Tuesday, November 19, 2013

crafts, arts and skill...

Back in 1977, there had been some local talk about Eureka Springs needing an art guild, and in response to that, I made a few calls, and dropped in on a few artists I knew, and called for a meeting of artists and craftsmen at Lake Leatherwood. About 30 artists and craftspersons showed up, and  in addition to a severe case of chiggers acquired by sitting lakeside, I was elected president because I was the only one who came with a notebook to record attendance and make a list of possible members. Over the next few weeks, the organization grew to about 40 committed members, and the scope of work of that small organization grew. Among the projects it took on was an art and craft show that became an annual event. The Eureka Springs Guild of Artists and Craftspeople survived in our small local community until the late 1990's when it was disbanded so that we might turn our attention to the establishment of the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.

I'm not sure the reason for telling all that except from day one, in my participation in arts and crafts organizations there have been perceptions and mis-perceptions about the relationship between craft and art. What is one, and what is the other? Are there differences between the two? And does it matter? My personal inclinations are toward the beautiful and useful well-crafted object. It kills two birds with one stone, serving both as object of contemplation, and also of service (which is also a matter for contemplation). In order for an object to be useful, it it must actually work, and it must also have integrity that lasts over time, and for those reasons both skill and understanding are required. And for those reasons, I hold craft as the generally higher form of artistic expression. I guess I'm backward from most in that.

Lubber Sphere
In the Albany airport, second floor Concourse B, I found a large wooden sphere with iron rings, called Lubber, Red cedar, steel rings, 1994 by Dean Snyder.
"Lubber, a sphere of laminated cedar veneer punctuated with hand-wrought iron rings, sits as a sentinel to the concourse. Lubber's title refers to a person that is out of sync with his environment, commonly known in the nautical expression, 'land-lubber', a person not acclimated to seafaring."
As one who is always curious about how things are made, I got close and saw the marks left by the thousands of staples (all carefully removed) used to hold pieces together as the glue dried.

In a nearby exhibit were a few shaker items from the local Shaker village. Can you guess which left the more meaningful impression? One was designed to get attention, and the other to serve.

As is common in all my travels, I came home overstimulated with ideas about things I want to make. No huge wooden balls... OK?

On another matter, it seems that the old saying "we are what we eat,"  may be closely related to the various microbes we use to digest our food. Researchers are learning that what we have in our guts has profound effect on our processes of thought, and our feelings about life. "Gut Bacteria Might Guide the Workings of our Minds."

On our AEP/SWEPCO ordeal in which the power company wants to run a 345 kV power line through our beautiful hills, and whack away at our local beauty and tourist economy, the Administrative Law Judge has now decided she's heard enough argument to decide the case. Her ruling will be revealed to us in 90 days. That is a long time to keep our fingers crossed, but I have faith that we will prevail over the ugly power monster either in the Public Service Commission or in the Arkansas Court of Appeals. And AEP/SWEPCO should be ashamed of themselves for proposing such arrogant stupidity in the first place.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Darrell V.9:27 AM

    I suppose "Lubber" could inspire one to use hand wrought iron rings as handles on a large wooden box. Perhaps a medieval style chest? That would, at least, make it something more that just to look at.

  2. I would hope that the iron rings would at least be useful to pick the thing up and move it from place to place as one would be inclined to lift a wooden chest... or at the very least, the iron rings could have been used to lash the sphere on the deck of a ship or on the back of a semi (for land lubbers).

    The iron rings, alas, do not seem to be firmly attached, as one had gone missing. In the small Shaker exhibit, there was a hundred year old device for winding thread. It would still work and do something useful despite its delicate construction.

    Some things are for appearances. Some for real purpose. What more can I say?

  3. I hope the judge's ruling is the logical one based on law and common sense.