Friday, December 27, 2019

New Year News and Hope!

New Medium Publication Hand Made Makers of The World

In exploring Medium, I have found that it is a place that has much to offer but what it doesn't have is a strong publication representing the hand made artist designer community. This is unsurprising because as the world evolves, large forces have also excluded many things valued in the past to paint the world in digital brush strokes. This phenomena is evident in my economic development research from Marco Rubio's, American Investment in the Twenty First Century, which identifies a global world divided into high value (high tech) and low value (inclusive of most hand made objects not sold in upper end markets) economies, to Boothbay's local economic development council

To correct this deficiency, I created my own Medium Publication: Designer Craftsmen of America and the World Please contact me if you would like to be part of this publication, which is seeking collaborators.

In a world moving toward collectivisation Medium is the evolution of media toward individualization, One can find advise on Medium on just about anything in a world where we are all experts in the experience of living. The medium of Medium, in the McCluhan sense is the internet.

As a representative of an entrepreneurial family business in a home with a unique history, I find that there is little advice from conventional sources which suits our individual situation. In a venue like Medium it is possible that I can find advice that is relevant from others who have carved their own pathways. I can also give advice to others, which advice of the moment is to take a Medium subscription for $5,00 a month and start exploring the world of individualized media on your own. You will find much that is of no interest, but you can tailor your own home page to deliver what is valuable for your unique path.

Vintage Prototype of the Antarctic Seal in extremely rare natural brown, circa 1960's

A Special End of the Year Request to help is reach our goal:

In the last week of the year we have a goal to raise $5000,00 in sales which will enable us to get better financing to begin a project of working with other studios to produce some of our moderately priced items, 

Wide Gingerbread Mug with brown tree decorated by Elise Isabel Andersen
There is now a brown slip available on the commercial market which very much resembles the signature brown slip Dad designed in midcentury, which you see on the Antarctic Seal above, The availability of a commercial facsimile to our hand crafted brown slip, makes it more possible to work with other studios using their bodies to produce some of our original designs, such as the mugs,and small birds. This is also consistent with my vision of reinventing Andersen Design production as a network of small independently own slip-casting studios.

We will consider all reasonable offers on our vintage work which can be gifted to a museum as a tax deductible contribution, The Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine has expressed an interest in the Andersen history. Andersen work has been sold throughout our history in Museum Stores such as the American Museum of Natural History in NYC and the Brooklyn Museum in NYC, Our large Salad Bowl in the Brown Tree patter was the number one seller in the America House, a high end crafts store which was located across the street from the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

We hope to put together a more official collectors reference with a list of Museums who are interested in contributions in 2020.


Medium is a social media venue that offers contributors an opportunity to earn money quantified by reader interest.

Consequently, there are many articles written about how to make money on Medium. The popular advice is to publish every day. There are many articles about the burn out effect some experience from trying to meet the highly demanding publishing quota, entailed in such advice. Take it or leave it.

I decided to leave it and publish a post derived from the independent research into Maine economic central management which I have pursued for the last ten years,

I though it would be easy to quickly put together a post since much of the story was already composed and would only need reconfiguring. This, of course, turned out to be untrue. It took me quite some time to put together the article and when it was done it took me quite some more time to recover from the task. I closed down my involvement from Medium for a while after finishing the story. I was taken by surprise by my reaction but upon reflection, I realised that it is because this is a difficult history to be reporting about. It is a story about the University of Maine. One would like to think of the University as something that exists purely as a public benefit, but the facts recorded in the statutes and congressional documents reveals something else.

James Madison by Gilbert Stuart

The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to an uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government.
James Madison Federalist Paper #10
I chose to publish my post in the Medium Publication that I like the best Discourse and Dialogue, although this publication does not have the high number of followers that other publications have,

How The Morrill Act gave birth to Public Ownership of Private Intellectual Property in the USA. 

This turned out to be a good decision. My history of the The Morrill Act and the founding of the University of Maine to its contemporary evolution, was chosen for Medium's prime History category where it will get the most exposure and will also be used in Medium apps and emails.

So by rejecting the mainstream for the niche publication, I ended up in the big stream. My advice is aim for quality not quantity and follow the meaning not the money.

One of the best parts of Medium is to discover that the people who follow one are also the ones one likes to follow. Here are some that I enjoy:

Richie Crowley: A human, sharing their intimate moments with a spirit of alliance. Now that you’re here, I invite you to feel, something: 

It is true that I like following Richie Crowley because he is uplifting. He makes me feel abundant and inspires as a blogger. Richard Crowley has great clarity in his approach to life and is very wholesome. I enjoyed his recommendations on subscriptions to keep, and will be trying some  of those subscriptions  myself. 

Alexia Carroll

It is impossible to be unhappy on a bicycle

Written with imperfect grammar and yet it is perfect. As with Richard Crowley, the writer makes me feel something, and it is uplifting.

Ali Kayaspor
Math Teacher. Mathematics. Soccer player. 
The Stunning Beauty of Islamic Geometric Patterns 

stunningly beautiful. Also uplifting.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and will have a Great New Year!


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Recently Posted Items.

In Appreciation of the Simple Form, White Says  it Well:

Variations on the Cycladic Vase in White

Small Mellon, Big Mellon

Vintage Variation of a Cycladic Vase in One of a Kind Pattern 

Christine Thalia Andersen's decorative expression on Sheeba, a form designed by Weston Neil Andersen, One of a Kind

A Vintage Turtle Prototype in Rare Matte Green Glaze

I really miss being involved in the ceramic making process, and the opportunity to teach it to others. Hope the New Year is the Year of the Phoenix!


Saturday, November 30, 2019

New Horizons with a Holiday Coupon

Tall Gingerbread Mug by Weston, Loop Pattern conceived by Weston executed by Mackenzie

Greetings to All.I hope you had a great Thanks Giving! 
We are giving you a 20% discount on orders over $100.00 on firsts and vintage items. 
Good through Dec 4 2019
Use coupon code: Giving 2019

Integrating a New Orbit

Writing is becoming more complicated since I started writing for Medium, a place where over 10000 writers from around the world contribute, and where there are many publications to which one can submit one's work, or create one's own publication.

Readers can follow writers and publications. By so doing one creates a personally curated network  displayed in a section on Medium's home page,

There is original writing on every topic, from cooking to quantum physics. Many well known magazines are on Medium, At five dollars a month it is a good bang for the buck.

