Saturday Night in Our Market

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I have an Italian last name and live in South Philadelphia. So everyone thinks I was born and raised here. Not so. My Mother’s family (and me with it) hails from the Midwest and her Scots-Irish ancestors reached these shores in the early 1600’s. But everyone’s gotta come from somewhere and that’s why when my Mother’s relatives were bragging about their DAR memberships, my Father would proudly announce that he could trace his family “all the way back to the banana boat in New York Harbor.”

The Sicilian half of my family got most of my attention during my childhood, maybe because they were louder than the W.A.S.P. half. My mother would go around saying things like “That’s just not done,” and dispensing other mots of wisdom that I did not begin to comprehend until I reached adulthood. The Sicilian food was better anyway.

The 9th Street Market in South Philadelphia  is commonly called “The Italian Market.” It was predominantly Italian at one time, but starting in the 70’s, there was an influx of immigrants from Southeast Asia. People began arriving from Mexico and Central America about 20 years ago. The market and the surrounding neighborhood is a heady mix of restaurants, cuisines, cultures, ethnic groceries, shops, bakeries and more.

What does that have to do with Cavalleria Rusticana? It started when my friend Doris asked me to join her and another friend for a musical program called Honoring Our Ancestors, presented by the Our Market program and Orchestra 2001,  and held in the 9th Street Market this past weekend.

Orchestra 2001 presented a great program of music from Central and South America, Asia, and Italy.  The last work was  Intermezzo from Cavaleria Rusticana, which is the quintessential Sicilian opera.  The story goes like this:  Mama loves boy more than anything.  Boy doesn’t listen to his Mama.  Boy breaks Mama’s heart.   Boy dies.  We all cry to some of the most beautiful operatic music you will ever hear.  Listen and see if you agree.

Nerikomi In Progress

Now that I have a kiln that can fire to cone 8, I can finally experiment with colored porcelain and Nerikomi on my own schedule without having to wait forever to see how a pot comes out. I am using mason stains to color 257 porcelain which I bisque fire at Fleisher Art Memorial, and then fire it a second time at home, unglazed, to cone 6 . This porcelain was made to be fired to cone 8-10, but it gives very nice results at cone 6 which is how they fire it at The Clay Studio where I first started using it. I only take my kiln to cone 6 to preserve the firing elements. I’m learning as I go by watching videos and reading what I can on the Internet. Most of the books on the subject cost a small fortune and I haven’t found any in my local library. No matter. I’m having fun and that’s the only thing that counts.

How’s this for inspiration? I love the spiral motif and never saw it in a plant before-not like this anyway. Anyone know what this plant is called?

Gray, black and white spirals sliced like jellyrolls
Holes plugged with white clay
This will be the top of the bowl
Bottom of bowl over a form
Inside of bowl inside the form.

When the bowl gets leather hard, I will smooth it with a metal rib. It is extremely fragile when it’s bone dry, so I try to do most of the work at the leather hard stage. After it’s bisque fired, I’ll sand it with wet/dry sandpaper and then fire to cone 6. After that? I plan to experiment with paste wax. This will be a decorative bowl.

Exquisite Copse

Exquisite corpse  is a way of assembling a collection of works that are related in some way.  There is no curator.  Instead, each collaborator adds a work in sequence, either by following a rule (e.g. must be green)  or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.  The Broken Telephone Project a 2013 collaboration of polymer artists, is one example of this form. There are others.

The Da Vinci Art Alliance’s latest sculpture exhibition, Exquisite Copse, is in keeping with the genre of a collection of works,  and is also a play on words being situated in a park with a small group of trees which is precisely what a copse is.  The sculptures are  currently on display at Palumbo Park in South Philadelphia.  Part of Da Vinci Fest, the exhibit runs through November 6, 2020.  

No More October Surprises

You probably have heard that women love surprises, but no. We hate surprises, because they always come with some kind of a shock. I am craving easy these days. That’s why I enjoy my neighbors sidewalk displays. I have been writing for years about Bob’s urban garden where the bananas grow in South Philadelphia. Our new neighbors on the other side have decided to decorate too with pumpkins, gourds and cool looking autumn plants. I don’t have to do a thing. Not even wash my bay window because Bob’s trees and plants obscure the dirt from the view of any passers by. One of the enjoyable things about living in South Philadelphia. Now if I can just stop those nasty surprises, we’ll all feel better. Until then, enjoy some pictures.

In Her Memory

Thrown platter, white earthenware, black underglaze painting

Marjorie Waxman created this platter in the pottery and ceramics studio at Fleisher Art Memorial.