My long summer hiatus. Part 2

 As I was saying in my last post, I had the privilege of doing a lot of traveling this summer and not much else. I have finally returned to making art at this writing (you have to wait and see) with fresh ideas and inspiration.   I left you off mentioning my weekend visit to Houston where I managed to cover a lot of territroy in addition to the wedding I went there to attend. The most fun stop on my visit was "The Orange Show" an outsider art installation created with cement, junk tires, hand made whirligigs, iron picket fences and about anything else available. It was built single handedly from 1956 until its completion in 1979, by the late  Jefferson Davis McKissack , a Houston postal worker.   The outdoor  3,000 square foot environment is maze-like in design and includes an oasis, a wishing well, a pond, a stage, a museum, a gift shop, and several upper decks. It is constructed of concrete, brick, steel and found objects including gears, tiles, wagon wheels, mannequins, tractor seats and statuettes. Each piece of the Orange Show Monument was hand-placed and hand-painted by McKissack.  A short walk down the residential street takes you to the awesome Smither Park. Another folk art installation featuring mosaic and sculpture is also is part of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. Watch this short video on it's grass roots creation and learn about what "folk art" really means. 

As I was saying in my last post, I had the privilege of doing a lot of traveling this summer and not much else. I have finally returned to making art at this writing (you have to wait and see) with fresh ideas and inspiration. 

I left you off mentioning my weekend visit to Houston where I managed to cover a lot of territroy in addition to the wedding I went there to attend. The most fun stop on my visit was "The Orange Show" an outsider art installation created with cement, junk tires, hand made whirligigs, iron picket fences and about anything else available. It was built single handedly from 1956 until its completion in 1979, by the late Jefferson Davis McKissack, a Houston postal worker.

 The outdoor 3,000 square foot environmentis maze-like in design and includes an oasis, a wishing well, a pond, a stage, a museum, a gift shop, and several upper decks. It is constructed of concrete, brick, steel and found objects including gears, tiles, wagon wheels, mannequins, tractor seats and statuettes. Each piece of the Orange Show Monument was hand-placed and hand-painted by McKissack.

A short walk down the residential street takes you to the awesome Smither Park. Another folk art installation featuring mosaic and sculpture is also is part of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. Watch this short video on it's grass roots creation and learn about what "folk art" really means. 

smithers.jpg

I saw two more art shows in Houston, but I am going to save them for later posts. I want to get to Nicaraugua! At the end of August, we went back to Nicaragua for a second time. We first went in February and fell in love the the culture, the people, the volcanoes and beaches and all that Nicaragua has to offer. On that trip, our excursions were were centered around awesome experiences, like seeing the Christ of Mercy statue in San Juan del Sur and chocolate making at Mansion de Chocolate' in Granada. 

On this trip, I wanted to spend more time investigating the things that make me tick- pottery and painting. We stayed once again in Granada, my favorite city so far and found many art galleries tucked away in courtyards and side streets that were choc full of local art.

 One afternoon, we also made a trip to the town of San Juan de Oriente where the whole town consists of shop after shop and studio after studio of working artists creating pottery. The makers in San Juan de Oriente celebrate a tradition of pottery making that goes back to before the time of the Spaniards. Many of the studios are family affairs with even children being involved in the processes. Don't worry, these are not enslaved children, just families passing on traditional techniques from generation to generation. It's a beautiful thing.   

One afternoon, we also made a trip to the town of San Juan de Oriente where the whole town consists of shop after shop and studio after studio of working artists creating pottery. The makers in San Juan de Oriente celebrate a tradition of pottery making that goes back to before the time of the Spaniards. Many of the studios are family affairs with even children being involved in the processes. Don't worry, these are not enslaved children, just families passing on traditional techniques from generation to generation. It's a beautiful thing.

 

 While you will see much of the same type of work as you visit each shop and some of the same designs, there are some real standout artists creating pots of exquisite color and complex designs. Of course, like most potters, it is hard for them to get a really fair price for all of the work that goes into their pieces, so we tried to do our share in volume, having left with about $225 worht of pottery in a variety of pitchers, bowls, vases and tea lights. One of the most fun things for ma was that some of the potters invited me to see their kilns and where they dig up their own clay, process it by hand, and throw on kick wheels.

While you will see much of the same type of work as you visit each shop and some of the same designs, there are some real standout artists creating pots of exquisite color and complex designs. Of course, like most potters, it is hard for them to get a really fair price for all of the work that goes into their pieces, so we tried to do our share in volume, having left with about $225 worht of pottery in a variety of pitchers, bowls, vases and tea lights. One of the most fun things for ma was that some of the potters invited me to see their kilns and where they dig up their own clay, process it by hand, and throw on kick wheels.

I think you can see why I would be so attracted to Nicaraguan art and pottery with it's bright colors, down to earth forms and unpretensiousness. In style, subject and genre, it is very near to my own art and makes me feel that I am walking among kindred spirits when I see it. 

 

Have you been to any Latin American countries with a long tradition of pottery making or painting? Do you have a favorite piece that you bought while there or at another favorite destination? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section. I'd love to hear of your experiences!

Art, Travelkaren hahn