I have been accepted as a writer for three publications to date,

The Start Up is the most active Media publication,
Be Unique, which is a smaller and growing publication, and
Dialogue & Discourse, my favorite Media publication, thus far.

Two of these articles relate to independent research in which I have been engaged for the last decade. Medium will be the primary venue for my political voice, which is inseparable in the real world from my entrepreneurial voice, artist voice, philosopher's voice and so on but cyberspace has it's own rules, as if another dimension. The challenging, and initially confusing aspect of expanding one's orbit, is how to channel it all effectively. The content published on Medium will not be the same as the content in this email. I will provide links to my medium articles on an ongoing basis and/or you can follow me on Medium.

The classic Tall Modulus Column Vase serves as a fascinating light catcher as the world turns

The Brave New World

New technology looms large in the Medium cyberscape. 

My personal desire and life mission is to preserve a creative lifestyle working in hands-on production of a craft which is a qualified contender for mankind's most ancient technology. I believe the world needs to be grounded both in our historical roots and the future toward which we are rapidly speeding, but there are large political and economic forces driving us away from one and toward the other. I intend to become a balance on the other side of the scale.

Medium is currently the repository of a future in which the ancient crafting life style has receded into history, or more accurately, has been relocated to developing nations in a binary globe divided by high valued and low values economies. This is illuminated by Marco Rubio in his report, American Investment in the Twenty First Century. 

Go to report

Medium's dominant focus is the developed world.

I have read a few posts by one popular Medium author, Zat Rana, who expands upon the hypothesis that human experience in the age of information is more complex than it ever has been before, due to the quantity of information channeled through cyberspace. He ponders how to deal with it. I, however do not find my experience of the world, since the internet made its appearance, to be more complex than running an understaffed ceramic art, design and slip-cast production business.

The Natural World is More Complex than Technology Can Capture

The ceramic making process begins with the raw materials made of molecules invisible to the human eye. One has to retain information about complex interacting systems which one cannot observe. Thanks to Tony Hansen's Digital Fire software, this is actually easier for the contemporary ceramist than it was for my dad who designed the basic recipes used by Andersen Design, calculating all the relationships on handwritten note cards. To this day, we still make our body, glazes and decorating colors from raw materials. Information is far more easier to access than it ever was, but nothing has changed in the physical handling of the raw materials, which are still delivered in 50 pound bags.

 I have been accepted as a writer for two Medium publications, thus far. The StartUp and Be Unique

While  the singular process of working with glazes is extraordinarily complex, glaze making is just one process in an array of processes that go into operating a ceramic design and production business processing of an inventory of classically marketable designs developed over a life span of sixty-seven years. Operating without a staff, nor even robots, I have learned to rely on my subliminal collective unconscious to function as director of operations. The subliminal awareness used to navigate real world complexity is accurately described in Mcluhanesque terms as integral awareness. Any complex real world situation requires it. The absence of complex situations as in unceasing, relentless, repetitive, routine work, dulls human awareness, which is why the quality of the work process should be one of the metrics that defines a "quality job" in the future of a better world.

Training the Integral Awareness

Last year I was running the production studio with only occasional help with decoration, I realized that although it was a not an efficient way to run a production, as activities which should have been occurring simultaneously were occurring consecutively, It was a challenging orchestration to bring off and would make an excellent training course for anyone with an interest in running a ceramic slip casting studio. One must manage complexities within complexities, from being aware of molecular interactions, invisible to the eye to understanding the interactivity of the entire work process from mixing the raw materials, creating the forms and applying the finishing glazes and decoration, to regulating the rate of climb and cooling of the heat of the kiln, and that does not include administration, marketing, selling and delivering the product. Computers and the internet reduce some of the work load.

The Elliptical Mug by Weston Neil Andersen, based om rotating ovals

Reinventing Production

The absence of a production studio does not mean our product can no longer be produced.We can work with other studios, which is an important direction to take in the interest of creating a basis for Andersen Design to have a future in the twenty first century. Working with other studios also provides us the opportunity to fill some missing spaces in the larger economy.

Reinventing Marketing

Andersen Design began before globalization and did not alter our mission because of globalization. Our unique history can be a presence in the turn around direction, which luminaries like Senator Rubio are formulating as a better future. National and global value systems call for reconsideration in order to move away from the divide in which there are two worlds, the developed nations and the emerging nations, the de-industrialized world and the industrialized world, and two types of economies, the high valued economy and the low value economy, which are assigned respectively to the binary halves of a globalized economy If not, the world may end up looking like it does in the Network, drama, the 3%.

The high value economy includes all things new tech. Hand crafted products of historical origins belong to the low value economy. This is very much in evidence at Medium, where a search for ceramics brought up very little indeed, and a search for handcrafted and handmade delivered a few subjects across a range of uses for those terms, the most notable by a company called Tanzo, a blockchain social media platform using crypto currency, and decentralized marketing, aiming to become a marketing alternative for handmade products, especially important to designer craftsmen/women, in emerging nations, but also important in the United States.

Tall Gingerbread mug and brown slip decorating technique designed by Weston Neil Andersen, decorated in leaf pattern, by Susan Mackenzie Andersen
Tanzo writes that artists can register in guilds. Andersen Design can create such a guild based on our historical integrity, a western ceramic company which did not participate in the mass exodus of production from America to low cost labor markets and yet competed successfully in a market filled with imports at a price point affordable to the middle class. Such is our established history, the foundation for an American-Made Guild.
Crafters have the option to register as participants in one or two guilds or other types of organisations. Incentives will be rewarded by the platform based on the number of crafters an organisation brings in. This is how TANZO intends to provide wealth within the organisations. Such incentives will be allowed solely for the promotion of the organisation’s activities. Crafters will in turn be indirectly incentivized by their guild’s activities. Tanzo- Why Blockchain
Decentralized marketing is an intriguing development. It is because Medium is so high tech heavy that I have become aware of blockchain, but my understanding is insufficient to date.The articles I have read do not explain how it works for the end user as a medium of exchange, rather than investment. I am still learning.

Strategizing Capitalization

Our strategy is to raise money for a new production studio by three methods. 

