Thursday, March 8, 2012

Folk Art and a Whippoorwill

This morning I heard the whippoorwill for the first time this year; he's singing right now. There was a saying in Arkansas when you first heard the whippoorwill it was time to plant peas, they meant black eyed peas. I've done several posts on the whippoorwill which you can find here The Elusive Whippoorwill and here The Mountain Whippoorwill. If you've never heard the call of a whippoorwill click on the video below to hear the sound. The whippoorwill song is different in other parts of the country. The one below is from Florida. There's something comforting hearing the whippoorwill year after year. Something wonderful about things repeating themselves and being consistent in the world.

Did I mention Gary has been selling some of my pottery at the flea market once a week. It's only a few miles from our home. The pottery has been selling quite well and folks come by each week to see what new items Gary has brought. People have been complimenting Gary on his booth display. One person said they loved my pottery because it was folk art. I never thought of my pottery as being folk art. Hum, what do you think? I think the sculpture in the first photo is folk art. I got the ceramic sculpture at a thrift store in California. It's one of the pieces I can say, I wish I made it. There's no signature, a reminder to sign your work. Maybe some of my pottery is folk art, other pieces maybe not.

Then there are others who don't like my pottery, they're usually folks who like wheel thrown work or maybe work that's perfectly symmetrical. That's OK; different strokes for different folks they say. One woman told Gary 'this stuff is terrible'. She went to the next booth and that vendor told her to keep going. Apparently all the vendors stick together at the flea market. People want to steer clear of rude people. There's no need to be rude; there's always something positive or diplomatic which can be said. If not, best not to say anything at all. Maybe some people are feeling their oats, it's a full moon after all. This post is part of the Mud Colony what's happening in the studio. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. I think some of your pottery (like the teapot in the sidebar) is folk art.A little whimsey always helps. There is certainly no need to be rude at a sale.If you don't like someone's stuff you can just move on. Bad work will sort itself out and folks who don't sell will eventually stay home.

  2. Hi Dennis, thanks, it is interesting to hear what folks think of your work when it is different than what you think of your own. I am glad Gary came home and told me this and that I brought it up here. A little whimsey always helps for sure, keeps the rudeness away. Ha.

  3. "A little whimsey...keeps the rudeness away." I love that! I think some of your work might be classified as folk art, but then, there is no need to classify it at all really. It's your imagination manifesting itself beautifully.

    The sound of the whippoorwill is a sound from my childhood, something I haven't heard for many years. I'm hoping I will hear them this summer.

    Love this post.

  4. I can see where some of your pieces could be called folk art but why worry about the labels, as long as you like it other people will like it too. I always feel a little sorry for rude people (after I get over how rude they are) because they probably have really unhappy lives.

  5. Love the sound of the whippoorwill! I didn't realize their sounds were different at different locations.

    I read something the other day about marketing your own work (I'm paraphrasing) but the advice was to think of your (own) work like salami - not everyone likes salami - so don't take it personally when someone doesn't want to purchase it - just move on - cause there are lots of folks who love salami!

    And I agree with Lori - rude people must be so miserable!

  6. Yeah, well some people are just weird...and rude...hilarious really that they feel the need to label everything !
    Ok so Wikipedia says of Folk Art...
    'Folk art encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic'
    Well, Im not indigenous to Australia, but do sometimes feel like a labouring my work must be Folk Art too !!
    Love the Whippoorwill..sounds like a busy's our Aussie magpie
    have a great day ...thanks for being a part of Mud Colony :)

  7. Adriana's definition of folk art from Wikipedia was interesting! Like some other commenters maybe some of your work could be considered folk art, but I have to admit I had never thought of it in that way before.
    It always amazes me that people will say rude things about someone's handcrafted work with them (or their husband) standing right there. Poor woman, she must have a sad life.

  8. Linda, it's great that you are putting your work out there. And it's sad that people feel free to be rude these days. It seems to be geeting more and more common. I hate it. We artists have to develop a thick armor to deflect some of the comments we are told or over hear about our work. Don't take it to heart.

  9. I have definitely never heard your whip-poor-will here in Minnesota.
    While some folks might see your work as folk art, I see some of it as avant-garde. I think truly creative people like you often defy classification!

  10. Hi Linda...Folk Art is big here in Appalachia, and much effort has been made to keep alive forms which have been handed down through generations but almost got lost with industrialization.
    I think some of your work leans towards the forms of folk art. Others look like modern art. And above all, they are all artistic creations.
    PFAH on rude people in public, no matter where they are!
    I do miss the whipporwills that I used to hear at night in IL. I don't think our woods around in the mountains have them. Sorry this is so long, you touched me today!

