As I mentioned in my previous blog, one of the most interesting things about house sitting is the people we meet. All of them have impressed us with their hospitality, mindsets and friendliness. What sets our present home owners apart even more are their past and current achievements. Steve Katz, a founding band member of Blood, Sweat, and Tears had his moment of fame in my last blog, so today, I am commemorating his wife Alison Palmer.
From the moment we met, Alison exuded talent. It is something that is physically present in all of her artwork around us, but that presence is hard to describe when it comes to her personality. You just feel it is there. She has the demeanor of an artist, is soft-spoken, open-minded and has a positive, encouraging attitude towards others. She is overflowing with ideas and I sometimes wonder whether her desire to create new pieces is a passion or a healthy addiction. Probably both. We did not get to spend much time together, because they were leaving for three months, but her art is part of our everyday life. Her genuine laugh, reproduced by Koo Koo the parrot, always brightens many moments at home.
While the basement seems to be Steve’s domain (his “man cave”), the other floors of the house scream Alison. Not only do we get to appreciate her sketches, masks and papier–mâché creations on the walls, her pottery is an integral part of every room. Ceramic masterpieces graze cabinets, counters and floors, and a lot of Alison’s creations are being put to good use. We drink tea out of her curiously shaped, robust mugs, eat scrumptious dinners off hand-made plates, scoop bird food out of attractive clay containers, shake pepper and salt from her commercial line of shakers and light the rooms with intricate lamps, designed and created by Alison as well. I have to say, this unique stoneware collection, made with skill and love, makes eating and drinking even more enjoyable!
Behind the house, Steve and Alison have built a studio where she works, organizes and hosts pottery workshops. While her art is available online, sometimes a pottery show takes place in the studio as well. Four electric kilns inside are the convenient way to harden the work, but the “real” kilns are located outside. One of them fires on gas, but the kiln of all kilns runs on wood. Once in a while the whole pottery family gets together to stoke and run this beauty for the best results in firing the pieces of art. An instructive video that Steve and Alison made, shows the process. A couple of people have come by the studio while we are here and it is interesting to learn more about this art form and have some social interaction, being on our own most of the time.
Alison and Steve (who is also in charge of all the photography of her work) are a great team and an inspirational couple. We are looking forward to seeing them again in a few days, when they come back from a place they love in Mexico, where they also have a positive impact on the people, playing music, giving workshops, creating art and helping out in the local community. Update: They rescued one of the stray dogs, and will be bringing him back home with them, so Henry and Mickey will soon have a new brother, Paco!
This blog is written with the approval of Alison Parker.