Method #1 is through the sales of our vintage line

Method #2 is a KickStarter project, which requires developing an expanded email list, which in good faith, will be aided by Medium. 

The third method is to develop relationships with other American slip casting studios to produce and develop products in our line. Initiating this process  will require a smaller capital investment which we hope can be raised by method #1

If this succeeds the products produced by other studios will be used as middle range rewards for our Kickstarter Project. We can also develop marketing venues for the new products produced by other studios one product at a time.

An Historical Line of Classic Mug Designs

This post features some of Andersen Design's mug designs. Mugs are are marketable as a stand alone product and thereby mugs an ideal product for use in developing creative working relationships with other American studios. Mugs can be finished in commercial glazes or proprietary glazes and decorated in endless ways by talented artisans. Endless creative possibilities. My hope for the new year is to make this idea a reality.

A simple mug but an all time favorite, a balanced design with hand painted stripes in a pleasing relationship.


Thursday, October 31, 2019

Production and Consumerism in High Culture

This Eating Duck is included in our Vintage Fundraiser, priced to afford to launch a mug project with an existing American slip casting studio
The Eating Duck is the last sculpture Dad worked on, and the first one in which the subject is involved in an activity as opposed to a portrait in repose. It began as our egg form vase and the sculpture was built around it.

It seemed no co-incidence that the last sculpture Dad created, hatched from an egg, one of my Dad's elemental forms, suggests a future direction for the company he founded. As I worked with these images I realized that the subject matter calls out to be reproduced as an outdoor sculpture.

The space created by the sculpture is very intimate. One can get very very close to the duck as it feeds. The Eating Duck is a natural subject for an out door sculpture in a rural public square or on a woodland walk, and a reminder of our planetary co-habitants in an urban landscape. It would be striking in a sculpture garden surrounding the Andersen Design Museum of America Designer Craftsmen, when the museum materializes.

This Eating Duck is being saved for reference for our proposed outdoor art sculpture

The first challenge is to find, invent, or adapt the material out of which this sculpture can be made.  The material must be strong enough to withstand severe weather conditions while retaining the beautiful ceramic surface quality of Dad's brown decorating slip. This is an area about which I presently know nothing. I am hypothesizing that such a technology is possible today. The first stage is research into how it can be produced, and then how it will be funded.

The first images that come to mind of existing outdoor nature sculptures express power and/or aggression, such as the bull in downtown the Manhattan's financial district and ancient stone lions.

In an article titled 10 Best Sculpture Parks Around the World, of twenty-one images, only two sculptures have wildlife as a subject matter, (excluding the human species) and one of those two is a mythical creature, Pegasus, the winged horse. The other is a Deer by artist Tony Tasset, created in fibreglass, epoxy and paint.

In the article, Jessica Stewart writes "For centuries collectors and artists have brought together monumental sculpture and placed it against nature, with institutions finding the allure of art and environment an attractive calling card for visitors."

 "Monumental" suggests that a sculpture must be very large in size to assert its importance, as appears to be the case with most of the sculptures featured in the article. The Deer by Tony Tasset is "supersized". The description on the Laumeier Sculpture Park website states;“The surreal juxtaposition of the supersized deer emerging from the woodland dramatizes the relationship of what it means to be human, the identity of sculpture and their respective places in nature. Tasset explains Deer “as a work that represents the highest conceptual ambitions with a delightful populist twist.

The artist. Tony Tasset, describes the Deer in the language of a cultural artifact emphasizing conceptualism, ambition, and populism. Ambition is "the highest conceptual ambition". Imagining a large scale sculpture is easy, It is in the making of the work wherein ambition lies. The larger the artwork, the more ambitious it is to produce. I wondered if Tasset is himself involved in the making of the work or if he contracts it out. I went through several articles about Tasslet, including an interview but the discussion about how the work is produced is not to be found, and so I concluded that Tasslet has no involvement in the making of the work, for if he did , he would surely have something to say about it. The popular twist must refer to the imagery and the style of the fawn. a subject which engages human love for babies and animals, but the words imply that sentimental love is of the populous, the "low" of the "high and low art, which Mr Tasset says he seeks to merge.The populous are categorically separate from conceptual ambitions. Although Tasset breaks away from industrial and technological imagery in his subject matter, he can not let go in his thought of the cultural elitism so thinly veiled in the simulacra art of the postmodern era. Nonetheless, Tasset has introduced imagery otherwise missing in the sculpture garden portfolio.

I envision the Eating Duck as a larger sculpture than Andersen Design traditionally makes, but not supersized, unless one is considering the perspective of the Duck. I see the Eating Duck produced in a size equivalent to human size amplifying the intimate space created by the activity of eating, an act common to Man and his cohabitating species. The Duck should be on a pedestal so that it is situated so that a human observer can get very close to Duck's head as it eats and its eyes gaze to the side to meet the human eyes of the viewer.

The text on the Laumeier website says "This cunning work explores how we collectively dwell in the landscape but also celebrates the unique environment created when art frames nature."  I think of outdoor sculpture the other way around. When sculpture is displayed out doors nature frames art. It would be easier to solve the challenges of creating a large sculpture to be displayed indoors, but an indoor work is not as interactive a part of our everyday environment. An outdoor work becomes part of the passerby's experience, taken in and absorbed in the course of living their lives.

Doe with Fawn by Elise Isabel Andersen

Andersen Design is proposing self appropriation of original, small scale. popular. niche market art, made large, but since it is a work process rooted in the raw materials of the earth, fashioned by man into an original image, it is not appropriation but rather evolution, and not post modern, but post-post modern, in a twist on Allen Sekula (discussed below) because it does not give image to the void of production but to the anomaly of production in the de-industrialized world. Andersen Design's process begins in the small scale and that is its importance. In the small scale the work evolves differently. Mind and materiality are inseparabile in the act of creation. My father, who created this business, with my mother, had very intellectual and esoteric mind, but he chose a very physical form of expression.

In postmodernism, conceptualism is realized through making something small, large. In ceramics it has always been possible to scale down a design, but not to scale it up in size. I am hypothesizing that with today's technology it should be possible to move in both directions, and that both directions contribute to the cultural meaning of Andersen Design's art. Imagine that our proposed network of small studios includes one studio specializing in scaling up or scaling down designs. It would likely also specialize in making supports for sculptures like the Heron, needed to keep its neck from sagging during firing. This would be a creatively innovative endeavor in a rural community which maintains ordinances encouraging the quality of a rural working lifestyle in which businesses in the home proliferate. This kind of a community would not be your every day megalopolis. Because Andersen Design has an inventory of over two hundred designs, which have maintained marketability since the day they were created, sold not to mass markets, but to niche markets, and so not over produced, Andersen Design can potentially provide the basis for such a specialized studio provided adequate funding. Our Vintage line is continually being updated with new additions and is instrumental in our diverse multiplex bootstrapping financing strategy, Check it out!

Heron Sculpture by Weston Neil Andersen

The Serf's Story:

Jeff Koons is the reigning star of postmodernism in the eighties and beyond. In August of 2012, The New York Times published I Was Jeff Koons’s Studio Serf by John Powers. Powers was a twenty one year old art student at the time he worked for Koons. He painted the cracked Egg oil paining by Koons. Koons described himself as "an idea person", The art is in the idea, separated from the act of producing the idea, like the intellect is separated from animals. Powers describes his job painting Koon's paintings in similar terms used by Amazon distribution workers, describing their jobs imitating robots.
My job was simple: Paint by numbers. The most intricate sections required miniature brushes, sizes 0 and 00, their bristles no longer than an eyelash. The goal was to hand-fashion a flat, seamless surface that appeared to have been manufactured by machine, which meant there could be no visible brush strokes, no blending, no mistakes. John Powers I Was Jeff Koons’s Studio Serf 
 Leaning Mug by Weston, the white glaze falls over the hand carved nautilus as a happenstance of nature.
Andersen Design production work has a goal diametrically opposite that of Koons. Koon's goal is to create art made by humans that looks like it is made by a machine. While the goal of Andersen Deign's art is to hand fashion a surface that appears to have been made by nature, human nature. The goal in Koon's process is to have every production piece look the same. The idea of the Andersen Design production process is that no two hand crafted works are ever exactly alike.

On November 30, 2012, Jeff Koons was awarded the United States Medal of Art by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It is described as "The first Medal Of Arts awards,(by the State Department) granted to five artists.

The main reason, that I could grasp, for selecting Koons, is that he is very famous and at the time his art commanded the highest market price in the world. In my opinion, the message conveyed by Koons is not beneficial to United States diplomacy. I am not alone in my reaction to Koon's appropriated kitsch, transformed into high art by scale and costly materials, a self portrait of the artist looking, with disdain, simultaneously towards the world and within, while expounding a philosophical view of capitalism which is often protested, across the world, as deplorable.

In the honorary speech, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton recognized Koons for the time in that year when he spoke before an audience of 1000 listeners in China. According to Secretary of State Clinton Mr Koons "inspired cross-cultural appreciation and thought-provoking discussions among the city's art community". Inspire he did, based on the content of his work, which speaks of consumerism and capitalism. Soon after Koon's presentation, the Chinese came out with a lower priced version of Koon's work.

The Secretary of State characterized the core of our government as public private relationships, without which the Awards program could not exist. but did not explain why one cannot give an award without such a precondition: She cited De Tocqueville, a critic of American individualism, and then spoke of what acquaintance with the awardees would mean for people yearning to express themselves under a repressive regime:
"One of the great characteristics of our country are our public-private partnerships. They are really at the core of how we do everything. De Tocqueville noticed that, but we’ve continued to perfect and increase our extraordinary partnerships between government and business, between civil society and academia. Our partnerships are really at the core of who we are and what we do. And this program could not exist without those partners. So on behalf of the Obama Administration, and especially everyone who works in our Diplomatic Corps around the world, we have been blessed by your generosity......
 [Each of these artists] are living testaments to the timeless and unending human urge to create and connect," she continued. "So they provide us with another language of diplomacy, one that evokes our universal aspirations as human beings, our common challenges, and our responsibilities for thinking through and addressing the problems that we face together......
Just think of what each of these artists means for people yearning to express themselves, that young artist living under a repressive regime, that budding painter who’s not quite sure where he or she fits in. Now, not all of these people will ever meet any of these artists, but they will learn about them and themselves, maybe even know something of their spirit and tap into a deeper level of inspiration, because they will encounter their works.........".  link to no longer available speech
On July 29 2014, artnet news reported that a Chinese Company is producing copies of Koons work,


Weston Neil Andersen was raised on an Iowan farm in the era before farming was over taken by corporate interests. Weston and Brenda were fortunate in establishing Andersen Design at the pinnacle of the American middle class, when, as Dad often told, the greatest amount of wealth was distributed among the greatest number of people. Dad would often remember the days of his youth as a time when the community spirit was greater and the food was better and one would forget, as he said so, that he was talking about the depression. Even then he was fortunate to live in a town which had two banks with $1000.00 each, but he also told stories of forlorn wanderers, passing through, whom grandfather provided with jobs on the farm. In that simple story is a key concept; We are all humanity's saving grace, if we choose to be so. We may not be able to deterministically affect the larger forces that create the human condition but within our local environment, individual to individual, we make a difference. My father's reaction to the changes during his time was to create something which preserved the values, he felt to be inherently better than those being heralded in with the industrial revolution. Today we have moved on to the digital revolution, but the transitional issues of working process values remain the same.

The Leaning Nautilus Mug by Weston Neil Andersen

Hand made production is a mindful work process, the humanistic alternative to the 19th century revolt against the working conditions brought about by the industrial revolution. Andersen Design is a production as an art medium established during a brief historical moment which was a precursor to the cultural movement which began in the 1960's with Andy Warhol.

Warhol's "factory" was a hands-on artistic art process in which the subject of art was commercialism and mass culture celebrity. Andy Warhol's art factory transformed the factory workers into stars, by the mere act of branding them with outstanding names and featuring them in films produced by the factory. Quite the opposite of the next generation of the "production as an art form" genre in high culture. Mark Kostabi and Jeff Koons keep the production of their art at an arm's distance. The focus was on Koons and Kostabi, while the factory workers were as faceless as the subjects in Kostabi's art.

In the early nineties a new art movement emerged in the work of photographer and critic, Allan Sekula, who first came into wide public attention in the 1993 Whitney Biennial. Instead of making images of images the subject of art, Sekula's photographed the effects left by the vanishing of images of production in the developed world, photographing the void within cultural and economic globalisation.

