It finally arrived!
I mentioned a few months ago how I had accidentally snapped the figural ram off the lid of an exquisite Jeff Roller pot, and was crushed at the damage done to this incredible work of art. But, as I also said, I contacted Jeff and he agreed to make another lid with a ram on the lid to replace it. Well, it arrived today!
This is not a simple process on the part of the potter. Jeff’s pots and fitted lids are very precise, even to the extent of a carefully hidden notch indicating how the lid is to fit on the pot. So for him to remake a lid meant that he had to have the original pot, and then carefully create a new lid with the ram on it, accounting for shrinkage during the firing process.
Jeff is a very traditional potter from Santa Clara pueblo, having learned the techniques from his mother Toni Roller, and his grandmother, Margaret Tafoya. His aunts, cousins, and siblings all developed their styles in this environment. The clay is dug from the surrounding hills and cleaned and prepared in the traditional manners, and then the pots and lids are painstakingly created, polished, and carved to represent the spirit of the clay within. Jeff’s striking style often includes a carved animal figural on the fitted lids, with such dedication to detail that it is easy to see the underlying bone structures, muscles, and even expressions on the animals. One almost expects these tiny animals to come stepping and prancing off of the lids!
So, as I mentioned at the start, Jeff’s pot and newly constructed fitted lid with a figural ram finally arrived yesterday. I had been so sorrowful since the accident, and when I carefully unpacked the pot and lid yesterday, those emotions came rushing back to me. You can imagine how careful I was to lift the pot and lid out of the secure packing that Jeff gives to all of his shipments. I gently sat the pot on the kitchen island and slowly put the lid on it in the proper alignment. Then I stepped back and just admired the pot and lid for what seemed like hours. I even think the ram smiled at me once or twice, knowing how much I loved him.
So, Jeff, when I first saw your works in clay and bronze, I knew I had to bring some of them into my Gallery. When I received the first pot with the ram, I was so joyful, only to have that joy dashed when the foamboard fell on the ram lid and snapped off the ram. It was agony, indeed. But you were so wonderful to build me another lid, and now my Jeff Roller pot is complete once again. Transferring the pot to an honored spot on my Gallery shelves, sitting and watching the pot last night and again this morning, has helped me to soothe the pain of the breakage, and regain some of the ecstasy that I felt when I first saw your incredible talent displayed in this pot. I collect Native American art, mostly from the Southwest, because it speaks to my soul, and I feel so blessed to have so many amazing pieces in the Gallery. I am also very blessed to get to know some of the wonderful artists who create this art.
Michael asked me this morning, as we had our first coffee in the Gallery, if I had a favorite piece among the many on the shelves and walls. I thought hard about that for a bit, and quickly realized that I really didn’t. Each piece has its own quality and story to tell, and I love hearing the pieces tell me their diverse and unique stories. Yes, some pieces have richer or clearer stories, and some pieces do touch my soul more directly. Jeff’s pot with the fitted lid and figural ram perched atop certainly fits in that latter group, as gazing at it does take me to another place and even another time. It gives me a window into another culture, and I can catch glimpses of the incredible artistic talent residing in Jeff’s soul. That is, after all, why we acquire art. It speaks to us, and tells us its story. Native American art has a multitude of stories, and all we need to do is listen and be enriched.