  11. Folk art is a pretty amorphous term. Is it art made by folks? ( I think that's how Pete Seeger described folk sung sung by folks) I think folk art is made by people who are native to a place working in their own vernacular. Some of your work may be informed by folk art but you have lived too much in the world to be a folk artist.

    There's no excuse for rudeness.....its R*O*N*G....wrong!

    There won't be any whip-poor-wills here until may at the earliest.

  12. You and Gary are a really good team.
    It is so nice that the vendors stick together. What an arrogant woman. Just feel sorry for the poor soul she goes home to.

  13. Hi Linda those other birds in the back of Adriana's magpie link are rainbow lorikeets(link here: - the magpie has quite a variety of songs. is your whipoorwill a type of cuckoo? You never know what people will like or not. Of course no need for them to be rude.

  14. Hi Teresa, thanks, yes too bad I don't have the line 'a little whimsy keeps the rudeness away' in the post and you are right no need to classify I just thought it was interesting what folks were saying about my pottery. I read the whippoorwill is a small bird but he does have a large voice.

    Hi Lori, thanks, no need to worry about the labels but it is curious how folks describe things, Gary came back with a little quip of his own to her and yes they must be unhappy or insecure with themselves and it manifests itself in rudeness.

    Hi Judy, thanks I think maybe the reason the sound is different in different areas is because the species of bird is slightly different, in Arkansas the call was 'poor will' rather than 'whip poor will' and I also read there is a different one in Arizona and then there is another bird mistaken for the whippoorwill that is in the carolinas but I forget which one that is.

    Unfortunately rude people sometimes make other miserable and that's the bad part of their miserableness.

    I'll keep making my salami, some people do like it and that allows me to make more.

    Hi Adriana, thanks, yes labels are strange aren't they, I am laboring away like a peasant also, at least at a peasant's salary. Ha. Oh I'll have a listen to your magpie, what fun, isn't the net wonderful to be able to hear the various bird calls. Thanks for stopping by.

    Hi Michele, thanks, I can't understand why folks are so rude, Gary has a thick skin and it rolls off his back but if I had been there I might have gotten defensive, but if folks weren't rude then other's folks wouldn't feel bad. Gary gave a quip back and that would have been an opportunity for the person to apologize, but some folks never do apologize, they just turn it around on the person they were rude to. We all have things to learn in life, I know talking about these things helps me learn.

    Hi Connie, thanks, in the past I might have taken it to heart, but more folks are purchasing my pottery or even those not buying are making compliments so I don't take it to heart any longer.

    It is interesting to sell pottery at a flea market because there are folks from every walk of life there and it brings the art of pottery to so many more people which in turn helps all pottery makers I think. There is a common goal of the vendors of selling their work on a more personal level to people with more conversations going on.

  15. Hi Ms Sparrow, thanks, I wonder if the whippoorwill doesn't get that far north. Well I never thought of my work as fitting into any one style either but I guess it depends on what work the people are looking at, at the time too, most of the work I send to the flea market is more utilitarian so that may be the reason for the response or comments of folks, thanks so much about the avant garde, perhaps one of my unvoiced goals is to make work completely different than any other which is kind of a personal challenge to myself.

  16. Hi Barbara, thanks, Oh I would have thought you'd have the whippoorwills where you live. Maybe the elevation is too high? I guess my work is a blend of many styles.

    I think there is great worth to keeping folk art alive and folk traditions and valuing work made by individuals rather than mass produced work.

  17. Hi Suzi, thanks, I have lived in the world and appreciate so many styles sometimes I feel I have one pottery hand in the past and one pottery hand in the future. I think the whippoorwills are early this year but the trees and birds seem to sense the seasons intuitively while we humans observe a little removed from the signs of nature.

  18. Hi Patti, thanks, yes Gary and I are a good team. Ha. Gary is now considered a 'regular' there and they all seem to know one another week to week. The woman did walk off in a huff after the next vendor drove her off. Perhaps she'll go home and think about it.

  19. Hi Anna, thanks, I don't think the whippoorwill is part of a cuckoo family. I am not sure I will have to look it up, All I know is they are small speckled birds and sing at night and not during the day. Not sure when they get any rest, perhaps they take cat naps and then wake up and sing and then another cat nap.

  20. I might have to see if I can switch the comments to be able to respond below each one since it is difficult for me to keep scrolling up and down for responses, I resist change for the fear of messing things up here on the blog.

  21. I haven't heard a whippoorwill yet this year, but our peas are planted. I guess there will always be differing opinions on art, but it sounds as though you're doing well at the market, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

  22. Hi Laurie, thanks, no worry, my peas aren't doing that well, they are snow peas not sure about the soil I planted them in I just gave them some fertilizer so hopefully do better soon.


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