In 2012, the Tate Museum published online, a lengthy discussion of the work of photographer, and photography critic, Allan Sekula, written artistically, in the Mcluhan sense, by Bill Roberts,

Production in View: Allan Sekula’s Fish Story and the Thawing of Postmodernism, examines the occlusion of visual imagery of production in the developed world. Roberts identifies the geographical reorganization of the globe by the industrialization of the south and east and the deindustrialization of the north. The imagery of Fish stories are the oceans and  accompanying maritime industries, contrasting unanchored capitalism with the bulk and weight of the vessels which transport goods across waters from the industrialized zones to the consumer economies. Mr Roberts writing captures a sense of cultural weightlessness mirrored in the trending economic vacuity of American macroeconomic investment strategies examined in Senator Rubio's report, American Investment in the Twenty First Century.
The overarching subject of Sekula’s material was global maritime industry, and especially its role as the largely unseen bedrock of the worldwide distribution of commodities. Fish Story thus confronted the space-time compression of a consumerist world whose latest buzzword, ‘friction-free capitalism’, conjured images of a dematerialised economy newly enabled by the computer as ‘the sole engine of our progress’, with its own abundant imagery of the slow, weighty transportation of goods across the oceans, a vast water-borne iron and steel infrastructure, and of lives defined, both at work and at leisure, by its shifting global parameters; an affront to the ‘blinkered narcissism of the information specialist’, as Sekula himself has remarked.21 Production in View: Allan Sekula’s Fish Story and the Thawing of Postmodernism
Roberts and Sekula's work amplifies the lost connection in contemporary western culture to the meaningful value of work and the relationship between productivity and wealth creation, hidden from view, and banished from language in the consumer economies of the North. Mr Roberts echoes Marshall Mcluhan on the role of the artist in understanding the human relationship to technology. Mcluhan wrote "The artist is the man in any field, scientific or humanistic, who grasps the implications of his actions and of new knowledge in his own time. He is the man of integral awarenessMarshall Mcluhan, the Medium is the Message
Fish Story’s articulation of the global, macroeconomic scene is not merely that, but also a powerful intervention into precisely this insular artistic and art-institutional picture. If art is indeed situated at the nerve centre of this cultural amnesia as the standard bearer for ideologies of the ‘weightless economy’, Fish Story asks whether the visual arts might in fact be the ideal arena in which to confront this repression, by way of a photographic activism that would disarm art’s First-World ideologies of simulacral self-sufficiency.27  
Twenty-six years later censorship of "production" reigns in art world institutionalism. Throughout its history, Andersen Design has been flaunting categorization by a culture increasingly fuedalized while flummoxed by an American ceramic slip-cast production as the medium for hand crafted art marketed to the middle class. The upside is that exclusion from institutionalism necessitates individualism. There is a system outside the system, where the butterflies roam, flapping their wings and expecting the unexpected in due course.

Andersen Design imagines a more culturally and economically integrated globe, a world where money is not the only organizing factor of human culture, where the work process regains its respective place in nature and humanity.

Buy Andersen Vintage and support the evolution!

Applaud this story on MEDIUM ! (This story was selected by the Medium curators, which means it will be promoted)

Monday, September 30, 2019

It Takes Hatching Many Butterflies to Diversify an Economy- Part Two!

Opportunity at the Economic Roots 

Broken Platter.The Owl and the Pussy Cat by Brenda Andersen circa 1960's

Part One

A Call to Action!

I first began blogging about political matters because I observed that there was a missing diversity of reporting and opinion in the Maine media. My purpose in writing my own blog is to create an alternative voice. I have likewise found this to be true in terms of access to economic development support in the Boothbay Region despite the existence of organizations which call themselves economic development councils and resources. The economic development council is as unapproachable as the Boothbay Planning Board, which despite language found in Title Thirty of the Maine Statutes stating that the public "shall" have a hearing in regards to town planning, inclusive of comments submitted in writing, the Boothbay Planning Board does not provide contact information on the town website, also true for the Joint Economic Development Planning Council.

When I approached the Joint Economic Development Council of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor about a museum concept for which Andersen Design had been fiscally sponsored, the JECD has just spent 79000.00 of public money to hire New York consultants to write, from a great distance, a master plan  for our local community. 
The Camoin Associates master plan recommends museums for the region. 

Fiscal sponsorship means that the sponsored organization can accept non-profit funding without itself being a 501(3)C organization. In other words a fiscally sponsored project can bring capital funding into a community but it still pays taxes, including property taxes. Ms Wolf seemed unaware of Andersen Design's history, recognition, and support within our industry. We were readily invited to apply for funding from a major Maine Crafts Foundation but that requires establishing a board for the museum, for which I found no support locally.

One might expect a local economic development council to understand fiscal sponsorship as a community asset. However, it is uncertain that JECD spokesperson, Wendy Wolf, was familiar with fiscal sponsorship, as she advised me that the first thing I would have to do is become a 501(3)C organization. Wolf also relayed that the JECD could do nothing to help individual businesses. I was advised to get help from my own peer group, dismissing the advise in the Camoin Report, about developing museums in the region. Ms Wolf was preoccupied with planning an advertising program to benefit the Boothbay Harbor restaurants and accommodations industry, in conjunction, with the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Christmas lights event, all accepted into the JECD's peer group.

It is true that Andersen Design's support is not found in government and other public organizations. There is a large world outside the public system but there are times when one must confront and even collaborate with government. Now is one of those times since it matters to preserve the quality of life and working environment provided by a business in the home. For many years that life style, so fundamental to rural living and designer craftspeople has been a target of elimination in Boothbay. An examination and comparison of statutory mandates and town planning leads from one to the other by following the money, distributed  as grants. The State is playing a hand in our town planning, which could be remedied somewhat by establishing a town charter, but that still leaves the heavy hand of centrally managed wealth redistribution. Since I would not like to move once more in order to have the freedom to live a quality life consistent with my upbringing, I must take up the call to action and harken others to join me. I present my case herein.

The Cat that Thinks by Himself, By Brenda Andersen. Vintage Prototype circa 1970's ?

