Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Benjamin Maier Ceramics

Robert Downes - July 5th, 2007
Peer beyond the elegant storefront windows of Benjamin Maier’s gallery in downtown Leland and you’ll find a contemporary landscape of swirling colors, captured in clay.
The gallery walls are filled with Maier’s creations, ranging from Oriental teapots to vases, cups, dishware and stoneware pots, all imbued with a dreamy sense of style and color. It’s clear at a glance that Maier, 29, has a singular vision that brings out the best of what clay has to offer, draped in a sublime range of glazes and colors.
Maier’s celebration of the earth happened by chance. After graduating from Traverse City Central High School in 1996, he attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, completing a degree in political science with a minor in economics.
But after graduation, a sense that something was missing in his life led him to take a class in ceramics with instructor Carl Spork at Northwestern Michigan College.
“I was at a different point in my life and ceramics was an outlet that helped me emerge from a difficult space,” he recalls. “It was very therapeutic working with clay, and after the therapy, it turned into a career.”
He attended another ceramics course at Michigan State University, and then spent three seasons at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado. “I was there three years in a row, going back and forth, creating work there and selling it back home,” he says.
Five years ago, Maier launched his first gallery, also in Leland’s. He opened his current gallery in the summer of 2004. The gallery features a handsome facade in dark tones that reflect the contemporary style of his ceramics.
As for his studio, that’s located at the top of Crain Hill in Leelanau County. Here, Maier creates soda-fired stoneware, using a technique called vapor firing.
Vapor firing involves spraying ceramics with a solution of soda ash and water while the work is being fired in a gas kiln. “Basically, you’re spraying salt water on the ceramics, which washes out the glazes,” Maier says. The result is a unique pattern on every piece of stoneware.
Maier also works with the Japanese woodfire method, which involves firing raw clay to give it a crusty, antique look that’s aesthetically pleasing. The method was developed 300-500 years ago, but produces a timeless quality that resonates from medieval Japan to the art lovers of today. “You’re not trying to be so tight and perfect with this method,” Maier says. “You’re telling the clay to breathe a little more.”
So, how’s business in Leland’s art-friendly community?
“Each summer it gets a little bit better,” Maier says. “I’m doing wedding and shower gifts along with commission work on things like dinner sets. People come in with ideas and we work on creating what they want.”
Maier also keeps prices down so that there’s something for every budget. A teacup, for instance, might run $10, with prices rising to a stoneware centerpiece going for $500. “I want someone to be able to walk in and find something they like for $9 or $12. I try to keep prices reasonable.”

Benjamin Maier Ceramics is located at 102 North Main, Leland, with hours from 11-5 Monday through Saturday, and 11-4 on Sunday. Ph: 231-590-1084.

 
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