• June 11th 2012

    Photo by David Glasofer / Image Up

    Several weeks ago I received a flurry of frantic e-mails from Abby Brooks—the daughter of Amy, my partner in the Metuchen Artisans Alliance—asking me to become the subject of her 5th grade “Interview an Artist” assignment.  Her first choice had “stood her up”, and her mom suggested, “maybe Linda could do this on short notice.”  Abby, with 12-year old directness and the organized clarity she undoubtedly inherited from her mom, sent me a pretty comprehensive set of questions:  clearly, this girl wanted lots of answers!

    In addition to questions about more personal things: family, background, education, etc…she wanted to know what I considered my “greatest artistic accomplishment”.  Hmmmm.  There’s one that would take some considering…and while I’ve done “this” and “that”, to name any one of them a “greatest achievement” seemed more than a bit much.

    Then, I thought of the Junebug.

    Now, one tenant I do hold about art-making is that in the creation of any notable work of art, the artist taps into something deep and primal and through skill and openness midwifes the creation into being.  And that, I believe, was very much the case with Metuchen’s ArtFest.  And what sets it apart from nearly every other piece of art I have “helped” to create is the level of collaboration, the amount of creative energy, the number of people in so many art forms who are actively engaged in this “work of art”, from planning to presenting to assisting.  It is a work that touches hearts, touches emotions, generates palpable electricity and calls the hundreds, maybe thousands involved over the entire month, not only to interact with those for whom their art is their profession and livelihood, but to touch their own creative center.

    Yes, I do rate Junebug as definitely “achievement-worthy”, but only when viewed as collaboration…for while there is always room for the solitary and brilliant artist laboring alone in her studio, I believe today more than ever, we need an artistic vision that includes a collaborative process.  One that invites others into the making process, one that helps everyone recognize their own spirit of creativity.

    Questions make us think.  Abby wanted answers.

    I’m really glad I got to be the one to whom she asked the questions….Hope you got a good grade, Abby!

     

  • April 14th 2012

    This April marks ten years that the fountain with three little birds dancing in the water have reappeared in front of the ceramic Earthsongs sign.  Every October, the fountain is put away for the winter; only the stones remain, and the area takes on winter quiet.  But come April, amid the tulips and daffodils, the columbine and periwinkle, the area regains its lively spirit…those little birds reappear.  And they have a story…

    The sign and the fountain were initially installed in August, 2001.  My initial plan was to have a small flat ceramic slab over which the water gently bubbled.  Nothing more: very unassuming, very unobtrusive., something that would surprise people only if they looked.  Nino, of course, made my plan actually work:  installed the electricity, designed the hidden water container, found just the right kind of screening to support the ceramic slab, secured the proper flexible piping.

    And when all was done, nobody ever noticed because it was just too modest!

    The next year, he set it up so that the water shot up higher…more noticeable, but not very elegant.

    Friday, September 24, 2001, I had scheduled a “Meet the Artist” at What’s the Scoop, the new ice cream parlor that just opened the previous summer and allowed me to exhibit my work.  Out of the events earlier that month, I decided to include an opportunity for all who visited to engage in clay therapy…fashioning their personal  response to 9-11 with clay.  Mike Patterson, the owner, further agreed to have the “Fountain of Peace” into which I formed all of those responses in the front of the store.  I added a clay base to hold water, and three birds of peace as a cap.  It gurgled there as a reminder and a sign of hope for an entire year.

    When I finally dismantled it, not wanting to destroy any of the parts, they were stored in our garage.  During the Spring clean-out the following year, I non-chalantly placed the birds on my clay slab fountain…SATORI!   The birds completed it.   They were what was needed all along.  They were the perfect addition.

    Now, with the water playing over them, the birds continue to bring a spirit of tranquility to a very busy street in a very busy area.  Children in strollers beg to visit ‘the little birds’…and older children confide how they “loved to see those birds anytime they drove or walked by since they were little”.

    Art creates community.  We share images.  They shape us.  And three hopeful little ceramic birds continue to be a source of bonding for those in Metuchen, NJ.