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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pennsylvania Spring Fishing

So somehow this weekend the planets aligned and brought three corners of the country together, Alaska, New Mexico and New York, on two amazing streams of central Pennsylvania to do a little pre-season trout fishing. I got a call on friday morning that good friends Sam Snyder and Ben Casarez were traveling up from northern Virginia to do a little fishing, so I packed everything up friday evening and hit the road saturday morning early. The last time the three of us were together with rods in hand was about five years ago when Me and Sarah, my wife, and Sam and Ben went up to Alaska to see friends and fish for ten days. It was great to be able to all be in the same water again, and the four hour drive was definitely worth it. I made it to the Yellow Breeches at about 11:00, geared up and walked down to find the others. It was a great piece of water, and was all catch and release due to the section and the early season fishing, and there were a fair amount of other anglers on the stream. Despite the pressure on the water from other fishers, we were pleased to find a number of trout that were compliant with us. Lots of Rainbows and a few Brook trout made their way to hand and started the day off right.
The other nice addition to the morning was the fact that the new three weight that had been completed mere days before was the rod that I had in hand, and christened it on those Pennsylvania waters. It cast like a dream, with accuracy and delicacy, once I worked out the first spring day on the water bush snags and wind knots, and got to feel it bend under the weight of it's first Brook trout. I can't wait to see the pictures Ben took of it bent right over and the smile on my face. It is pretty satisfying to catch a fish on a hand tied, and actually designed by myself, and a hand built rod.

We fished the Yellow Breeches for a few hours, made a quick lunch and a beer at the side of the stream and then decided to head over to the Letort for a while. This was a treat to be certain, and the Letort is legendary in terms of trout streams both for it's history of conservation, and it's place in the development of dry fly fishing and design as a sport. This was a true spring creek, meaning that it's source is spring fed from numerous springs along the length of the creek, and was classically picturesque. Due to the slow moving deep waters of the Letort, the trout that inhabit the waters have grown accustomed to the food sources and bugs that pass by them daily. They have time to look, scrutinize and select their meals which makes it hard for those of us floating little "bug puppets" (in the words of John Gierach) by their noses. Spring creeks tend to also have silty bottoms making it impossible to wade to get to fish. The above photo was taken by Sam, and shows a small Blue Winged Olive on his sunglasses. They were about the size of a pinky nail, and we were fishing with size 20 and 22 versions of these flies. Because if the cautiousness of the fish in determining their food sources, presentation of the fly has to be perfectly placed in front of the rising trout without spooking it and timed appropriately with the rising feeding action of the fish. Sam was the man on this one and brought two rainbows to hand. It was for sure a humbling experience and a chance to fish one of the toughest situations I've been up against. Hopefully the three corners of the country will find there way back onto the same piece of water soon, as these two friend are truly brothers to me. Thanks for the invite and congratulations to Ben on the upcoming wedding.

Tight Lines.

Sam on the Letort
Ben and I observing the Letort from above.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Newly completed fiberglass 3 weight

Just wanted to add a couple of images of the long awaited custom 3 weight fiberglass fly rod. I had all intent on having this finished before the end of the year last year, and as per usual only a few months late. I did want to do it right and really thought it through fully before making any decisions. I already have the itch to make the next one, although I have a bamboo rod to recondition and change up a bit so that might be the one. This was my first rod build project, and there are some things that I would do differently next time, but all in all I am pumped to get out on the water this spring and throw some loops. It is such a soft rod that I can already tell through some grass casting that it is going to be super fun to fish and extremely sensitive and responsive. Here's to tight lines!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bruce Molsky at Kellish Farm, Manlius NY

So it seems as though these posts have become weekly instead of daily, but I suppose I am able to make it happen as time permits. Hopefully I can get back to it on a regular basis. The week has been good, though jam packed with stuff and hopefully the onset of spring will help in spreading out the to do list as I won't have to pack it all into one or two days. The highlight of the week was having the opportunity to see Bruce Molsky play locally at Kellish Farm in Manlius NY. For those of you not familiar, Bruce is an amazing fiddle player not to mention his ability to play banjo and guitar plus an amazing vocal range, and he is world renowned for his musical ability. I always check his tour dates and they usually consist of a lot of tour dates in Europe and the UK and have missed him twice coming near to the area. As I figured, the show was awesome and some of my favorite tunes were played.

