The photos above were taken in a limestone brewery built in the 1850s in Mineral Point, Wisconsin (the town I spent this past weekend teaching an Oil and Wax Workshop.) The building, owned by artist Diana Johnston (who participated in the workshop) and her husband Tom, is now called Brewery Pottery Studio. It serves as their home and studio, and much of the ground floor is occupied by a gallery showing the work of area artists. (The outside view is at the bottom of this post.)
On Saturday night, Diana and Tom welcomed the workshop artists to their remarkable building for dinner and a tour of various cavernous rooms not open to the public. There were several workrooms for making pottery and Diana's welded objects and clocks, a large room that served as basketball court and teenage hangout when their kids were younger, and eerie subterranean caverns cut into the earth, once used for storing beer. Spring water flowed through channels in the floor of one room on the lower level. Everywhere were 19th century doors, some with the original brewery labels such as “Bottling Cellar” intact, eroded walls with the original brick exposed, and the occasional glimpse of the old cork used as insulation. Their living quarters on the top level of the building were beautifully and charmingly adapted to the quirkiness of the building.
I had forgotten my camera that first night, but Diana graciously invited me back today to photograph and have another look around. I love the textures and patinas created over time on old walls and other surfaces--the fissures and chips of age and wear. Perhaps their poignant beauty has become more significant and symbolic to me as I myself age, and I see the effects of time passing on others around me.
While I don't ever use photographs as direct references in my work, I am pleased to have some record of these walls as inspiration.