insisted that it was the energy and vitality of the studios that he picked up on immediately on a trip out to visit the faculty and facilities. Ernie was well familiar with the reputation of the program and it's faculty, and was most impressed with how everyone seemed to be both welcoming and helpful during his visit, not to mention inspired to work. 


Why clay?
Ernie actually wasn't overly impressed with the medium of clay when first introduced to it in his first ceramics class, an elective that he took at a Junior College and took much more of a liking to painting. It was only because he actually failed that first co
urse that he had to take it again, at which point a better and more inspiring teacher won him over and ultimately changed the course of his career.

What inspires you?
"Anything and everything", says Ernie.  His current body of work embodies his fascination with interesting and foreign objects. Ernie is inspired by everything from Mid-century design, chinese bronzes, to African currency and old age undergarments! This guy loves to find inspiration from objects that were once useful and have been taken out of their functional context and now have instilled value.   

What's next?
Ernie and Sage are off to Cedar City, UT in less than a fortnight. Sage has been working equally as hard as Ernie while he's been playing around with mud, and she is graduating this year as well from a Master's program in Landscape Architecture. She's landed a sweet position in the southern part of the state and Ernie has a couple of solo exhibitions planned for this summer.

We're super stoked that they aren't moving too far, and hope to visit them in their new parts in the fall, perhaps to get in some of that sightseeing we keep talking about and maybe they'll serve us up some of that yummy southern cooking they excel at. Jambalaya! And congrats to you both.  

 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A gift

This morning I was given an unexpected opportunity to teach my daughter a lesson in compassion and the act of kindness. We all headed down to the skate park to watch Robin do a few rounds in the bowl, and to let the kids run the length of the soccer fields to their hearts delight. It was unusually windy and cold, so I was glad that I had bundled them up despite the sunny skies. There were a handful of other teenagers at the park, to which I wasn't surprised despite the early hour. But what did surprise me was a lone little girl playing in the volleyball pits. She immediately attached herself to us, introducing herself as Hannah. I couldn't help but ask where her parents were, since she couldn't have been any older than six. But what caused me the most concern was that she was both barefooted and only in a t-shirt. Hannah didn't offer up much in terms of why she was there alone, but she did say that she lived nearby and that she was cold. I remembered that one of Isla's jackets was still in the back of the car and decided it was time to pass it on, just as it had been passed on to us once. Isla and I talked later about why I had given the little girl the jacket and the importance of showing kindness to others in need. I'm reminded of how blessed we really are, with family and friends and an incredible network of people surrounding us with support and generosity. I only hope that I can instill that important lesson in my children. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's Showtime!

It's that time of year when all the hard work has been put in, finishing touches and fine tunings complete and now it's Showtime! For us, the weekend of cultural activities began Thursday night when we attended a solo exhibition of our friend Bobby Free. It was a great showing of some very recent work of his, a final tip of the hat to the BFA program that he'll be graduating from this semester. We've gotten to know Bobby over the last couple years here at USU, a terrific guy with tons of ambition and talent. He's off to Montana with his co-captain Christa Ames next month and we wish them both the best of luck. 

Then last night we raised our glasses in support 
of fellow grad, Sunshine Cobb who put together a fabulous thesis show exhibiting her gorgeous earthenware. There were plenty of people milling about the art building for simultaneous events happening last night, so there was a great buzz and showing for her closing show, not to mention the incredible spread of delicious treats that she provided for the event. We also took in the BFA Graduating show that was exhibiting in another gallery on campus, showcasing all the art department mediums (painting, photography, printmaking and ceramics) and congratulated another bunch of BFA students that are finishing up this year. 

Tonight it's our very own Isla's turn to shine. She'll take center stage this evening at the local performing arts center to dance in her troupe's Spring recital, Movable Parts. Isla will dance in two numbers, and yesterday afternoon I watched her rehearse with her group (check out the video - Isla is the third dancer out on stage and then moves in behind the teacher, in the line up she is the one on the far left) Our budding performing artist has been grinning ear to ear in anticipation of tonight's show. Break a leg, Belly. We love you!
   video







Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where have all the woodfirers gone?

...gone, gone soda-ing. 

Seriously, I don't think that any of the wood kilns have been fired around here this semester. Not that the interest isn't there, perhaps just the mix of students and the work they are churning out right now hasn't lent itself to burning up mass quantities of wood and the midnight oil! 

