Sunday, February 27, 2011

Allison Shock...

One of the things that I love about the house I'm staying in is that it's filled with Allison Shock's work. Morning coffee is elevated above utilitarian purposes and transformed into a communing with art and desert creatures when sipped from one of Allison's mugs. She is a talented ceramist and thinks about all the surfaces, even the bottoms.

Allison was participating in the Camelback Studio Tour and I jumped at the opportunity. Dustin and I hopped in the car yesterday and drove the two hours to Allison's studio and home of her company, Three Star Owl, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

We followed the path to Allison's backyard, where she was set up. I was instantly impressed. Around her were creatures made of clay – owls peeking from cacti, desert lizards, and sweet honey bees. The pots, bowls, and vases of varying sizes had sprouted hooves, eyes, and limbs. Some were studded with skulls. Seeing the pieces en masse was a delightful pleasure, almost akin to stepping into wonderland.

On another table, Allison had a station set up where she demonstrated her hand-building techniques. One of the passerby studio tour attendees asked her if she was baking bread. She smiled patiently and described her process. While she was not baking bread and creating sustenance for the body, she was creating sustenance for the soul. Good art feeds the heart and mind.

Allison's yard was a paradise of cacti and succulents. Bordering her pool was a wall of potted desert plants. Some of the pots were of her own design. I saw one skull pot in particular that made my heart race. Again, I was deeply impressed and it made me miss my own collection of succulents.

She also had several feeders hung up. Birds flitted to and fro, searching out food and sharing song. Occasionally Allison would see my eyes dart, following the sound of a woodpecker or the buzz of a hummingbird and mention exactly what kind of bird it was and various interesting facts about it. For instance, a woodpecker's head is mostly made of bone and tongue. The tongue, curled up helps cushion the small brain as it pecks away and then is extended to retrieve goodies from the burrowed holes.

Across the way from where she lives is a military base of some sort. A huge chain-linked fence topped with barbed wire surrounded this desert place. Most notable was the large rock formations. They had unusual holes and caves and looked like a giant anthill. Occasionally a structure could be made out and it left me wondering if the mountain itself would open up or housed secret laboratories or missile silos.

It was a real pleasure seeing where she works. The day was overcast and it was moister than usual in the desert. Creosote bushes scented the air sweetly, creating an intoxicating perfume. It felt almost dream-like, smelling sweet smells, and seeing a magical place where an artist creates.

13 comments:

Joan Tucker said...

Lana and I would love to visit this magical potter.

Andrew Thornton said...

We are going to try and get Allison to come down next year during the Gem Show to do a talk and a trunk show of sorts. So if you'll be back, it might line up that she'll be around!

Sabine said...

I love the Papago Buttes! They are so interesting and primal. I was chaperoning middle schoolers at the PHX Zoo on Friday, it is right by there. It is fun to see all the wild animals surrounded by interesting desert.

I will have to check out this potter right in the neighborhood.

Ann

Cynthia of Cynful Creations said...

Lucky you, getting to visit with Allison. I really enjoyed meeting her a while back and I am lucky to have one of her incredible pieces of pottery.

kate mckinnon said...

Allison Shock is like no other. I'm so glad that the two of you got to meet her, and Everett, and see their excellent native garden.

Allison taught me everything I know about hand-building in clay, among a thousand other things. She is one of my favorite people on Earth.

Andrew Thornton said...

She's absolutely delightful! I picked up an owl salt and pepper shaker and a small skull bowl. I love them and shall cherish them until there is no breath left in my body.

Andrew Thornton said...

Did you notice in the picture, Kate, that she's wearing a pair of your earrings?

Softflexgirl said...

Neat! When do you go home Andrew? I've so enjoyed reading your adventures in my home state. :)

Andrew Thornton said...

I go back March 15th!

Softflexgirl said...

Okay...so, this idea is a little expensive. But, hands down, I think that it is the best food and wine festival in the Phoenix area. It also happens to be at the Phoenix Art Museum. My girlfriends and I are going on Saturday, March 12th. It is so good that we go every year.

http://www.phxart.org/devoured/

You and Dustin should really consider going! I bet that you'd love it.

Andrew Thornton said...

Looks good Ask Sara, but Dustin will be in Santa Fe for the BeadFest there. So, I'll have to pass this year... but who knows. Maybe another time?

Softflexgirl said...

Shoot! I just know that you'd love it. Take care and enjoy the rest of your stay.

N Valentine Studio said...

I love succulents but unfortunately we live in a rain forest. I have several in our bathroom though they seem to like it in there. I loved the picture of the huge wall of succulents!