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Field Trip: Mosquitoland and Koehler

Last weekend's field trip was not as fun as I might have hoped. They will not all be fun, I suppose. Maybe because I had the highest hopes for the trip, I was more disappointed in the way it turned out.

The main destination was Wade House, an 1850's stagecoach inn. Period magician Robert Olson was performing, and I had visions of The Prestige dancing in my head.

Pete (my ex) accompanied me, and the drive was gray and uneventful. We arrived in Greenbush, WI in a few hours, stopped by the visitor center to pick up our tour bracelets, started walking toward the main house....

And were eaten. Alive. by. Mosquitoes.

It was completely sick. I whacked one on my forehead and blood splattered my whole face. I had a jacket with me, luckily. (Who brings a jacket with them on the last day of July? But I figured when we got closer to Lake Michigan it might be cool.) The mosquitoes ate me AROUND my jacket. My hands had 3-4 bites each, and my face got a few, too.

The tour of the building was half an hour late. Half an hour we stood there getting eaten, and listening to the woman from Milwaukee mutter about West Nile Virus. Pete ran back to the car and got the OFF as the tour started. It was rushed, some staffing issue had come up. But because it had started late, we missed 90% of the magic show we'd driven several hours to see.

I did catch the tail end of Mr. Olson's performance, and he was wonderful. There was a certain grace, charm and wryness to his performance that made me glad I saw him...even if I was now harboring West Nile Virus for my efforts. The kids were much more impressed than they look in that photo--they were just trying to play it cool.

Once the magic show was done, we were outta there! We drove a bit farther east to check out the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan.

Wow!

It's hard to describe the Center. It was a smaller arts Center but it had the feel of something in a much bigger city, in that it felt very vibrant and relevant to the community. A couple was getting married outside in the garden. There was a big room inside the front door where kids could drop in and make art projects, and part of the building was a preschool (not in session since it was Saturday.) Since it is Kohler of Kohler Faucet fame, ceramics are featured. And I did my undergrad in ceramics.

The bathrooms were stunning. And unexpected. And artsy. (These photos were from the Koehler website...I'm too technologically impaired to get my photos off my phone.)


There was a show called Babel, about war, part of which was an installation of dozens of life-sized monkey warriors standing in rows. That was my favorite piece. It was like Planet of the Apes meets Japanese Kendo statues, and it had a really unnerving and wonderful gravity and presence.


One thing I believe about travel, though I really haven't done much of it in my life, is that when you go to a new environment, you don't just learn about the place. You learn something about yourself. I had my "ah-ha" moment when I was looking at another ceramics exhibit, and thinking, "Okay, this is current work from the past couple of years. So...is that what ceramists are doing these days? Huh."

And a bunch of my might-have-beens came crashing all around me like waves.

What if I'd stayed that ceramics path and been a contemporary ceramist? Would I have gotten more from that exhibit than what I did, which was, "Looks like a cookie jar. Oh, do they make day-glo glaze nowadays? Nope, he painted that on with acrylic paint."

Even if I had been pursuing ceramics for the past twenty years, would I have ever had a solo show at the Kohler Center? I highly doubt it.

Although I felt unsettled, in a way I felt good. Right. What I eventually decided, after contemplation, is that it's okay to pick new paths as you come to them, and I don't think the time we spend creating and doing is ever wasted. Even if it means you don't end up with a cookie jar in the Kohler Center when it's all said and done.

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( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
andy_slayde
Aug. 4th, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
That's a shame about the magic show trip but the the arts center looks cool
jordan_c_price
Aug. 5th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
The trip felt like less of a bust because of the arts center. I liked Sheboygan, it seemed interesting, hip and not too filthy/urban for me.
andy_slayde
Aug. 5th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
Well that's good. Still a shame about the magic show though.
eavling
Aug. 5th, 2010 01:20 am (UTC)
My mother is a Rtd. Engineer and an aficionado of art, literature and music...she's had much success, but what I tell her is that The world will never know what it's missing when she didn't take the road of the stand-up comedian. She is the funniest person I know. She can just look a certain way, and everybody cracks up laughing.

