Thursday, October 24, 2013

Eating Off Art

An attendee at last March's It's a Girl Thing event at the Saint John Arts Centre told us how much she appreciated real pottery and that all her place settings for the dinnerware she owned were pieces of art she had picked up over time, one or two here and there, as her heart fell in love with each unique piece.  I nodded and let her know how wonderful that sounded, but I'll be the first to admit that I didn't understand her passion for plates.

In May, the first Gallery Hop for 2013 took place and our potter, Karen Knight of Soul Impression Handbuilt Clayworks, offered us the use of a few of her seconds to serve off.  She did the same when we held our first Date Night, Paint Night evening.  It was cleaning up after these events, turning the glazed, hardened clay in my hands, noting the texture, each ethereal shimmer from the exquisite patina, as the sculptures glided and turned in my hands through the soapy water that I realized that there was something special and powerful that came from being able to do something as visceral as eating on an actual piece of art.  It took this absolutely primal act and transformed it to something beautiful.  I had a new-found respect for the lady earlier in the year who made this a life mission.

I have since noted companies who mimic these clay artisan works en masse, at prices higher than buying individual local pieces, to try and box and profit off this phenomena - hoping their busy buyers will not catch on to the difference, as Beanie Babies of the '90s tried to replace hand-crafted Teddy Bears, at least not before they extract their fortune.

A wonderful recent event was last weekend's Harvesting the Arts Festival here in Saint John.  The Saturday began with a perfect crisp, sunny autumn morning which lasted the entire day and before opening our gallery, I visited the participants in King Square, which included three of our artists, bought a local item or two then headed back down King Street.  I took note of the festive, almost jubilant feeling permeating the uptown as locals and Queen Mary II passengers mixed.  Reaching Germain Street, a young lady with a large puppy crossed in front of me and a local homeless man, his long grey beard stained yellow in places, automatically rose from his stoop and lumbered forward, as if propelled by marionette strings, and, reaching his hardened hand outward, asked, without ever taking his eyes off the young dog, "May I pet him."

Don't tell me art isn't important.

Make the effort to incorporate art - real art, local when possible - into the prosaic and you'll wonder why you hadn't done so sooner.