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The Southwest

Home for the Holidays

By | About Me, Blog, Inspiration, Love, Taos, The Southwest | No Comments

There’s no place like home for the holidays…  Ned and I grew up only 45 minutes away from each other in southeast Pennsylvania, and had to move all the way to Taos, New Mexico to meet each other!  Of course that’s how it would work, right?  And now we’re planning our trip home to see the families and spend the holidays.  Even with 10 days out east logistics already are challenging trying to be everywhere and see everyone.  Taos has also just gotten some great snow and another storm is on it’s way in as we speak… the clouds have settled over the mountain and the air has turned sharp with chill.

So even before we navigate the adventure of multiple family gatherings and get togethers with friends we’re going to try to strap on the boards as much as possible and get in some quality runs on the hill before we leave!  Ned swears we’ll make it up there Saturday morning before we catch our flight out of Albuquerque later that day!  Enjoy the snow dear Taos friends! Ski some extra runs for us while we’re gone!

Looking forward to seeing all our east coast family and wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season!

Just a little about me

By | A Little About Me, About Me, Blog, Making, Taos, The Southwest | No Comments

So I’m trying to put together a wedding website and it’s asking me to write a little about me, my partner, how we met, and how he proposed.   I am not really sure what to say, but when people ask me questions I tend to have a stock answer for them.

I waited tables for many years and with just a short amount of time to provide a satisfying answer here were my responses to the following questions…

Where are you from?

“I’m originally from Reading, Pennsylvania, you know, outlets, pretzels, and the railroad on the Monopoly board.”  If my audience seems receptive I sometimes add… “Lots of people think it’s pronounced Reeding, but they obviously can’t Red.”  Terrible joke I know but every now and again my crowd takes pity on me with a laugh.

How did you get to Taos?

“After graduating from Penn State with an art degree, I had no idea what I was going to do with it.  I traveled cross country for 2 months checking out grad schools, residencies, and working artists.  I met a woman from England at one of the hostels and she hoped to get to Taos.  Never having made it herself, I promised I would stop there in my travels… I just passed through but came back to be here for two months.  10 years later… ”  I’m pretty settled into my studio, little casita, and fantastic community of friends and peers.  It’s a struggle, but I love it here!

What do you do?

“I’m a ceramic artist, but a little ADD in the studio.  I also oil and watercolor paint, sew stuffed animals and the hems of my pants, screen print, batik, not to mention pottery and sculpture.”

Are you married?

My answer for this question has changed over time, and now I can say that “I am engaged to marry my dearest love and friend.  You might know him, Ned?  He’s a poet and the english teacher at one of the charter high schools here.”

I am working towards building a small business as an independent artist through the clay cowgirls, a novel and fun way to immortalize various specific and general ideas of women that I know and admire.  I have the most amazing mother, sister, and girlfriends and am lucky to have their example to inspire these sculptures!

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The November Lull

By | Blog, Gallery, Making, Sales, Taos, The Southwest | No Comments

The cold weather has been setting in, gardens have been put to bed as night temperatures reach below freezing, and clouds tease us with dustings of snow anticipating the upcoming ski season.  Excitement over Taos Ski Valley‘s new lift up to Kachina Peak peppers conversations with hopes of a snowy winter, but until our Thanksgiving opening day the month of November haunts this sleepy town with significantly less visitor traffic, the life blood of our economy.

Kachina Peak looms in the ski area just outside of Taos, NM.

Kachina Peak looms in the ski area just outside of Taos, NM.

I arrived in Taos 10 years ago in November desperately seeking work and being regularly turned away during that near screeching halt in business I have come to know all too well as that November lull.  It happens every year, and I still find myself surprised at how quiet it gets, never quite saving up enough to feel safe in that transition into the chaos of the holidays.

Now is the time to build inventory, prepare for a holiday sale, and brace ourselves for the onslaught of incoming travelers, skiers, and friends coming in from out of town.  I’ve been sitting the Rottenstone Pottery for the past three days, and thank goodness for a weekend shift, or I would have made almost no sales in this time.  At least I’ve been making pots and even sold a couple of my own in the meantime!

Looking forward to a great season of skiing and sculpting!

Signs and Lights and Balloons Oh My!

By | Adventure, Blog, Business, Cowgirls, Gallery, Inspiration, Marketing, Sales, Studio, The Southwest | No Comments

Time flies when you’re trying to do a lot of stuff!

After 4 months of song and dance, paperwork and payments, business licensing and relicensing, our signs are finally up and legit just in time for the busy season to come to a slow creeping crawl!

