The Blog

Portraits and ponderings from the writing desk of Jill Foote-Hutton.

New Haven Historic Arts District Fire Festival

Well it seems like you can't throw a stick anymore without hitting an Art Fair on a nice weekend and New Haven is getting in on the action for the second year in a row. The bad news was, since the rain finally ceased, the sun has come out with unparalleled fierceness and the heat is buoyed by the recent rains creating a need for everyone to have personal dehumidifiers working to process life-supporting oxygen. The good news was, Fire Festival is more than appropriate as a title on such a day. There was a Raku Firing in the street by Alan Bell of Front Street Artisans. Gary Rice and company of Astral Glass wowed the public with their mobile glory hole and cane pulling. The Blacksmith Association of Missouri conducted a workshop over the weekend. Festival goers could see much banging and clanging of hot metal throughout the day. Pat McCarty or Dr. Iron is seen here. Katie Kantley shared her internationally known silk fibers and had a hands-on dying process for kids in front of the shop. Along the levy, encampments were set up with reenactors demonstrating techniques of yesteryear, sharing folklore, and selling handcrafted wares. For those who didn't get enough fiery goodness from the Front Street demos and the blacksmiths, a canon was shot off at regular intervals throughout the day presenting the use of FIRE as a verb for attendees. Around the corner, behind the Riverfront Cultural Society was a chuck wagon, cooking up deliciousness from a cadre of dutch ovens. I can testify to the difficulty involved in avoiding wheat products when there are homemade yeast rolls on the table. They looked so good! As did the cobblers and crumbles, but the beans were a tasty treat after a long day. It was impressive to see how many people can be fed off the back of a wagon. As for JFH Studios part, lo-fire electric kilns are not the sexiest demonstration of fire, so I demonstrated the creation of my wee monsters from the fiery hell which resides inside my twisted imagination. The monsters are fun to make and kids like to have input on how the faces are going to turn out, especially if they got to eat some homemade ice cream from New Haven's new restaurant "Somebody's", which will be open in July. Followed up with a new facial or arm tattoo by "Trading Faces" out of KC, MO. Let's just say there were many happy kids at out end of the street. Michael kept the studio open and toured people through the work of Jonathan Barnes (see earlier post), as well as my other wares.

It is important that this small town has a population of individuals who believe in the arts and who want to bring active craft to life in Franklin County. Building a critical mass is an uphill battle and somedays it seems very frustrating and lonely here. There are individuals in the area who are really focused on quality and a global audience: Katie Kantley (New Haven, MO), Michael Bauermeister & Gloria Attoun (Augusta , MO), Cole Scego (Owensville, MO), Sam Stang (Augusta, MO). But why, with all of this potential energy does it still feel disjointed? Why does it not feel like a community of vision? If anyone out there has insight, I am happy to listen because right now the road is feeling a might too vertical. I'm not sure how to reach out into this community anymore, or how to pull my head out of the job at East Central College. The studio and this blog have been an attempt to create a culture, but it's not quite working like I had hoped. I think I might be asking how to make friends. Is it possible I have forgotten how? BUT, this is too maudlin an ending for a post about FIRE FESTIVALS. On Saturday, June 20, it was a fun day. Fun to share and fun to see, maybe the rest will continue to work itself out.