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July 4 Parade Slideshow

OK, anyone who was here will tell you that this parade actually took place on July 3, but wouldn’t it look kind of dumb to put July 3 Parade in a headline? Or maybe that’s just silly enough that it would get more attention than July 4 Parade, but we were, after all, celebrating July 4 (a day early for reasons that were not entirely clear) so this was, conceptually at least, a July 4 parade even if it didn’t take place on July 4 (the whole problem can sort of be avoided by calling it an Independence Day parade, but it also did not take place on Independence Day).

glass-class dragon
The glass class made this fiery dragon.

In any case, it was lots of fun with the usual homemade shenanigans (you might think the Little Rascals are in charge of this place). Click the picture to see a 3-minute slide show of the parade (with music!).

Please note: If you are using a device that does not like Flash (iPhone, iPod, iPad) then this won’t work, but you should  be able to watch it on YouTube, which doesn’t look quite as good, but should work. (We didn’t embed a YouTube player here, because then everyone would just click on that, and the other version really does look better–especially in full screen. Tradeoffs, you know.)

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Earl and Jacqueline Bell and the Penland Clay Studio

Earl and Jacqueline Bell drove back to their home in Detroit a couple of weeks ago after a two week class in the Penland clay studio. They were anticipating an entire drive of debriefing: a thorough review of stories, new skills, and experiences. Just before they left, Earl and Jacqueline joined me on a sunny morning outside of The Pines to chat about their experiences at Penland. As students were preparing to display their work at Northlight, the Bells were packing their car to travel home. They share a relaxed and gracious character. Jacqueline’s even voice carried the conversation; Earl rhythmically interjected with engaging stories and insights.

This was the fifth ceramics class the Bells have taken together. Print & Clay Buffet, taught by Kathy King and Paul Wandless, included a vast range of processes and techniques combining imagery and ceramics. Sgraffito, transfer, appliqué, stamping, screening, and printmaking were some of the processes covered. The quality of work produced under Kathy and Paul’s instruction was incredible; the final collection of class work was an attractive mix of vibrant colors, heightened contrast, and layers upon layers of imagery. The Bells were thrilled to take home the class’s collaborative urn, which they bought at the closing scholarship auction.

The first time Jacqueline came to Penland, she was self-conscious about her lack of an art background, though she was always an appreciator and dabbled in paint. Penland’s community is supportive and inspiring, and her intimidation quickly disappeared. “It’s amazing, the amount of creativity you’re surrounded by,” she said. “The ideas you get from both students and instructors…. They’re very knowledgeable, so you’re getting information on both ends.” Jacqueline finds peace in decorating, and Earl loves to throw on the wheel. Jacqueline took her time this session, creating a few samples for each process. She considers them a three-dimensional sketchbook to carry home to Michigan.

Jacqueline is a retired school principal and was introduced to clay during her school’s open studios directed by a visiting ceramist. Earl began taking classes at the Flint Institute of Art over ten years ago. When they met at Jacqueline’s school, a relationship began to grow along with their interest in ceramics, and they married in 2004. They have been able to witness many changes at Penland since their first class together in 2000. Jacqueline reminisced about stepping out from the car and tripping on the rocky terrain. “The paths were treacherous!” In addition to smoother routes and pathways, they have seen new buildings, studios, and an increase in technology and design used within the clay studio.

The Bells are returning to Detroit to coordinate an event with Empty Bowls, an international project to fight hunger and raise awareness. Guests are served soup in a handmade bowl in exchange for a donation, which is passed to a hunger-fighting charity. (The Empty Bowls project was founded by John Hartom and Lisa Blackburn, who live near Penland).The pottery stays with the contributor, a reminder of the empty bowls throughout the world and our personal ability to help. Mr. and Mrs. Bell will make the bowls and the community– including artists from the Detroit Institute of Art as well as the homeless and less fortunate–will decorate them,. Because Jacqueline and Earl do not sell their work, this opportunity provides a strong purpose and motivation to create.

The Bells intend to continue taking classes at Penland, and Earl would also like to try his hand at a photography class. Penland has become a home and haven for them, a place to revisit and find rejuvenation. Jacqueline leaned in and grinned, “A clay retreat. I tell people I’m coming to a clay retreat.”  –photo and story by Emily Breyer

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Friends of Penland at Patina Gallery, Santa Fe

If you live in or near Santa Fe, New Mexico, or you are planning to attend the SOFA West exposition (sofaexpo.com), we hope you will join Allison and Ivan Barnett of Santa Fe’s Patina Gallery (patina-gallery.com) for a relaxing afternoon reception with Friends of Penland School on July 10. Meet Penland’s director, Jean McLaughlin, instructor Gail Reike, and student Cary Stickney. Gail is book/paper/mixed-media artist and Cary is a tutor at St. Johns College. They will share their stories and insights into Penland.

July 10, 2010
4:00 – 6:00 PM
Patina Gallery
131 W. Palace Ave.
Santa Fe, NM 87501

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The Weight of Black

Shift by Jerilyn Virden
Jerilyn Virden - "Shift" - handbuilt earthenware, hollow construction, terra sigillata

The color black carries all sorts of suggestions and meaning, not the least of which is weight. In fact, it has been shown that when people see two identical objects–one black and one white–they tend to think that the black object is heavier. Artists and graphic designers also know that black suggests areas of weight in their visual compositions. This is the basic idea being explored in a new exhibition at the Penland Gallery titled The Weight of Black. This mixed-media show includes pieces in clay, glass, jewelry, paper, photography, printmaking, and textiles made by artists who have chosen to use the color black as an important thematic or compositional element. The show runs through July 18. You can see more work from the show here.

Untitled by Jerry Spagnoli
Jerry Spagnoli - Untitled from "American Dreaming" - pigment print