Thursday, April 17, 2014

Back in the Bay

On Tuesday the Nola Potter shop is closed so I made an appointment to return some Mardi Gras costumes in Mississippi that I had on loan from the Krewe of Gemini in Gulfport. We met at the Stennis Space Center rest area just outside of Pearlington, MS. Once I had finished, I decided to drive down into Bay St. Louis for lunch and to explore the galleries and shops. I did this for two reasons really, inspiration and opportunity. I stopped in the Buttercup Cafe and grabbed a chicken salad croissant with potato salad. Then I drove down to the end of Main Street by the beach to eat. It's odd but, when I order potato salad in MS I always get German Potato Salad. It's different because it's white and must not have much mustard, if any. It's odd because they don't warn you... It's as if this is how potato salad is normally served.
After I finished my lunch I went into the Bonner Collection, a Gallery and Shop filled with art and accessories. There was a man behind the desk that greeted me. I asked if this was his shop and he nodded his head to indicate that it was. I proceeded to tell him about myself, my shop, my art, and interest in placing my work in some of the galleries along the coast. While we had about an hour long discussion I learned that Mr. Jim Bonner is the artist that designed the Barq's Rootbeer can. He also designed the logo for the New Orleans Jazz Basket Ball team and did many other hand lettering design jobs for businesses in Nola. He has a home in BSL and Nola. He and his wife Patsy run the shop together. We both attended the University of Southern Mississippi. Mr. Bonner earned a degree in art. After college he worked for Boeing drawing illustrations of Saturn V Moon Rockets. It really was a pleasure meeting him and learning about his career as an artist. He now works mainly in Watercolors, which I love because they are on old maps and nautical charts! I shared with him that I used to live in Heron Bay out by LaFrance Fishing Camp. He pulled out a chart of the area and we looked at our old fishing spots and swapped tales for a bit. We talked about my artwork and then he said I should explore a bit around the bay and come back at 2pm to speak with the boss. ;)
After I left the Bonner Collection I wandered into Maggie May's. It's an odd set up of a cafe and art shop in the front and a shopping mall of sorts that continues a full block to the back with artist galleries and shops. I spoke with the ladies about Super Mud Fest a fundraiser to raise money for local food banks. Then I walked over to Bay Breeze, the Stationary Shop, and a kitchen shop. I bought some small things at the Stationary shop and continued North up Main Street. 

I was walking past the Main Street United Methodist Church (a church I attended in my past life, and I was actually married to my first husband in this church).  
I took a photo thinking that I should use it for reference later in some type of artwork. I continued up the street remembering that time in my life. We got engaged on my twenty first birthday and were married one week after my twenty second birthday. It was a typical southern church wedding and all of our family and friends were there. I was so young and now I realize much to young to have been getting married but, that is another story for another day. 
The next few shops I came upon were a row of cottages that appeared to be antique shops. I wasn't really in the market for antiques or interested. However, the title of a shop caught my eye. The French Potager,  Potager means kitchen. Usually used in jardin potager or kitchen garden. I went in and met the owner and artist Martha Whitney Butler. The shop is an eclectic mix of art, antiques, furniture, and things for the garden. As an artist you can clearly see that Martha Whitney Butler has an eye for design and a fun collection of things that could be purchased and used in an artwork. I saw under a child's baby doll crib a vase full of delightfully disassembled baby dolls! 
I bought two baby doll heads for my friend Shannon Kelley Atwater- artist and owner of the Green Eyed Gator Gallery at 901 Chartres in the French Quarter! 
I just know she will love them for use in her jewelry display case. 

As I was leaving the French Potager I saw a print of an Alligator on old paper and I really loved it.

So I asked about it and found to my surprise that it was one of Martha's Artworks. She had a whole collection of graphic prints on old paper from dictionaries printed in the 1940's. I flipped through a portfolio and selected two more prints. 
The first was of that Methodist Church and the second was a Biloxi Schooner the three images together remind me of my life in Bay St. Louis, preKatrina,  working at the Dock of the Bay while I was in college at MGCCC and USM. 
My final stop on my solo walking tour was at Gallery 220 on Main. This gallery is an artist co-op. I walked in and as I was looking at the artists displays I saw in the back of the gallery was a pottery shop! Ms. Nancy was water coloring in underglaze on a commission clay creation. 
It hit me that I knew this shop and the Clay Creations made by Artist and owner Jenise McCardell! Jenise has been selling her clay creations along the Gulf Coast since 1980. 
They are carved in clay and then a mold is made from the original sculpture. The molds are used to make slip casts that are bisque fired and then hand painted by the artist or one of her decorators. Each piece is then glaze fired with a clear glaze. 
She has made a clay creation of almost every famous restaurant, church, and neighborhood that you can name from Nola to Florida! 
It was inspiring to see other potters at work! 
The whole experience was a great mini adventure. I met some interesting people, shopped, relaxed, and renewed my love for the Bay! If you get a chance, make a day trip on over to Bay St. Louis. It's a great old town in Southern Mississippi. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Finding Focus

I am one of those people that is all over the place doing a million things and never knowing how to say no. What's worse, is that I am a mixed media artist, a botanist, and a business owner that is involved at the directorial level in two nonprofits. So I can't ever seem to focus. It drives my husband mad! He is forever telling me to stop doing charity work, to say no to people that need my help, and to focus on my work. Sometimes I wonder if he ever met me before we married. ;)
So back to the point: FOCUS.
Yeah, you see, not so easy right? It's not for lack of trying. I desperately try to do one thing. Even in that one thing, there are a million things to do. I have a studio and gallery in Algiers Point, a quaint quiet neighborhood in New Orleans (or what we locals call Nola). My artwork is primarily pottery. I do paint and some photography. I have other artist's work in my gallery on consignment. I am the sales associate, gallery manager, office manager, marketing department, shipping department, janitor, pottery teacher, and artist. Artist shouldn't be last, but somehow it always ends up that way.
So without the financial means to hire a staff, this is how it is. This is how it is for all artists with small artist owned galleries.
I am not complaining.. just stating the facts and how I got here is another story, for another day. I am extremely happy with my chosen profession. This is my destiny. I love to experiment with different subject matter, media, and techniques. I have realized that I do need to narrow it down a bit. I am starting to use more of what I know. I have focused my work towards things inspired by nature or Nola. My artworks are going through a transition from a panoramic view to a macroscopic one. Although a great deal of the background is cut away. I am still searching to find focus among all of the millions of tiny details that are uncovered when the contrast is changed.