On Sunday’s I reflect.
I had one beer at the campsite this weekend. A few years ago I quit drinking alcohol for the most part. These days I find myself having a drink about once every other week or so. I still tell people “I don’t really drink” when I am in a setting where alcohol is being served. Over the last few years I have been able to see how selfish I was when I was drinking regularly. When I am sober around people who are drinking I typically don’t find myself wanting to be there long so I mostly avoid places where people are drinking. It took a long time for me to not be so uncomfortable at bars or concerts after I quit drinking, but it gets easier.
I have been too tired and busy lately to write this blog, but today I made sure to plan enough time to get back into it.
A few weeks ago my back gave out. I found myself immobilized and if I moved the wrong way pain shot through my entire body. I guess it was only a matter of time. A few rounds of chiropractic work and acupuncture helped get me sorted out, but the ultimate reality is that I need to get back into the gym. When I was in college at Indiana University I got into the habit of working out with my frat bro. We lived together for a year and walked to the campus gym four or five days a week to lift weights. At that time I got into track running inside.
Fast forward to when I moved to NYC. I couldn’t afford to ride the subway (or anything else) so I decided I would run to anywhere I had to get on the Island of Manhattan. I took the LIRR train two hours east every day to blow glass and two hours back. Most nights I also rode the Subway thirty minutes to Brooklyn for band practice. Aside from that I would only ride the Subway when a friend loaned me their unlimited pass. During that year I walked or ran every block East to West below 125th Street, and even went up to the 150’s on the West Side. I ran to Brooklyn across the Williamsburg bridge sometimes so fast that Joel thought I took a train but knew the sweat covering me was from my run. Often I found myself running the six mile loop in Central Park after running a mile or two from the various couches I inhabited to get to the park itself. I would guess that I averaged three to eight miles a day five days a week when I lived in NYC. One day I decided to run a half marathon. I have never been one for convention so instead of signing up for an organized run, I simply woke up and planned a route that would cover 13 miles through the city. I only have one speed when I run, and that is full speed.
To me it always feels like black and white, though as I get older I notice more of the grey space in between. My art reflects that in my Composition Notebook / Television Static pattern.
After NYC I stopped exercising almost entirely, besides for snowboard season. For a few years snowboarding was basically the only exercise I got. Once I got into a stable living situation I began integrating stretching and yoga into my morning routine. Prior to that it would have been surprising for me to have enough space to store my personal belongings wherever I was crashing and I definitely never had space to do yoga. Many of you are aware that “When I do yoga I disappear” into the mirror and my self. There was a time when I made a post on my story every morning as a way of holding myself accountable. Then during the pandemic I began lifting weights again. I have shoulder and back pain that I know would be alleviated if I exercised and developed the muscle strength my body needs rather than overworking large muscles and compensating for my lack of core strength. I think I stopped getting in the gym when I got my concussion (unrelated to working out) and then the habit never formed again.
Slowly since my back gave out I have reinstated my morning stretching and yoga. It is my plan to start getting in the gym this week and officially welcome back Body Builder Ben. By 2023 I plan to be back into the best shape of my life. I am very fortunate to have friends with expertise willing to help train me and get me on the right track.
As I reorganize my priorities I have been making more time to be on the torch as well. This year I have produced more of my own work and collaborations than ever before. I don’t plan to slow down now that I am finally seeing the results that I want from my work. I have told close friends that I am making the best quality work of my life, but there is another important factor that goes along with that. Not everything I attempt to make meets my standards. One example is that I have not been able to successfully make a bubble trap twister, my own take on a classic twisty cup for at least a few months. Every time I twist up a section of scalloped tubing things seem fine, but then when I attempt the bubble trap maria something goes wrong and I am left with second quality work and the only way to try again is to twist up more tubing. This has been incredibly frustrating, and has left me unable to get to the next step of installing my pattern work in the bottom of the bubble trap twister. If you are one of the people waiting on this product from me, now you know why there haven’t been any lately. Hopefully I can get back in the groove on these soon!
The funny thing is that the product described above is supposed to be my affordable entry level cup. Most of my time behind the torch has been spent making composition notebook collaborations this year. I released a few fully worked solo cups through other galleries which are some of the only fully worked solo composition notebook cups that I have released. I am getting ready to make another fully worked solo for a show happening at a gallery in Philadelphia this Fall, and I have plans for a few more fully worked solos in the next few weeks. There are a few other artists waiting on my prep for collaborations and some artists making plans to come work at the studio soon.
