Snowbound and profound

Published 1:01 pm Sunday, February 28, 2016

Snow blankets downtown during a storm earlier this month. Photo provided

Snow blankets downtown during a storm earlier this month. Photo provided

With the snow bearing down on us early this month, the ArtWorks Center closed up shop.

That’s not to say that we went home and curled up with a book, though; alone upstairs, I tried not to lift my nose from the grindstone in order to stare out the window.

Which was a bit of a challenge, as I’ve always been a sucker for beautiful things, including big lumbering snowflakes. And I’m not alone; the first comment we get from visitors upstairs is often something to the effect of “What a view.”

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Its relative boundlessness does carry a certain intensity, lending a fresh perspective which transcends mere geography and touches on time itself–for the first few seconds after entering the lounge, it’s almost as if you can glimpse the future as it rounds the corner.

By the end of this particular day, though, the snow-globe feeling— perhaps aided by the weight of solitude and quiet — had become overwhelming. I clambered down from the office after dark, my eyes embracing their usual myopic frame of reference at ground level.

It was a welcome change of pace, as I subbed in for our office manager whose return from a well-deserved vacation had been delayed by the same storm that had looked so lovely from my perch the day before. The retail gallery on our main floor is analogous to the front line, as folks reserve tickets to Paramount events, purchase artwork, sign up for classes, sign in and out of the Clay Cavern, etc. If you’re looking for the nerve center of the AACA, this is it.

Around noon, one of our members came in to check on a few of her new pieces down in the Cavern. Having taken a class or two with John Sullivan, she’s been working independently on the pottery wheel since becoming a member. Shortly after venturing downstairs, she resurfaced, pleased with how her new work is coming along. We got to chatting about art, as you do on the front line of an arts nonprofit.

“A” was admiring some of the heavier pieces in the gallery, noting how challenging it is to center such a mass of clay on the wheel.

“I was actually having trouble with that a few weeks ago,” she said. Luckily, a fellow member and classmate was also working in the Cavern that day, and happily offered a bit of advice when asked. “Between that advice, seeing her work, and being ‘brought up’ again by “C”, after having been sort of down, I came back to the wheel and suddenly I could center those heavy pieces.”

Maybe it was mere coincidence or maybe it was one of those fate things, but moments after “A” had left, “C” walked in to check on her own pieces. Of course I asked her about the above episode. She just smiled and waved her hand, saying, “It was no big deal.” She’d merely wanted to pay it forward, and told me she was hoping to ask yet another member about best practices for trimming.

Kelsey returned an hour later, and I made the hike back up to my office, back to my view. But I couldn’t stop thinking about this story that had quietly unfolded without pomp or circumstance, that I never would have been the wiser about had the snow not kept Kelsey away from the office and had I been working from my desk upstairs. The view is nice, sure, and it’s great to get a glimpse of far-away things and big clumsy snowflakes. But it’s also nice to know the close-up stories, and to pay attention to what’s right under our noses.