Thursday, April 29, 2010

the house of worship

If you are an artist, a maker of sorts-whatever it may be, but something that you spend a lot of time doing each day-you have your place..your space where you work away-often time for hours, and hours again, sometimes sneaking back in late at night to adjust an earlier idea. I have my studio which is my true retreat-my place for quiet meditation an escape, really from the real world-or the world that lurks beyond my studio walls. I am lucky lucky to have a beautiful space to retreat to, and I appreciate it every single day.

 I get to think, listen to music or lots of talk radio--(think I have a masters degree in NPR now- an MSNPR?) My days are full of clay, contemplating it, being calm with it and being rejuvenated often. It is my house of worship--a religion of craft?

I am surrounded by all my talismans that bring me comfort and peace and get incorporated into my work. I tithe--aiming to donate a percentage of my earnings from this work regularly to deserving non profits and organizations doing good work. That is what a church does-yes? This is my temple, I do pray here and I do get to see the wonders of nature around me-miraculous in this urban locale.
A religion of craft indeed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thirteenth Birthdays...

Wow, a small milestone in my sweet boy, Jackson, turned 13. I know, I know, an adolescent boy with all that brings--voice cracking, inappropriate defiance only to be matched by unexpected hugs and need for affection, locked doors and growing up.

Sometimes it is hard for me to comprehend that I have had the oh so full time job as mother for 13 years--well 14 counting that long year of gestation. Challenging, inspiring, maddening..going from losing it one day to being amazed at the unit we have all become. And then pure sweetness and joy too.
In honor of this day, besides going to North beach to the classic US restaurant for fresh yum Italian food, invading the candy shop and then lurking around Coit tower at 11:30 pm-(as a friend pointed out--a ridiculously appropriate monument for a 13 y.o. boy!)  I am initiating a new tradition for celebrating. Since I usually rack my brain to get the right gift for my kids, and then am often met with disappointed or completely disinterested reactions upon opening, I am reaching for something more permanent and meaningful. And lo and behold, it happens to be something I can cook up in my own backyard, and something that I spend time doing everyday.

So I made a birthday plate that reflects the things that are important to jackson at this time in his life-
soccer, drawing, lego, kiki... I am planning on making one for both of my kids every year on their birthday--and since I am so bad at taking family pictures and videos--they will at least have an ongoing snapshot of a  particular time in their life. And as we know, pottery sticks around for thousands of some remnants of this time in their lives will remain for a long long time to come, perhaps for future generations to ponder its significance.
In the meantime, it is all very significant to me...
Happy Birthday Jackson!

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Pieces headed to the Gardener

Getting ready to bring some new pieces over to the Gardener--for those unfamiliar-a terrific shop in San Francisco and Berkeley. They wanted some new Lazy Susans and cake stands--I love to look at a collection assembled and destined for new places...

However-not sure if Kiki will let me part with this one--it's kind of become her private wailing wall..she honestly chants into it....true religion.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blackboard Green

I am a huge fan of green-in all of its hues--and there are so many of them. Sometimes, it is hard to imagine that all of these tones muted, neon- tinged with light and dark--all really do exist in nature and are not just conjured up by some crazed willy wonka of a candy maker--eager to poison our systems with some toxic green dye # 4.

My house is full of green-witness the walls and even the cabinets in my kitchen--a strong enough tone to cover the hundred years of paint layered onto these original farmhouse cupboards. We are lucky enough to be surrounded by green in our stand alone dairy farmhouse here in San Francisco-where the huge Monterey Cypress trees invade in such a peaceful way--and we are blocks from the verdant jewel of this city--Golden Gate Park. I can see the canopy of trees from outside our front door.

green, green and green...

in the dining the bedroom....
I have contemplated many greens in my work over the years and have happily glazed away with light green, dark greens and a turquoisey green, but I have wanted more. After some experimentation, I have keyed into a green that speaks to me in a deep way. Bottle green, mottled green, the color of a crisp classic chalkboard. I just love it. Much to my delight, on a recent visit to the hauntingly terrific Luc Tuymans show at SFMOMA, I came face to face with my newly concocted green all over his work. As written by Helen Molesworth in the worthy catalogue from the show:

Tuymans paintings are shot through with the kind of subtle beauty one finds in seashells when the glow of the sun has diminished and the sheen of the water has dried. Their faded sumptuousness nonetheless elicits a kind of consummate chill. Sometimes called the 'Tuymans effect' this affect of beauty mixed with difficulty, coldness, restraint and distance has several sources. Tuyman's palette is muted beyond measure. His paintings are studies in a kind of monochrome in which colors are subjected to an excess of light, fading whatever intense hue might have once been present, leaving behind an indeterminate gray-blue-green-brown, the color of institutional hallways and old newspapers.
His work is haunting and deals with intensely serious subjects but is also aesthetically beautiful and so well crafted-it belies some of the sinister that lurks below it-

I also experienced this green when I was in Marfa, Texas last fall and walked through the fascinating installation from Czech artist- Ilya Kabakov----at Donald Judd's Chinati Foundation. Also dealing with a sobering subject of war and subjugation--the glare of the green chalkboards prevails.

