Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, March 29, 2003
An interesting item and link through the always interesting Defense Tech by Noah Shachtman.
Here is an Agence France Presse story from today headlined Iraqi Civilians Feed Hungry US Marines.
An excellent story in this morning’s NYT, Haunting Thoughts After a Battle, shows the “non war gamed situations” our brave young soldiers are having to face thanks to the ill conceived plans of Freedom Toast eating Warbirds safely ensconced in bunkers or at Camp David this morning.

Like many soldiers here, from the lowest private to the commander of the Army's V Corps, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, Sergeant (Mark N., 26, Army 3rd Infantry Division) Redmond said he did not expect the Iraqis to resist so doggedly…"I expected a lot more people to surrender," he said. "From all the reports we got, I thought they would all capitulate."
In the three days that followed, they did not, and he fired every weapon on his Humvee, including a 50-caliber machine gun, his M-4 rifle and a grenade launcher — everything except the shoulder-fired antitank missile. Many of the Iraqis, he said, attacked headlong into the cutting fire of tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles…
"I wouldn't call it bravery," he said. "I'd call it stupidity.
"When I go home, people will want to treat me like a hero, but I'm not," he went on. "I'm a Christian man. If I have to kill the other guy, I will, but it doesn't make me a hero. I just want to go home to my wife and kids."
The brigade's chief chaplain, Maj. Mark B. Nordstrom, said he spent more than six hours with the troop's soldiers on Thursday after they returned from Kifl. Sergeant Redmond was among them…"We're in the thousands now that were killed in the last few days," he said today. "Nothing prepares you to kill another human being. Nothing prepares you to use a machine gun to cut someone in two.

Leaders in Washington with their politically massaged “plans” have placed our young men into unforeseen sickening dangers with thin supply lines and inadequate air cover. Now these same leaders are playing the usual spin games though now with the lives of some of our finest young people on the line. What did they promise and when did they promise it. So, what is it, Mr. President and Mr. Defense Secretary, according to your vaunted plan? Was yesterday the day you boldly planned for our front line Marines to be reduced to one MRE?
You have said this war will not be fought with half measures Mr. President yet you ham string our ground troops with rules of engagement that would baffle a diplomat.
Yesterday, in a long and almost paranoid rambling non answer to a reporter’s question the Secretary of Defense seemed surprised that embedded reporters would report the thoughts, feelings and needs of ordinary soldiers. Cold icy control freak Rumsfeld can’t seem to grasp that the reporters might bond with the young soldiers charged with their protection and that soldiers might bond with reporters who offer a link back to home and family. I’d advise the Defense Secretary to go get a transfusion. Get some real human blood pumping through your mean little veins, Don. But, before you do that lets see you busting your probative corporate hump to get some food, hot food, and some air cover out to the brave young men executing your dirty “plan”.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Pressing household duties have kept me out of the news loop for much of this day. Luckily I did manage to watch the most of what turned out to be an old fashioned White House press conference with the dough-faced Ari Fleischer. Today's revalation that front line Marines have been reduced to one MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) per day as opposed to three shows how important it is to have leaders familiar with the importance of food for soldiers in the field. This lack of planning by Messers Cheney, Rumsfeld et al for real contingincies makes me very angry.
My Old Kentucky Flour

Several weeks ago I came upon Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour on the shelves of the Economy Market here in downtown Covington. First, I snickered at the graphic design. Then, using chicken, I coated pieces with the “Fried Vegetables” wet and dry coating described on the back of the box. This stuff makes for a batter that fries beautifully and tastes delicious. Tonight I’m using it with some lovely pieces of Cod.
This product is made by Hodgson Mill, Inc., Gainesville, Missouri in “The Heart of the Ozarks” and this, as they say, is an unsolicited testimonial, ya’all.

Thursday, March 27, 2003
For the broadbanded a diverting entertainment Ghosts of Albion from BBCi.

