search  current discussion  categories  kilns & firing - salt & soda 

yard art vs salt piles

updated thu 17 feb 11


mel jacobson on wed 16 feb 11

i have been reading `michael perry` and his stories of
living in rural wiscosin. they are smallish books, about people,
things, philosophy of life. his language skills are amazing.

he sort of put the pile of salt in the gallery in perspective for me
last night...i re/read his philosophy on `yard art` wisconsin style.
plywood grandma bending over, glass ball on a stand, ducks with
wind driven wings. most of you have seen it all.

he loves them, and loves the four old cars parked in a row in the
back yard. two old tractors rusty and ready to become new. that
1960 boat with the johnson 25 outboard motor still hanging on the
back. and of course, grandpa's old horse drawn mower. rusting into
the ground next to the toilet full of rose bushes.

the fancy folks drive by on the highway and say in a fake british
accent. `howard, can you believe the junk they have in their yards.
total trash, and look at that green ball, tsk, tsk, tsk.`

michael says...`go to their yard and they have the same thing..made
of bronze. frogs in their garden, a replication of a european sculpture
made from concrete. a chain saw falcon head. same trash, different
place.` at least the farm art is hand made, and honest. the folks
don't apologize for it. it makes them smile. the more, the merrier.

the old cars are potential energy, things that you dream of working on.
we have it all at our farm. an old dump with tons of metal, springs,
pots and pans, old toilets. it is a hundred years old. it is all needed, =
we go through it to
make stuff. it is bob holman's potential as he has parkinson's, and
other illness. he sees new projects in his head. we respect that.
to others, it is a shameful pile of trash. not to us. and, my 1947
case vac tractor is mine, i love it. (bill and ben love it too), it has
an electrical problem right now
and sits under a blue tarp. but, this summer it will roar to life.

there are lots of those wonderful blue tarps covering things in farm
yards all over rural america. their yards. who are we to tell them
what to do with their yard, their art, their ideas.

and, it is the same for the pile of salt. fancy folks in fancy clothes,
get to go to a gallery and stare at a pile of salt, and think fancy
thoughts and be very superior to others that `will never understand`.
they drink fancy wine, and the gallery owner tells them about things they
have for sale in the back room, that would really make their house
`fancy and superior`. it is like buying a pepsi, or a ford. a bud or a
fancy import, a jag or a chev. `how does it make you feel inside?`

do you hire a fancy decorator to tell you what you should do with
your home? what are the colors of 2011...? `you must paint everything
over again, you must be with it.` hmmm, not me. do you need others
to tell you what art to buy, how much you should pay, where to hang it?
farmers rarely have that problem. many go to a local tavern with a slanted
floor and greet friends, dance, laugh and drink a beer and a bump. in thei=
bib overhauls..`walter, change your shirt, we are going to town.` not the
bibs however. too much work. we see it all the time as we live only about
14 miles from michael perry. i see the same images he writes about, i know
lyle, arnie and lars. they are my friends. arnie and lyle died last
year. i miss
them so much.

when i had my 50 year show lyle and his girl friend showed up. he had
a bolo tie, cowboy boots and a red sport coat. he was dying of cancer
and had never been to an art show in his life. he came to see mine.
i have tears as i write this. it was all about being a respectful friend
to a small town guy. lyle could do anything. anything..fix anything.
he built christine's house at the farm all alone. perfect house. not a
flaw. he would call me to come and help when he had a two man job.
we never talked much while working. `mouth open while working means mistak=
said lyle. so, we were quiet. all you needed to do is fix him a good sand=
and a beer for lunch, and a double bump of cheap brandy at the end of the =
i would buy him a carton of `luckies` every time i had a chance...hard to f=
and damn expensive. he loved the indian casino in turtle lake. now,
that was fancy.
he went to las vegas once. big time.

being superior is often just a mind game. it means nothing. it is
like saying `clayart
has a lot of women that read it, electric kiln in the basement
potters...too bad they
don't have a wood kiln.` bullshit. superior thinking...that means nothing=
say this. `i respect anyone that has their own kiln, it matters not
what kind.`
i respect people that make things, make clay stuff, it matters not
the style,color
or method. they make stuff in clay. they do things every day. active mind=
you don't have to play games of superior thought. `harumph, harupmph. i r=
superior authors, the classics, i go to the symphony, eat fancy food.`
who cares? i go to a bar in wisconsin, `gloria's` and listen to
KRO-KEY. it sure
makes me laugh. my daughter and dave love `gloria`s. it is a nice place,
with nice people and very few `airs`.

oh, yes, rural people compete. notice...every friday mom is on the
garden tractor mowing the 5 acres of grass. perfect rows. not a bend.
`well, you know folks will be driving past on sunday to church, and my yard
has to look the best, don't cha know, if lars does it, the lines are all ov=
the place, looks terrible`. (actual quote from lar's wife
iris.) and her flowers
don't have dead heads..she picks them all every morning with an old coffee
mug (packers) in her hand.

michael perry is the local emt, nurse, fireman, hero. he grew up
in New Auburn, Wisc. went to college, traveled, and came home to
live and write. he has a passel of books. quick reads. and very
interesting. i like him far better than garrison, no politics.
he talks about working people, people that make things, live a real
honest life. like potters.

just google him, or amazon him. i order used books for .25 and three
bucks delivery.

i am reading `population 485` one of his first books. `meeting your neigh=
one siren at a time.` his webesite is:
from: minnetonka, mn
clayart link:
new book: