Our blog post this week is written by Mosaicist and Co-op member June Martin of Moth and Twig.
Clearly I did not ever have a love affair with Antoni Gaudi since he died in 1926 and I’m not THAT old, but I am deeply in love with his works. Gaudi has been a great inspiration for my work in mosaic arts. I had the great pleasure of spending nearly a month, solo, in Barcelona, Spain. It was 2004 and I was going through some transitions so off to Europe I went, mainly because as an emerging mosaic artist, I knew had to experience Gaudi’s works first hand and I knew that a week or two was not going to be adequate in order to savor his works and the magnificent city of Barcelona.
Gaudi experienced various influential periods in his life including, but not limited to, his Orientalist period, Neo-Gothic period, and Naturalist Period. I seem to be drawn to his Naturalist Period the most, though arguably, all of his periods can be seen in his works. I remember how I felt when I first entered Casa Mila (more commonly known as La Pedrera). With its sinuous curves, interior courtyards, and rooftop with chimneys covered in ceramics and shapes that suggest medieval helmets, I remember feeling as though I had stepped into an organic being. I was filled with joy, wonder, and incredible excitement. I would soon learn that I would experience these emotions every time I viewed or stepped inside one of Gaudi’s creations. I can only envy the handful of families who have the distinct pleasure of residing in Casa Mila.
Wandering through the various areas of Casa Mila was truly an amazing experience. From the structure to the beautiful furnishings, truly a magical experience.
Could such a place exist? Again, it was like stepping inside a living, breathing, beautiful being. I was overcome by beauty, form, color, and the feeling of happiness, playfulness, and pure joy.
During my month long adventure, I continued to meander throughout the city, visiting other Gaudi wonders as well as reveling in other artists’ works including that of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. I was inspired by the fluidity and beauty of Art Nouveau, seemingly at every turn, and the Modernista buildings throughout Barcelona including Casa Lleo Morera, Casa Calvet, and Casa Vicens.
Towards the end of my stay, I finally made it to the Sagrada Familia, and to Parc Guell. I had seen and experienced so much by the time I made it to these places, that I felt it only fitting to pay homage to Gaudi one sunny afternoon at Parc Guell. After meandering around the park and soaking in the amazing structures, the mosaics, and of course the iconic Parc Guell lizard, I climbed to the highest point in the park and made sure I had a clear view of The Sagrada Familia. It is there that I enjoyed a picnic consisting of Cava (Spanish wine), cheeses, biscuits, and a few tapas from my adventures the night before.
I toasted Gaudi and his brilliance, and I toasted the other artists and architects who created such beauty in fabulous Barcelona. I felt lucky to be alive and humbled by the brilliance all around me. I took all that I saw back with me to the states and knew that I would never quite be the same. I felt newly inspired and excited to continue on my path as a burgeoning mosaic artist
Stop by Artistic Portland any day of the week 10 am - 6 pm (noon-5 pm on Sundays) to see and purchase June's work in person!
How long have you been a part of Artistic Portland, and what appealed to you about joining the Co-op?
I joined Artistic Portland just after it moved into its new location on Taylor – about 3 months ago. I'm pretty new to Portland and was looking for a place to show my art and more importantly, connect with the art community here. I have not been disappointed.
Where are you from?
Well, I've moved around a lot, but I call Huntington Beach, California home.
My husband and I have spent the last 20 or so years living in various rural communities and moved to Portland from Angels Camp, Ca.
What jobs have you had other than being an artist?
Well, I spend about 12 of the last 20 years earning my keep as a computer technician, and though not a paying gig, operating a purebred dog rescue organization. And I was a zoo keeper for a number of years.
How would you describe your work in three words?
Animals as mirrors.
What do you love about working with clay?
It’s funny. I spent most of my life and formal art training drawing and painting. When I took my first ceramics class, I could not even stand the feel of clay. Now that I've been working in clay a number of years, particularly since transitioning to sculpture, I love working in 3D! I rarely draw anymore because I just don't think “flat” anymore. And I love that clay is always the teacher. There are no failures in clay – just new lessons learned. And the clay community! We are a messy, muddy bunch. Fingernails trimmed to the nubs, clay on our glasses frames, maybe a singed eyebrow here and there, and we are so unprotective of our techniques, and so eager to talk and laugh about our “failures”.
What frustrates you about working with clay?
The drying time. I'm not very patient, and I am the ultimate control freak. Clay is a wonderful medium for control freaks like myself because the Clay is the boss. It will do just about anything you want it to, but on its own terms. And if you try to hurry it, it will come back to bite you. But while that can be frustrating, I love it.
