Category Archives: events

AAW 2007 Symposium, Day 2

img_2044.JPGThis is from the Opening Ceremonies of the AAW’s 2007 Symposium. They announced that over 1600 people are registered for this event, making it the “second largest of its kind” (whatever that means). I think that you can see from this picture that the vast majority of members are: white, male, and over 50 (hey, that’s me!). There are women, there are people of color, and there are younger turners out there, and many of them are prominent members in the field. There are even young women of color, but the majority is pretty much represented in this picture. Still, it’s the friendliest group I’ve ever been involved with.

And, it’s an early rising group. I took that first picture at 7:45 AM, just as the meeting started! One of many reasons Harriet doesn’t typically come to these events with me.

img_2046.JPGDuring the opening ceremonies, there was a tribute to a prominent woodturner who died this last year. Frank Sudol died at the age of 73, and was a well loved and respected, Canadian woodturner. Speaking at the podium is Binh Pho, a student of his and one of the top 5 artists in this medium. It was a fine memorial and highlighted both Frank’s work and his thoughts on creativity. I sat in on one of his talks several years ago, and I feel his reputation as an artist and a mentor were well deserved.

img_2050.JPGThe central part of the symposium are the demonstrations. There are 11 time slots (called rotations) over the course of 3 days, and in each rotation there are approximately 14 different talks that you can choose from. There are demonstrations of techniques and practices (both beginning and advanced), sessions discussing design, retrospectives on the works of artists, and advice for the professional turners (studio and production). This picture is of Bill Moore during the first rotation where I attended his Metal Spinning for the Woodturner demonstration.

I’m not going to discuss all of the sessions, or even all of the sessions that I attend. Instead, I want to show some of the work that will be auctioned and others that are on display in the Instant Gallery.

During the symposium, anyone can bring in a couple pieces of their work to to be put out on display. This display is called the Instant Gallery, and this year there were 1359 pieces on display. To answer the obvious question, no, I did not have any of my work on display. I’m a pretty shy turner.

Along with the Instant Gallery, there are a number of pieces that are auctioned off to support the AAW’s education fund. Some of these pieces are donated by the best studio turners and reach fairly lofty values. There were 66 items in the auction this year.

I’m not going to show all of these pieces. Instead, I’ve picked out a few that I particularly liked. My camera died about half way through my viewing, so I’ll be back tomorrow with new batteries and some additional photos.

img_2092.JPGThis is by Binh Pho. It is a very thin and light vessel that has been pierced with a design and then delicately painted using an airbrush. There is usually a lot of symbolism in Binh’s work, representing aspects of his life, including being raised in Vietnam. But interpreting the sybology isn’t critical to appreciating his work. It’s a gorgeous piece.

As I mentioned before, Binh Pho is recognized as one of the top woodturners in the field. His delicate vessels and their pierced and painted designs are instantly recognizable.

img_2086.JPGThis is one of my favorite pieces in the whole show. Alain Mailland is a French turner and he does amazing abstract work. This piece is turned and then carved, but isn’t dyed. The colors in the work are from the natural colors of the woodd. I attended two of his sessions and was amazed and inspired by both of them.

img_2140.JPGThese are pieces by David Nittmann. They’re turned and then dyed in such a way that it looks like basketry. But, they aren’t just technical wizardry. These are gorgeuous pieces, and this one photo doesn’t do them justice. Unfortunately, my camera died just after this photo, so I’ll have to come back tomorrow with a better shot. I bought a piece by this artist several years ago, and his work has gotten better and better.

img_2116.JPGJon Williams creates these lovely little pieces, and I’m very much drawn to the colors and the pattern. The colors are painted onto the surface, but the patterns are burned into the wood. The burning process is called pyrography and uses a sharp, heated tool that’s similar to a soldering iron. This makes the pattern more than just surface color. It also has a tactile component, and gives the images depth (that’s meant literally as well as figurately). There are a lot of woodturning artists using pyrography in their work nowadays, but I think those swirling patterns that he creates are beautiful.

img_2136.JPGJon Sauer makes these gorgeous tops from exotic hardwoods, and then carves them using a machine tool called an ornamental lathe. He uses several different pieces of wood in a single top and then turns them to have a beautiful form. They are also excellent spinners.

The stands are something new, and I think they complement the tops perfectly. The cantilever design is a new twist. Together, they make a very elegant display.

img_2110.JPGJim Christiansen does work that fascinates me. They are the only pieces in the instant gallery that leave me with a strong emotional reaction. His current work uses figures along with the turnings and they evoke a lot of feelings. I enjoy a lot of turnings, finding them beatiful or fun, but his bring up strong emotions. I really like them. This piece and Alain’s piece are the two that I would most like to take home with me. Someday …
img_2097.JPGThe AAW has a large number of member clubs that represent local regions (I belong to the Channel Islands Woodturners). At the symposium, there is a Chapter Challenge in which clubs come together and produce a group piece. There were 4 pieces in this years challenge, and I liked this one the best. It’s from the Glendale Woodturners Guild (from Southern California).

img_2070.JPGThis is an amazing piece that will be in the auction tomorrow. It is a collaborative piece by Binh Pho and Frank Sudol. At the start of this post, I wrote that Frank Sudol died this last year, and Binh gave the memorial at the ceremonies this morning. Binh was a student of Frank’s , and they had wanted to do a collaborative piece for a long time. Just before he died they created this stunning pece of work, their only collaboration. It is an interesting mix of their styles, and both are clearly represented in this piece. I overheard some collectors speculating that they expect it will sell for between $10,000 and $12,000 at the auction. That would be an amazing price and probably well deserved.

img_2068.JPGThis is another piece that I believe will set the upper bar on prices at the auction. It is a collaborative effort between two very popular artists, Jacques Vesery and Bonnie Klein. From this picture alone, the piece may not look very impressive, but I happened to be nearby when the artists arrived to show off the piece to some friends. There are a lot of hidden surprises in the work. The ball has an image of the world carved onto it. It seperates from the base and can be opened like a box with a lid that unscrews. Inside is another ball with an image of the sun and the moon. That ball can also open up with another small blue marble inside which has a map of the world and the lettering “You are here” over Oregon.

img_2078.JPGHere are the two artists of this piece, and Jacques is showing another of the hidden surprises. This is under the base. I’ve taken seminars and demonstrations from both of these artists and they are extremely nice people. Their collaborations are very popular with collectors, and I expect that this extraordinary piece will fetch a high value.

That’s it for this entry. As I mentioned, my camera’s batteries died, so I’m off to resupply and tomorrow I’ll have a few more pictures from the Galleries.

AAW 2007 Symposium, Day 1

img_2004.JPGRight now, I’m in Portland, OR attending the American Association of Woodturner’s (AAW) 2007 Symposium. Since 2001, I’ve tried to go every year, and only missed last year’s. It’s 3 days of demonstrations and instructions by the finest woodturners in the world. It’s both educational and inspirational.

I arrived in Portland today (June 28) for the first time. As soon as I left the airport I felt like I’d validated most of my stereotypes about Oregon: Hills, lots of woods, overcast & rainy, fairly small and intimate. But, as you get into the downtown area, then it feels like most urban cities – too much traffic, high rise buildings in various states of disrepair, lots of downtown renovation, and people.

img_2000.JPGI checked into the hotel for the symposium (the DoubleTree – very nice) and walked over to the conference center to register. The Oregon Convention Center is on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and on the grounds is this statue commemorating him. It’s a lovely entry into the center.

The photo at the top of this post was taken just after I registered. Not too crowded yet, and everyone is still getting oriented, finding the demonstration areas, and meeting up with friends and acquaintances. The demonstrations don’t start until tomorrow, so everything is still pretty relaxed.

img_2042.JPGThree of the exhibits are open and located in the convention center. They aren’t too crowded yet, and so it’s a good time to see the pieces up close. Here is a small sampling of some of the exceptional turnings in the exhibit.

img_2034.JPG Study in Boundaries, 2006 by Giles Gilson. This is part of the 2007 POP Merit Award Exhibition. The Professional Outreach Program (POP) is a new program of the AAW which seeks to encourage and support the professional woodturning artist, and this is the first year that merit awards have been given out. Giles is one of the first three recipients.

img_2027.JPGAscending Bowl #4, 1981 by Mark Lindquist. Another one of the inaugural POP Merit Award recipients, Mark’s work has been around for quite awhile. I’ve always liked his work, especially his emphasis on textures. I particularly liked this piece.
img_2024.JPGNext is the Japanese Demonstrator Exhibit. There are four urushi artists from Yamanaka Japan that are attending and demonstrating at the symposium this year. One has the title Living National Treasure which is awarded in Japan to someone who has reached the highest level of achievement in their craft. This is a small sample of their work.

