Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: artists, rusty, sculpture

While driving the official Pottery Tour route, you’ll pass this great sculpture park on the side of the road between Conne & Guillermo’s studios. I’ve driven past it many times, but this year we finally decided to stop. We had pretty much “closed out” the Tour at Guillermo’s after playing with Delores Fortuna. The weather was great, the sun was slowly setting and we decided to take in even more art. So we stopped off at the Franconia Sculpture Park.

Of course, some of it is better than others. I’ve tried to capture some of my favorites. Trust me, there are a LOT more pieces out there. But my thought is that just because you throw a bunch of stuff together, and weld it in place, doesn’t necessarily make it “ART.” Some times I wonder if I just don’t get it?! If there’s some¬† concept or message that I’m missing.But I know what I like… and these are a few of them.

This one is actually a boat filled with the large wooden balls. I was especially drawn to the textures & woodgrain of the balls… especially how they’re cracking and the way the shadows played against them.

Then there was this crazy playhouse. Yes, they encourage you to go up inside it. Stairs, slides, swings… and a LOT of colorful pieces all welded together. Kind of made me think of a whimsical take on an post-apocalyptic shelter. Enter Mad Max.

This one was pretty cool. It just looked like clear acrylic triangles arranged in the mulch bed. But as the sun continued to set, the prismatic surface of the pieces started to glow in a rainbow of colors.

I think this one was my favorite of them all… a great metal contraption of a Fibonacci Spiral. Not so bad that it’s all rusty either!!!

Oh… what to do with a bunch of logs???…

I loved the silhouette of this contraption. Again, they encouraged you to climb up inside of it. But it was really the strong silhouette and the really cool dot of blue glass glowing in the top center.

And speaking of rusty metal… another favorite. Basically it’s rebar & wire mesh.

I also loved this one – a combination of weathered wooden crates and classical columns. The balance and precariousness of it was pretty cool.

One last one on the horizon as we were leaving. It was a lot of “art” today – what with the Pottery Tour, Continental Clay, Northern Clay Center and now Franconia Sculpture Park!!!

For more information about Franconia Sculpture Park, click here for their website.

Categories: Chicago, organization, sculpture

Well, today was the day. Long awaited. Long dreaded.
Not the best way to spend a beautiful Monday morning. But sometimes you just HAVE to!

So I received the dreaded letter from the IRS a couple weeks prior to filing my 2012 taxes. It said that I was being audited on my 2011 tax return. It’s the letter that no one EVER wants to receive. So not only did it make me dread doing my 2012 taxes a bit more, the 2011 audit was always in the back of my mind. After filing 2o12 on April 15th, with just a few hours to spare, I started working on clarifying & organizing my 2011 documents & records.

Now let’s just say… I’m not the best with numbers. I’m an artist.

I do the best I can when it comes to my takes. I follow Turbo Tax and answer all of the questions to the best of my knowledge. But seriously, do any of you REALLY know where all of those numbers are going?! I know I don’t. But I kind of figure that as long as I answer all of the questions honestly and have the receipts and documents to back it up, I’ll be okay in the long run. But still… tension & anticipation hoping & waiting to see how it all plays out as the IRS Auditor starts tackling my account.

Her first question was too see my documentation. My Excel Spreadsheet.
Once I forced myself to hold back my laugh, I explained that I’m an artist and I don’t do spreadsheets. But I do have a ledger sheet that I’ve created myself and fill in manually throughout the year. No spreadsheets here!

Luckily, after a few false starts, the IRS Auditor started to understand my “process.” As my friend Andrea calls it “Gary Math.” And she started to see where my numbers came from. She double-checked some of my totals, checked a few of my receipts, made a bunch of copies and asked a LOT of questions. I had to explain to her what my business was, how I make my money, how I make pottery, how I price my wares and a whole lot more! I think she was just trying to get an understanding of what she was dealing with here. Although I’m not sure that anyone who’s not a potter can REALLY understand what we all go through. At one point, she even asked my where the numbers that represent my “salary” from making pottery was. This time I laughed out loud. Do any of us really get paid to make pots? I know I don’t. No salary here. Everything I earn goes right back into the business so I can make more!!! It’s a labor of love… and I know I’ll NEVER get rich making pots. I do it because I love it..

So, after three-and-half-hours of my life that I’ll never get back, she did admit that I’ve done a really good job of keeping my records. She was impressed that everything was well organized, color-coded and represented well in my ledger. She said she was impressed… although she would still prefer to see all of my categories on a spreadsheet!

I must admit it all turned out better than I expected. At this point, she thinks that I’m pretty good. There was only one small issue she said shouldn’t make much of an impact. In the next two or three weeks she said she’ll give me the final determinations… but that I shouldn’t be concerned.

On my way out from the Federal Building, I did take a moment to enjoy the “Flamingo” sculpture by Alexander Calder. One of the nicest parts of downtown Chicago is all of the art, architecture & sculpture everywhere you turn.

After the audit, I went back to the studio to make more stuff. More stuff that my IRS Auditor now understands. But I was too excited… and I thought I needed a small reward. So I walked over to Margie’s and splurged!!! And yes, I called it “lunch.”

Almost made it worth “suffering” through the IRS Audit?! Well, not really…

Categories: bike, Chicago, sculpture

As I made it further south, pedaling through the Museum Campus, I found these wonderful horse head sculptures. Not, they’re not a nod to “The Godfather.” But a great installation piece of two horse heads constructed of little rectangles of metal all soldered together. Great animation as the sun glistens off each small piece.


Categories: Chicago, sculpture

With all of the flooding in the Chicago area earlier this week, you would have thought that maybe this wonderful sculpture would have been disassembled and deployed to the flooded areas?! Kidding. Luckily, it is still fully intact and gracing the gardens in front of Chicago’s Navy Pier.