As recommended, I stopped off in Santa
Clara. The objective was to find some pottery.
I pulled into the parking lot of the first roadside gallery
that had an "Open"
sign with the front door open.
I entered the gallery (which was more of a shop) and
was greeted by the son of the chief artist. An artist
himself, the son first detailed the lineage of the pottery
located in the counter-top display case. Then he proceeded
with his heritage that was displayed in the glass case
behind my right shoulder.
My budget did not grant me Chief status. The pottery--the
ornate symbolic detail etched into the kilned clay,
plus the fire-accented coloring set precisely within the
etched lines, made his asking price a steal.
Me, ever so the Modernist,
lost interest in the symbolism that emanated from the
I turned around and spotted two plain, small, black vases.
"My nieces," he claimed. He shared with me
their ages as represented in the height of the vases.
Both were appealing. I settled on the smaller of the
two. The vase was offset, but globular, whereas the other
vase was oblong and prissy. The vase I purchased reminded
me of an Alvar
Aalto golden original--a "great glob of glass."
Yes, I purchased the work of a twelve year old--and
I probably paid too much. But what I purchased was not
the artifact, but part of the Chief's heritage.
While finalizing the transaction, I peered to the left.
Placed atop an office desk were four plain black vases.
"How much for those," I asked rabidly with
Noguchi in my mind.
He sighed distressed knowing that he was going to miss
"Those aren't for sale yet," explaining the
Me, in full gallery must-have mode as if I was on a First
Friday hop in Old City, Philadelphia, inquired
about the Chief's pottery technique. I started with the
"What's this made out of?" (Duh!)
red clay from the land."
"And the kiln process?"
"The clay, once molded by hand, is placed in a ....
To get the black color ... is used. To etch ... is used.
To get the different colors involves ...."
I sighed very pleased. The Chief knows his pottery and
he has taught his son well--and the tradition is being
passed along to his nieces.
I shook his hand in gratitude. He accepted my earnestness,
but stood petrified and looked away as if history
was being replayed.
I secured my bubble-wrapped purchase in the trunk of
my rental. Got into the car, put the key into the ignition.
As I turned the key, I thought to myself, "Pilgrim."