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

Conversations at the Log #1

Occasionally, I'm going to post conversations had at the Red Lodge Clay Center Studios and Gallery. We'll see if they evolve into anything interesting. For the past seven years, feeling quite removed from the ceramic community I wondered what sort of conversations folks in the thick of the community would be talking about. So far, it has been really interesting, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity of insight. Sometimes destiny/fate/luck/whatever puts people on a faster trajectory and it doesn't necessarily mean their is a difference in quality between someone on the fast-track and someone on the slow-road. I carry a tape recorder around with me, because I find myself in the middle of conversations with the residents on occasion where little nuggets of humor, irony or unique perspectives are floating by the fireflies in the night. When these organic conversations happen, I keep thinking, "I should be writing this down!" As best I can, I'm going to leave things anonymous to help focus on the content and reduce any potential embarrassment. They do know I have the tape recorder with me and I don't try to hide it when I start recorder, although it tends to quickly fall into the background.

We'll start off with a light-hearted conversations had over an impromptu evening potluck at the studios this fall. We were contemplating the validity of a "Conversations at the Log" project as well as the validity of art industry publications. Oh, I should mention the phrase "...at the Log" is a nod to one of the earlier Artist-Invite-Artists groups. Brad Schweiger, Von VenHuizen, Nicholas Bivins, Tom Bartel, maybe Ben Ahlvers (?) were here making, laughing, drinking, hiking (or so the stories go) and they had such a great time they made a t-shirt and dropped the "d" and "e" to a smaller point size and imposed an image of a log, so the shirt reads RED LOdGe. You'll have to get a more accurate story from one of the menfolk, but I would hate to not give credit where it is due.

At any rate, here is the beginning of the recordings:

Maybe there’s just not enough to talk about, y’know what I mean? …to warrant that sort of discussion

Would it be all work, across the board?

Yeah, and I mean it may not just be ceramic work; maybe there’s…I don’t know…

Well there has to be a focus doesn’t there?

Yeah, but I mean you could have the focus be just artwork or something. Because I think maybe it could just be ceramics but it would be good to have designers and industry right in there, Have a forum where everyone from all different parts of

Engineers too?

Yeah-everyone-like the people who make toilets up at the Kohler Factory y’know. Whoever wants to write in about the ceramic industry, they could write in, because I never hear what anyone has to say besides a potter. Coming here, I’ve heard more, but usually it’s just from the people you hang out with. And I don’t have any engineer friends, I never hear anything from people who work in ceramic industry.

What would you want to know?

I don’t want to know “how to” stuff, I want to know their perspectives of the ceramic industry, whether it’s their particular niche their in or how they see generally the whole industry or y’know whatever they have to say. But I don’t want them to say, “Well we mix our clay this way and fire it that way.” To me, it’s just—you can look all that stuff up; it’s just not that interesting.

I wonder if ARTNews is really doing that and we are unaware because . we don’t know that community. ARTNews focuses on a certain crowd, a segment of the population…

ARTNews is just self-Promo

Which is what the complaint is about Ceramics Monthly, so…

Everyone in Ceramics Monthly are already friends

My complaint is that I’m not friends with them

Much laughter

Well, eventually all the others will die and then you’ll be at the top


You’ll be old and talking about the days back in Red Lodge when you were just a resident

Yeah, I’ll talk about the sculptures placed outside my window and how I never recovered.

Then everyone proceeded to name what they thought other folks would be in 20 years, focusing on idiosyncrasies and stereotypes observed in the few months they’ve been together.