The Clearest Way

May 30th, 2012

Please join me this Friday June, 1 at Groveland Gallery for the opening of The Clearest Way.  


Clara Ueland and Abigail Woods Anderson have both made beautiful work and I can’t wait to see how the lovely and talented ladies at the gallery put all of our work together.



Cynthia Levine is a fiscal year 2012 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.  This activity <exhibition> is made possible in part by a grant from the MInnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts





Behind the Scenes

May 10th, 2012



I recently received an unexpected package in the mail.   Enclosed was a really nice note and a few cards with this image:



It was 3 years ago, just about this time of year, that Kat Moser made this beautiful image of hair and shadows on my back.  

She wrote to let me know of all of the acclaim the photograph has been receiving.  Recognition by Anne Lyden (from The Getty Museum) in the 2011 Art of Photography Show, pending publication in The Sun Magazine, and more.  Those are no small feats.

Congratulations Kat.  Thanks for sharing the way you see the world.

And thanks for providing me with a really good way to briefly write about how even when it seems like nothing may be happening, things are often occurring behind the scenes.  

In February and March, I spent more time away than at home.


First here:


Dehradun, India  

Then here:


Steamboat Springs, CO  



And finally here:


A pitstop in Tombstone between our stays in Bisbee and Phoenix

It took much more time than I anticipated to settle back into a routine, and really feel myself truly “home” again.  Especially in the studio.  Getting back to work after extended time away is always a bit tricky.  But having the deadline of an upcoming exhibition (more on that to come) helped to keep me going back into the studio day after day, even in those times when the clay and I did not seem to be in sync. 

It just took a little bit of time for all of that work that went on behind the scenes of my consciousness to fully settle in.  All those sights and sounds and spaces from around the world have now settled in, and as my time to create new work for the show at Groveland Gallery is running short, I have more ideas than I will be able to get out.  Quite possibly, I have more ideas than I will be able to get out before years end.


Will someone please remind me to read this post the next time I feel like nothing is happening!



January 27th, 2012


“Capco” 2009


Thanks to the generous support of the McKnight Foundation, amongst other things, Northern Clay Center hosts visiting artists who come and work in a nice and sunny (but chilly) studio and mix up the surroundings.  David Allyn is here in Minneapolis, in residence at NCC for 3 months and it seems like he is starting to get into his groove.


He gave a slide lecture the other night that was fun and interesting.  Best of all, his richly layered work and his ease in speaking about and explaining his processes, has inspired me to experiment with decals.  I’ve thought about it a few times in the past, but have yet to follow through.




Since I’m off to India tomorrow, my pots will have to wait a little bit longer for their new kind of decorations.  With all of the richness of travel, if there is any room left in my brain, decal use can simmer away while I’m soaking up Himalayan, Moghul and Rhajasthani goodness.

I won’t be posting while I’m away, but there are sure to be some good images here upon my return.  Until then, maybe a few Tweets (you can find me @yocyn) or Facebook updates.



Ode to Eve

January 9th, 2012



Last week Eve Arnold died.  When I heard the news, and learned that she made it well into her 99th year of life, there was indeed some sadness at her passing.  But there was much more appreciation and admiration for her work, and her life, and her life’s work.  In an interview with the BBC years ago, she shared that, “If you are careful with people, they will offer you part of themselves.  That is the big secret.”


These images inspire me to be more careful with people.






















2012 as a Splendid Torch

January 3rd, 2012


For the first post of 2012, I share a quote from Irish play write George Bernard Shaw 



“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as I live it is my privilege - my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I love. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

 -George Bernard Shaw

Uplifting isn’t it!?  I especially love the part about life not being a candle, but a splendid torch.  Yes, I love that.  And I think that that might be one of my mantras for the year ahead.  Along with Clare’s Amour, Bonheur, Chance (Love, Happiness, Luck), and our toasts to a Simple (thanks JZ), Ease and Grace filled year as we lifted the glasses of bubbly to ring in 2012, I just might be set!  

Shaw’s inspiring quote comes from the preface of “Man and Superman” which is now on my reading list for 2012.  At the very top of that list (it should arrive any moment at my doorstep!) is Amitov Ghosh’s “Sea of Poppies“.  I’m quite sure that Fodor’s or The Lonely Planet might offer more practical ways to prepare for my travels to India later this month, but when I heard about Ghosh’s trilogy a few weeks ago on The World, I was intrigued.

Tell me what’s on your reading list for 2012.  Especially if it has anything to do with India.  I’d also enjoy hearing any good mantra’s you might have for this year ahead which surely will be a wonderful one!



Help from my friends

December 23rd, 2011

Last Monday, our Last Minute Market came off with out a hitch.  I think we were all pleasantly surprised at how smoothly and serenely the night passed by.

Thank goodness Jen took pictures, because as usual, I was running a bit behind schedule.  This is me still setting up as our first patrons began to arrive.



Since Jen said it all so well in this post, I’m simply going to send you her way.  I’m feeling full of gratitude for the help from friends both old and new.  And I’m in love with this peridot neckpiece that I acquired through a trade with Betty!