A Concept is Born

About twenty years ago, Andersen Design's production, which once had a large facility, had fallen back on our space in our home. I was casting the line but it was too large to cast all at once in that small space so I had to rotate the line. I imagined there being many small studios and that each one could concentrate on particular segment of the line, perfecting the craftsmanship of those particular pieces. I favor the quality of work process that small studios attached to a home provide, but size and working environment would be up to the individual studio.

We need collaborators who love the process and are dedicated to it and so I felt the studios should be individually owned. We would network with them as independent contractors. The studios could either work exclusively with us or develop other business and their own lines. That would depend on the individual of which there are all types. I am aware that there is a subculture in America of artisans who decorate slip cast forms and others who slip cast forms and sell them to that market, evidence that the interest in ceramic work is alive and well and attractive. My idea is a variation on that and fashion design studios which out live their namesakes, and continue the originating tradition.

The classic Chickadee was designed by Weston and Brenda Andersen is produced using our original casting slip and glaze recipes made from raw materials. Even though the glaze and decorating recipes are the same, due to the process, each studio's work is likely to be distinguished by its own identity. Teaching a process dependent upon originally designed glaze and body recipes requires the hands on involvement of those who know the process. Small works like the chickadee have never gone out of demand, fitting in small spaces in the kiln, increasing its value and creating a better firing density They are  a pleasure to craft well and all that we can produce is readily sold. Today we are missing a studio where we can produce and train others. Please sign up for our Kickstarter support list, which needs to grow far beyond its current size before we launch. If you are already on our list you can help by sharing this message around.

I didn't realize then, that it is a politically radical idea to propose ownership at the roots of the economy, in Maine, in the early years of the twentieth first century.

Diversity- A Plan or Pipe Dream?

"As Tzu-Gung was traveling through the regions north of the river Han, he saw an old man working in his vegetable garden. He had dug an irrigation ditch. The man would descend into a well, fetch up a vessel of water in his arms and pour it out into the ditch. While his efforts were tremendous the results appeared to be very meager. Tzu-Gung said, “There is a way whereby you can irrigate a hundred ditches in one day, and whereby you can do much with little effort. Would you not like to hear of it?” Then the gardener stood up, looked at him and said, “And what would that be?” Tzu-Gung replied, “You take a wooden lever, weighted at the back and light in front. In this way you can bring up water so quickly that it just gushes out. This is called a draw-well.” Then anger rose up in the old man’s face, and he said “I have heard my teacher say that whoever uses machines does all his work like a machine. He who does his work like a machine grows a heart like a machine, and he who carries the heart of a machine in his breast loses his simplicity. He who has lost his simplicity becomes unsure in the strivings of his soul. Uncertainty in the strivings of the soul is something which does not agree with honest sense. It is not that I do not know of such things; I am ashamed to use them "cited as favorite anecdote of Werner Heisengerg. by Marshall McLuhan in The Medium is the Message.
Recently, in response to developments, I thought of an even more radical idea, that the core network should be located in Boothbay. It should be an avenue accessible to those of limited means (or not) to become entrepreneurs, just as it was for our family which lived on the edge of faith during my youth, before the business attained financial success providing a comfortable and secure living.

I was too young to be aware of financing, aware only that the business was started with small business loan and proceeds from selling the Levittown style house Dad was able to purchase as a war veteran. The SBA loans were guaranteed by the government and enabled financing but did not cost the taxpayers unless there was a default. Such a system can measure its public benefit value by the ratio of loans paid back versus defaults. I have wondered how my parents managed to swing the financing of the New York Gift Show, which put Andersen Design on the national map. As the first NYC Gift Show, it may have been offered at a reduced rate. I only know that I have never heard that they had any outside financing to make that happen.

A business in a home is one of the most conducive environments for using production as the medium of art. It allows the artisan the quality of life to tune in to his internal rhythms rather than adapting to external cues. Both platters were painted by Brenda Andersen in the fifties or sixties.The platter on the left is a production pattern but intuitively ordered. The pattern on the right is a one of a kind artwork which emerges during the production process when internal impulses are permitted expression by the environment and the fluidity of the process.

Winters were dicey. I went to the post office every day eager to see if there was a check in the mail. I was accustomed to not knowing when necessary funds were coming and having the funds arrive, as needed. That reinforced faith in the workings of the universe. This is the spirit of America that is lost as we become another wealth redistribution society, providing security but withholding opportunity for all those except the economic top. Andersen Design possesses productivity assets which can contribute to the economic development of a region from the roots outwards. Our assets, an extensive marketable and classic product line and a historical brand identity, are unusual and can only come about over the long term, not instantly manifested over night. 

However many are intent upon reinventing the Boothbay Region as an exclusive community for the wealthy. How can the latter accomodate a budding micro-economy entrepreneurial class? Can the economics of one co-exist with the economics of the other? I can't answer that. But it has to begin with a vision and the ability to suspend disbelief. The vision is based on the foundational concept that the appropriate goal of economic development is economic diversity and strength in the middle. 

Should Andersen Design succeed in realizing a ceramic slip studio network, it will enhance the economic and cultural diversity of the community. Ordinances which encourage rather than prohibit home businesses contribute to the solution of several problems at once, affordable housing, year round employment, and way to integrate raising a family with growing a living. 

Acorn Squash Vase, small, 3.5" tall, The beauty of this natural and organic form takes on pristine clarity in our soft white matte glaze, Vintage prototype. Design by Weston Neil Andersen circa 1980's

An Industry Partnership

Most economic development in Boothbay is centered on the leisure time activities of the tourism and entertainment industries. A ceramic network enhances a community focus on creative, innovative and productive work activities. Networked ceramic studios, sometimes working independently, sometimes collaboratively, meets the description found in §3305. Industry partnership grant program, since such a ceramic network is an industry partnership.

The Industrial Partnership Program is one of the few options that make training affordable, but it is not as equitably accessible to all as was the minimum wage, which is no longer treated as a training wage, a shared expense by employer and employee, but as a minimum living wage, keyed to increase with inflation. Training is expensive to take on. It is a form of education, raising the skill level of the employee. Whereas the formerly conceived minimum wage made training equally accessible to all and a shared cost between employer and employee, one has to garner community support for grants. 

