Monday Morning – Denver

Our first weekend working at the Denver Art Museum is behind us. I think I like Denver, our experiences here over the last year have been nothing short of positive.  The downtown area isn’t too big, easy to get around and now the neighborhood where we’re staying is perfect, older, well-kept, big trees and everything we need within easy walking distance. But why, when we have a job like we do, working with mud and short pieces of straw all day, that the place we are provided is white, white walls, beds, towels – puts you on your tiptoes the entire time, but nonetheless, as they say in Spanish, “a gusto.” Weather has been perfect, not too hot, half a day of sun, clouds starting the early afternoon, scattered thunderstorms – nice.
The Denver Art Museum – new wing.

Analyzing the site.
What a great program the museum has, don’t know who thought of it, but it is all built on the theme of clay – “Marvelous Mud – Clay Around the World.”  Two large scale exhibitions, six smaller ones, showcase the diversity of the material.  Luckily, we have some time that we can actually see some of them.  There is everything from Amazonian to Chinese, Mexican Colonial, Modern German ceramics alongside assorted clay art forms and photography.

Materials Delivered
Museum hours for us are perfect, be ready to work with the public at 10 am, start clean-up at 3:30, which does take a while and then home.  Perfect for us because we usually don’t know when to stop.  Monday and Tuesday we’re off unless we want to work, Wed-Friday we work, but without the public joining in, Saturday and Sunday, everyone’s invited to take part.  One weekend is now behind us, interesting to watch, but the younger kids just love it, they don’t have enough built-in inhibitions in place yet.  A sprinkling of the more adventurous adults periodically join the mix, but the kids, I think they’d be there for the day if they had permission.  Most don’t want to stop.

Emilie Lewis, our go-to person at the museum.

With great enthusiasm.

I decided to do something different this project, take all the photos with the iPhone and see if I can compile them at the end into a little booklet at the end of our event.  It’s certainly handy, it’s always in my back pocket, gotta stop and make sure my hands are clean before touching it, but hey, I’m able to record things immediately as I see them.  Plus, it’s a new world to explore that so far is a whole lot of fun.

Francis and daughter Julia.

Our little project basically comes down to allowing anyone willing, a chance to put their feet and hands in the mud, followed up with an attempt to do something with it.  At the end, ideally we will have created something that displays some of the practical uses of these different materials – clay, straw and sand.  We sourced and had delivered – bales, straw wattles, a mound of clay from the Lakewood Brick Factory, a pile of sand and some burlap bags.  Two weeks from now there should be a sitting area, an oven, an arched stairway and a sprinkling of sculptural form.

The criteria is not too difficult – basically make something fun that will last til the end of September.  That is ultra-easy, our sculptures in D.C. have shown relatively little wear after 4 years.  The end-look will be simple, not finely finished as it must remain within the realm of something everyone can be a part of and with that, we’ll see where it goes.

We’ll keep the photos coming along with a progress report as well as some shots of other things going on around the museum.

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  1. Bill,
    It looks like a lot of fun. Maybe we can come to Denver. Our son and his wife are having a baby soon, and that's reason enough to come. How long are you going to be there?

    We just picked up 400 #'s of kaolin clay and are going to start working on a finish coat this week. I'll send some pictures along when we get some made. We are not having a lot of luck finding pigment locally – suggestions?


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