IMG_7173Of course things have not quite fizzled out yet!  Since I last wrote I made a trip to Utah, to visit my one out of neighborhood gallery.  Maran of Gallery Mar in Park City is such a lovely woman and so enthusiastic about my work, I could not have been luckier in finding my first gallery representation outside of friendships in Taos!  I wish I had taken a picture with her, but alas, all i did was get some silly photos of me with  my work in her gallery.  I was also able to drop off a new sculpture for her space and sell one to a dear friend who lives out there as well.Gallery Mar Girls

We got back just in time for the Taos Fall Arts Festival and entered a couple of cowgirls into the Taos Open.  The 10 day event was kicked off with Thursday night music on the Plaza and a Friday night massive art on the streets event called the PASEO bringing in projection, sound, performance, robotics, and installation artists from all over the world to grace our small town with the latest in technological and interpretive pieces.

PASEO, interactive moving layered light, a piece by Filipa Valente, Portuguese architect/interactive artist based in LA

PASEO, interactive moving layered light, a piece by Filipa Valente, Portuguese architect/interactive artist based in LA

Things did not stop there with a week full of poetry readings, gallery openings, and music!

I accomplished two big firsts recently, The Taos Fall Arts Festival, and just this past weekend, we made a trip to Albuquerque for my very first Balloon Fiesta!  While it was disappointedly rained out on Friday night for the special shapes balloon glow, where the balloons are tethered but light up in spectacular display, we were still able to check out the amazing chainsaw carving competition and see some remarkable craftsmanship and creativity, and thanks to the line of carnival booths, we also shared a donut burger!

The following morning we attended the mass ascension.  We drove in to the park at dusk while it was still mostly dark and the dawn patrol flickered in the night like massive fireflies lighting on and off as the first light of the morning slowly broke over Sandia Mountain.  By the time we were on the field among the balloons, they were filling and growing up all around us and taking off here and there into the sky!  The special shapes were my favorite, but each balloon’s lift off was cause for a crowd celebration.  I felt like Alice in Wonderland shrunk down among puffball mushrooms of every shape and color!IMG_7580

 

Mushrooming

By | Adventure, Blog, Inspiration, The Southwest | No Comments

When I first moved to Taos I quickly met other seeking newcomers, particularly a collection of strong capable women, hiking companions, ski buddies, travelers, artists, farmers, builders.  From these friendships I learned of all manner of adventures and activities one could embrace in our high desert mesa where canyons drop down to the Rio Grande River and the mountain forests meet our expansive blue skies.

Early on one of these friends and I decided to try our hand at gathering the edible mushrooms we had heard we so prevalent on our forest trails.  We grabbed a guide and kept our eyes peeled studying the various species and taking only a couple of mushrooms we thought we had properly identified to be safe.  When we returned we discovered a dangerous twin of the mushroom we had thought we found and in the end decided it best not to risk making a meal of our find.  From then on I got my mushrooms from the farmers’ market, trusted mushroom gatherers, and the grocery store.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Nearly ten years later I learned that this same friend has since gone mushrooming many times over the years with seasoned veterans of the trade learning to safely gather at least 6 varieties of edible and delicious mushrooms that thrive on our mountains.  In the past week we have gone twice, literally treasure hunting for mother nature’s generous bounties returning with pounds of tasty treats to share with our communities!  I am learning how and where to look for mushrooms, how to prepare and preserve them, and most of all, how to slow down on a hike and keep my eyes peeled for all the beautiful flora that bursts forth in this particularly damp late summer season.

Please note: most of these images are not of the edible mushrooms, but simply some of the more beautiful images I was able to photograph.
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Why Cowgirls?

By | Blog, Cowgirls, Inspiration, Making, Process, The Southwest | No Comments

I had just built and fired my very own little wood-kiln when I had the idea to recreate a particular project I had developed while I was in college.  I was going to construct my second octopus punchbowl.  And instead of a salt/gas firing, it would be finished in the Adobe Moby, the little whale-shaped wood-kiln we built from adobe style bricks replacing the earth part of the recipe with fire clay to survive the 2000 degree temperatures.

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Attracted to the unique characteristics of cephalopods I had once designed a fairly functioning punchbowl after a cuttle fish.  The physics and visual appeal were so engaging that I had continued to build forms modeled after the liquid forms of various sea creatures.  Years after that first punchbowl, I decided to have another go at the form and function with some alterations.  I typically think through the physics and logistics of a sculpture before diving in with music or a book on tape.  This particular sculpture took shape to the tune of Tom Robbins’ Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.  And when the body of the octopus was finished, complete with punchbowl, removable lid that flipped into a chip and dip, and its eight cups, I wasn’t quite finished.  With no serving function, I sculpted a rider for my party bowl monster.