I was asked by a good friend who accompanied me to the show, why I was drawn to Old Time music as the type of music I wanted to play. I answered him saying that Old Time is a type of music that can be played in the kitchen, with anywhere from a bunch of people to two people playing tunes that are familiar or not familiar, but it is relaxed and communal and people have a great time. I thought about it a little more as the evening wore on and started to think about some parallels to my pots and some of the references there. I thought about its tradition and history and the connections to a rich and complex oral history. I don't know how to read music and frankly, since quitting the french horn in elementary school the idea of reading music has completely left my mental catalogue. These tunes are tunes that were played by my ancestors either directly or indirectly, and they were carried with them as they immigrated here. They were passed to sons or daughters through playing or singing, not written down or recorded and I am continuing that history by learning and playing the tunes in the way they were meant to be played. They are stories and they are lives, and those stories would be lost if it weren't for people like Bruce Molsky and in a way, myself. I am physically connecting myself through this long string of notes squawked out on an old fiddle or banged out on an old banjo, and I am proud to be a conduit for those things.

To know where we came from is the only way to continue moving forward.

This tune is called "Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie" and as Bruce said at the show, it is the saddest song ever, and I agree. But there is something beautiful about those old sad songs and there is a great tradition of these mournful tunes. They hold a nice spot in my heart right next to the great old murder ballads of the 1800's.

I also had the privilege of getting to play Bruce's banjo which is a beautiful example of one of Kevin Enoch's instruments. Awesome tone and amazing craftsmanship. The evening was such a treat on all levels. Check out Bruce Molsky's website for his dates or for booking and if he's coming near to you, check him out

Monday, March 15, 2010

Martha's old time Jam, March 2010

Here are some clips from the most recent Old Time Jam at Joan Rooks-Mietz's place over in Manlius NY, which also took place over spring break which was great as I was able to get there on time. These people are some of the most interesting and enjoyable people I have ever had the pleasure of playing tunes with and every time we get together great times and tunes ensue. There is something to be said for sitting around the living room playing old tunes the way they should be. I was asked by the woman that taught me how to play banjo, before we sat down and played for the first time what type of music I wanted to play. She said "If you want to play music that fits right in with a bunch of people playing around the kitchen then you're in the right place." She sure was right. When I moved back from Florida I found two people, Dave Karam and Martha Jenks, to play music with and from that, our regular monthly Jam got started. Martha graciously opened her house each month for people to come and play old time music. She passed away almost a year ago, yet the music get-together as well as the tunes we played plus a number of forgotten new ones have lived on. There will always be a seat for Martha and we all hear that great rhythm guitar whenever we play. It's a great time and I always look forward to the second wednesday of the month. Old Time's the same but different. "What tune was that?"

Spring break

Well, spring break is over and I am about to start up another week of classes. It's funny how a break or time away from the regular job is like osmosis and other things rush in to fill space. I spent the week, however, doing something that I really enjoy by building a new built in cabinet and display case for the front window of the gallery. Glass inset in the top, and a shelf splitting the case, it will be a nice way to show more expensive jewelry as well as objects in the front window. We will be teaming up with our sister shop in town due to some well needed renovations in the other building, and come April will be a dynamic duo operating out of the same space. With that joining of forces there was some needed infrastructural development that needed to happen which was where I came in. Doing things like this is like a big math problem and really enjoy figuring out how to make things work. I do become a bit conflicted though about being out of the studio for that week off, but I can manage the eight to two am studio shifts after the crew has gone to bed. I came across Sequoia Miller's blog the other day which had some interesting comments on the ideas of being both in and out of the studio. He was referring to how the computer and blogging activity in a way seemed to detract from the productivity in the studio, but in a way it was no different than making pots. He stated that he was a producer of experiences, both functional ones and written ones through his blog presence, (which I suppose is just as functional) and I found this to be quite interesting. I have hoped that through my pots, the classroom, as well as now through the gallery, that I am an educator. I hope to educate people on the importance of objects and the role that objects play in our place in the world. I also really appreciate the act of doing something with skill and I want to be able to apply that to anything that I do. I too am bothered by being out of the studio especially when so many thoughts and ideas are going through my head that need to be addressed. There are a few deadline that are looming on the horizon which should light a fire under me, but it is indeed hard to juggle all of these things. It'll be nice once the shops are settled and work is in place. If anyone is in the area on April 9th come on by between 7 - 9:00 to Imagine That in Skaneateles NY. There will be a great Old time String Band "The Usual Suspects" (me on banjo) playing, refreshments will be served and lots of great work will be on display.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spike Jonze Flashback