The first community served by a ceramic studio network are home businesses which need the support of town ordinances. The second community is designer craftsmen in general and ceramic artists in specific,and then there is the retail sector which benefits by shopping experience which is actually better in the real world than online. As already stated, the community that shares the values of creating entrepreneurial opportunity at the roots of the economy would be served by such a network. Andersen Design understands growth from the roots because that was how Andersen Design began. Growth from the roots up can extend to the heights, a pathway made more accessible when the divide between the haves and the have nots devolves into the middle, a divide which has only deepened in Maine since Governor Longley and his unelected board reinvented Maine as a centrally managed economy in 1976.

Seeking Capital

Since thinking of the idea for networking the production of our line. I have explored the capitalization-funding systems from every angle and came to see the entire economy as intersecting wealth redistribution sectors. Once there had been three separate and distinct sectors, government, private, and non-profit, but all had merged into one, morphing intermittently into the appearance of separability but in fact so homogeneously connected that it seemed that it had swallowed up the wealth creating sector, obscuring it from perception by the naked eye. Although the wealth redistributing sector redistributed wealth that was once created, it developed into a culture in which the act of creating wealth was viewed as untoward, while the act of redistributing wealth was perceived, or at least promoted, to be motivated by the unselfish will to public benefit. Meanwhile behind every powerful non-profit organization is found a multitude of large corporate foundations which have accumulated large concentrations of wealth in the private sector.  As reported in American Investment in the Twentieth Century, since the onset of the twenty first century, the macro-economy, which funds the redistribution economy, has been decreasing investments in building non-financial businesses in order to increase investments in financial assets, or money making money, as its only function within society. We are not there in totality, yet, but is the direction in which America is headed. How is it sustainable?

The Butterfly Effect

It is often said that the individual has no effect on the path of the world. However in chaos theory, there is a minutely sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state:
The Butterfly Effect
Edward Lorenz, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a tornado (the exact time of formation, the exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. Lorenz discovered the effect when he observed that runs of his weather model with initial condition data that was rounded in a seemingly inconsequential manner would fail to reproduce the results of runs with the unrounded initial condition data. A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.
Andersen Design has a special talent for form. The Andersen Butterfly as it was decorated as a production pattern can also be decorated as a one of a kind or limited edition artwork. There is no limit to the decorative and glazing possibilities. It is because Andersen Design started as a business in a home, that it was able to evolve as production as an art form, which is the truly humanistic response to the inhumane working conditions brought about by the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, and in the twenty first century, by those working "quality jobs" in Amazon distribution centers. Andersen Design's brand of production as an artform centers on work as more than a means of an income but as an important quality of life. Andersen Design Production as an art form necessarily relies on its humanity.

One might equate central economic management with the data system which is rounded off, in the belief that that only large systems contribute to results, dismissing smaller systems as inconsequential. The State as central manager of wealth redistribution economy, arranges the pay and benefits of the workers from minimum wage to quality jobs, which are defined as jobs paying higher than average wages and benefits, with no further criteria. A system of grant giving corals all who engage to serve as instruments of the State's centrally managed design for everything that exists. The State just hasn't been able to figure out how to coral those darn butterflies! The best solution is to round them off, to build one's model of everything as if nothing exists outside the all-knowing state.

Title 30: §4345. Purpose; department to administer program Under the provisions of this article, a municipality or multimunicipal region may request financial or technical assistance from the department for the purpose of planning and implementing a growth management program. A municipality or multimunicipal region that requests and receives a financial assistance grant shall develop and implement its growth management program in cooperation with the department and in a manner consistent with the procedures, goals and guidelines established in this subchapter.  
§4346. Technical and financial assistance program
E. Assistance in the development of ordinances; 
In the Boothbay Register, articles about our town economic development groups are always about the money, and inevitably grants from the State.

The Meeting of the Emperor Penguins Board. Emperor Penguin designed by Weston and Brenda Andersen and finished in Andersen Design's proprietary glazes.

The Mad Hatters Board Party

In 1976, Governor Longley's unelected board, defined one of the two missions of the state's new centrally managed economy in its report Governor's Task Force for Economic Redevelopment, Recommended Legislation for an Economic Development Program -110th Congress as "To eliminate municipal referendums on public bonds". Since public votes on municipal bonds are provided by the Home Rule Amendment to the Maine Constitution, added in 1969, it is not such an easy thing to do. Instead a system of government by boards proliferated and proliferated.

Government by boards is an opaque form of government. There is no individual accountability as positions of the individual board members are hidden behind the collective identity of the board, like the Wizard of OZ. Boards can deem nonsense like the Mad Hatters Tea Party and there is nothing to do about it.

In my search for a means to recapitalize Andersen Design, I learned about fiscal sponsorship, which allows an enterprise serving a mutual purpose of a non-profit 501 (3)(C) to be sponsored by the non-profit as a project enabling the project organization to apply for foundation grants without being structured as a 501 (3)(C) non-profit. The entity whose project is sponsored qualifies for funding, otherwise available only to 501 (3)(C) organizations, but is not tax exempt. This seems like a healthy development with potential to redistribute wealth on a more equitable bases by including the micro-economy free enterprise sector, which is taxed to finance subsidies for the large corporations which concentrate wealth and create foundations to give via non-taxpaying non-profits. The justification for subsidizing large corporations with taxpayer funding is because it serves "the public benefit". For such rational to be true, what goes around must come around.

I applied to a New York fiscal sponsor for the arts, as a social enterprise. I was told before I went through the process that because Andersen Design has been teaching ceramic skills on the job, for our entire history that we should qualify. After taking an inordinately long time to come to a decision, the board rejected our application citing the use of the word "production" on the application, which the board declared to mean "being in it only for the money". By asserting that our motivations are whatever the board declares them to be, the actual fact that we have been teaching employees the skills of making ceramics since 1952, was disqualified as a social enterprise function. The fact that we taught the skills and can continue to teach the skills is an indisputable fact. The assertion by the board regarding our motivations is arbitrarily mechanized fiction.

After rejecting our application for funding the continuance of Andersen Design's historical purpose, the fiscal sponsors board then encouraged us to apply for a different mission, wherein the apparent thinking of the board became even more preposterous.

The board invited us to apply instead for a school or a museum. If we applied as a school, the board would not allow us to teach others how to make our product line of over 200 designs but it would allow us to teach how to make our proprietary glazes.