Sigrid figural

Kenton Hills Porcelains-David Seyler

I’ve talked privately with people during this last, what is it seven or eight, the Generals seem to want such exactitude, days, of a war that offers direct unquestionable proof, that our world has changed so much these last years as to not be our world anymore.
We hang in the balance. Institutions have crumbled.
Suddenly unsure, a nation and a people perform their duties in unchanged surroundings that seem to have imperceptibly drifted into some subtle difference.
And, now there is a war.
A threat that cast a pall upon my youth now falls across the shoulders of a new generation.
Bristling with all our sophisticated might the Children of the Love Generation, I fear, will return with souls too broken by the complex and brutal task with which they have been charged. Older generations, whose sins must now be cleansed with the blood of our youth, stand now linked to witness sacrifice. Priests whispering, “Soon the gods will be with us”, offer ritual solace. Atop the ziggurat we wait for knife fall and pray God is not the whirlwind.
We pervert Heaven’s Union with a technical artifice growing better at serving human whim and desire by our worship at its humming altar. This must change for we are close to creating sins for which God may have no absolution. The soul of humanity must shine through its technology not be harnessed to it.
The real battle we fight is not the one we see through our remote eyes. The real battle lies within our selfish hearts.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003
From the online edition of TIME magazine dated today:

Is the Bush White House trying to put the brakes on the congressional panel created last fall to investigate 9-11 attacks? Sources tell TIME that the White House brushed off a request quietly made last week by the 9-11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean, the Republican former governor of New Jersey, to boost his budget by $11 million...This is very counterproductive if the White House's intention is to prevent the commission from being politicized, because it will look like they have something to hide," said a Republican member of the commission...The latest effort to curtail funding has angered victims of the attacks. Stephen Push, a leader of the 9/11 victims' families, who are closely monitoring the commission, said the White House decision was another in a long line of efforts to water down or shrink the panel's role..."They've never wanted the commission and I feel the White House has always been looking for a way to kill it without having their finger on the murder weapon." Push said the White House has ignored his phone calls and emails for weeks.

Saint George

On the political front, after a depressing and meme-shifting 12 hours, I am reminded of Sheryl Crow:

It's obvious the trouble we're in…
You say, "It's just a question of eliminating

No one said it would be easy
But no one said it'd be this hard
No one said it would be easy
No one thought we'd come this far

Tuesday, March 25, 2003
As this beautiful spring day wanes, I feel the urge to discuss something that I noticed a while ago when having lunch in the restaurant that occupies the old Rookwood Pottery high atop Cincinnati’s Mount Adams.
That "something" is an odd little mark that is usually referred to as “the anomalous mark”.
Here it is on the bottom of a sweet little pot by Lorinda Epply.

I’ve begun to notice many people correctly identifying it as the Pottery’s 50th anniversary mark as it only appears on pieces dated 1930 (in Roman numerals “XXX”).
Does the mark have any significance or meaning aside from the 50th anniversary? Closely examine this undated photograph from page 63 of Rookwood Pottery Potpourri by Virginia Raymond Cummins.

The picture from left to right shows Vera Tischler, Charles Klinger, Carl Schmidt and Louise Abel looking out of two of the Pottery’s windows. Look above and right of the window containing Charles, Carl and Louise. See the design in the stucco? Isn’t this “the anomalous mark”?

I sometimes feel that I am as cynical as a human being can get, but, this phrase within the final sentence of this morning's Nicholas Kristof column in the New York Times shocked me:

But since the Bush administration was willing to bring in a Hollywood producer to design a $250,000 set for the Central Command briefings, it might at least remind officials that we are not invading Eye-rack, but Ee-rack.

When I first saw this "set" I remember thinking, "Wow, where's Captain Kirk?" Try counting up those $9,000 a pop flat plasma TV screens for a depressing exercise. I'd rather there be no "Hollywood set" and fewer military families on Food Stamps.

