I grinned eagerly as the heavy weight of change slid out of my small hand and onto his counter. Pat reached under his shop register, retrieving a calculator just in time for my coins to quiet down their spinning staccato symphony. He quickly divided my allowance (and couch findings) into one dollar piles, tapping into the calculator as he added the stacks and divided by five cents. He smiled as he turned the calculator face towards me, seventy-eight. Greedily I took the small plastic bag from his hand and spun around to kneel on the floor and collect my treasures, seventy-eight five cent candies. Seventy-eight delicious Sour Soothers that were sure to ruin my diner this night, as well as a few times a week, every week, from the time I was old enough to cross the road alone until I moved away from home. As the years passed and I went home to see my parents I would often cross the road to visit Pat at the corner store for more of those candies. Pat was there every day, no questions asked, no holidays taken. I think he had kids, two sons? I don’t know his last name.
The years wore on his face and on his store, the shelves became sparse, and the interior dingy. But thinking back now, maybe it always was that way. The naivety of childhood often glosses over the reality. The store has changed now, a fresh coat of paint, new renters, and fancy yuppie bistro tables outside. I called my brother who lives across the street to ask if he knows what Pat is doing now, but he doesn’t know.
204 11 Ave SE
Ceramic, embroidery, found wood and foam, rubber, mixed media. 2015
I used the “Street View” tool on Google Maps to travel back to this spot from the safety of my studio in San Jose, California. I say safety because in truth, I have never been to this gas station. I have often been stopped at the light beside it, or craned my neck to admire it when driving by, but never have I stepped foot onto the property. This is partly because it’s located in the sketchy side of a downtown major city, and partly because I didn’t want it to lose its magic. I only wanted to admire it from afar. This particular station services mainly the working class. Big trucks and trailers would often be hooked up to its pumps, the driver would most certainly be a man, and on his way to do “man’s” work. Upon seeing this magical hub stories would begin to take shape in my mind about these people, who they are, and what they do. It always intrigued me that the station was seemingly untouched by time, and unaffected by what must be astronomical rent, the building and pumps look like they haven’t been changed since the eighties. The gas station building appears to be weathered but resolute, a lionized version of its real self. It’s muddy orange trim speaking of a time when carpets were shagged, and vans were in.
Medium: Ceramic, foam, log, embroidery, fabric, mixed media
Now I must ask of each party if they come of their own free will and accord:
Carly, do you come to this union of your free will, and with the intention of being a crusader for Ceramics as long as you shall live?
Carly- I do
Ceramics, do you come to this union of your free will, and with the intention of being the spark which will fuel Carly’s soul as long as you shall exist?
Clay- I do
Repeat After me:
I, Carly, take you Ceramics, to be my lawfully wedded husband,
to shape and to mould from this day forward,
for better or for worse,
for complete, for cracked,
in shattered and in flawless,
to love and to cherish; from this day forward until erosion do us part.
I give you my hand, my heart, my patience.
I will moisten you when you need moisture, and wedge you when you
have air pockets.
I take you to be my ally, loving what I have learnt of you,
and trusting what I do not understand yet.
I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together,
getting to know the vessel you will become,
and falling in love a little more every day I go to the studio.
I promise to respect you in your successes, and in your department closures,
to care for you after gallery rejection, and in admittance,
to nurture you, and to grow with you throughout the stages of drying.
Repeat After me:
I Ceramics take you Carly to be my lawfully wedded wife.
Before these witnesses I vow to love you, and bisque for you as long as we both shall exist.
I take you, with all your inexperience and skills, as I offer myself to you
with all my glaze flaws and perfect rims.
I promise to take forms for you, to support your pieces,
to contain your sustenance, or cup your bottom in the loo,
to laugh with you and cry with you.
I promise to keep you always in a thin layer of mud,
to harden for you, to intrigue and mystify you, and stay apart of your soul
for all eternity.
These wedding rings seal the vows of marriage just as glaze seals the surface of a pot
Carly please repeat after me:
With this ring, I thee wed,
and with it, I bestow upon thee all the treasures of my creativity, heart, and hands.
In the name of the kiln, the wheel, and the Holy sponge, I ask you to take and wear this
ring as a sign of my love and commitment.
Ceramics please repeat after me:
With this ring, I thee wed,
and with it, I bestow upon thee all the treasures of my chemical compounds, malleability, and infinite possibilities.
In the name of earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain, I ask you to take and wear this ring as a sign of my love and solidarity.
Friends, we have come together in this gallery tonight and have heard the willingness of Carly and Ceramics to be joined in marriage. They have come of their own free will and in our hearing have made a covenant of faithfulness. They have given and received a soda ring as the seal of their promises. From here they embark upon a journey to return clay to its rightful place in the world. Together they will strive for recognition and sustainability, while fighting against institutional budget cuts. It will not be an easy task, there will be obstacles along the way, but as a wise teacher once told Carly "There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in".
Therefore, by the power vested in me by the concept behind this wedding, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss!