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On a recent trip to Rhode Island brushes caught my eye. 

brushes-antique.jpgThen, visiting David Harrington in Bristol, he took me to see his studio in a nearby old mill building.

brushes-tools.jpgDavid and his studio mate had a beautiful collection of brushes and tools.

brushes-bristol.jpgWhen I got home I looked at my own homemade brushes with a fresh eye.

brushes-cw-1.jpgI started making brushes in college. At first I just loved how they looked. I made all of these but the one furthest to the left which I bought on Canal Street (NYC) in 1979 from a street vendor who said he bought it in Afghanistan. The longer I had them around the more committed I became to using them, to finding the voice of collaboration between each brush, a material, and my hand. They are made of my hair, grasses, feathers and animal fur with bamboo for the handle--at least until that binder clip comes in handy.

brushes-cw-2.jpg"I don't have to lay on the couch and see a therapist because my therapist is in my paint brushes."
Abbey Lincoln

bus man's holiday

You can take a potter to the beach but you can't keep her from looking for clay.

1 ditch plains.jpgMost people come to the beach to stare at the horizon or surf the waves but these cliffs set my geologic mind rolling. I remember surf trips from my teenage years to Montauk and the cliffs and clay along parts of the beach. My brothers will tell you about the waves but my memories are lined with pinch pots and squishing my toes in the sandy clay.
9 foot print.jpgDon't get me wrong. I love the waves the salt and adventures, but I was glad to rediscover the mix of clay, rock and ocean. Finding footprints in the clay was like evidence of the origins of current inspirations.

5 found bowl w seaweed.jpgFound dried curled chunks of clay lifted from the sand was like discovering a gift of magical bowls complete with a curl of seaweed.

8 exposed rock.jpgThe evidence of erosion left beautiful rocks exposed.

3 ditch plains.jpgA found drawing made of colored clays, sand, and rock was evidence that others have been as inspired by this place as I was.

6 found drawing.jpgIt was hard to leave.

7 ditch chunk.jpg

shells, bones and bricks

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bones-on-leaf-plate.jpgNot only have I been collecting images, but everywhere I go I collect shells, bricks and what ever speaks of the place. A few years ago I remember finding a seal skull on the rocky shore of Heron Island, Maine. It was bleached, white and beautiful in its mystery and simplicity. When I came up the path from the shore I met a friend who had just found an antique bottle near his porch. He showed me its peculiarities and obvious age with great glee. So I reached in my backpack to show him my treasure and his face fell. A skull? He was appalled and stared blankly at me. I asked him to think of of Georgia O'Keefe for artistic connotations. I have found duck skeletons and seagull heads and I am always struck by the structural nuances, the poetic possibilities and the artistic celebration of elemental forms in bones.

The rounded bricks on the plate are found on the shore in Maine as well. They (obviously) start out as rectangular, sharp-edged bricks; they're used as weights in lobster traps. As they are lost, separated from the traps, they get tumbled in the waves; ground on the shore they become softened and rounded. As a potter I love to see the nature of the fired clay in response to the action of the ocean.

When I collect a series of similar objects, I find myself thinking of the artist Candy Jernigan. She was a collector of evidence and ephemera. She made collages, journals and paintings out of urban refuse including cheese doodles, cans of beans, plant leaves, crack vials and a dead rat.  Chuck Close said, "She took the old saying 'art history is to art what ornithology is to birds' and stood it on its head." I get the feeling that walking down a street with her would have changed my vision so that I could see beauty in the most mundane cigar butt. The collections of her objects became icons--evidence that she had been to a place, seen the details and retained a proof of the moment. A viewer could make a new picture from the remnants of her collections.