Don Pilcher and Rascal Ware Pottery  

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A Rascal Ware Pitcher for Allen

By Don Pilcher

Chapter Nine

Georgette Ore's stooped pitcherForty years and two careers ago, I worked for Allen. He was a large man, highly educated, well dressed and had a loud bass voice. When he spoke, the sound rolled down like God scaring the sinners in the Old Testament. Whenever we met, he would say, if not command, "Donald, tell me about your most recent work." I think he was actually interested, but I know he was a consummate professional and he included in his own duties the gathering of information about his faculty.

Allen lived to be well into his nineties and, although retired for many years, he continued to make regular visits to the art school. Once a month he arrived around noon, wearing a starched white dress shirt, perfectly pressed grey wool trousers, a black belt and matching wing-tips. The trousers always had a pee spot about the size of a basketball.

In his later years, Allen had become incontinent, but he refused to allow this condition to define him in any way. Stooped by age and unable to control his bladder, he pressed on with the business of his life - conducting research, writing books and engaging colleagues. I used to tell friends that when I got to that stage, they should just shoot me. Well, now I'm approaching that time and, to my surprise, the thought of a little spilled urine doesn't define me either. I am given identity and courage by Allen's example.

Like Allen, Georgette's pitcher is stooped and doesn't hold as much water as most others. Yet it has a real story to tell, a charming engobe and glaze treatment and a most agreeable weight and balance. The handle is generous and dependable. You can tell by the potting just where the maker has been and that her current condition as a ceramic senior citizen is not without its own merits. A little leakage is longevity's price; older women have weak bladders and older men have enlarged prostates; call it even. Curiosity and purpose will blot the spills. There is clay to wedge, there are pots to make and a few ideas out there worthy of our attention. Our modest physical infirmities are of little consequence and needn't define us entirely. Still, they can be useful in giving context to our creative undertakings.

Golden pot of pottery eldersThe following question doesn't come up in polite conversation, but when the pottery elders gather, you'll occasionally hear someone ask, "If my pot had an enlarged prostate, how would I know?" That's a context for art. For some, you could be holding the piece that passes all understanding. But the answer, of course, is that in addition to occasional leaking, your pot wouldn't pour worth a damn. You'd have to shake it like hell and then it would be drip, drip and drip and you'd find water everywhere, including your shoe tops. I've made some of these in the name of creative inquiry. As an idea, it's closer to home than tying a string to the moon, a project to which I used to give a lot of time. And beyond the daily necessities of pots and piss, these organic specialties spawn, spew, sport, spread and speak the sperm of spunk spat, no spilled. Seems like something that requires real gold. You judge for yourself.



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