My experiential research method is rhythmic.  In the evening, I write and research on the Internet using clues from local publications and recommendations from people I have met during the day.  Sometimes I make a specific route of what I want to see the next day, but mostly I create a loose itinerary.  Then, i think about what I want to learn and prepare questions for the next day.   All of this planning has an urgent energy – i do not want to miss  anything big!  During the day, I walk, drive, examine the landscape, look at art, blend in, and see whom I want to talk to and who wants to talk to me, try to get a vibe of the area and practice being in the moment.  Can I see myself living there?  Working there?  More than anything, I try to just be open.

 

Preparing for my last morning in Charleston, which was yesterday morning, my research led me to a collaborative clay community gallery and studio called Cone 10 (read more here: http://www.cone10studios.com/). They did not open until 11am, so I had a couple of hours to walk through the “hip” area, get lost, and drive across a picturesque bridge, which spans the Cooper River and connects Mount Pleasant on the east to downtown Charleston.  The third longest cable-stayed bridge in the Northern Hemisphere, it opened in 2005 replacing two unsafe bridges.  Viewing it from the ferry to Fort Sumter provided a panorama, driving over it (both ways!) was exhilarating. 

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Coming down from the bridge put me almost at Cone 10’s door, in an industrial, mixed-use area north of downtown.  As I visited with the four potters I felt their enthusiasm for where they were – not only the city, but also the location of their space, which is sizable and well laid out for workshops and individual work.  Through their collaboration, talent, and vision they have made a nitch for clay in the community. 

 

Although I had been checking weather on my Weather Channel app regularly, the wonder storm Khan escaped my notice.  Myrtle Beach is only an hour and a half from Charleston and was not in the path of the storm, although when I left Brookgreen Gardens (http://www.brookgreen.org) in the afternoon the clouds looked ominous.  The gardens were deserted; even the alligators were hiding from the 40-degree, which felt like 32 degrees, weather.  The gardens, at the same time formal and integrated with the natural environment, opened in 1932, and were the vision of Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband Archer.  My preference is for abstract or contemporary work, and even moving through at “keeping warm” walking speed, I appreciate the skill of representational sculptors.  Beauty from nature, integrated with artist-made work, all with nuance.   

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On this journey my challenge is to remain grounded and aware so I can integrate experiences and answer my question of “Where?”  Living in my head is comfortable, creativity is innate and the process of making things integrates the two.  My ocean song this afternoon was a twist on the Three Dog Night song Celebrate… “integrate, integrate, dance to the music….integrate, integrate, dance to the music…” 

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