In Memoriam: Gene Threats 1959 – 2018

Hello everyone, Terry here. We haven’t posted anything new in awhile because we had to say goodbye to some very dear family and friends. Below are a few words for our friend, Gene Threats.

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I met Gene at the College of Coastal Georgia about 9 years ago when I began to teach art at the college and Gene was on the staff. We both moved in the art circles and I became aware of his work and his friendly nature. He was passionate about art and asked me if he could come talk to my classes about his artwork.  I was happy to invite him to speak about his work and life as an artist. I wasn’t sure at first what he might say, but if it was not a good experience or the students didn’t like him, I would not ask him to come back. It turned out to be a great experience not only educationally but also spiritually.

I would have been happy for him to talk just about his training and  the inspiration and composition of his pictures, but he gave the students so much more!  He revealed to them how he got started with drawing, his health struggles and how he was coping day after day with the challenges of being an artist in a today’s society.  Because of his generosity, Gene returned every semester to talk to my classes for about 6 years except when he was out-of-town or sick.

Gene told us how he had started his art career in printmaking, but the chemicals used in the process made him so sick he had to recover in the hospital. He found himself unable to pursue his dream and not really knowing how to proceed.  While he was in the hospital, someone brought him a child’s set of colored pencils to help him pass the time. In the art world colored pencils are considered on the level with crayons and play dough. But Gene used them and began to see how he could pursue his expression with the simple marks and colors of the pencils.  They fulfilled his desire to draw and, at the same time, had expressive qualities when used with skill in a painterly fashion. Gene kept developing his talent and raised the quality of his pictures through constant practice.

He shared with the students about his health issues with his kidneys that necessitated a transplant and other health issues.  He told them how he had moved back to Brunswick to take care of his elderly mother giving up opportunities in larger urban settings.  It took courage for him to be so open about his personal struggles to a bunch of strangers, but it never failed to touch the hearts and minds of my students.  Every time Gene came to talk to the classes, many people would thank me for inviting Gene to visit us.

So I thank God for Gene Threats.  His talent in expressing emotions and people is there for us to see. Who can forget the picture of the young man in overalls with a chain around his ankle or the father raising his child up in the air in the collection of the College of Coastal Georgia or the picture of Dr. King on the march to Montgomery. I will remember his generosity in sharing himself and his work with my students and the courage he showed in sharing his inner struggles in his life as an artist.

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2018 Empty Bowl Event

Hello from the Pottery Studio!

October 16th is almost here! The Empty Bowl Event on St. Simons Island is happening at Glynn Visual Arts!! It is very exciting!

Empty Bowl Events have been happening across the country for over 27 years with the goal of potters and their community to help end hunger.

This is our 4th annual event. We have over 300 bowls made by local potters, and by people in Glynn County. They paid $25 to learn how to make a bowl, and then donated it back to the studio to be glazed and fired. At Empty Bowl Event on October 16th, they’ll be able to look for their bowls and buy them back so they can have their soup dinner in it.

And at the College of Coastal Georgia, where I teach ceramics, I always invite my students in the Introduction to Ceramics/Intermediate Ceramics class to donate their first assignment to the Empty Bowl Event. They love the opportunity to make a difference with their art, too!

All proceeds from the event go to America’s Second Harvest Food Bank and benefits Glynn County.

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During the summer, I had the privilege of teaching the “Hand Made 4 the Hungry” classes at Glynn Visual Arts on St. Simons Island, GA. People in our community, most of whom had never worked in clay, turned out in droves to learn how to make a bowl! It was a fun and creative way to make a difference! The bowls from the classes were hand built and are as unique as the folks who made them. During the classes, there is so much joy, laughter, and community with people coming together for a common cause. Powerful!

It is such a privilege to share my passion for clay with others who desire to make a difference in our community! Love it!

Ultimate Writing Music Playlist: Week 2

So it’s been awhile. But in my defense, I had another kid. And I’m tired. Plus, I’m still trying to work out all this being an artist/wife/parent/woman thing. Which makes me more tired.

Needless to say, I’ve found some awesome writing music (again, this works for me–it may not for you). It’s an oldie, but man, I’ve been in the zone with it: Paul Simon’s Graceland.

