Friday, July 23, 2010

July 23, Helena

July 23, Helena

Quotes of the day:
I miss the game - I miss it a lot.

In sports... you play from the time you're eight years old, and then you're done forever.

Pics: Montana Wheat Company Café (or at least, it’s parking lot as we whizzed by), part of the DeWeese backyard display, one of the last Voulkos plates (made in 2001 as part of the Bray 50th celebration, hanging on DeWeese back porch), a small Butterfield made of sticks and mud hanging in the DeWeese kitchen, two pics from John Buck’s studio, a masked horse, a small cast bronze Butterfield horse being admired by Richard Notkin and Ted Urban (the Urban’s own one of these!), two Butterfield metal horses back from Hawaii for refurbishing, three pics of Deborah’s raw material, more dead trees, an Akio Takamori (second) hanging outside at Bray, and a Voulkos from the early 90s at the Bray.

Today we get up early and head to the fitness center and THB cannot go more than 15 minutes. A lousy night’s sleep? 12 days in a row on the elliptical? Loss of will power? Not to worry, DB does her new every-other-day build up to a 5k and then we head off to the No Sweat Café to see if the pancakes are as good as we remember.
At least we remember to order the half-moon, this version only fills a very large salad plate. With yogurt, they are the equal of our memories. We see someone has ordered the full moon, which fills a very large standard plate, so the memories held up there too. Two half-moons, side of rich plain yogurt, one decaf, $12.

Back in plenty of time, even at the No Sweat pace, and on to the bus for 9am departure. We are heading to Bozeman and several more artist studio visits, two hours away. Today our tour guide is Richard Notkin, one of the artists we visited yesterday. He adds quite a bit to our knowledge of the area and how he came to reside here. He also gives more amplification on the pine bark beetle devastation: apparently the temps have to fall to 40 degrees BELOW for several days/weeks before the larva are killed. That’s not happening any more, and for every tree infected, four more are hit the next time around. He and his wife are spraying the trees (only works if you spray the trunks, so aerial spraying won’t work) and that’s helping keep the trees on their 20 acres healthy. They did lose some trees before they started the spraying.

And, karma bank has worked again. A box of cookies has been put on the bus! The Bray director had them delivered this morning. As we figure out, they are from the bakery that cancelled us yesterday. And, it turns out they are yesterday’s cookies, snickerdoodles left (the only kind still around) from the afternoon. And, they are fine, the extra day has not hurt them in the least!

The drive is spectacular. We pass by the Montana Wheat Company café, another spot we ate at 7 years ago (see pic). Large vistas, snowcapped mountain peaks, lush green fields, vast skies. We arrive at the house/studio of ceramicists Josh DeWeese and Rosie Wynkoop. The house/studio is made out of lumber rescued from a derelict barn from the Bray!

Josh’s family have been involved in Montana and the arts for many years, and on their front porch is a collection of Voulkos work from before he started his slab vessels (and changed ceramics forever) and pieces by Rudy Autio, who was one of the original directors with Voulkos. Inside the studio, we see work by Josh and Rosie, a few paintings done by Josh’s parents, and a couple of pieces by a young artist named Caleb Taylor that I like a lot.

Box lunches: excellent fresh mozzarella and tomato on foccacia sandwich, pasta salad, apple, apple, cookie (not sure if from Park Ave Bakery), limonata. We eat at tables set up outside the house/studio, and once again I am struck by how wonderful the air is, how there are no bugs, and how pleasant an environment we’ve found here.

Josh then joins our group for the afternoon visit to John Buck and Deborah Butterfield. These two are well-established sculpture artists. Deborah is famous for horses, and she comes by it honestly: we are on a horse ranch (see pic of masked horse, one of nine of hers and she also boards horses). Note: we are on 500 acres of property, and the studios are no longer attached to the house. We never see the house! Deborah’s studio is attached to a very large barn (with a riding ring, complete with lots of huge mirrors on the walls to allow the riders to watch themselves during dressage practice).

First we tour John’s studio. This is not quite a studio as we have come to know them; this studio is actually four large studios in one very large structure, with what must be 15 big pieces of woodworking equipment (multiple band saws), lots of components that John uses to build his sculptures, and several woodblocks being prepared for prints. These are very big pieces, 5x3 feet. He has a couple of black on white rubbings hanging which are fascinating, this is his pre-step verification before he sends the blocks off to a local printer.

We then relocate to another building where John and Josh work together pulling out framed artist proofs of his woodcuts, some even bigger than 5x3. This work is very powerful and makes for an interesting extension of his sculptures, which we have seen before while not knowing about these prints.

Then Deborah takes over, we tour the barn, then see the “backyard” where she stores sorted piles of steel, see the pics. She starts by just dumping one of the bins out and arranging pieces flat, and the moving to her also large studio and assembling. She clearly has merged life and art in a major way (and been rewarded in the marketplace for her intensity.

Two hours back to the hotel, hearing several amusing anecdotes from Richard. Rest up and then out to the Bray for a pizza and beerfest. Pizza is made in a wood burning stove that was rescued about 20 years ago for $10. It has more than paid off, and the pizza (all different, one coming out every 5 minutes or so, is excellent!

Tonight is another clear and warm evening. It’s tough, we are somehow surmounting this challenging environment.

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