Last night I watched Where The Wild Things Are, which was directed by Maurice Sendak and Spike Jonze and anyone who is familiar with the children's book probably saw the movie. I did enjoy it, and there was a nice departure from the book with some really wonderful visualizations. I couldn't help but think about earlier exposure that I had with Spike Jonze's film genius. The film was "Mouse", a girl and chocolate skateboards film back in 1997 or so. I was really blown away by this film at the time an still think they were some of the best skateboard videos. Good entertaining stuff for sure. Enjoy

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Old Flies" website

"Colonel's Lady"
Fly Anglers Online Archive

Came across this site recently and found it to be a great resource for both old and traditional fly recipes as well as some interesting stories. Good one to spend some time and peruse, it's worth it. Click on the image to get to the site.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ken Price getting some New York art world coverage

Interesting article in the NY Times regarding Ken Price's work in New York. Is ceramics actually getting some visibility in the art world? Viola Frey, Betty Woodman and now Ken Price...awesome.

Old Work...

"Yellow Cup Bucket" Earthenware and Cast Porcelain, 2005

"Elevated Cup Tray" Earthenware and Cast Porcelain, 2005

After last nights post I thought I should go through some old images and see what I came across of the older, cast work of mine. This was one of the pieces from my graduate thesis show in which I was making these buckets and tool caddies to carry porcelain slip-cast plastic solo cups. There were a number of cup shapes, most of which I could get at the grocery store, and a two liter bottle that were used in the pieces. The tables were clay as well, with cast legs to give the reference back to the domestic space as a space for ritual use. The buckets seem to be the thing that I held on to as I kept making work, but have been known to pull out the old molds and cast a few cups for special occasions. I was thinking about the way that material can change a persons perception about an object, and that importance can be added through a transformation of material. I was also thinking about how a specific material, like clay, can build awareness of action through the use of an object. For instance, someone using a disposable cup would be less apt to consciously think about the act of using therefore losing the chance to be aware of ones actions, the moment and the ritual. It was also a tongue in cheek comment on the ideas of consumption as in material, and the act of consumption as in food. Ahhhhh... graduate school. I really do like looking back though and seeing how the work has evolved. Seeing all of the references be boiled down into something that is a little more subtle, and still in line with my ideas about pots. Always fun. Enjoy the start to the end of the weekend. I am on spring break next week so the studio will be a busy place. Cheers

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Not your grandma's beer can

Lei Xue
Tee trinken, 2007
Porzellan, handbemalt

Just a little object of note. I have an affinity to things that have been transformed by clay, and these are right up my alley. I like to think about how materiality changes the way that a person might interact with an object, or read into it's place and purpose. I also love the juxtaposition of historic reference with pop culture iconography...the new cultural status symbol.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Just what I needed tonight...

chasing hatches from RA Beattie on Vimeo.

Came across this video earlier on Cameron Mortenson's blog, The Fiberglass Manifesto and did it ever perk me up. It is a clip from RA Beattie's new project "Off The Grid" and it looks just as beautiful as "Nervous Water". Now that it is march, which for some reason I always feel like that means spring is near, I have been thinking more and more of the allure and excitement of rising trout. This film sure did hit the spot and I will think fondly of the sound of slurping fish untill I am able to be standing in the midst of flowing water. Can't wait to see the whole thing. Tight Lines...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Holy Winter!

Well, it seems as though winter came and I've spent the weekend trying to dig out from under 24 inches of new, wet heavy snow. This is always the time of the year when spring seems like a really wonderful thought. I am sure others feel this way too, but I get to a point when a green landscape would be nice and not having to wear four layers to go out would be a dream. I feel as though March should be spring, but am always disappointed that we potentially will get snow in April. The above picture is the "tunnel" that I needed to clear in order to get to the studio. Between roof raking and shoveling 30 lb shovel-fulls of snow I do feel as though I've gotten my exercise, but not mush else has gotten done. No wonder I put color on my pots. The below image is one that I came across recently. The photo was taken in poland and it about sums up my feeling at the moment.

Found out today that Red Lodge wants to keep the work that I sent out for my featured artist exhibition, and keep me on as a represented artist. I'm pretty psyched about it, and hopefully the work will do well over the coming months. Red Lodge has a great online web presence, and if you haven't seen the work yet, check out the Red Lodge Clay Center website. It's always good to pick up a new spot to have work.