Living in an apartment in a city is a reasonably anonymous experience, but in a small rural town where short term rentals may be few, every time locals visit the shopping area they see how you live. Once I lived in a such a place as an undergrad in a small rural town a half& half basement from the street side and first floor from the back.
The main street was built on the side of hill, At street level my apartment would be in the basement, but go around 180 degrees and there was the back door entering into the kitchen. The “front door” was on the side with steps down to the living room. On top, the first floor enter the local bar from the street, a hangout for college students, they did not bother me much and it was owned by a local judge.
Somewhere in New England 1970
In Maine sometimes I would drive over to this house and wonder why such a big tree was so close to the house, there was no paved road to here, only a dirt road, and there was an old tractor and a couple pieces of trailer farm equipment busy rusting nearby.
Is there something to see of the previous people who lived here or is it a lonely house left with some secret memories of once being a home. Maybe it was rejected because the occupants could not make it a home.
Imagine how long it took to establish a common set of standards for building houses. Many gothic churches began construction with a defined, incised in stone, standard measurement for every worker on the site to use. They may have been different for different sites, though I would imagine professional builders would develop their own and any ex-employees or apprentices would likely learn, adopt and adapt them.
Western Massacheusetts, 1970, I liked the contrast of the textures of the living things to the building.
Houses—perhaps homes at one time—and the questions they raise, was it a house before it became a storage building? Is there any sign of happiness happening in this house? Maybe kids slept in the attic and kept a collection of little flip books and Edgar Rice Burroughs books so and when their cousin visited he could spend hours up there reading.
One day this house just appeared beside the road, it once had electricity, were there ever shutters on the first floor windows?
Imagine how many workers were displaced by standardization of building materials, workers who might’ve used a different measuring standard for every house. Maybe at the moment it put a lot of people out of work, but in the long run it made houses increasingly affordable for more people by reducing the labor needed to create materials, standardized the skills needed to build a house, and as society changed, resulted in lower prices for houses, more houses being built and more jobs for people building houses needing less skills than before.
One August afternoon on a country road in southern Vermont, the corn is high, When its ripe the farmers often have some on a roadside stand, if its a small stand it may have been an honor-pay practice. Corn picked, brought in that afternoon and eaten the same night is a country treat never available to city dwellers.
Japanese “Folk” Pottery
In the US there is this sense that somehow “folk art”often called craft, primitive art or “homemade,” is never to be “Art ” because it lacks an intellectual meaning component. “Great Art” is supposed to make a “statement” about the meaning of life, a statement which appeals to, or perhaps celebrates, the humans sense of “reason,” a sense beyond see, hear, smell, taste and feel and unlike our five biological senses with which we are naturally endowed, result from the additional effort of the individual—some appreciate Art more than others and we know who they are because they can express this extra sensory quality in Art. Its a little different in Japan. Craft is recognized ones as Art and the meaning of life is to be found in the doings of daily life
A guinomi is different than a choko a term also used to designate a small cup to drink sake. Guinomi means one gulp, a chokes usually smaller, more like what is used to drink sake at most Japanese restaurants in the US. There are cheap guinomi and expensive choko, but most guinomi are not cheap though not necessarily expensive and has its own individual presence while most choko are cheap and lack a presence, Generally when you drink sake with a guinomi made by a potter who has been true, you discover the meaning of the sake.
Ki-Seto guinomi (Yellow Seto), the basic glaze is yellow background with green and brown scorches,
Think of the unknown potters through history who figured out to form clay into a container, how to fire it and made the extra effort to decorate it—to make an everyday object fun and enjoyable to use. Its the using everyday that makes it have a meaning which “Art” in a museum can ever have —hell, you have to pay to see it and then you cannot even touch it, andsometimesyo have to stand-in line and then view with wit ha bunch of other people hanging around. Better to use it to eat and drink from and then wash it after and put it away to be used again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Hidasuki Bizen guinomi Pots are fired with wood ash “glaze” and while they feel unglazed they hold liquid. In the kiln the pots may be stacked and tied together with twine which burns leaving traces of the twine. Bizen is located on the main island in Okayama Prefecture between Kobe and Hiroshima on the Shinkansen.
Every culture has folk art and examples of GREAT DESIGN!!. Thee is no ”My culture has better design than yours.”
Folk art arises from the everyday experiences of small societies which share similar values and behavior and the art expresses the culture or “the common feeling of the people.” As societies grow they increasingly include more people from diverse backgrounds bringing behaviors which results in conflicts, and changes.
Aka Shino (Red Shino) guinomi. Often shino has a strong white glaze but red shino is also popular.
Bizen, Hagi, Mashiko, Shigaraki, and others are examples, and sometimes the word “Rokkoyo” which specifically refers to Echizen, Seto, Tokoname, Shigaraki, Tanba and Bizen Jomon pottery is considered one of the oldest pottery dating from 13,000 BCE.
e-Karatsu guinomi and Shigaraki tokkuri i. When pouring from a Shigaraki tokkuri or drinking fro m a shigaraki guinomi don’t be surprised to feel solid particles from the Earth embedded in the clay. Karatsu often has a wonderful experience of depth of transparency in the glaze, like a da Vince glazed painting.
