Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer creativity and community service

See you at the Empty Bowls Booth at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival

It's summer time and I'm done with teaching till August. It's time to change my direction for a few months. I plan to do many things this summer but on the top of my list are three things to do with creativity and community; increasing my clay studio time and darkroom time (yes - I mean as in film photography darkroom), donating to and working at the Empty Bowls Booth at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, which benefits the Oregon Food Bank; and lastly to take a digital sabbath (as it's referred to by a friend).

It's kind of funny to think of a digital sabbath as I am sitting here blogging, when my intention is to not use this very thing. I think that most of us get so involved in our relationship with the internet that we forget to take a break from it and have life without it for an evening, a day, or even a week. The internet helps in many ways, but for so many it also has become a time consumer. Time that used to be used in other ways, like taking a walk... alone, without the phone or emails, or time to just sit, and day dream, or in my case- work in the studio uninterrupted, is spent on the computer or other technologies. I had my first digital sabbath last week, four days of no technology. It was hard to come back.

As for community and the Empty Bowls, read on: Oregon Potters Association coordinates an annual fund-raiser at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival to benefit Oregon Food Bank. OPA collects hundreds of pottery donations of all types, sizes and shapes throughout the year.OPA members then sell the donated pottery—often at bargain prices—at the Empty Bowls booth, near the main gate, at the Waterfront Blues Festival.

I am looking forward to helping raise money for the Oregon Food Bank, greet the many people that come back year after year to buy our bowls and to have a great time with my fellow potters - all while listening to some of the best blues in the country. I'll be at the Empty Bowls Booth on Saturday eve! Hope to greet some of you!

This years event is July 1st – 4th at Portland’s Waterfront Park.

I have come to the studio and the darkroom issue. With the weather being just the way I like it, it's going to be hard to be disciplined to stay indoors. I have so many ideas and sketches from the past two months of not working in clay and about 10 rolls of film to develop. I start tomorrow - my summer job - wedging clay, forming armature, rolling slabs, and sketching. I look forward to the feel, the smell, and the sound of the work.

As for working in the darkroom, I think that will have to wait for one of our famous summer rainy days.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fundraising Event Tonight to benefit Japan @ MoCC

It's Juneuary in Portland, again.

So we're heating it up with a party!Come celebrate your craftivism! Join us next Friday, June 10 for an Etsy Global Craft Party! We've teamed up with Quilts for Quake Survivors and Mercy Corps' Japan Relief Fund to help out some folks in need, while we craft up some fun.

During the day, visit the Museum of Contemporary Craft during regular business hours, 11 am - 6 pm. Stop by the "Lab" to lend your hand to the Quilts for Quake Survivors quilting bee, courtesy of Susan Beal (author of Modern Log Cabin Quilting), and Modern Domestic. We'll also have a host of craft activities scheduled throughout the day.Then at 6:00 pm, the museum doors close and we transform the space into our crafty party land. We've lined up a DJ, food, beer, wine and a bunch of give-aways to keep the party rolling. It's a sliding scale "ticket" ($5-$25) so give what you can. All proceeds go directly to Mercy Corps' Japan Relief Fund.

We hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A word from NCECA

Dear NCECA Members -

It's the night before our May Board meeting and I thought I'd share some thoughts with you as the team is about to go forward with budgeting, and programming for Seattle, etc. (These are my favorite meetings because we get to talk directly about ceramic art and work to craft the best program we can from the submissions we have received from our members.)

I haven't written you since before the Florida conference. Like all conferences there were strengths and struggles. What I heard about the exhibitions was generally very good although I also heard they were spread out too far. (Each city has its own unique challenges.) I heard good things about programming, but it was a bit of a walk between the hotels and the convention center. We will break down our survey results regarding the conference during the May meeting.

There was some talk of the attendance being down for the 2011 conference. This was certainly the case. Although I had thought that Florida would be a conference destination that would draw many attendees due to its East Coast location and sunny climes at the end of what has been for many a long, hard winter. These predictions did not pan out and our registration numbers were down significantly. While this made the feel of the conference a bit more intimate to my mind, a lot of people missed seeing many of their friends who have regularly attended the conference.

There are other ramifications of having low conference registration numbers, not the least of which is budgetary. This is your organization and I want to reassure you that we are healthy regarding our fiscal status. We estimated pretty wrong on our conference revenue numbers. Although the cost of participating in NCECA's conference is a great value compared with those produced by other similar organizations, the cost of travel, lodging and food make the decision to attend the conference a difficult one in challenging times. This Board is acutely aware that the earned revenues derived from this annual event represent our major income for the year. When our numbers are down the organization can suffer, but this year we also managed to control spending in a few areas and we have also done very well with our investments. The Board and staff's fiscal discipline combined with the good fortune of the market have effectively enabled us to end the year with a balanced the budget. We ultimately strive to respond to membership interests and provide the best programming possible as this would enable us to achieve our budgetary goals through high levels of conference attendance. The reason is that this guiding principal best meets our educational mission to have our clay people experiencing our clay programming.) [We'll project more conservatively for next year.]

Finally, I am happy to report that we will be budgeting in direct response to our new Strategic Plan. Often budgeting simply echoes how money has been spent in the past, and certainly our traditions and historic patterns will continue to influence our budget, but with a Strategic Plan in hand we can really choose to put our money where our values are.

Enjoying my work on NCECA's behalf,
Keith J. Williams