Robin hasn't abandoned his love of crusty, blackened woodfire ware just yet, but he's been working on a series of plates for the last little while and plates don't always fare well in wood kilns. They typically take up a lot of real estate and are subject to warping and gunk falling on them - which means the success rate is not always high. So instead he's been making good use of the soda kiln. He still plans to make and fire plates specifically for the wood kiln, but chose to explore what kind of results he could get out of the soda kiln this semester to avoid winter woodfiring nuisances like cold temperatures and snow dampened wood piles to deal with. 

The two third year grads that are graduating this year, Sunshine Cobb and Ernie Gentry are both electric firers. The next coming two weeks marks the end of their graduate school adventure, with Sunshine's thesis show already up and exhibiting in the Studio 102 Gallery on campus, and Ernie's to follow on its heels April 26th. We'll miss them both around here, that's for sure. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Daytripping


Nearly all art students that come to study in Utah at some point make the pilgrimage out to the Spiral Jetty, located in the north arm of the Great Salt Lake smack center in the state of Utah, or at least attempt to find it. Our pal Sunshine invited us to come along today on an adventure to locate it out in the middle of nowhere. It is about a 2 hour drive from Logan, the second half of which is off-roading and needless to say, slow going. The kids and I were thrilled to go along for the bumpy ride and do a little salt flat running once we got there to stretch out our legs.     

The earthwork sculpture was built 40 years ago by American artist Robert Smithson. With the help of a local earthmoving contractor and his machine, Smithson used black basalt rocks and earth from the immediate shoreline to create a 1500 feet long and 15 feet wide spiral coil stretching counterclockwise out into the Great Salt Lake. 

In 1970 ,the water level of the lake was unusually low because of a drought. For the last three decades the water level was higher which submerged the jetty underwater, until in 2004 when it became exposed again and has remained visible ever since. 

With the remote location, and serene surroundings, our visit seemed almost spiritual in some ways. We picnicked out on the jetty and spent some time walking its length before it became too hot and my children, too tired. Again, another glorious day to daytrip and a sure bet for making sure the kids are in bed and asleep by 6:30 p.m. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring slithers in


Like discovering a false summit, the last month felt like a mountain expedition, with us - the poor climbers trudging through snowstorm after snowstorm, wondering whether we'd ever reach our destination - SPRING!

Today was glorious, warranting both sunscreen and summer hats on our walk down by the river. Even the snakes were out in droves, slithering here and there across the warm paved trail. Robin and I took the kids down to the river trail to feel the sun on our own cheeks after several days of being sick at home. Here they are watching a family of snakes try to camouflage themselves in last year's leftover leaves. 

I'm hoping the weather will stick around for at least a few days, at least long enough to give our poor stunted daffodils a chance this season.  

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A subtle sway


It was by no means on the magnitude of some of this year's earlier earthquakes that have been occurring around the world, but Utah received its own shaker, at 4.9 on the scale this evening around supper time. It is the largest earthquake to hit Utah since one in 1992 in southwestern Utah, this one happened right in our backyard. Randolph, a little town on the Wyoming-Utah border is about 70 miles from Logan, and where the earthquake hit. Apparently big enough to make world news, I received a call from my mom wondering if all was okay without me even having realized we'd had one. Her call did remind me though that around that time I'd been leaning up against an interior door frame in our house and suddenly felt my body sway involuntarily, but had chalked it up to the lack of sleep I've been getting the last few nights with two little sickies at home.  Tomorrow we're staying home and concentrating on getting better and waiting for the aftershocks. 

 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Get ready, get set

Do I dare say that we almost have Year Two under wrap and I'm prematurely feeling a tingle of excitement that we are now officially on the homestretch? Robin came home for supper tonight and announced that he attended the last class today for one of his courses he's been taking this semester. In a few short weeks he'll be giving out his own grades, cleaning up around the studio and getting ready for a final critique before the summer break begins. 

Today I found myself thinking about the many transitions we've endured the last couple of years here in Utah, and how we still have a few big ones to get through. Needless to say, it ain't over yet with plenty more transition on the horizon. The plans we have for this upcoming summer should prove to be a test in itself, with two weddings, a residency, a workshop, a studio tour and sale and an overseas trip all neatly slotted into 3.5 months. Yow! Oh, and I was going to try and write that cookbook and attempt potty training in there somewhere too.

I've decided to get the kids on a training regime now so that they are prepped and properly equipped for the traveling DuPont road show that I've signed them up for this summer. Beginning tomorrow they'll have to start napping in their carseats, their choice of wardrobe will be downsized to five outfits (including wedding attire) which they'll be required to keep clean at all costs, toy selection will be limited to what they can fit in between them in the backseat of the car and they'll have to of course develop a taste for fast food. 

I'm kidding of course. The next month or so here in Logan, I'm hoping to relax as much as possible, hang out with some great people and welcome the springtime, if it ever decides to arrive. (Did I mention that it was snowing again here today?) I did get in an afternoon tea with some of those great friends while my mom was here last week.  

