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Posts Tagged ‘tea cup’

Photo: TracyRittmueller.com

Poet Tracy Rittmueller is a friend I connected with through blogging. We almost met in person when she was living in Rhode Island, but she moved home to Minnesota after her husband developed a mild cognitive impairment that is associated with non-Alzheimer dementia.

I’m telling you that so you will understand the origins of her resonant poem about a broken cup. It seems to start with her husband’s impairment and spread outward into other lives and ways of understanding. Here it is in part.

What Is There About Us Always
by Tracy Rittmueller

“You gave me a teacup, terra-cotta inside, outside
sun-washed like some villas in Italy.
“It pleased me, as it pleases me when
every morning you wake early
“to prepare my tea, even now when you cannot remember
the day, washing dishes I knocked my teacup
“against the faucet. My teacup. I gathered
ochre shards, trashed them on the day’s spent tea
“leaves, said nothing. Finding those fragments
you spoke one word. Oh. Rinsed them,
“dried them, glued them together. …

“Sometimes I worry your tenuous
“memory will fracture our companionship.
But I know who you are, always the one
“who salvaged those wrecked remnants—
my heart—to restore that broken vessel—me.”

Read the whole poem here.

About her life these days, Tracy writes, “I am greatly supported by a monastery of Benedictine women, who have basically adopted us. They have over 200 Sisters, whose average age is 83. They have so much experience with this, and model for me how to care for [him] with compassion and respect, while making sure I’m not sacrificing my health or my life to do it. Plus, they all understand what’s happening with him, and very skillfully befriend him so that I’m not his sole sense of safety and love in this world. We’re content and live together with a great amount of love and serenity, and I’m very, very grateful. …

“I’m clearing every unnecessary thing out of my life, a process that I’m still going through, moving toward an ever more simple and quiet life, because that’s what suits my personality, temperament, and my physical/mental/spiritual health needs. I suppose from the outside it might look like I’ve gone hermit, but I am richly supported by the Sisters and associates circling around the monastery, where I find more intelligent, kind, wise, eccentric-interesting, and helpful people than I can keep up with, and by my community of weirdly wonderful poet-friends. And, as this pandemic is teaching us, there are myriad ways to connect without leaving one’s house.”

Read one of Tracy’s recent articles on poetry. You might also like to check out a blog post she wrote at GoodReads.

Photo: Spinningpots.com

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Mary Ann is a creative person and a great source of blog ideas. She also remembers topics I’ve enjoyed in the past. For example, the stealth book artist in Scotland. She sent me word of the artist’s new accessibility.

The BBC reports, “An anonymous artist has been leaving delicate paper sculptures made from old books at locations in Edinburgh and around Scotland for more than three years.  The identity of the woman has remained secret despite the international attention that the book sculptures have received.

“BBC Scotland’s arts correspondent Pauline McLean conducted an interview with her — via email to maintain her anonymity.

“Question: Why did you start making the sculptures?

“Answer: The first book sculpture, a little tree for The Scottish Poetry Library, was made primarily as a response to library closures and cutbacks. But it was also as a bit of fun for the library staff who, throughout Scotland, the UK and much further afield, provide a service in straitened times — above and beyond. It was a poor attempt to illustrate the notion that a book is more than just a book — and a library is a special kind of building.

“It’s no secret that I would like everyone to have access to books, art, artifacts and the buildings that house them. Not just those with the money for a ticket. I think it’s true that the immediate way we can and do now access information has altered things. But it remains important to have expert help, to see things for real, to have buildings set aside that inspire and make expectations of us and that anyone can enter. …

“I like to think the sculptures have served their purpose in some small way, but I do worry that they overly draw attention to themselves as objects. My intention was never that they be viewed as artworks or even that they would last. They are, after all, made from clapped-out old books. The end for me though was in leaving them. Once a gift is given it is in the hands of another.” More here.

There are several good pictures of book sculptures at the BBC site. Suzanne’s Mom couldn’t resist the one below. It makes me nostalgic for the inspired ceramic tea cups of Anne Kraus.

Photo: Anonymous book sculptor
“Nothing beats a nice cup of tea (or coffee) and a really good book.”

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Asakiyume has alerted me to a great story about an anonymous library patron in Scotland who creates sculpture from old books and deposits them in libraries by stealth. The artist makes reference in his (her?) sculptures to Scottish mystery writer Ian Rankin and dragons and all sorts of literary things. You will flip over the pictures here.

Asakiyume says she likes the quotations that the mystery artist leaves with the sculptures: “I liked ‘Libraries are expensive,’ corrected to ‘Libraries are expansive,’ and also the quote from Robert Owen … (founder of some utopian communities) … ‘No infant has the power of deciding … by what circumstances (they) shall be surrounded.’ ”

The messages remind me of the mysterious tea cups of Anne Kraus, which I described here.

Now although Asakiyume knew I would love the book art, she may not have known that I have a family reputation for stealth projects, like secretly leaving a small Zimbabwean soapstone sculpture of parents and baby in John’s house after Meran gave birth.

Recently, I was telling Erik about a few of my escapades, and he got a look on his face suggesting that he was a little worried about the family he had married into.

When I was on the publicity committee for a local theater producing a musical about George Seurat, I purchased Seurat greeting cards and left them in stores’ card racks around town. They got sold, but the sales staff would have had to wing the price as there was no price on them.

Then there was the year that I sent a series of postcards from different cities under different names to an ice cream shop and in each card suggested a type of frozen dessert the shop should carry. Every card had a different reason why customers might want that dessert.

It worked, and the shop must have made money off the dessert as they stocked it for years afterward.

Photo: ThisCentralStation.com

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My last job in Minneapolis was located not far from the wonderful Northern Clay Center on Franklin Avenue. I liked to go over at lunch, and when the late Anne Kraus was showing her ceramics, I must have visited five times just to look at her domestic but fanciful pieces and read their cryptic messages. Kraus decorated exotic tea cups. teapots, tiles, and more with intricate, mysterious scenes, and on them she wrote puzzling remarks. You would think about them long after leaving.

This one, “I Can’t Sleep Tile 1998” has this written near the top: “I ask this intruder if he can be quiet because I want to sleep so that I can dream. But he tells me that we are right now asleep and deep into a dream.” (The photo in the Garth Clark Gallery survey book was taken by Noel Allum.) You can see more of Kraus’s work online. Here, for example.

By the way, Warren MacKenzie, a giant among potters, was one of the original founders of the Northern Clay Center in 1990. He gets around, and I have observed that he has an exhibit at the Lacoste Gallery in Concord (MA) almost every year. He is showing there now.

On October 28, 2011, the NY Times noted a sale of some Anne Kraus ceramics, which brought numerous people who were searching on her name to my post.

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