Sunday, June 02, 2013

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts

Birchbark canoe at the Haystack Gallery, built according to ancient Penobscot tradition
One thing that has been a constant source of conversation around here—and maybe it's just because I keep bringing it up—is the intersection between art and commerce. Maybe I'm an idealist in believing that it's possible to make objects that appeal to a wide audience, in such a way that they can sustain (read: feed) the artist, and these things can also achieve critical success. These are not easy questions. I love the things being made here—they are exquisite, magical, beautiful—and gradually coming into being, made by my friends—but I worry that these things aren't accessible to a wide audience.

Some people simply say: no. They aren't. 99 percent of people will never understand art and aren't even worth trying to reach. But I vehemently disagree.

Yes, we have a major problem in education in this country. Many people don't understand art, or can't see its value, because they've never been taught to. But people can still consistently recognize beauty, and they could not fail to see the beauty in the work being created here. Maybe its purpose, they could question. Beauty for beauty's own sake.

A friend of mine back home, a beer-drinking Nascar-watching member of the hoi polloi, has recently fallen in love with Beethoven and Mozart. He sits in his backyard, listening, as arpeggios swell, and this to me is proof of the triumph of music. All of us have little beautiful things we treasure—maybe just for the memories they bring us, of a beautiful moment, a beautiful time. I'm still not sure what art is, if I can define it.

Although, to paraphrase Emily Dickinson, I know it when I feel like the top of my head has been blown off.

We had a lobster bake on the picnic rocks by the ocean last night. My first lobster bake, my first lobster eaten with my hands by the sea, and maybe my first Maine lobster ever, believe it or not. It was delectable, of course, ambrosia of the sea, no more so than when sucking the juice from the claws, distilled ocean nectar. But I have to say—and please don't shoot me—Cape Cod lobster gives them a run for their money.

In other news, my car broke down on Friday. Which leaves me with a mechanical problem to solve during my four last precious days of focus. I am trying not to play the martyr. But seriously. Could I have worse timing? Of all the gin joints in all the world where a Volvo could funk out.

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