For the last two weeks I have been privileged to host Christian Luginger at the studio where he shifted his focus from classical venetian goblets and stemware to fumed pints. A handful of Christians fresh fumers have already sold, but we have more freshies at the studio and more on the way once Christian gets back to his shop in Amarillo Texas. We also just got a solid selection of stemware from Christian listed on the website along with some other new work that got photographed and listed this week.
Coldberger made a guest appearance at Bat Country Studios during Christian’s visit to explore cup making with us. Nicole and I got in one of my favorite composition notebook collaborations made featuring her bayside fades, and she also worked up a pair of faded squiggle martini glasses with Christian that will be available today on the Sunday Specials Live Stream. I have a lot of other unreleased work going up today so make sure to tune into my Instagram live stream when I get to the studio.
Last Sunday we hosted another pop up show in Denver with our friends at Purple Haze. This was our second show together and it could not have been a more fun time. Special thanks to our sponsors Dialed In, Soiku Bano, Bubba’s Cheesecakes, Stromans, Polar Provisions and the entire staff at Purple Haze. Also thanks to all the artists who contributed and came through, and to the collectors who support us all! We will definitely be planning more events down in Denver with Purple Haze in the coming months.
In addition to Marta’s help around the studio, our friend Eric has started helping out once a week with computer stuff. Eric is going to be helping me with much of the back end of things, allowing me to spend more time on the torch. Over the last two years, Marta has learned the systems that keep this company operating. She goes above and beyond to meet the daily needs of the shop, and she also knows what roles she does not do well at or want for herself. Eric will be filling in the gaps and has already helped both Marta and I become more productive in our roles. This will be a slow transition that should continue to afford me more time on the torch and being creative instead of focusing on keeping the operation running.
And this leads right into the last thing I want to write about today. A lot of my life is spent balancing different parts of my self. Over the last five years I have spent much more time building my business and representation of other artists than I have spent on my own artistic career. I now acknowledge that just like I provide representation for so many other artists, I am now seeking artistic representation for my self. At first it made sense to be self representing, as most of the art I have created is drinkware fitting under the umbrella of “Drinking Vessels”. Over the last few years I have begun exploring other mediums and creative processes. I have found that I am not the best at representing myself, which also distracts me during my creative process and affects the work.
My team and I have plans to get back into resin castings of glass trash. The project has been on hold for over a year, but will hopefully be back on track before it gets too cold and we are delayed another season. Special thanks to the few clients who have been waiting patiently for theirs. I have been creating metal ash trays with OLDGREED and Bob Will, a metal artist living in Red Cliff just up the road from Minturn. Our entire first batch sold out, so we are now working on a second round. There are many other ideas in my head that I simply don’t have the time or resources to pursue at this time. As the DV team grows, I am able to spend more of my time on these endeavors. Eric will be able to help remove me from the feeling of representing myself in the context of my drinkware that will still be released through Drinking Vessels along with other galleries and shows. I am having other conversations about representation for my non-drinkware creations. If you or someone you know would like to work with me in this capacity, please reach out. I won’t be rushing into any partnership without exploring which options will be best for everyone involved. It has become clear to me that managing the sales and presentation of my own work is beyond my capacity on top of everything else I manage. This has been a challenging reality to face for many reasons, but writing it here reminds me that it is necessary for me to achieve the balance I am striving for in my life.
I can admit here that part of my skepticism in relinquishing control of the sales of my own art stems from feeling like a failure. How could I represent all of these other artists I work with, and not be able to do the same for myself? Why would another artist trust me to represent their work, when I am seeking external representation for my own work? I have a different kind of personal attachment and ego associated with my work that makes it feel different than when I show another artist’s work. I remember how afraid I was to tell my client the price of my greatest creation the “Trashterpiece” which he gladly paid without blinking an eye. I also remember having no difficulty telling another client the price of the most expensive piece I have ever sold which was made by two artists I work with and had a price tag of more than twice the cost of my “Trashterpiece”. I do not have the same kind of confidence in my own work that I have in the work of others, because it is hard for me to perceive myself as being on the same level as the artists I admire and look up to most.
With all of the above on my mind, I took some time this weekend to go camping with friends. Mostly I rested and napped at the campsite. I didn’t look at my phone for almost 24 hours. We didn’t discuss work. I was able to just be, a rare occasion for me. My acupuncturist tells me my body needs rest to heal. This is a challenging concept to me, but I’m working on it.
Sorry for the lack of entries here lately and thanks for tuning in this week. It’s time for me to get over to the studio for Sunday Specials. Feel free to send me a message to see what’s new and unlisted or tune into the live streams!
Enjoy your Sunday,
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