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Cowgirl Sculptures, Pots, and Sales

By | Blog, Cowgirls, Gallery, Inspiration, New Ideas, Process, Studio, The Southwest | No Comments

It has officially been 3 months into 2014 and so far so good, ok, getting by at the moment…

As a maker, it is a scary and daunting task to give up a regular paying job and go all in and invest wholly in yourself.  Fear and intimidation has kept me from it for many years, and in September 2013, I surrendered my steady pay check for a full time gig in the studio.  In that time with the help and support of friends and family, I have built a website for the clay cowgirl sculptures complete with the ability to sell directly from the site, (you’re looking at it), established representation in a gallery outside of my own town (Gallery MAR), and opened an etsy site (www.etsy.com/shop/BrZart).

I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback, commissions, and even some direct sales along the way and in the Taos, area I display my cowgirl sculptures in Rottenstone Pottery in Arroyo Seco, NM, as well as Su

bstance of Taos, women’s clothing store right downtown.

mini octopus

I’m still not making a living, and the day to day of allotting all the funds coming in to the steady bills that hang over my h

ead monthly has been a bit uncomfortable, but not discouraging.  I continually make headway on getting the structures of running my own business in place and I am doing what I love every day (except for those two random days in a row where I got a flat tire… they asked me if someone was out to get me!  I hope not!).

Glad to be follo

wing my dreams, celebrating my heroes through the cowgirl sculptures, making functional handmade pottery for friends, family, and fans, and staying active as our ski season comes to a close and river rafting is just around the corner, it’s time for biking, hiking, and exploring the area on the cheap while I slowly climb my way back into the working masses that have some kind of income!

girls in the kiln

 

Thanks for the support!

Etsy

By | Blog, Cowgirls, Inspiration, New Ideas, Process, Studio, The Southwest | No Comments

Last week I opened an Etsy store for some of the clay projects I have worked on.  I don’t have any cowgirl sculptures ready for the site just, yet but they’re on their way! I’m still producing about 12 cowgirls sculptures each month along with mugs, bowls, platters, and other ceramica.

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A couple of summers ago I started biking with some amazing girlfriends on the various high altitude terrain here in Northern New Mexico.  Glad to have a team of strong women to get outdoors with I love getting out on the trails on my mountain bike, and thanks to a generous gift I have fallen in love with the meditative rhythm of road riding too!  I am also really impressed by the genius invention that is the bicycle.  Beautiful design, highly functional gear system, ideal mode of transportation, excellent piece of simple and complex machinery all in one fairly light weight man powered gadget!  So I’ve been playing with my brushwork and have taken on the habit of embellishing many of my functional pieces with bicycles.  Thanks to a crew of amazing women and a brilliant pair of wheels, while they aren’t actual cowgirls, for me there is certainly a clear link.

Spring Forward

By | Blog, Making, Process, The Southwest, Uncategorized | No Comments

IMG_1266 It’s that time of year again.  We’ve started gathering wood for the Taos potters to fire our spring wares in the big kilns out in Tres Piedras.  We gather wood from felled trees in the national forests, purchase some from locals, and get scrap bundles from the lumber mill and haul it all out to our off-the-grid sight 17 miles past the gorge bridge.  Unloading, cutting, splitting, and stacking somewhere over 10 cords of wood in preparation.

It’s a community experience teaming up with 12-20 committed artists spending, 2 days cutting and stacking, then firing up the kilns and taking shifts stoking 24 hrs. a day  for multiple days until ideal temperature is met.  Hundreds of glazed and unglazed pots and sculptures are loaded into these mammoth kilns to be loaded up with ash and heat resulting in fairly unpredictable and beautiful surfaces.

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Prep day, April 5th will be a mess of axes, mauls, chainsaws, work gloves, glasses, goggles, food, water, and sweat.  Come on out if you’re feeling burly!


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Fired Up

By | Blog, Cowgirls, Studio, The Southwest | No Comments

 

 

The newest cowgirls are fired up and ready for photographing.  Here are some rough shots to paint the picture.  Firing big wood kilns with bad ass women potters you have to have your lady lumberjack, and with our shifts cycling 24 hrs a day for several days you can see why one might yawn at first light or any time of day.

I have also modeled cowgirls in honor of a dear friend who has taken on owning and running her own clothing store.  A woman of substance who not only dresses well, but finds time for adventure seeking by mountain biking, back country skiing, and dirt biking through the desert, just to name a few.  Check out her store, Substance, by clicking on the link, walking in her door, and liking her on facebook!

Lumber Jane and The Yawn Cowgirls of Substance