Sunday, February 6, 2011

Return of the Prodigal

In October (or was it November?) of 2009, I decided I wanted to try my hand at making a mosaic. At the urging of @TheDeeView, I joined an Open Studio in the home/studio of mosaic artist extraordinaire, Jennifer Johnson. Her mosaic art adorns many public spaces in the Coachella Valley. She’s also an incredible teacher.

I spent 9 months in her Open Studio working on a mosaic. Although I liked my project, I was not enamored with the process and nearly abandoned it on several occasions. I thoroughly enjoyed the company of Jennifer and the other artists who attend Open Studio. It was their encouragement that enabled me to continue through to completion with that mosaic.

I completed the mosaic and am very happy with the results. It now hangs in my living room. I am not interested in making another mosaic. I like the medium. It is not for me.

I attended another one or two session but have no desire to make another mosaic. I have my own studio, after all. Jennifer suspended Open Studio when she and her husband took off for Mexico and Europe for an extended vacation. When Jennifer resumed Open Studio, I did not return.

A while back, I was talking with my niece in Indiana. She had been planning to travel to Black Rock City this year until her life changed to keep her in Indiana. She was telling me she wanted to make medallions for gifting. We discussed the various ways she could make them and from what materials. Chelsea gave me the idea of making ceramic dog tags.

Warning: By year’s end, you are going to be sick & tired of me talking about those self-organizing artistic groups in the desert.

I missed Open Studio. I missed the camaraderie, art talk and artistic stimulation. And I had nothing to work on at the studio that interested me: no projects I couldn’t do in my own studio. Until now. This past Friday, I returned to Jennifer’s Open Studio. I have my project: making high fire ceramic Burning Man dog tags.

I love being back in the midst of creative people; love hearing about what they’re working on; love hearing about their next project; love to hear their comments about their own work and mine. I took it all in as I worked my clay making my dog tags. The time passed quickly and I’m looking forward to next Friday’s Open Studio.

I love knowing I’m no the only artist who is totally fed up with a project (my mosaic). I overhead this: “ I’m slopping down glue and slapping this shit on any which way. I’m so tired of this thing!” I laughed ‘tillI thought I’d pee! I know her finished project will turn out to be a masterpiece because that’s the type of artist she is. Oh, the irreverence!

I walked into Open Studio on Friday. Jennifer saw me and said, “Welcome home!” And, I was.

OK! I’m obsessing about Burning Man! Please take time to visit my website at Take a look at my artwork. Contact me if you want to buy one of my pieces or if you have any questions about a specific piece. My contact information is on my website or you can leave a comment on this blog site for me to contact you (include your contact info!). You can e-mail me at or you can telephone me in my studio: 760-992-3157. You can call me, I won’t mind!

And thanks for listening!

Jerry L. Hanson

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