Monday, September 03, 2007

The well is full again...

Good heavens! It's been a while but I'm back (believe it or not by popular demand!)

I do need to backtrack a little, because I have been sorely remiss in not writing about the fantastic art workshop I took a couple of months ago.

This particular workshop took place on the bucolic campus of a private high school in a little town north of us called Sewanee. Like many towns down here, Sewanee boasts a single main street which it shares with Monteagle. Unlike many small towns down here, Sewanee also boasts a beautiful college campus and thriving art community. It's through this art community that these week or two-week long workshops can happen.

For us participants, it's a little bit of heaven on earth, not only because of the beautiful setting, the clean swimming pond and the gourmet meals 3 + times a day, but also because it's a sleepover camp. Yes, you moms and dads out there, this is sleepover camp for grown-up artists for a whole week or two every summer.

The course series is called Shakerag Workshops and the one I attended was taught, or more like coached, by a very charming and talented artist named Andy Saftel. Here's a link to see some of his work, (for some reason his own site isn't working right now)

Shakerag, according to local tradition, comes from the era of moonshine. An enterprising individual with lots of corn on hand would set up a still hidden in a valley somewhere. Anyone wishing to purchase the result of the heavily altered corn would come to a certain stump, raise a stick with a rag attached and wave it around. They would then leave some money under a rock and leave. The still owner would then leave a bottle of his or her best product on the stump for the buyer to collect later.

I can't say I saw any moonshiners in the area, but since there was a fully stocked wet bar in the teachers lounge I guess we didn't need them. I'll bet the school year teachers wished they had this service though.

So what have we got? A beautiful location? check. An excellent instructor? Check. Good food and drink? Check. All the art supplies and subject matter we could think of? Check. Now what's missing? Company!

Probably the best part of the whole workshop was the company we kept. The course I took seemed to attract the rowdiest, most humorous, energetic, talented and warm people around; the cream of the crop in my book. And if that weren't enough, I lucked out and got a terrific roommate, Jenny. This woman not only made sure she didn't wear her cat to camp so I wouldn't die, but had the same taste in comfort and libation as myself.

This proved very comforting when the temperature went haywire in our room and we had to go into survival mode. First the air conditioning wouldn't go off, resulting in a room temp of about 45 degrees for a couple of days. Then it was 'adjusted' and the heat went on, resulting in a day or two of blasting hot wind. (we did finally get it sorted and had a good night sleep the last night). At first no one believed us and everyone kept saying, "Did you open the window?' Uh, yeah, we opened it alright, then we went hunting for the climate unit with a hammer.

I have to say that having Jen as a roommate and partner in crime really added a whole other dimension to this grown-up sleep away camp. We had someone to watch our back and make sure we never ran out of candy, wine or art supplies.

Hey Jen! I promise I'll send the perfume and the disk asap!

Our group was the Pecos Bill of the groups at the camp. We could paint longer (sometimes up to 16 hours in a day), yell louder, drink more, dance better (the Hustle at 2:00 AM), sing in tune and wield a saw better than any other. This was a tough group, some of whom had taught art in public schools in Tennessee, which basically meant they give you a cart, say "fill it" with your own supplies, don't give you a budget and then make you push the cart from room to room trying to do a decent art class. (Thank you "No Child Left Behind...").

I was in awe, having never hung out in a group of actual artist, who do art, a lot, almost everyday, as work! Whoa...who knew? Class supplies included table saws, chain saws, chain links, mud, dirt, dead animals (like this one), loud music, poetry and a flask in every other pocket. I was dragged kicking and screaming away from my usual tiny pictures, delicately done in brush painting style, to making huge pictures on heavy paper mounted on a 5' x 5' piece of plywood, and then sent home with the plywood to do more. (I didn't mention that the class was Mixed Media did I?) Our battle cry was "Where's the Epoxy! Full speed ahead!" and "Hey! where's the dead bat? Did anyone see the dead bat?"

Lest we forget, these are also insanely talented artists who created some pretty outstanding works in the very short time we were at the workshop. I've put a link to the photos in flickr here. There are works from our multimedia as well as some of the other courses; bamboo works, several different textile projects and porcelains.

And finally, when all the other classes were tucked in their beds, dreaming of fine silk and porcelain and bamboo, we were cranking the tunes, feasting on treats brought in by the staff and dancing to the best of the 70's.

Oh, and the Door-Knob dancing, let's not forget the Door-knob dancing.


Jennifer said...

Oh, my God...I knew that moment would come back to haunt me...

christa said...

Oh, the memories. I miss you all. Can't wait 'til our next opportunity to boogie and make art for days at a time.


Whodat said...

So, where've you been, Miss? Blog eh vu?