img_2016.JPGThis piece by Binh Pho is from the Japanese Bowls, A Western Perspective exhibit. This is a pretty interesting display. At a Japanese urushi exhibit in New York, the president of the AAW was given a large number of roughed out bowls. These are bowls that have been turned to roughly the same shape and size by a production facility, and would normally be presented to the urushi artist for final shaping and their finishing process. However, these roughs were given to a group of studio artists to finish in their unique (and western) styles.

img_2007.JPGThe pieces finished by Ann Wolfe (left) and Sharon Doughtie (right). This exhibit was an amazing showcase of the distinctive styles and techniques of these artists. I’m only picking out a few to show here.

img_2005.JPGOne of my favorite artists is Jaques Vesery. He’s known for his amazing surface carvings, which place natural textures (feathers, scales, rocks) on a variety of vessels and objects. This picture may not make it clear that he has carved and painted the surface of his vessel to look like rice. Up close, it looks like rice has been glued onto the surface of the bowl. What’s is most impressive about his work, and why his work commands such amazing prices, is that instead of just being a gimmick enhancement, his technique is an integral part of his artwork. It is beautiful work. My photo doesn’t do justice to this exquisite piece.

I’ve only shown you a few pieces from these larger exhibits. They are nothing more that a brief taste of the amazing work in these exhibits. I’ve picked a few of my favorite pieces to represent the show. And besides, the less time I prepare these posts, the more time I can participate in this wonderful symposium.

Thanksgiving 2006

img_2551.jpgI’m just now getting around to posting images from our Thanksgiving dinner. Every year Harriet and I host a dinner for those “who are without a family, who can’t be with their family, or who would rather not be with their family” on Thanksgiving. It’s been called the Orphan Thanksgiving, the Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving and the Chosen Family Thanksgiving, but I think my favorite name for the night is Thanksgiving Dinner at Alan and Harriet’s House. It’s something of a potluck, where we provide the bird and a few main dishes like stuffing and mashed potatoes, but we ask that others bring whatever side dish most reminds them of Thanksgiving. Some folks go for their family traditions, others use it as an excuse to try new recipes.

The crowd is a fairly eclectic mix of folks, many of whom only know each other from this annual dinner. This year we had 16 people attending. I can’t seem to find a photo with the whole crowd at once, so this first photo was taken fairly late in the evening after several people had left. Around the table, starting at the lower left, are Krista (our fabulous neighbor), myself, Steve (our other fabulous neighbor and Krista’s husband), Marla (Harriet’s wonderful sister), Perri (Harriet’s Sister’s tenant-but really an amazing fellow) , Harriet, Steve (our fabulous neighbor’s fascinating friend), Tara (groovy friend and fantastic house/dog sitter, who took care of our place while we were in Malaysia), and Dave (our fabulous neighbor Steve’s delightful brother). Hmm, maybe isn’t as cool as I thought.

img_2540.jpgI’ll be filling in the full cast of characters with other photos taken earlier in the night, starting with this one of Diane and Wayne. Diane’s a friend I’ve known longer than Harriet; we met in Helpline when we were both doing suicide hot-line work (we were the volunteer counselors, not the callers). Nowadays she’s a technical writer for a medical devices company. Wayne is an old gaming buddy who is now a math professor in San Diego. Can you believe that Wayne, Diane, and I were gaming geeks? Okay, maybe that’s not such a stretch.

img_2542.jpgMoving on to the ‘not so geeky’ people in attendance, I really like this shot of Grace, who apparently fell asleep by the time the group photo was snapped. She was on East Coast time, having just moved out there this last summer. Grace is another long term friend (I’m trying to avoid the word old since it has too much weight for many of us) that I first met at my bank (she was my teller) but whom I got to know during my years as a volunteer at the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center. She was a volunteer and then a staff member and is now working as a school psychologist. It was wonderful having her out to visit for the holiday and we missed her partner John who was at the dinner last year but didn’t make it to this one.