Wishing you all good times and good cheer with the ones you love all around you this holiday weekend.


Last Minute Handmade Gift Market 12-19-11

December 16th, 2011



It was only one short month ago that the seed was planted for this pop-up shop, and it has been great to collaborate and pull this all together!  Martha, Eireann, Jen, Julia myself all have different strengths to bring to the table, and what at first seemed to be possibly kind of crazy, has actually been coming together with a surprising amount of ease.  We invited some other great makers, and once again, I am finding myself surrounded in good company, by very talented people


If all of that is not enough to entice you to come on over to Modern Times Cafe on Monday night, here is a small sneak peak of my latest venture….clay necklaces.




Despite the fact that when I showed my beloved the first necklace his reply was, “Sweetie, you aren’t a jewelry maker,” I went ahead and made another (the blue one, which is, I believe, much better, but really, what does a man know about ceramic accessories?).  And I will make a few more this weekend.  It makes me happy to sit with the bowls of beads around me, quietly arranging and making something pretty. 

If you are in town, come see my necklaces and all of the other wonderful things at our Last Minute Handmade Gift Market.  If you aren’t, tell people who are.  It might make you happy. 


Go See Doug

December 9th, 2011

It is the time of year when nights and days are full of socials and many to-do’s .  It is almost impossible to fit it all in.  One thing that you might really enjoy making time for is going to Doug Beasley’s festive open studio this weekend.  Here are the details:  2370 Hendon Ave (enter through the downstairs, office entrance), St.Paul, 55108; Friday 5-10pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday noon-4pm (Dec. 9, 10 and 11). 



Snowy Road Burnett Co


If the images he captures on film are not enough to get you over to his really sweet little spot in St.Paul, the fellowship ought to be.  I’ve posted about Doug before, and clearly, I’m a bit biased.  I am excited to see his new book, Earth Meets Spirit, that has just arrived, hot off the presses, from Milan.  

I am going to try and make it over there on Sunday, and possibly acquire something for “our” birthday.  Mine is on the 10th, and my sweetheart’s on the 11th, so in our home, we get to enjoy a lengthy collective birthday.  The weekend will start out with dinner tonight at Meritage.  Then on to a party at the St.Paul Hotel where sparkles and shimmer will be everywhere.  Saturday, one of my besties will take me out to a special undisclosed location where I will treat myself (thanks Mom!) to a pair of shearling lined clogs something like these.  We will be cozy at home with some friends on Saturday night.  Sunday will be easy and a bit more quiet, ending with a great dinner at a yet undecided place.  If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment here.

To get back on track, here is a moment that Doug captured of me in the Badlands of South Dakota 11 or 12 (could it be 13?!) years ago.


Take in some goodness this weekend.  And go see Doug!


December 2nd, 2011

I’m thinking a lot about necklaces lately. 




So it was a real treat to see this beauty made by Kay Sekimachi on this inspirational, and possibly my new favorite, blog.  Last year, American Craft did a really nice piece on K.S.  Even if you don’t read it here, go for a quick look at the images.


This video, “On Handwork”, also comes from the new favorite blog.  


In it, Renata Hiller talks about handwork.  She states that the destiny of humans is in our hands.  And clearly reminds that the work we make with our hands is what connects us to other humans.  I like that reminder.  As I prepare for a last minute holiday sale (with some other fantastic makers, and the reason why I am thinking about necklaces) with my head down in the studio, it is really easy to get caught up in the making.  That selfish side of creating is important since it is from where the work is born.  But I am grateful for the words in the video that remind me that my work becomes so much more relevant, useful, enjoyable, when that which I have touched moves into someone else’s hand.    


While I won’t be in the studio this weekend, I will do some other type of handwork from a comfy couch somewhere.  As I knit or string beads, I will keep in mind (and in hand) another one of R.H.’s notions….that as we work and learn a material, we develop empathy with that material.  Practicing empathy with the material also allows us to practice empathy in general, which then turns making, into an act of healing the world.


Get extra cozy this weekend knowing that when you chop your own veggies or replace that button or knit a new pair of mittens, that you are in some small and wonderful way, possibly making our world a little bit more whole.  

And please save the evening of December 19th for some last minute holiday pop-up shop shopping.  I’ll post more information for you soon.  Along with (hopefully!) some images of a necklace or 3 out of beads I made years ago.


November 24th, 2011



This tiny slice of sunlight lighting up my apples made me happy this morning for even the simplest of bounties in my life.

May your day be filled with gratitude that lingers and spreads.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Planning and Preparing

November 18th, 2011

Amidst holiday meal planning prep I came across this:


Falcon Enamelware

I love the bright and shiny nostalgia of the simple forms.



I find the tumblers to be particularly charming.


Now for the question….Are you sticking to tradition for the big meal of gratitude or are you trying something new?  If it’s something new, do you do a practice run, or do you confidently and courageously forge ahead trusting your menu source, your cooking chops and your instincts to make a glorious-enough-for-a-feast type of dish?  Feel free to share any great (innovative or not) ideas you have with me here.