Through Atrios this timely question.
I sent this fan letter to the brilliant Paul Krugman for this Op-ed which is of particular interest to those of us living here in the Queen City of the West:

Paul, BRAVO, again! Here in Cincinnati, Clear Channel owns almost every single radio station (except for WCIN, geared toward African-Americans, WGUC, the almost out of business public radio, WVUX, a University licensed public and WAIF, an almost inaudible Pacifica-tinged station) and the dominant TV station (WKRC). When one considered that similar corporate joke Gannett owns the morning daily (the rank Cincinnati Enquirer) you can begin to see how totally screwed the poor people of Cincinnati are.
When Bushie came here to terrify America with the Robot Drone lie in early October, he stood before a drape masking our glorious art deco Union Terminal and a seemingly packed audience heavy with worshipful and unreported Clear Channel and Gannett flunkies.
Paul, many out here in the hinterlands greatly appreciate your work for the troubled Gray Lady and wish you continued clarity of thought.
I think its time for high profile members of the media to begin calling for the Vice President and Defense Secretary's resignations and I hope you continue to report on Clear Channels manipulation of Cincinnati's and America's media.
Again, thanks.
Monday, March 24, 2003
Thoughts about the new Cincinnati Art Museum Cincinnati Wing (which will exhibit many never before seen examples of Cincinnati Faience and Rookwood) along with an article in this week’s Antique Week compel a discussion of what could soon prove to be an escalation of Art Pottery prices similar to that which occurred after the auction of The Glover Collection in 1980.
The pottery exhibits in the new Cincinnati Wing along with increased historical scholarship should provide greater public awareness of, and collector interest in, the importance of the early Cincinnati potteries to American art history.

The Antique Week story details another contributing factor to an eventual increase of Art Pottery prices. The demise of the local auction though the potential global audience of the internet.
The article details the envelope-pushing sales efforts of Indianapolis auctioneer Dan Ripley. Mr. Ripley, on March 1, sold an 11” Rookwood Vellum 1908 (pictured on the left) vase of swimming fish by Kataro Shirayamadani for a more than respectable $3,000 to “an active floor bidder”. That bidder, thanks to Ripley’s marketing efforts were not only competing with others on the auction floor but with phone bidders and Ebayers via Ebay Live Auctions.
As a comparison (and take all comparisons with a grain of salt as each piece of artist created Rookwood is unique) a similar 8 5/8”Vellum 1911 by E. T. Hurley (pictured on the right) sold, at the June 2, 2002 Cincinnati Art Gallery spring auction, for $200 under its presale estimate of $1,500.
The successful floor bidder at the Ripley auction paid a 5% buyers premium (phone and internet bidders pay 15%) while the CAG bidder paid and additional 15%.
There might still be a deal or two lurking somewhere out in the hinterlands but I doubt it for “the time’s they are a changing.”

I have just preordered Anita Ellis' new book entitled The Ceramic Career of M. Louis McLaughlin through The book is scheduled to be shipped in early June. I can't wait. I've had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Ellis and exchanged a few emails with her several years ago. She brings a fine scholarly eye to the understudied ceramic portion of the equally underappreciated Cincinnati School of American Art. I'm guessing the book will be a companion to the soon to be opened Cincinnati Wing of the Cincinnati Art Museum.
I cannot wait to read Anita's interpretation of the relationship between Mary Louise McLaughlin and Maria Longworth Nichols and I wish Ms. Ellis the best of luck with what is sure to be an excellent book!
The book can also be ordered through The Ohio University Press in Athens, Ohio. Their phone number is (740) 593-1154.
Sunday, March 23, 2003
This continues my March 12,2003 post:

Cincinnati, Ohio 1880

The national importance of the 1879 Cincinnati Industrial Exposition can be measured, somewhat, by the dignitaries in attendance. No less than six of P. T. Barnum’s giant elephants trumpeted the arrival of luminaries such as President Rutherford B. Hayes and heroic Civil War Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and Philip H. Sheridan. A city that had symbolized freedom for slaves traveling the Underground Railroad was now intent upon uplifting itself and all its citizens through an equal devotion to industry and the arts. Little did anyone suspect that within the happy crowds converging upon the new Music Hall there lurked the female generals of a new war whose battles would continue well into the next century.