Tumbler designed by Weston Neil Andersen, cast and decorated by Susan Mackenzie Andersen. The is the last project I was working on before we lost our production capability. I worked out the right balance between the white glaze and the blue decorating colors so that the colors hold their forms without running or appearing too stiff, having just enough softness at the edges to gently merge into the glaze. This is the test of those results, with which I was pleased. 

Having invested so much time and energy into the application, on the spur of the moment, I decided to apply for a museum, making up the figures on the fly, being sure to show a loss. We were readily accepted once we changed our mission and showed a loss.

However our first goal is to re-establish a ceramic studio and training center. The museum makes a great component of the network whenever both materialize, but is on the back burner until then.

Town Ordinances Need to Work for All Inhabitants of the Community!

A January 2019  article in the Boothbay Register tells about an artist who purchased a house on Ocean Point, thinking it would be no issue in a small town to get permission to set up a gallery and teach a four student class. He was wrong. The planning board denied permission. 

In the same article it is reported that the planning board  is reconsidering its prohibitions against businesses in the home, but no contact information is given. In November the inhabitants of the municipality will be allowed an up or down vote on what the planning board decides, and a public hearing at that late date, but no mentioned opportunity for submitting written comments, as mandated by Title 30 of the Maine Statutes. As my reader might have guessed, this is my written comment.

Concurrently, with rumors that the planning board is reconsidering the ordinances prohibitive to home businesses, the town selectmen and JECD are trying to implement fiber optics broadband, and talking about grants to pay for it. Will there be a trade off bargain for State funding pitting one interest group against another? The broadband group commands the media with frequent stories advancing their intentions but the only way I found out about the planning boards rumored reconsideration of ordinances restricting home businesses is because of a one line mention, hidden in a paragraph in the January article in the Boothbay Register. The JECD does nothing to represent the interests of traditional rural lifestyles while using public funding to advance its own agenda.

Boothbay is located within commuting distance from the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, a former navy base, reinvented as a municipal corporation chartered by the Maine Legislature to serve as an instrument of the state. As the only municipality designated as a Pine Tree Zone in the Midcoast Region, most, if not all, taxpayer subsidies and tax exemptions, are invested in the municipality of MRRA, leaving only one role for the rest of the Midcoast Region - to serve as high end housing for the tax payer subsidized development at MRRA. The perceived needs of a MRRA suburbia is one speculative explanation for why the mysteriously appointed Boothbay planning board has passed ordinances, some copied word for word from the State's Industrial Partnership Act, aimed at breaking apart the lifestyle and work process which integrates a business with a home- a core value in Andersen Design's vision of a related network of independently owned, industrious ceramic studios, in fact the inspiration for it, without which the evolution of production as an art form would not have had room to grow. Production as an art form is historically relevant to all that has happened since the industrial revolution and its associated social issues.

Boothbay Comprehensive Plan of 2015 pg 16 & 17 Identical to Chapter 39: MAINE INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIPS  Action , 2-3 * Action B,2-4[ 2013, c. 368, Pt. FFFFF, §1 (NEW) .]
Action B.2-4Explore creating a small business assistance program that would help growing businesses, including home businesses and home occupations, with financing and with locating in appropriate commercial/industrial districts when appropriate. 

Add Developers like Paul Coulombe and Air B&B to the mix and there is little room for people of ordinary means. Even so, our politicians invest great rhetoric into claims of wanting to attract young people and to create year round employment and affordable housing. Even I admit that it is madness to think that young budding micro-economy entrepreneurs could afford to live and work in Boothbay, even if our ordinances were to be rolled back.

And yet, here we are, residing in Boothbay on a property with well water, needed for producing our product, due to the fact that in 2017 the town water in Knickerbocker Lake became unusable for the purpose of mixing our ceramic casting slip, as it acted as if radically overdosed with flocculants, a water cleansing agent. The property where we reside has enough acerage to accommodate building a ceramic studio and training center. 
In order to do so, we must first take on city hall, aka the Boothbay Town rulers, both elected and unelected. According to Title 30 
financial assistance to municipalities is to be tied to conformity with State goals:
§4345. Purpose; department to administer program Under the provisions of this article, a municipality or multimunicipal region may request financial or technical assistance from the department for the purpose of planning and implementing a growth management program. A municipality or multimunicipal region that requests and receives a financial assistance grant shall develop and implement its growth management program in cooperation with the department and in a manner consistent with the procedures, goals and guidelines established in this subchapter.  
State Goals are inevitably tied to the system described by Senator Rubio in his Report. Made in China 2025 and the Future of American Industry, in which there are high value and low value industries at the global scale. High value industries are designated for developed nations and low valued industries for emerging economies. Most things hand crafted are low value industry, according to this system which actually is "only about the money". This way of thinking is consistent with Maine's definition of a "quality job", exclusively measured by higher than average wages and benefits, as arranged by the State for corporate benefits.

There is also this in Title 30:

§4326. Growth management program elements 1. Inventory and analysis.  A comprehensive plan must include an inventory and analysis section addressing state goals under this subchapter and issues of regional or local significance that the municipality or multimunicipal region considers important. The inventory must be based on information provided by the State, regional councils and other relevant local sources. The analysis must include 10-year projections of local and regional growth in population and residential, commercial and industrial activity; the projected need for public facilities; and the vulnerability of and potential impacts on natural resources. (emphasis added)The inventory and analysis section must include, but is not limited to:

B. Significant water resources such as lakes, aquifers, estuaries, rivers and coastal areas and, when applicable, their vulnerability to degradation; [2001, c. 578, §15 (AMD)

For the purposes of inventory and analysis, the degradation of the Knickerbocker Lake water supply, pursuant to the purpose of mixing our casting slip, should be included in the inventory and analysis of significant water resources and fairly incorporated into the zoning ordinances. Our long established local industry requires a property with well water. I submit that "other relevant local sources" includes all inhabitants of the community. The planning board should be talking to the people and businesses affected by their regulations- during the planning process, not only a short time before a vote. There is no way for the planning board to understand our issue with town water unless there is an open avenue of communication.

If the planning board completely ends the current tyranny against home businesses, our water issue will be solved. They may be calculating access to State grants in this policy. However the balancing factor is that by encouraging growth at the roots of the economy, incalculable initial conditions could 
create a significantly different and more diversified outcome for the region's economy and culture. The quality of measurement should not be only about the money.

Think globally, Act locally!


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