Here's to different paths! Be a Renaissance woman!

Also, those ceramics are beautiful!
jordan_c_price
Aug. 5th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
Aw! I love the thought of your mother being able to just give a look that leaves everyone in stitches.
clarelondon
Aug. 5th, 2010 05:12 am (UTC)
It's okay to pick new paths as you come to them, and I don't think the time we spend creating and doing is ever wasted

I couldn't agree more. I know that a lot of life choices are influenced by external forces, but I also think a lot of the time we end up where we've put ourselves (though that's a clumsy description :)).

The future can't always be planned and it's important to be open to unexpected opportunity. It's marvellous to me that people have so many options, so many skills, so many interests, even if they don't pursue them all full-time! :)
jordan_c_price
Aug. 5th, 2010 04:48 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty optimistic about paths and choices, because as you say, people have so many options. I think we live in a time with an abundance of information ripe for the taking. My interests lately have been veering into business endeavors, and I'm able to learn things myself online and via the library without having to pay a school. I think that's the coolest thing ever.

It's never too late to start learning about the things that interest us.
egret17
Aug. 5th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
Ack about the mosquitoes!

Wow, the bathrooms are amazing. *gawks*

I have to say that I'm glad you took the path you did, or you might not have written the books that I enjoy so much! I know, I know, very selfish of me. :)
jordan_c_price
Aug. 5th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you! I was tempted to say something about being glad to have written my books, but it seemed Pollyana-ish ;-)
marasmine
Aug. 5th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
Sorry you didn't get to see all of Robert Olson - he sounded very interesting when you spoke about going. If I had that many mosquito bites they'd all be very large and turn septic, so I'm really glad I wasn't there! The Kohler Arts Center sounds like a fascinating place to visit with young children - not that I have young children to take places anymore, thank goodness.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 5th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
I'll definitely keep my eye out for Robert Olson. Maybe he'll perform closer to home sometimes.

The bites were horrible. I was up for two nights with the itching, but they've finally calmed down. I've never had one go septic but they do get very large on me. I'm an allergy queen, so my histamines go into overdrive at the drop of a hat.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 5th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
Drat, Mr. Olson is from Connecticut. I doubt I'll get to see him unless I become a historic magic groupie, scouring the country for his next appearance.
sarahblack5
Aug. 5th, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC)
I agree- the creativity muscle isn't specific to one type of art. And I agree with you, too, about much modern ceramics. Put a tiny raku teabowl, or a wood-fired stoneware bottle on the table, and the bright ladies slink away in shame.
jordan_c_price
Aug. 7th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
I saw some assemblage art I liked today on a gallery tour. Maybe the more highbrow/high concept art scene is just unappealing to me. I suspect I was pretty lowbrow even in college.
rdafan7
Aug. 11th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
As usual, you take the most interesting field trips. The Stagecoach Inn with the magician was different and sounded like fun. Loved the photo of the dog? rug and ax :)

I hate this time of year with the mosquitoes, I don't go for walks w/o my OFF wipes & OFF clip-on, it looks like I'm ready for the Amazon!

The photos of the Kohler Arts center were cool, my Mom was into ceramics for awhile, we even had a kiln at home.

I am SO GLAD however you choose to go into writing instead! I can't imagine not having been introduced to Victor & Jacob, or Wild Bill & Michael or any of the other wonderful stories you have written. I seriously mean it. You are one of the few authors I read & reread and simply get the most enjoyment out of. It's interesting how artists seem to be multi-talented, like yourself with the ceramics and writing. I think people either have a natural creative side, or not. The hard part comes when you try to make a living at that something creative. Not all talented people can do it. I'm happy you were one of them to make it!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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