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Photo of the Week: This Is a Wonderful Thing

core reunion at Penland

We’re having a great week at Penland. It’s our first-ever core retreat (and reunion) — an open-studio week for current and former core fellows. You can look for a few blog posts from the week and we’ve turned our Instagram feed over to former core fellow Rachel Garceau. Check the Instagram hashtag #penlandcoreretreat.

Interested in becoming a Penland core fellow? Learn more about this two-year program in craft here. We have four fellowships available beginning in 2015, and applications are due next month: October 15, 2014.

 

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Photo of the week: One from the Auction

julie elkins at the Penland benefit auction

Our annual benefit auction was last weekend, and it’s impossible to represent with one picture. So instead of attempting that, we’re just posting a favorite picture. This is volunteer Julie Elkins in her elaborately decorated auction T-shirt carefully transporting one of the 192 water-filled glass globes that made up Pablo Soto’s beautiful auction centerpieces (4 globes per table). The auction was great and we’ll post a report in a few days when we have firm numbers. If you want to see more auction pictures, there is an album here.

 

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Chasing Penland

 

It’s the last day of the session and I need to find Orly Wexler in Upper Metals. When I get to the studio, Orly is gone. “She left at 5 am to catch her flight,” says the instructor, Lawrence Woodford. He sighs. “Her work was so beautiful.”

Dang. Two weeks at Penland can go quick–just when I get used to people being here, they’re off. Next on my list to track down for her story: Martha Todd in lower Clay.

Martha, recipient of a Penland fellowship through the Crafts Council UK, has been blogging about her Penland experience in Thaddeus Erdahl‘s workshop. I would like to meet and interview her for the blog before she leaves. On the porch of Lower Clay, the busts the class has made are out: cats, humans, animals grand and strange. I find Martha’s bust–a dog–but no Martha. Someone tells me that she’s headed toward the coffee house wearing a pink shirt.

 

busts

Busts made by Thaddeus Erdahl’s workshop by Robin Dreyer

When I get to the coffee house, there are three women with pink shirts. Dang again. Here’s an occupational hazard of working in the Penland communications office during the summer: the cast of students and instructors changes in a flash. Too many luminous people to chase. Too many names. They appear, make art, and then leave us. To complicate matters, people reappear with steady frequency. My brain hurts.

I approach a familiar woman in pink near the creamer and ask if she’s Martha Todd. “No,” she smiles warmly, “I’m Mary.” It isn’t until later that I realize she’s Mary Zicafoose, textiles instructor and maker of the brilliant-colored tapestries I saw, days ago, displayed in Lily Loom.

Mary, my bad.

 

Marie Fornaro at Show and Tell. Photograph by Robin Dreyer

Marie Fornaro at Show and Tell. Photograph by Robin Dreyer

I head to the wood studio for Show and Tell, a chance for all classes to display their work before heading home. The studio is packed. A sea of Penlanders crowds around tables. Shane Fero‘s flameworking students stand close to their dazzling pieces and organize trades. I sidle up to the table with forged steel works, and watch as a woman nearly stabs her arm on branches extending from an inflated steel form. Near a window, young James Haley escapes the dangers of crowds and art by playing with nesting cork forms made by someone in the cork design class. Hi, James.

I snap Elizabeth Brim‘s picture but it’s the wrong moment (another occupational hazard of my job: Pictures Taken at the Wrong Moment). Elizabeth is talking with a woman I’ve noticed all summer. She’s carrying Donna Tartt‘s The Secret History. “I’ll loan it to you when I’m done,” she says when I ask how she’s liking it. I should know her name. But at that moment Paulus Berensohn goes by, slow, like some unearthly snow king. And it’s true, you just want to watch him float.

I end up outside chatting with iron coordinator Daniel Beck and Adam Whitney. Adam looks very tired after captaining the metals workshop this session. He wants to fit in some of his own work before he heads back to Detroit. “You have Flutagon?” he asks Daniel, and I laugh because it’s true: the language of metals sounds like Klingon. “Yeah, you know, Flutagon, Atlantic 33,” says Daniel, jokingly, when I say that I’m about to totally tune out of their conversation.

 

Malika Green's shoes at Show and Tell. Photograph by Robin Dreyer

Malika Green in the shoes she made. Photograph by Robin Dreyer

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my job at Penland as “chasing Penland.” I chase people. I ask them what they do and listen. But in the summer, I’m more like a slipping glimpser. I take a last pass around Show and Tell. Shoemaker Malika Green in bright orange pants, saying goodbye. Nearby, a woman packs up the board game she made in Julie Chen‘s class. The table is thinning out. One of the remaining board games displayed is by studio assistant Isabel Duffy. “In process,” reads a sign. It’s impossible to tell what the game is, or if it’s even meant to be played, and one of the face-out cards reads:

If possible, forgive anyone who is upset that time alone is still necessary and desirable. After the long countdown and anticipation of return, intimacy is one of the things that cannot be pulled out and expected to unfold without creases.

It’s a shock to read this here, at Show and Tell: a quiet and difficult thought about one’s need to make art.  Isabel’s words suddenly make the whole thing emotional: how fleeting Penland time is for our students and instructors, who have left their cities and homes and respective intimacies to come here and work like total maniacs.

 

 

Evie.

Evie.

Everyone starts to trickle toward the Pines for lunch. In a corner, instructor Evie Woltil Richner kneels with a portfolio of her prints. They spill out on the floor. I try to photograph what’s happening: Evie showing her prints to Tiffany Dill‘s young daughters, and asking them which ones they like. This one? Maybe this one? Interest is expressed. Evie stops. “I’ll trade you this for one of your drawings, okay?” The deal is sealed.

Yes, the world is not all magic and pure exchange. But sometimes it is.

Elaine Bleakney 

 

 

 

 

 

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Garth Clark at Penland

Writer, historian, critic, and gallerist Garth Clark will speak at Penland School of Crafts on Sunday, July 27,  at 8:15 PM. Clark is spending several weeks at Penland as this year’s Andrew Glasgow Writing Resident. He will speak about the recent explosion of ceramic activity in the fine arts and offer other thoughts about issues in contemporary craft. The lecture takes place in the Northlight building, and it is free and open to the public.

Clark is co-founder of Garth Clark Gallery in New York and Los Angeles, founder and former director of the Ceramic Arts Foundation, and founder of the CFile Foundation, a global community working to bring ceramics into the mainstream of visual art. He is the author of over sixty books and several hundred reviews and essays. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Art (London); his honors include several honorary doctorates and lifetime achievement awards as well as the “Art Book of the Year” award from the Art Libraries Society of North America.

An accomplished lecturer, Clark has spoken in thirty countries at over 100 major venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Sorbonne University in Paris. His two most recent books are Mind Mud: The Conceptual Ceramics of Ai Weiwei and Lucio Fontana Ceramics. He is the editor-in-chief of CFile Online, an online forum for ceramics in art, design, and architecture.

 

The Andrew Glasgow Writers Residency is a program of Penland School of Crafts that provides focused time in a retreat environment to writers who will benefit from interacting with a craft community. The residency is named in honor of Asheville resident Andrew Glasgow, who served as the director of the American Craft Council and the Furniture Society, and as director of education and collections at the Southern Highland Craft Guild.

  

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The Penland Hummingbird Cocktail

Woodman-Pieper auction piece

As everyone probably knows by now, this fantastic cocktail service by Julia Woodman with goblets by Kenny Pieper is the featured artwork for this summer’s annual benefit auction. This put cocktails on our minds.

Our friend Nate Allen (chef and co-owner of Knife and Fork restaurant in Spruce Pine) is a cocktail aficionado, so we asked him to create a special drink for the auction. He came up with the Penland Hummingbird–a refreshing mixture of North Carolina’s own Cardinal gin, Luxardo maraschino, lemon juice, and an infusion of locally-gathered bee balm flowers (beloved by bees and hummingbirds). We’ll serve the drink at the auction and Cardinal is generously donating the gin.

 

So, for your entertainment, here is a video of Nate making the cocktail at his newly opened Spoon bar using Julia’s shaker and Kenny’s glasses. The recipe is at the end of the video.

If you would like to see more (and sillier) videos of Nate making cocktails, he made a series of them a few years back.

If you would like more information about the Penland auction, it’s here, and the whole auction catalog is now available here.

 

 

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Photo of the Week: July 4 (er, 2)

july4-13

Kat Cole’s “Found and Fabricated” metals class representing in the July 4 parade, which happened a couple of days early on account of Friday being the last day of the session.

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Photo of the Week: Auction Mugs!

auction mugs by Lisa DiFeo at Penland School

These are just some of the 500+ souvenir mugs made by potter Elisa Di Feo for this summer’s benefit auction. Elisa will be teaching a workshop during sixth session focused on tableware.

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