Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Art & Accents: Lubbock, TX

On a schedule of events for Lubbock, I found an art class at the Municipal Garden & Art Center.  The class is beginning stained glass.  It is a 2 hour class for $25 and you don't need any supplies or equipment.  Giddyup.

Class starts at 6:30 so by the time I leave my customer's site, go to the hotel to change and check email and voicemail, I only have time for fast food on the way.

They have a surprisingly reasonable variety and schedule of classes here.

They are also part of the First Friday Art Trail, not that I will be here on 
the first, or any, Friday.

There is a garden behind the building, as the name implies,
but it is padlocked when I get here.

I am not late but I am the last to arrive.  There are supposed to be 5 people participating but only 4 of us show.  The regular instructor isn't here, we have a man replacing her and two women assisting.  One of these assistants is a girl I estimate to be about 20 who admits she took this exact class only a month ago.  The ratio of instructors to students seems high but in light of this confession, my expectations are significantly lowered.

The participants include two other women and one man who are all around my age.  The man and one of the women are here together.  He has an accent.  The young assistant is intrigued and asks him where he is from.  "I live over off 77th," he says.  "Here we go," says his companion.

The girl doesn't hear the tone in his voice.  The tone that says he doesn't like people asking about his accent.  She is undeterred.  "No, I mean where does your accent come from?" she asks.  "Australia," he answers without looking up.

We have been given a choice of 5 patterns and are to select one and to pick glass from these buckets of glass leftovers on the table.  No instruction about what will happen or how to best select your glass is given.  The options are Texas, a butterfly, a bird, a heart or an apple.  

Initially I select Texas thinking I will send it to my son who is in the Navy.  The Australian selects this as well and we both begin looking for red, white and blue glass.  The woman he is with doesn't understand why we must have these specific colors.  "The flag," he says.  She giggles about how bad she is at matching colors (she picked the heart) but he assures her she isn't because, after all, she picked all of the colors in their house.

Red and white or clear are easy to find but neither of us are finding blue big enough to work with.  Because his partner is helping him dig, I decide to abandon Texas and go on to the butterfly.

When I take an art class, I like to be different if possible.  The other woman doing the butterfly is picking colorful wings.  I do the opposite and pick browns.  I also pick glass that is patterned and/or textured.  

The next step is to trace the piece from the pattern on the glass.  They do not have a light-table so you have to hold it against the window.  Next, using a tool that scores glass, we cut the excess off as close to the line as possible.  
I will grind the rest down using a glass grinder.

My cream-colored piece broke so I had to get a different piece and try again.  This puts me behind the others in class.

I will remain behind the rest of the time.  There are only three sets of everything...three cutters, three grinders (that is what the other students are doing here), three soldering irons, three instructors.  I am the odd woman out.

While I am grinding, the others are soldering their pieces together.  During this time the Australian is talking.  The girl is still fascinated and still undeterred. "I could listen to you talk all day," she says.  When he doesn't reply she asks, "Do you get tired of people saying that to you?"  

"Yes" he says, quite rudely in my opinion.  

I just want to take the girl by the hand and say honey, just STOP.  What I REALLY want to do is to tell the man that if you are an Australian living in Lubbock TEXAS it is going to come up so don't be such an ASS.  When I go to other states, they are going to say something about my accent.  All I have to do is order Iced Tea and it starts.  You be nice and get over it.

But the issue surrounding accents isn't over.  His companion says something about them being on vacation recently and it coming up a lot.  Then he starts complaining about a certain race "in the south" and how HE can't understand anything THEY say!  Then the man instructing the class agrees with him and they have a whole conversation about this.  I am looking at the Australian man and I realize he doesn't see either the inappropriateness or the irony of this at all.  I make myself focus on my butterfly.  At least he can't talk and say something stupid.

After grinding I get the copper tape on and pin my guy down.  I have to constantly ask for help.  No instruction is given and everyone else is on the next task.  No explanation is ever offered (to anyone) about what to do next or why you do anything at all.

Next the pieces are soldered together and cleaned.  This isn't my piece and you can see the lady ending up doing a blue body like mine.  Copycat.

My finished piece.  I am ready to leave.  Besides the fact that McDonald's is sitting on me like a rock, the couple is still here though they finished quite a while ago.  They are talking to the instructor about the advanced class.  "I don't know honey, I think they do a landscape...should we DO a landscape?"

Each time I asked for help, the instructor ended up annoyed with me.  I hold things wrong, I wanted to pull the cutter rather than push it, he wanted me to turn the piece "over" (I was holding it like in the image...over could be a lot of things). When I didn't understand what that meant I finally had to hand it to him and ask him to demonstrate.  The older woman helper was annoyed by me when I didn't understand how she wanted me to attach the antennae (apparently it is shocking to her that I am not an expert solderer-er after 10 minutes of practice and no instruction).  I didn't like the loop she made to put on the wing for hanging - it was sloppy - but by now I am not going to question it.  

None of the other people were friendly enough to talk though I did try with everyone at some point.  I gave up and ended up glad that I did.  

But for $25 and an hour and a half of my life, it was worth learning/teaching myself the little bit that I did (about how to do this, not about the stupidity of some people). I brought my butterfly home where he happily resides in the kitchen window where David put him without making fun of his numerous flaws at all.  

On the way out I let him get a drink from the lantana bushes in front of the building.  
He told me he was thirsty.  He speaks english but with an accent.  I kind of like it.

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