Folk artists learn one way of doing something which works fine in a common society, but a diverse society has multiple standards and contemporary artists may find an audience in unique personal expressions where popular Ar is defined not so much by the unique individual achievement of the artist, but by its commonality to any lowest common denominator.
Kuro Oribe Chawan Kuro-Oribe. kuro or guro means black
Seto and Mino, cites in Japan near Nagoya, have a long history of kilns with some sharing of skills and techniques and some differences— Kilns in this area have been operating for centuries. Some may be referred to as Seto or Mino style which are often more personal expressions of the potter. I like the various other Seto/Mino styles which have a tradition and the potter’s personal creative expression includes the tradition—Shino, Oribe, Ki-Seto, and Seto-guro,
Often Oribe wants to challenge the pottery user in shape or in decoration, If nothing else—but there is much more— Oribe is fun to hold and use.
This is one place Japan pottery and Japanese folk art in general (and in my opinion also USA Pueblo pottery) is different than pottery traditions in other societies. There is a tradition in which potters find their personal expression within the tradition— When you see Oribe, or Shino or etc. you know is Oribe or Shino yet the great potters have also found creative and unique ways to express themselves personally. Japan has a cultural value for Folk Art which is lacking in the USA and in Japan this creates a common cultural bond, again lacking in the USA.
Thus Art, as Folk Art, in Japan is part of the common everyday experience contrasted to in the USA where the experience of Art is separated from the personal experience of most people —Look, don’t touch the Art please!—and often the property of an elite.
Seto Guro chawan. Guro means black, This is a large, heavy, demanding chawan needing both hands to hold it firmly
In western Art, the artist eclectically studies other artists as the basis to make Their Own Creation, separate from tradition, The Nakamura family makes Bizen, as do many others, but there is one lip to a guinomi which is Nakamura family and still its Bizen. Often in wester nart often the achievements of the“great clay artists” is referenced as non -functional pottery—a long way from the making of pots y used by people everyday sharing a common experience, and meaning, of using them.
Oribe tokkuri and Setoguro guinomi. Often Oribe has green and brown on a beige background, there may be an illustration from nature and a drip.
New Years with Shigaraki tokkuri, e-Karatsu guinmoi and small dishes.
There are days when the simple movement of the Earth traveling 67,000 mph through space fails to summarize my mind, that is when I like to walk along the Alameda Creek.
You could say its like I am spying on people, taking “secret pictures” of them. Look closely, my images are not about the people, but the line, color, shape, gesture, Well there are some that are about the people but in those its clear that I have their permission and they are posing.
What is it we do in our lives that makes living worthwhile? Walking along Alameda Creek.
For many the truth of a photograph is about about something that is real, a moment of insight into a person, but for me its just the color, shape, line, texture, how it gathers everything together to create a personal visual experience separate from the restriction of thinking—the mental differentiating and defining of the reality in the image to fit what we should think about what we saw and not enjoy the visual experience in and of itself.
Is there something about the movement of the shapes that give a feel to how things interact with other things—straight lines contrast to curved lines, dark contrasts to light.
Again you could say that its like I am spying on people, except these images are not about the people, I am not talking to them, I don’t care how they are, whether they are sick or feeling angst, are they lonely or happy, and you do not find yourself asking those kind of questions or making personal judgements about them. But I and you can experience the shape, the color, the gesture and the line without looking at a photograph and feeling obligated to even mentally ask “What is it?”
Who is spying on who? There is a little parking lot along Alameda Creek at the Beard Rd trail head, which has a toilet and regular delivery persons who work this area know this place, PG&E, Amazon, FedEx, mail carriers, its a common bathroom available for free.
Do I know who I am at any moment when I am being me? Domy photographs hold some kind of truth about who I am. or are they simply random 1/125 seconds of my life? Why did I make this image? Is a windshield one level of separation?
Sometimes its like being a Monday quarterback I should have seen this moment then and not now but after fifty years how many different time have I told myself t he same thing after seeing this or that photograph. Are my photographs memories of missed opportunities ?
My photographs can only hold truths about myself, maybe most of the time I am lying to myself in my photographs or should I have found more hope them anthem than I could. They are like Oracle Bones from the Shang dynasty waiting for a moment of divine inspiration.
What good are these images if I cannot divine some good fortune to come? Or cannot wonder and know what it is like to be sitting in front of a grocery store with my possessions asking others for money.
My father one early morning in Sparks about 2005, He passed in 2006, I see this image, it was one of the last I made of him, certainly the last using film. He was older than I am now—I’m 75—Mom and Dad retired in 1984, spending 20 years in Albuquerque and, for him two more years in Sparks. Maybe I never knew him well enough, maybe I do not know how to know somebody or anybody well enough. I remember these lines fromWoody’s song written to the tune of Irene Goodnight byHuddie Ledbetter:
My father hoped that I would be
A man of some renown.
ButI am just a refuge
As I go ramblin’ ’round, boys,
As I go ramblin’ ’round.
Ramblin’ ‘Round’ lyrics by Woody Guthrie
After his passing my mother lived in Reno at a retired facility, in 2008 sh had a stroke suffering memory loss and Expressive Aphasia and moved to a memory care facility near me, where I got to know her in another way. We used to go out, here we are at the shopping center. What use is photography if it is not fun?
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha, may it forever hide my shameless theft of Sengai.