By Barbara Falconer Newhall
My friend Nancy is a potter – a world-class ceramist to be exact – and a grandmother. She’s got pots in the Oakland Museum of California and pots in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
But much as she loves her work, Nancy wants to spend time with her grandsons – and not just a Thanksgiving dinner here and a birthday party there. She wants to be in on her grandsons’ day-to-day lives.
Trouble is, the young boys live a continent away. They’re in Baltimore where Nancy’s daughter and her husband have jobs. And Nancy’s dug in on the West Coast, where her ceramics studio in Berkeley is laden with jugs of glaze, buckets of clay, and a gigantic kiln. Ceramics in progress — tea pots, cups, plates and bowls — fill the shelves and tables .
When the grandchildren first came along, the question for Nancy Selvin and her husband Steve became – how to keep geography and work from getting in the way of living close enough to their grandsons to be part of their daily lives.
The couple worked out a strategy that could be a model for Jon and me, with one of our kids in Minnesota and the other in Los Angeles. It might also work for the folks I know whose grown children are even farther away, in London, Paris, Tokyo, Bangkok and Bulgaria.
The Selvins’ solution: He took a summer teaching position in Baltimore. She rented a modest painting studio and shifted her focus from clay to paint for the summer months.
Interestingly, Nancy does not leave her ceramist’s sensibility behind when she heads off for
grandmother time on the East Coast. She likes the softly glistening matte finish of her clay pots, and the watercolor and gouache works on paper she brought home from Baltimore this year echo that familiar texture.
Nancy is showing the fruits of her East Coast labors at the Light Room in Berkeley through Nov. 29.
Paintings and Work on Paper
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, November 4 – 29, 2013, at The Light Room, 2263 Fifth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710