When I entered the studio, the first thing I noticed was how much there was in it. From the outside, it didn’t look all that impressive. The wood looked old and various lawn ornaments surrounded the building. But when I walked in, it was a different story. It was hot and the first thing I saw upon entering was a kiln that was burning bright orange. It is lovingly called the “Gloryhole” by glassblower Mark Hall. There were random items everywhere and various posters, pieces of glass and lamps hanging from the ceiling. A faint smell of burnt hair lingered in the air. Then I saw Mark. He was wearing a bandana in his hair and had on a tie dye shirt underneath a shirt with the words “Hallmark Art Glass.” He greeted us enthusiastically.
I’ve never been in an artist’s studio before. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Everything in the studio matched Mark’s personality perfectly. It was quirky and full of various things. Throughout his demonstration, he danced around the room while forming a vase. When asked why he quit his art after having his daughter, he said it was because glassblowing is like heroin, it’s addicting. Mark is an animated, passionate person. The love for his work can be felt in every inch of his studio. His energy was infectious. To see the person behind the art, to be in his space, made me feel less intimidated.
I think many people find art intimidating. We don’t always understand it. We often forget that there is a real, breathing person behind the art. We usually see it in a gallery or in a picture, not the place where it was created. I certainly felt that way before I went to the studios of several artists. But art is truly just the reflection of a person.
The first place we visited was Keyhole Studio. Michelle Kaisersatt is a clay artist. When I first entered her studio, I felt instantly at home. It was cozy and she welcomed us into her space. She gave a tutorial on clay carving, where I actually got to experience what she does. The space is as welcoming a Michelle is. Michelle believes that working with clay is a soulful process, and this reflects in her work. Each piece is lovingly created and celebrates the beauty of life. I am often guilty of looking at a piece and asking, “what does this mean?”, When I should really be asking, “who is the artist?”
Our last stop was Poor Farm Studios. Painter Brian Frink, and his wife Wilbur, renovated an old poor farm and turned it into their home and a studio. The basement is a gallery of Brian’s paintings. When we went upstairs, I instantly felt like I had entered an artist’s space. Paint splatters on the walls, drawings lying on the table. Stacks of canvases and paintbrushes. This was where the magic happened.
One wall had a huge painting on it. High ceilings, long hallways. Brian was welcoming and his wife gave us a tour of the poor farm. It was easy to see that Brian and Wilbur have created a space that reflects who they are as people. Brian has some of his paintings on the big walls of house.
When we had finished the tour, he made us pizzas. He told us about his work and chatted with us. Being in his space and getting to explore it helped me see that art is more than just a pretty painting. It is something that has heart behind it, and a whole lot of hard work. All three of the artists don’t create for the money. They do it because they love it. When you see the space where an artist works, when you meet them and get to know them, art isn’t just art anymore. It is a manifestation of a person.