Thursday, October 16, 2014

Where Do You Go with Your Artist's Heart?

Tonight I got the very wonderful experience of going to an enchanting studio space in Shaw neighborhood.
First of all, if you are not from St. Louis, you likely now have heard about Shaw neighborhood, the recent violence, protests, vigils and Ferguson October. This story, this coverage, this light shone on our prejudices and hate of my beloved city is heart rending.
And when my heart is rent, I need to condition it and coax it back into being whole.

This need for nurturing led me back to the Shaw neighborhood. [Isn't this how so many things go? You go to the painful place to help heal?] I lived on Shaw, worked at the corner of Tower Grove and McCree, dog sat near the corner of Klemm. For four wonderful years, this was home.

Here I was, at the place I had scouted out months ago not knowing what would be inside. I loved the outside sign, font, and name. If there is a such thing, I had shop window love at first sight, I had it. The only other time that has happened was when I saw Winslow's Home going in. And boy was I ever right about that place. And I was right again.

As it happens this window and once empty space I became smitten with while commuting to work turns out to be an artists studio. Union Studio has several artists' work and wares on display, while also providing them with place a to work. I happened to be there after learning about an open studio night. Show up and make things in this gorgeous space? Yes, please.

I met two of the artists, Mary Beth and Leah and after a little chatting was put to work--exactly what I needed. There was a cooked fiber(I don't recall the name, but it's not indigenous of North America) in a pot that one of the artists, Leah, showed me how to pull apart, reform, and flatten into a shape. She seemed concerned and apologetic for using me in this way. How do you tell a virtual stranger, "I can't control or shape anything else in life, let me have this thing?" Slow, methodical, tactile, this helps free my mind and spirit.

I kept at it for 2 hours. And we talked the sort of talk that you have when you're making, about St. Louis, the art scene here versus Kansas City, our backgrounds, the history of paper making, the art in the room and the stories behind the pieces. I'm not exaggerating when I say everything in Union Studio is art: soap, scarves, paper, the table, etc. Even the wet fibers  the ugly semi sticky masses I was mashing together, flattening into discs will turn into something translucent and beautiful.

It was a relief. To come out of the dark into a bright and inviting space to talk and to learn and to try. I recommend, if not here, that you try this "making" with your friends or find an artists guild and meet them.

Oh and guess what? I'm back to writing again. Surprise.