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And it’s not just because he was married to Princess Leia “a long time ago…”

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The beats, the chanting, the lyrics–they match my writing rhythm. They resonate with my thoughts as they string their way through the homeless facts (the ones that appear “useless” but are just waiting for the right story), the underdeveloped plots, and the triple-baked characters (that’s what I call overthinking motivations–there’s nothing worse than too much thinking) towards the elusive unicorn of a completed draft. They even helped me work out some plot holes by reminding me to keep it simple. After all, what I think a story is, and what it actually is, can be two very different things. If the latter doesn’t win, then it’s all for nothing.

Because what we’re really doing here is fighting for our truth to be told. Fighting for our characters to live lives of meaningful resistance against the slow churn of culture. Fighting for beauty where it isn’t appreciated.

At the end of the day, if we don’t believe in our own voices enough to create–if we aren’t going to be our own story’s heroes–then why even rescue the princess to begin with?

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Yes, I’m over simplifying. Give the album a try.

Let me know what you think: @LiDeLaVi on Twitter, or comment below.

Señor Tortuga in the Drawing Room

Hola Craig Art fans! This is the estupendo–the illustrious–Señor Tortuga. For those of you who don’t know me, I am the former pet of a generous Earl, who left his title and fortune to me upon his death, making me the first turtle of leisure. I’ve decided to take a break from my travels to check in with Noah Craig in the Drawing Room. He doesn’t seem to be around, so we’ll sneak a peak at what he’s working on.

This is quite a beautiful artistic space he has. Nice light. Nice amount of space. Nice view of woods. Very quiet.

There seems to be quite a bit of projects happening. I see some paintings, clippings for a collage, colored lanterns, a framed photo of Tom Selleck from Magnum P.I., and an infinite array of pencils, colored pencils, and markers.

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At the center of his desk there are a series of schematic-style pencil drawings. One is of various types of cigars (although it’s missing my favorite, the culebra):

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Another appears to be the Whiskey family tree:

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A third is a sailboat:

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Quite the eclectic commission. I wonder if he’d be willing to do one chronicling the evolution of the turtle from the slow crawler to the glorious sentient creatures we are today. I’ll leave him a note mentioning it.

As usual, everything here looks wonderfully done. Hopefully next time I’ll have a chance to sit down with him and ask him all about his process. Until then, I leave you for a riverboat tour of the Rhine’s castles.

Until next time!

(If there are any questions you would like me to ask Craig Art House, please send leave it in the response below!)

Two Men Enter; One Man Leaves/Testify

It’s raining at the writing studio and today’s Monday was a real Monday. For a moment, I thought we were all going to descend into a post-apocalyptic thunderdome and, honestly, I didn’t have the will to stop it.

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But thankfully, a very good friend and fellow artist-mom was there to save me. We had a beautifully honest conversation about being an artist and a mom–an independent woman and a mom–really just a functioning human and a mom–and trying to balance those two identities. Because we really believe that the worst thing we can do for our kids is to lose our identities–our spark, our passion, that sacred soul-fire that makes us us.

But sometimes it’s impossible to find time in the chaos to create. Sometimes the thought of a blank page is horrifying and there are so many words trying to come out, so many stories trying to be born, that it’s rush hour on Bay Bridge and you can only pray that somewhere in the car there’s an empty container for pee.

Or maybe you find a scrap of time but it’s been a couple days since your last shower. Or maybe there’s a chance for you to get that elusive nap that you’re always forcing your kids to take.

Either way there are days that bring out that frustration, that anger, that resentment from facing the fact that our lives are no longer our own. That we have to put our kids first in so many instances to make sure they eat well, and aim for the center of the toilet, and don’t try to jump down the entire flight of stairs. Because at the end of the day, we all just want 10 minutes to ourselves. Or 5. Seriously, just 30 seconds of silence.

But what if, instead of swallowing those emotions and forcing a smile, we allowed ourselves to feel? We allowed our kids to see us upset?

What if we invited them into our artistic space to write and draw and sculpt and create with us? (Separately, if need be. No one wants peanut butter paw prints on their keyboard.)

Because aren’t we their first examples? How will they know if we don’t lead the way?

