Thursday, May 28, 2015

community and craftsmanship...

Last night I attended the screening of "Eureka the Art of Being" at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, and participated in a panel discussion about the arts, and about my home town of Eureka Springs. The movie is a good one and destined for showing on our Arkansas Public Television Network. My own part in it is to explain as best I can, the relationship between craftsmanship and community, and what it takes to build strong communities. There's a whole lot of egotism that must be pushed aside to make things work.

I was reminded last night of an old friend, Hal Mallett, who was a Presbyterian minister, and painter. Years ago (1978), he took over for me as President of the Eureka Springs Guild of Artists and Craftspeople when I wearied of the position after launching the organization in 1977. Hal's daughter Sarah came up to me after the panel discussion and thanked me for using words in my comments that reminded her of her dad. What I had said would have been something he would have enjoyed had he still been with us. And so, life is an unfolding. We are never alone, even though we think we are, and we are interconnected with each other in ways we will never fully understand, both in the present and from the past.

Today I ship works to the Historic Arkansas Museum for an exhibit of works by the designated "Arkansas Living Treasures." In addition, I'll finish my school conference reports and spend just a bit of time on the lathe turning a box or two from maple and walnut.

The story I told last night concerned my old friend Virginia Carey. She had been a child from a wealthy family in Savanna, and had homesteaded with her first husband on 40 acres of land near the Buffalo River in Gilbert, Arkansas in the 1940s. She began missing some of the fine things that she had brought with her, and asked a neighbor about it. The neighbor explained that "when you move here, everything you bring is ours, and everything that you earn when you are here is yours." My first impulse at hearing the story was shock. It sounded like a rationale for theft. But as I explained last night, I learned upon deeper reflection that what the neighbor was so bluntly explaining, was the key to full participation in their community, or any community for that matter. It doesn't work for you if you hold back. To be woven into the "fabric" of community takes a form of surrender to it. In some cases that might mean giving up those symbols that separate us from others.

As I explained in last night's film, I call myself a woodworker, not an artist. The word artist itself, implies pretense, whereas the word woodworker, does not, though I was careful not to state that in such a blunt manner.

Make, fix, and create...

No comments:

Post a Comment