img_2537.jpgThese two are Cecile and Royce, Laura’s mom and her husband. Unfortunately, I can’t find a picture of our friend Laura who was also at the dinner. My bet is she’s now so skinny that the camera couldn’t capture an image. Either that or she intimidated the camera with her kick boxing moves. We’ve known Laura for a couple of years now, and she works for a local medical devices company in some sort of regulatory capacity, although her job has been going through so much flux in the last few months I don’t know if she could tell you what she does. It was delightful having her mother and Royce at the dinner, and they brought sweet potatoes made southern style, complete with the marshmallows.

img_2546.jpgDave is one of those photogenic folks, and a true techno-gadgeteer. He’d probably be happy to know that I had to use a red-eye removal tool on this photo to get it ready for publication. He’s Steve’s brother and currently a manager of a William Sonoma store in LA, but he managed a Stabuck’s for years, and knows a lot about coffee culture.

I don’t have a good shot of Steve and Krista, our neighbors. I can’t say enough good things about the two of them, and both Harriet and I are thankful they live next door. Both of them are graphic artists. Krista works at a financial services company as the in-house graphic designer, and Steve works at UCSB doing graphic design. If you’ve ever logged onto one of the UCSB department web sites and thought “Wow, that’s beautiful” then it was probably Steve’s fault.

img_2544.jpgI like this shot of Steve and Tara. This is the other Steve; not our neighbor Steve, but Steve’s friend. Got it? Currently retired, Steve is enjoying a life filled with wind-surfing and rock-gardens. We’ve known him a few years now and he’s really a delightful guy to talk with and definitely fits into the eclectic category.

Tara is amazing. I can’t do her justice in a short paragraph, and although she’s most easily identified as our house/dog sitter (the dogs love her), she’s probably the person we know who most closely fits the term scholar. She’s the sort of world traveler who will arrive at a town and decide to stay and work a few months, learn the language, the culture, and as much about the people as she can. We’ve known her for years and is an amazing soul.

img_2596.jpgAlthough this photo is from a couple of days later, it’s a great shot of Perri, Marla, and Jori (and our dogs Katie and Buster). Marla is Harriet’s sister, and Jori is Marla’s son, our nephew. They all live in San Francisco, where Marla works on and off as an instructor and developer of educational materials/programs. Jori is an incredibly cool 10 year old who is showing promise as a comic book aficionado.

Although I’ve known Perri for many years as a tenant and friend of Marla’s, this is the first chance I’ve had to spend any significant time with him. They spent four days here and I would have loved for them to have spent more. He was a great cooking pal for Harriet and just fun to be around.

And that’s the summary of this years Thanksgiving. Thanks to everyone involved from both Harriet and I. We are thankful you are all in our lives.

My Computer is Back On-Line

I finally got my replacement power supply this evening, and that fixed the computer! So for me, everything is back on-line and functioning. This is just in time for the trip, which makes several things quite a bit easier. I’ll be sending out our ‘test’ email in the morning, so those of you visiting the blog for the first time will hopefully have some new and interesting posts to look at.

Salami Night at C’est Cheese

SalamiNine different kinds of salami. Now that’s a tasting.

My most favorite food place in all the world, C’est Cheese, had another tasting tonight. But rather than cheese, the tasting was salami. Cured, smoked, dried, salted, and seasoned; thin, thick, narrow, or long; Itallian, Spanish, French; shoulder, belly, ham, or back; but all pork. And all delicious.
One of the things I like most about Kathryn and Michael’s presentations is that they give a lot of information along with a good variety of flavors. So, I have the list with the names of all nine salamis (on which I scribbled my tasting notes), but I’m only going to mention the ones that stand out.

My favorite spiced salami was the chorizo. I’ve eaten a lot of chorizo in my life, and this was the best chorizo I’ve had. Delicious on its own, this would be fabulous cooked in any dish.

I think my favorite non-spicy salami was the Columbus Artisan Finocchiona. It’s an Itallian style salami seasoned with fennel. Very tasty.

The biggest disappointment for me was the Salumi Mole, which was flavored with the spices you’d find in a mexican mole. I don’t think it worked in the salami. It was a lot of heat without the sweetness of a good mole.

The other salamis I enjoyed were: Niman Ranch Napoletani, a small, spicy salami that will sadly be discontinued; Fra’mani Toscano which is flavored with garlic and wine; Salumi Salame with a hint of ginger; and Prosciutto di San Daniele, which isn’t really a salami, but is a very tasty cured ham.

All of these are available at C’est Cheese, and I plan on staying stocked up around here, too.