Maybe if they saw us struggling to cope, it’ll make it easier for them to come to us when they’re struggling to cope. Then we could work through it together. We can find coping mechanisms together. We can find constructive solutions together. Like rocking out to Rage Against the Machine in a family air band. They can be the air drums to your giant air guitar. Because the hard truth is, if we can’t deal and work though our emotions, how can we help our kids do it? How can enable them to deal with a world that won’t care how prepared they are for success or disappointment? After all, “This is Thunderdome. Two men enter; one man leaves.”

And maybe, just maybe, if our kids see us fighting for our passions, keeping that creative fire alive, then they’ll fight for theirs. Any maybe they’ll fight for other people’s as well. And then maybe we’ll have a society that empathizes, and works to be their brother’s keeper. A society of people that are not threatened by other people’s talents, but instead can rejoice in their joy and be a building block to an even better dream than even we, as parents, can imagine for them.

But first they have to know it’s okay to cry. And some Mondays are just going to be Mondays.

(I know I’m over simplifying. But it’s for the sake of the blog-space. I’d love to discuss this further. Message me on twitter: @LiDeLaVi)

 

Review of Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift”

Hello! This is Terry Craig. I’m taking a break from the art studio to talk about a book that has been on my mind these past few weeks: Lewis Hyde’s The Gift. It has been referenced in many books on the business of art that I have been reading, but it’s ideas are unique and worth discussion on their own.

Frustration and uncertainty are part of every artist’s life and work.  It is almost a given that an artist will struggle and spend time seeking support to do creative work.  The idea of the starving artist has taken hold in our culture and has become almost a myth that informs the journey from beginner artist to master.  There have been artists who had very hard lives to continue to work, but the idea that every artist must starve has been fostered by a culture that is formed by the market economy which treats everything as a commodity to be bought and sold.  Fine art and other creative work has traditionally been part of a gift economy that valued the intangible, spiritual values of faith, beauty and truth rather than the monetary exchange value of products.

This difference has been examined and explained in a book by Professor Lewis Hyde called “The Gift.”  In his book Dr. Hyde shows through historical and anthropological examples how cultures have experienced art as a channel of truth and goodness and beauty offered to people to help them thrive as a culture. He shows how creativity and artmaking has been the servant of faith and community throughout the centuries until the change in patronage and cultural values brought the market economy to become the dominant process of establishing value.

The book is divided into 2 parts: “The Theory of Gifts” in which he shows through historical and cultural examples how creativity and artmaking informed the gift economies of earlier cultures who conducted gift exchanges out of gratitude and faith and as a way of maintaining relationships.

Part 2 of the book, The Gift is entitled, “Two Experiments in Gift Aesthetics”, in which Professor Hyde examines the life and work of Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound.  Both of these poets rejected the commercialization of art and culture and the analysis of their philosophies and work make illuminating but difficult reading. Chapter 8, “The Commerce of the Creative Spirit,” is an excellent explanation and application of the gift theory to the life of the artist.  I highly recommend this book for everybody who wants to learn and understand about the arts in the culture in which we live and work.

 

 

Hyde, Lewis, The Gift. Vintage Books, Random House. New York. 2007. ISBN 978-0-307-27950-7

Back in the Pottery Studio

There are many changes happening in my life:  in May, semi-retirement from Glynn Visual Arts Pottery Studio Director.  I am still teaching adults and kids at GVA and loving that!  I am also starting my 4th year teaching at College of Coastal Georgia—Intro to Ceramics and Intermediate Ceramics.  Love teaching there, too!

I am also enjoying being a grandmother to 3 1/2 yr. old, Philip and 4 month old, Eva Izabella!!!  Nothing like grandparenthood!!!

After taking a 2-month “claybattical” away from the studio and working in clay, I am back at it.  I was so excited to spend the day working in solitude at the college studio before classes started.  (I have been working in community for most of 30 years!)  So, I figure it is time for some changes to my standard functional work.

I started with tumblers and did some “fluting” with different size tools.  I plan to continue exploring this technique.  I do not do any fancy glazing techniques and my surface decoration is mostly stamping texture, but some form of carving will give my surfaces some different kinds of texture.  It forces me to throw thicker and leave the surface very smooth—-very different for me…will keep you posted!

 

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Ultimate Writing Playlist Challenge: Week 1

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Well I’ve completed the 1st week of my Ultimate Writing Playlist Challenge. In keeping with the soundtracks I have already ruled out in the previous post, I decided to give my favorite movie a try, Last of the Mohicans.

