Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Mother's Things...

When my mother left this mortal coil a few years ago, as many children do, my brother and I set about sorting through her belongings. I have heard stories from people I have known over the years about avarice filled pitched battles, declared over the estate of a passed loved one. This was far from the case with us. With my brother and I. It was all very mellow and agreeable.

I had never been faced with anything like that before. Dividing elements of a parent’s estate. Amid the grief and confusion swirling inside my head, I had to lay claim to things I had either never seen or hadn’t seen in many years. For as many things as I didn’t recognize, there was an equal amount of items I did know. Things I had seen before. Some of which held old memories for me. Not expansive memories. Flashes. Nuggets. Even slivers of memory.

After the sorting process, amid the articles I was taking home were two pieces of art. My mother the artist had acquired a number of art pieces over the years, many from artists she was either acquainted with or knew as friends. Many of the art pieces were in absentia. I figured that they may have become sad casualties of past moves, or she may have given some away. She and I were estranged for many years, so I haven’t a clue. At any rate, I was glad to see two objects that I remembered vividly. The two art pieces are displayed in my livingroom here on the marsh. Before I get to the two items, and their corresponding memories, I need to mention the source of their introduction.

As a Georgia native, I grew up in Atlanta. It was the mid-1970’s, and my mother got a job working at a gallery. Located in an area known as Buckhead, The Signature Shop was the brainchild of shop owner Blanche Reeves. For many, many years, the shop had/has been nationally known for quality handmade art. The gallery is still there in the same location, even though Blanche is no longer with us. I remember her as being nice, but also tough in a no nonsense way. It was a nice shop. I enjoyed looking at the art, and it was there in many different mediums. Blanche gave a number of artists their start at The Signature Shop. ‘Visibility’ that is. Although my mother would meet and strike up friendships with a number of talented artists while working there, my focus is on the two that created the pieces I have.

( A rather fuzzy photo of Glen and Susan Lapekas at the Inman Park Art Festival, c. 1975...or so...my mother had written the festival name and the year (followed by a question mark) on the back of the picture.)
Glen Lapekas was a young and talented potter in his mid-20’s. I remember visiting Glen and his wife, Susan, at their home with my mother. This is where my memory flashes a bit. I can remember him showing us his kiln, and his pottery room. My mother had one or two other pots he had made, but the one I have (the only one remaining) is the one I always liked. A glazed taxi cab.

My other memories of him surround a show poster. I think it was for his first big professional show. It had a nice layout, that would take on an eerie vibe. My mother got a phone call. Glen Lapekas had been killed in a late night auto accident. He was only 26. On the show poster, there were four photos of a chair. In three Glen was seated in different positions. In the fourth, the chair was empty. I can remember thinking that the poster was a portent. A horrible predictor. Twas truly sad. Such a nice and talented guy. He had so much more to create.

(Ed Moulthrop with some of his creations) 
The second of the pieces is a wooden bowl. Known as the “father of modern woodturning”, Ed Moulthrop was instrumental in changing woodturning from being viewed as a craft to being viewed as an art form. A noted architect, he taught himself the art of woodturning. He created a special lathe and longer tools to accommodate the larger scale pieces he produced. He had a preference for diseased wood, or wood with fungal infestation. Wood others would have passed by. Ed liked the color range he got. He developed a treatment for giving his bowls a high gloss sheen that also strengthened them. Ed Moulthrop bowls are in many private collections. I read where Bill Clinton gave one to Nelson Mandela. They are included in many museum permanent collections, from MOMA to the Smithsonian.

Ed Moulthrop was an extremely nice chap. Another artist my mother befriended while working at The Signature Shop. She had really wanted one of his bowls, but they were very pricey even back then. My Moulthrop memory is from an invite from Ed. He invited my mother, brother, and myself to his home to meet his family and see his shop. I remember it being very rustic with wood beams and such. I also remember that there was a steep hill/grade in front of the house where a ski slope had been constructed. It was covered in wood shavings instead of snow. If memory serves, we stayed the night. One thing I clearly remember was having a really bad head cold. Couldn’t breathe through my nose at all. It was that Moulthrop family visit where I was first introduced to nasal spray. It felt more like battery acid, but it did clear my sinuses. (lol…interesting the things one remembers)

(My Moulthrop Bowl: two side shots, the one on the right featuring the crack Ed filled;
the center photo shows Ed's stamp, and his name and the wood type etched into the bottom.)
Back to the bowl…Ed had a bowl made out of cherry wood that had cracked, but that he had repaired. It is the bowl I now have. My brother and I remember him gifting it to my mother. It’s a lovely bowl. The crack can clearly be seen, but it doesn’t detract from its beauty. Lately, I have wondered about its value. I did some looking locally for an appraiser, but had no luck. I don’t think it can be considered an antique as it isn’t at least 100 years old (I think that’s the requirement). A fine art appraiser is probably what I need. Maybe someone at SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) might be able to do it, I don’t know. It’s not that I’m looking to sell it. Just curious. Maybe it being a personal gift from Ed would be a plus to its value? Yes, it is cracked, but maybe the fact that Ed cracked it and repaired it himself would add something? Who knows. I have seen similar Moulthrop bowls online that have sold for several thousand dollars, but those are not flawed. Oh well…as I said, I’m not looking to sell, just curious as to its appraisal value.

(Me, c. 1977)
Wondering about the value of this Ed Moulthrop bowl has started snippets of memory to return. Some say that every event in our lives is stored within our subconscious in the form of memories. It's just a matter of tapping into those old memories and pulling them forward. Call them whatever you want...trigger objects...the Lapekas taxi, and the Moultrop bowl keep small bits of stored data from my past popping to the surface of my conscious mind. Remembrances not necessarily directly related to the objects, but associated with the time frame in which they entered the scope of my life. Memories both bitter and sweet. 

I have a few other items of my mother's from the long past that are tucked away in boxes. I think I'll bring a few of those out. Maybe they have things to remind me of, as well...

No comments:

Post a Comment