So, I was visiting the UAF campus Pottery and Print Sales here on the UAF campus around the first of May, and it provided an unexpected warm-n-fuzzy for me. When I was in junior high and high school, my mom was a library tech at Ringling School of Art and Design’s Library. From the web site, it looks much more worldly and big-city than when my mom worked there. Like most things in Sarasota, it’s gotten much richer and more cosmopolitan than I remember from childhood. Nevertheless, during my junior year, I also was in the local Booker High School Visual and Performing Arts program (in 1981, the first year), and after that let out at 2pm or so, I spent many happy hours at the Ringling library, helping my mom shelve, stamp and shift until it was time for her to go home. Sometimes, I brought my projects from the VPA, and professors who came in to check out or pick up library books would stop long enough to critique them.
While I shelved, shifted books, or stamped magazines, I daydreamed about going to Ringling, but I never thought I was good enough. I could NEVER be as brilliantly inventive and explosively creative as all those *other* kids. Money was also a concern. So, even though I did charcoal abstracts and still lifes, drew comics, designed menus with other students as a team for a fictional client’s new restaurant, spun pottery, and shot, developed and printed black and white photos inside an old cooler at Booker, I went on to study broadcasting at UCF, did that for about two years, then spend 9 1/2 years in various Fire and Police departments as a dispatcher, and really was much more secure with a regular paycheck and a health insurance plan.
So, years later, I never have really kicked the art bug; I’m more of a consumer than a creator nowadays, and on this day, the day of the Pottery and Print Sales, I had smartly left my wallet back in my office. As I entered the pottery studio, it suddenly hit me…This is where I’m happy! Pottery dust covered every inch of the room, visual expression of every kind displayed on every wall, brightly painted and fired pottery on every conceivable horizontal surface and all for sale. One counter was actually the artists’ cubbie hole area, with names Sharpie’d on masking tape and stuck on each dust-covered door. Almost an exact duplicate of my own cubbie back at Booker lo-these-many-years ago!
The Print Sale was giddily synapse firing! I remembered lithograph and block printings and etchings that I had done at Booker. Man, what great hours I spent there, just talking art and music and cutting, painting, carving and drawing. Ross, Roger, Samantha and I talked about perspective, and who was better, Ozzy Osborne or the B-52s. I got ridiculed for liking Air Supply and Styx. 😛 Going to the print and pottery sales, as well as walking through the student art exhibit made me realize, I no longer care how good I am compared to other artists. I just love messing around with art and craft supplies because it makes me happy. If someone else likes what I do, then so much the better. I also have no problem selling what I produce to people, or giving it away, if it makes *them* happy. (I had moral compunctions about that in high school I had yet to work through. Really.) It’s funny how you can sort of “forget” about parts of you that used to be important, and then years later discover them, and remember what you liked about that so much. Maybe those parts just get lost in the shuffle in the process of providing for a living.
I’m not the only person who thinks about things like this; last night I saw NPR’s Susan Stanberg do a talk called “Art will Save the World”, here at UAF’s Davis Hall . I’m a rabid National Public Radio addict, and she was magnificent. I agree with her that during times of stress or war or uprising, it’s the de-stressing consumption or creation of art, whatever type, that saves a lot humans.