Sunday, April 11, 2010

And Sew On...


Well the week seemed to fly by, with me feeling miserable for most of it and taking full advantage of my mom's presence to help out with the kids. She likely didn't think that her offer to come out and take care of Isla and Roscoe while we went to Philadelphia would include taking care of her own daughter for the week following! But I was sure glad she did, everyone needs their mom once in a while, right? 

Between naps and early bedtimes, we did manage to fit in a couple sewing projects. I altered a pair of Isla's jeans into shorts for the warmer weather while my mom became especially productive with a sewing machine nearby. She made several trips to the fabric store and pumped out more than a couple fun quilt starts, tablecloths and cloth napkins. Her generosity extended to gifting me with a new serger machine! Something I have always wanted, but now that I have one realize I have no clue how to operate. Thankfully, a friend here in Logan is quite skilled with the curious beast that it is and has offered to give me a few lessons. First step - threading it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Under the weather

Winter just doesn't seem to want to let up here in Logan. Yesterday morning we woke up to discover a heavy blanket of snow had covered up pretty much everything, yet again! I certainly didn't think that our snow shovel would be getting this much use this time of year. Besides the weather getting us down, the niggling tickle at the back of my throat that I managed to keep at bay while on holiday has taken hold of me and I've been battling a full blown head cold since our return.  

So with uninviting weather and a low energy mommy, we've been spending the last couple days indoors. At least there is a new princess castle, compliments of Grandma Lady, to play in. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

From Philly streets to Easter treats

I can now say that I have walked the streets of Philadelphia, from old town to mid town to china town! On our last day in Philadelphia, we did more of the same after the closing seminar of the conference in the morning, we took to the streets and walked the length of Benjamin Franklin Parkway all the way up the Rocky stairs to the Museum of Art. Here we took the opportunity to rest a little and take in the city skyline before hitting the pavement again in search of those last few ceramic installations. 

I had a terrific holiday, just the right amount of time to thoroughly enjoy the novelty of both sleeping in and late night drinks out on the town. It was great to hook up with 
some old friends and make a few new ones. Our long journey home on Sunday was worth the joyful reunion we had with Isla and Roscoe that evening. My mom had a great Easter supper spread all prepared and there were plenty of stories to share about how the week had gone for everyone.  

The kids seemed happy that the easter arctic hare had found them this year, although I'm not too happy about the weather we've come home to after having a real taste of spring air and it sounds like we may even be in for some more winter weather this coming week. BRRRR!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fabulous Philadelphia


We're going on day #3 here in the heart of Philadelphia and so far I can say it has been a fabulous holiday thus far. We arrived in the early afternoon on Wednesday after the half day journey cross country via Southwest Airlines. Our flights were fairly uneventful and seemed to pass by quickly, although I kept feeling as though I'd forgotten something behind, and realized later I was actually feeling a bit naked without two kids in tow. It took me until the next day for it to sink in that I only had to be responsible for myself these next four days. Knowing that they are safe and totally content back home with Grandma, I've enjoyed the freedom to stay out late, attend art shows and walk the streets of Philly the last couple days. 
Besides taking in several of the art exhibitions associated with the National Ceramics conference that has brought us here in the first place, I've had a crash course in American history realizing only now that Philadelphia is the birth place of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in America. In the short time since we've arrived I've already walked plenty of cobblestone streets past historical landmarks and out to the Delaware river and back, imagining B.Franklin having done the same. 
 
There are an unlimited number of attractions and historical sites all within walking distance from our hotel, where the conference centre is adjacent to, making it easy to see quite a bit. I quickly realized how long it has been since I've adventured out in a big city, having been living in the backwoods of B.C. prior to moving to Utah, which neither can exactly be considered a bright lights, big city kind of place. But Philadelphia certainly fits that bill with it's rumbling subway system, skyscrapers and historical architecture amidst bustling shopping districts, sidewalk cafes and the most incredible culturally diverse food market that we can't get enough of. 
Tonight NCECA is putting on a dance for it's conference delegates and hopefully we'll be able to kick up our heels to some great live music. Another day of conferencing and touring around tomorrow and then we'll head back to Utah to discover whether the bunny arrived in Logan afterall despite the foot of snow that recently has blanketed the city. I'm afraid I'm not sad to have missed that weather system, it has been absolutely gorgeous here on the east coast, with magnolia trees and cherry blossoms budding out everywhere. 
But not surprisingly, I still have missed the two little people in our lives, and haven't gone to bed yet not wondering how their day has gone.