Mary Louise McLaughlin

The first skirmish in this new war had taken place five months prior to the Exposition in April of 1879 on the unlikely battlefield of a misplaced, lost or unsent invitation. Was Maria Longworth Nichols purposely slighted by being excluded from Mary Louis McLaughlin’s Pottery Club?
I, personally, doubt that she was. The Women’s Pottery Club carried one vacancy in addition to 14 other members on its roster for the eleven years of its existence. Longworth’s personal friend and future secretary Clara Chipman Newton was a member as were future employees Elizabeth Nourse and Laura A. Fry.
Louise McLaughlin, having been frustrated in her desire to become a portrait painter, was intent upon bringing together fellow women who were “…the best workers in different branches of ceramic decoration…” That McLaughlin would purposefully court the enmity of a person as socially and artistically prominent as the tempestuous Longworth Nichols seems very unlikely. The presence of the vacancy on the Pottery Club roster suggests McLaughlin’s intentions were, if not noble, at least honorable.

Maria Longworth Nichols

Whatever the case, Maria Longworth Nichols considered herself slighted and proceeded to work independently albeit in a competitive rivalry with McLaughlin.
One has to wonder who McLaughlin charged with the task of delivering Longworth’s invitation to the Women’s Pottery Club? Could it have possibly been, of all things, a man?
Imagine, if you will, being one of the male artesian craftsman who comprised the laboring class of the new ceramic industry. Veterans of the horrors of the Civil War, these men were intent upon creating a better life for themselves and their families within the constraints of 19th century society.
Unlike the more liberally minded Longworth men and Maria’s husband Colonel Nichols, one feels safe assuming that the working class potters of the Queen City were, to say the least, shocked that members of the fairer sex would desire to dirty their delicate hands with wet clay.
But dirty their hands these upper class ladies did with gusto. McLaughlin was already working at the pottery of P. L Coultry and Company unaware that the men she worked with intended to steal her underglaze painting technique.
Indeed, three days a week the ladies of the Pottery Club descended upon the Coultry Pottery to practice and experiment in all phases of their newly acquired art with the assistance of the male potters.
In May of 1879 Longworth Nichols along with her friend William Watts Taylor visited the Hamilton Road Pottery of Frederick Dallas with a proposal to rent studio space and have use of the kiln.
Dallas agreed and, perhaps smothering a smile, rented Longworth a 10 by 12 foot room on the second floor of the wagon shed in the Pottery yard.
A crude fireplace, a workbench, and two chairs constituted a studio wherein Longworth and a friend, Mrs. William Dodd, worked amid the odor of the horses stabled below. In this crude room Maria Longworth Nichols began her serious experiments in clay and glaze and it was, perhaps, in this room that she began to earn the grudging admiration of the potters whose knowledge she so respected.

The Morgan Tile

Only known glazed example of a Matt Morgan Pottery portrait tile of, possibly, Maria Longworth Nichols, circa 1880

The Book of Rookwood Pottery by Herbert Peck, 1968, Rookwood Pottery Potpourri by Virginia Raymond Cummins, 1991 and Toward a Correct Taste: Women and the Rise of the Design Reform Movement in Cincinnati by Kenneth R. Trapp, 1982

It seems, from various reports and initial commentary by a wide range of media this Sunday morning, that we Americans, like so many of our fine and brave young soldiers, are experiencing the fog of war as what appears to be a bloody week dawns. Despite the inexperienced assurances of the Vice President and his clique of neoconservatives, war, by its very nature, can never be easy or surgical.

A time comes when silence is betrayal. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do do easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.
Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of he night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.
We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls"enemy", for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered...
We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.
Now let us benign. Now let us rededicate ourselves in the long and bitter, but beautiful struggle for a new world. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Excerpts from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, JR. delivered at Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967

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