So this is the new color in my palette paint box-its institutional but nature-lurking hue is historical, democratic and oh so rich.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The 24 hour Donut

There are lots of interesting places to eat in our neighborhood. I live in the Inner Sunset district in San Francisco-an oxymoron of course, because this is known as the foggy part of the city. But we have lots of amazing places to eat--all mostly Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Eritrean, Thai, Indian and the like. But we do have Donut World.
And I do love Donut World in all its open 24 hours glory. I have to confess that I have always loved donuts. Ever since my sisters wore the pink uniform at Duncan Donuts when they worked there in high school...on the East Coast. Well now you have your fancy donut shops of course, and I am a big fan of the cornmeal dusted rosemary jammed ones at Dynamo Donut on 24th st in the Mission. But there comes a time when a gal wants a classic 24 hour donut--and that's just what my sweet husband went down the street to forage for me tonight-and ahhh..bliss--had to add the french press coffee in my favorite ol' NY mug-(do any of you remember actually drinking out of the original paper greek coffee shop mugs back in New York City and enjoying it?) He and my daughter indulged in one of those giant chocolate covered custard wonders that you never know who really buys--like those apple fritters--right?

Love the bag-may have to put that sentiment on a plate soon....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ready Made Magazine

I once again will sound my lament for magazines gone...but also get to sing the praises of a magazine that has been around for a while but is quietly being updated with beautiful photography and interesting features--ReadyMade. Started in Berkeley and now based out of Iowa (as it is part of the larger Meredith corporation now) RM is forging its way into the ever developing and combined world of food, craft, design and decor with pizazz and much talent.
I first was contacted by Amy Palanjian-the Deputy Editor, (the editor Andrew Wagner, some may remember from his excellent re-do of American Craft mag) a few years ago when she included my work in a blog she was working on. She got in touch again recently and excitedly proclaimed that she had a great article she was working on and wanted to include my work as its focus-- I packed up several pieces of tableware and sent it her way where their photographers put together a very cool collage of my work for the feature "Why its Worth it" in the April/May edition--Now Amy does this as a regular feature for RM--profiles something that is available at various price points--and offers up her argument as to why it is..or isn't..worth spending a bit more for something. This time she discusses tableware.
I really like this article--of course I like that fact that she focused on my work and phew(!)...decided it was worth spending more on handmade tableware, and in her words, "swoon-worthy"--love that...but I also like the way in which she builds her argument as well as the questions she submitted to me for my take on the whole subject.
Here are some excerpts from the piece--and you can go here for the full feature online: (the article in the magazine will soon be posted on my website under "News" as well)

Here is some of the online content:

RM: Why do think that’s important to support work like yours, and artists like yourself, especially in our current economy? 
Neimeth: You know, I think about this a lot because I will walk into bigger stores and see a great looking plate and am amazed at how little it costs. Now that serves a purpose for sure but it can also blunt our sense of craft. Yes, someone designed them, but they are being mass-produced likely in a factory paying little wages and packaging them as if they are “handcrafted”. It belies the amount of time and energy that artists are putting into their work and dilutes our sense of uniqueness. Everyone all over the world can own the same plate. And again, while affordability is a huge issue and it is important to produce things within many people’s budgets, it is also nice to derive pleasure from the discovery of something truly unique and original that is also supporting an individual artist and the idea that their work can be an heirloom.

It really is quite the concept in these recessionary days--we all have to watch our finances--yet we still, especially those of us--"collectors"--like to have certain things that are meaningful to us-And mind you, for me just finding a beautiful tumbleweed rolling in the desert in New Mexico and packing it into my suitcase (it can work!) is a huge thrill. That said, I love to eat off of a handmade plate--or push the food around in a big rustic bowl. I appreciate the work that goes into the craft of jewelers, chefs, boot makers (oh-yeah) as well as a finely crafted song or piece of writing. These are the things that can subtley enhance our day to day and lord knows--we all need that.
All in moderation of course and all in line with your wallets--
But as Amy says- a reminder of a person, a story, a time in your life--an heirloom--if you will, is a sacred thing. And too often these days we ignore the heirlooms and go for the quickie. Like the story I relayed in an earlier post about the woman I met who told me that holding one of my bowls with the images that spoke to her gave her great comfort and motivation, we all need to find that feeling where we can.