Anybody who has lived in New England can tell you how unpredictable the weather is. Seasons almost feel non-existent at times. You may get a nice summer day in July or it can feel like a crisp fall day. The forecast for Salad Days flip flopped from 80% chance of thunderstorms to partly cloudy. My studio mate, Christine and I, decided that we would take our chances when the projected forecast dropped down to 20% light AM showers. Then, New England weather kicked in. We drove up to Maine in a rain cloud, teeter tottering from light mist to heavy downpours. Then, as if the kiln gods took mercy upon our souls, the rain started to let up the closer and closer we got to Watershed. By the time my little VW parked in the grassy makeshift parking lot, not a single rain cloud was overhead.
Every year Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts has a picnic fundraiser called “Salad Days” where they select an artist-in-residence to make at least 500 handmade plates from the local terracotta Maine clay. This year’s artist, Liz Hafey, made these beautiful plates with colors very reminiscent of lobsters, boat hulls, and all things Maine. The little button accents on the plate were a nice touch of detail and intricacy to the classic design. We ate lots of salad creations from locally sourced produce and walked around the green exploring the works from Objective Clay and Pots on Wheels artists.
We ended our visit with a tour of the Watershed studio, where we say works in various states from lumps of clay to polished pieces. What really stuck out to me during the tour was the emphasis on how Watershed is a non-hierarchical space. How artists gather together whether they are just starting out or a master potter, 17 or 65, functional or conceptual artist, etc. None of those attributes matter but instead it’s a community where one can gather to learn from one another and celebrate their interests in clay. And at the end of the day they can come together for a nice meal and share stories with one another. Ugh, sound amazing, doesn’t it?
Side story: I came within a breath length one of my favorite contemporary ceramic artist as we were exploring the Pots on Wheels truck and all I could say is “Oooo chickens!” in response to a beautifully illustrated chicken themed creamer cup. She had a great response about how it’s great when a piece calls out to somebody with pure elation. I then proceed to try and think of a cool response, mention how much I admired her work, and the initiatives she was doing with clay and art. But instead I pulled an awkward turtle and just stood next to her starstruck until she slowly walked away.
As we left Watershed, bellies full of delicious salad, ideas stirring in our head, it started to rain. Typical New England.