Friday, December 14, 2018

Studio Visit for the Win! Sunday Zen

Update: This is from a few days ago. You have one more chance to visit Laurie Eisenhardt's studio in Royal Oak, tomorrow, on Saturday the 15th.

Beautiful Sunday morning, sun-filled and cold. Yesterday was my last craft/art show of the year and tonight we light the menorah next to a decked out Christmas tree. This week I may manage to send a couple cookie boxes out, for the first time in a few years -- and in a couple weeks, we'll travel to Pennsylvania to be with my side of the family. Aside from down-trodding run-of-the-mill illness, the year seems to be wrapping up nicely!

This morning I paid a magical visit to Laurie Eisenhardt's ceramics studio. I seriously second-guessed myself about going: a long drive, I felt crummy, tired from yesterday's show, and I already had presents mostly squared away, so what did I think I was doing? Basking, as it turned out. A sign on the front door guided visitors to follow the hay path around the side of the house, up to the studio. The first thing you see are her tiles climbing the walls around the painted studio door, in iridescent tendrils.

Inside, music played, wall-vase heads sprouted leaves and berries.  A short table stuffed into one corner offered up ripe strawberries, glazed chocolate cookies. The studio's bounty of inventory was clear evidence of an established, highly functioning studio -- though it appeared neater, more spare than it had any business being. All chaos doubtlessly laying in wait behind the sheets lining the small, light-filled rooms. But visible, tiles everywhere: girls with tree crowns, leaping cheshires, grazing stags, miraculously scaled fish, shallow women-bowls with vegetables dancing in their skirts. Night skies with fortunes, sleeping moons, and star-babies. Lively and quiet; playful & mysterious. I was sucked in by the delight in her artwork.

Over the past few months, I have repeatedly come back to how joy resides in tools, through the promise of their -- and thus, our -- potential. And it's why old-school hardware stores and boutiquey kitchen stores leave me with the same happy glow: Ohhh, the things I could do! Even, it seems, when my fix-it levels are vastly overrated. Somehow it never occurred to me to view art purchases in the same way. Not *exactly* the same -- years of drinking coffee from gorgeous mugs have not morphed into spontaneous skill at the potter's wheel -- but in a broader sense, in surrounding yourself with loved art, you are supporting potential realized. You have signed on for someone else's creative journey. If you are a repeat customer, you are watching how their work evolves; you connect with some pieces more than others, some paths they explore, you gaze at from the roadside; but others feel familiar, or tantalizing, and in you jump.

When I was looking at Laurie's work and deliberating, I felt the uplift of consumerism, potentially acquiring art I liked, which also feels guilty and frivolous -- but why exactly should it be so?* But I also knew that whatever I brought home to have on my walls, would boost me whenever I took the time to appreciate it anew. Both for the inherent joy in the work itself, and in the knowledge that this tile began as potential, to which the artist committed herself. Our artwork isn't similar. Our skills and talents are different. But on that broadest making level, what a nourishing thing to have beautiful work around you that is physical proof of others committing to their vision and bringing that vision home.

*I mean, aside from the obvious indication of level(s) of privilege and ease.