What inspires you?
Animals, Politics and the Interesting Times we live in.
Tell us about “Little Free Pottery.”
I absolutely love the concept (and executions) of the Little Free Library! We have one on our street. Three things brought the Little Free Pottery about: a desire to connect with my neighbors and community, my interest in interactive art, and a fair amount of the above mentioned “failures”. And by “failures," I don't mean broken pots—just pieces that were not up to my standards, something that just didn't sell, or things I could make just because. So I built and installed a little station to offer bits of clay to those who would happen upon it. It’s been great fun! I love sneaking looks out my front window and seeing someone handling a piece and realizing they can just have it. And I think it adds to the already abundant goodwill in my neighborhood.
What do you like to do when you aren’t creating with clay?
My husband and I are big consumers of live music. It’s one of the things that led us to give up country living and become urbanites again. Portland has so much music to offer! We're big fans of both jazz and punk rock, and both are pretty plentiful here, so we spend a fair amount of time in music venues.
Other than that and art events, we spend most of our time at home catering to our dogs' and cats' whims.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be?
Oh – easy. I'd like to master my kiln.
I fire a large propane kiln, and I'm pretty new to it. Successful firings are a little hit-or-miss. While that provides more gifts for the Little Free Pottery, it can really put a damper of my artistic growth. The good news is that I know I'll get there eventually. If learning new things keeps you young, then potters must live forever.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
Hmmmm… Well, I'm kind of a Golden Girls superfan. I wonder if Golden Girls cosplay is a thing? Because I am so Dorothy Zbornak.
This week, peek into the spaces where members of Artistic Portland create. They are as varied and unique as the type of art you see as you walk around our shop.
"Lots of room to spread out and create. Repurposed old hollow core doors. Room for everything. To create masterpieces" -- Beth Adams of OliveMeArtsie
"Last year my studio/living space was a horse farm in Wilsonville. This year it is anywhere I can put up my six foot table. In the 2nd photo it is my cousin's dining room in Seattle where I commute once a week. Otherwise for making my soaps, covered hangers, cat balls and decorated eggs I use any table available." -Ammi Brooks
"View from my studio - love my place in the trees." -Joanne Morrisey
"I use the knitting basket for knitting projects such as scarves, hats, socks to take along where ever I go or am. The knitted cards I always make in my knitting/sewing room since I have to drag out lots of yarns to find right colors. " -Helene Hughart of HH Knits
"I think of my studio as the great outdoors. It's much more interesting than the computer where I process the photos, or the worktable where I frame them" -Doug Owen
"I'm anywhere. " -Ben Gilbert
"There are lots of different light sources (including the window) and inspiring art on the walls. I have my drawing table and computer desk right next to each other, which is convenient. A cup of coffee is always close at hand, and my zombie sloth is there so cheer me on and guard my pens" -Laura K Maxwell
"Here is a studio under construction in the upstairs nook. The view overlooks a huge cedar and a heart-shaped 'son of cedar.’" Susan Hunter of Bodie Design Studio
This week's blog post is brought to us by Ben Gilbert of Crayons and Cardboard ...
Names. I don't really think too deeply about them. I try to be clever and make each name an in-joke or unusual or a light teasing of the artistic nomenclature. Is there actually one? Or is a lot of it made up as the creator goes along? It amuses me so the answers do not really matter.
'Stache Momentum" Mustaches are a trend. I figure I had to do one as a matter of course, a base touch as it were... Perhaps it's tied in with the ebb and flow of the trends. The surrounding black lines delineate movement and also could be said to represent shaved facial hair the Stache bulls through as it screams its way through our collective unconscious.
"The Yawn" had to be done since "The Scream" was done already. I don't think it's my best work but it amused me. Life is tiring and boring sometimes, and it is an unstated snapshot in time.
"Martian Luna See" What happens when your take off your helmet in the wrong place. Asphyxiation does funny things to people.
"Elevations" Perhaps not the same as those British buses... But there are levels... Oh who am I kidding... It's a study in beauty…
Red Dwarf Falling into White Dwarf... A tragic spacing and flensing of a member of a mountain clan…
After this we come to the psycho squirrel series... three paintings of very bad rodents.
Before that there was a Maneki- Neko, a bucolic looking surveillance camera, A lady in black leather, and my cousin as part of a homage to Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.
I am able to [----what verb?] to all of this and more because I don't have any commissions and creating is not a part of a job with any deadlines... Having a job with free time helps also. I'm always looking for unusual images to capture and will continue to try and improve and punctuate the mundane reality of existence with quirky points of fun.