It’s an amazing movie filled with epic battles, soldiers, romance, adventure, and Native Americans, that is more or less a complete departure from Cooper’s book. If you haven’t seen it yet, please make sure you see the Director’s Cut, preferably the one that came out in 2010.

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Anyways, I started my writing session as I always do: sitting in comfy spot, feet up, deep breath, and silent prayer to God to help me get out of the way so I can write. (My ego is my worst enemy. It can turn a blank page into a cliff face where none of my words can live.) Then I started the playlist on YouTube, and got to work.

I started with some freelance work. One was a creative non-fiction marketing piece for a local publishing house. The other was some editing and ghost writing for a Project Management (PMI) professional’s whitepaper article. For both, the soundtrack was amazing. I even noticed that I started typing to the beat.

When I finally got around to working on my own personal writing–some young adult and children’s books–I was a little worried that the music wouldn’t transition well. But then the track “Cora” started, and I was instantly transported to a magical, Tolkien-like mental landscape. And frankly, I didn’t want to leave it. Amazing things happened; new plot lines and characters were born.

So we have our first playlist member! Please give it a try and let me know your experiences.

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Thanks again for all love and support! Please continue to reach out and comment! Let’s build this playlist together!

Hello from the Writing Studio!

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It’s been awhile, but the Craig Art House Writing Studio is up an running! I’m currently looking out at the lake and trees and wildflowers, feeling blessed and excited that I have the opportunity to write in a place like this. Of course that also creates a bit of pressure to write something worthy of the space–but we’re all in competition with our better selves, so bring it on!

When people find out that I’m a writer, inevitably they wonder if there is a certain music or soundtrack that I prefer to write to. If I like to write in the morning or evening or under a full moon or every other Tuesday and Thursday. Basically, they want to know my routine. And I hate disappointing them when I say I don’t have one.

But as many of you understand, for a long time I had a 9-5 to pay the bills while I wrote on the side. I would use my lunch breaks to write for 30 minutes. I would write on the bus on the way to and from work. After I was promoted, I even started setting up fake meetings to give myself 30 minutes here and there to write more–which I don’t recommend. My boss was very understanding. Many bosses aren’t.

You see, I had inadvertently trained myself to write whenever I sat down to do it. But it wasn’t an overnight achievement. It took weeks of daily effort for that to happen. In the beginning, I would just sit and stare at a screen for 10 minutes before giving up and googling the Spanish royal family to find the missing link between them and my ancestors.

But I want to try and connect with people and share my love for writing, so for the next several weeks, I’m going to try and make an ultimate writing playlist. I’m going to listen to different songs as I work on my books and and see how they do.

So we’ll start that next time. But for now, I can give you a list of things that I have already tried that I know don’t work for me. However, they may work for you, so don’t let this list stop you from experimenting:

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  •  Braveheart Soundtrack: Seriously, this one was a blow. I expected epic writing to come out, but I just kept replaying the movie in my mind and the page stayed blank.
  • Gladiator Soundtrack: Same thing. Super disappointing.
  • Drinking and writing: Everyone asks me about this at some point. No it does not work for me or anyone else I know. It makes you think you’re writing deep and potent stuff, but the next morning it’s always gibberish. I blame Hemingway for making this look easy.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite writing/working playlist? Put in the comments below and I just might give it a try!

 

On the road again…

After just coming off some great success at the 2016 Jekyll Island Festival Exhibit with a 1st place and a 3rd place in the People category, I am getting ready for a weekend trip to Watkinsville, Georgia, for another exhibit.  Beginning Friday, April 1, 2016, from 6 to 9 PM, the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation will kickoff this year’s exhibit, “Southworks 2016”, a national juried exhibition through May 6 at their art center in downtown Watkinsville.

I am fortunate to have a piece in the show entitled, “Jekyll Island Footbridge” a black and white photo collage of a familiar scene on Jekyll Island near the fishing pier and marsh at the north end of the island. The black and white pictures provided more contrast and make the pilings of the bridge standout against the background. I painted around the edges to focus on the bridge and I am very happy with the image.
We hope to see some old friends in the area and hope to meet some new friends as we go up to north Georgia for the celebration.