Happy Weekend everyone!





November 7th, 2011

A last minute change in plans brought me to New York last weekend when I had thought I would be going to Los Angeles.  The visit was full of emotions as my paternal grandmother was preparing to leave the life she had known for 97 years.  I am so glad that I got to spend time with her before she slipped away and out of her body last Thursday.  I am also really glad that I had a wonderful travel companion who was not only happy to sit for hours at my grannie’s side each day, but who accompanied me on little visits to great places around the city, helping to bring some lightness into what could have been a very heavy visit.


We had great meals, some really nice family time, saw good art, did a bit of shopping, and best of all, experienced some most wonderful and serendipitous surprises…  

I was excited to to go to MoMA for the de Kooning retrospective, but it turns out that the Carlito Carvalhosa’s installation, Sum of Days, was what I enjoyed the most.



There are only a few more days to experience the quiet containment of the installation, and it is worth every effort to see it.  If you can’t get to NYC, you can get a taste of the piece here, and listen to C.C. talk about it here




Cy Twombly’s pieces were also a really nice surprise.  Even in shadows they are good.

The best surprise of the visit was running into one of my besties on the street in NoLiTa.  We walked out of Tartinery, turned the corner, and literally walked right into Rachel.  We got to spend a couple of hours with her and Clare (who we were going to visit in L.A. but she ended up in NYC too!) and I only wished that the few others from our St.Paul posse could have been there too.  But the presence of two of my girls, just showing up, in that stars-aligning-just-right kind of way, makes me feel like all will always be very very well in the world. 

And if that last surprise on the street wouldn’t have been enough to warm a gal’s heart, coming home to John Newsom’s cheery birds and flowers on the 8th floor of Chambers certainly would seal the deal.  Although Midtown is a bit sleepy at night, we were greeted each evening not only with the always friendly smiles of the staff, but with color and charm and this:






And Nobu Fifty Seven was just around the corner. 

Page 22

October 25th, 2011

A small package sat on the dining room table for days before I realized it was addressed to me and not to my sweetheart who loves to acquire things online and have them come to our door.  I opened it up and found this little gem.




How nice and not fall/wintery is the bright green of Virginia Scotchie’s Chrome Ball/Knob?!!

The funny thing with print is that once a waiver is signed, an image can be reused without further consent.  In 2009 Lark Books published 500 Ceramic Sculptures including 2 of my pieces.  I had no idea they were making a Studio Series of Ceramic Sculptures, so it was a fun surprise to open the book and look for an image of my work in the new publication. 




Vessel # 163 is on page 22.  I’m honored to be sandwiched between Ken Eastman and Eva Kwong, who happens to have made one of my favorites works in the book.




This is her Buckeye Peach from the Immortal Peach Series.




I also really like Siddiq Khan’s Cipher C.  That yellow!


The images are, of course, much better seen when holding the book in your own hands.  You can buy it here.  Your coffee table will love you for it.

Art in the World

October 23rd, 2011

Does it always feel a bit weird when we start to do something new?

I have recently started to tweet, and it feels a bit weird.  Kind of like when Facebook was new and I hadn’t quite figured out yet how to make the best use of it (if I ever will).  So, I am mostly just reading other peoples tweets from time to time.

John Maeda tweets a lot, so I can’t entirely keep up with him, but he did recently share this really great video of the Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab at the Rhode Island School of Design.  The video is quiet and beautiful, and the Lab looks like a treasure trove of wonder.  Professor Ellie Hollinshead said something about connecting with art in the world, and it made me wish we had a nature lab here in the Twin Cities.  But we don’t, so instead I’ll take a walk by the river, and tweet this post.



I took this picture a couple of weeks ago in Southern MN


And maybe you’ll tell me where you find nature in the world.



Opening and Ongoing

October 14th, 2011


Minneapolis has some great photos to visit tonight or in the next couple of weeks.



The opening for, ‘Where in the World?’ is tonight at the Minneapolis Photo Center from 7 to 10 pm.  I really enjoyed reading juror Toby Kemps Statement About the Exhibit.  He acknowledged that with all of the advancements in photographic technology that, “In a real sense, the more perfect an image is, the less believable it becomes”.  The part of me that loved spending time in the darkroom sandwiching negatives, the same part in me that really didn’t love hearing my peers ask me why I spent so much time in the dark with all the chemicals creating an image when I could simply go to the computer, was really touched by T.K’s comment.

Here is a bit more from his Statement, “Sifting through the panoply of amazing images from all corners of the world, I was rapt by photographs that felt like corner-of-the-eye haikus—magical grab shots of interesting faces, street corners, and local spirits. Time and again, I found a rare blend of just-good-enough greatness—a kind of excellent Keith Richards-esque “bad guitar” in photographic form. So give me a fast photograph of a local face or place, something loose and soulful that catalogues one of the countless mini-epiphanies that come at us every time we walk down the street. This is what I hope “Where in the World” captures”.

The opening has already come and gone for the Gallery 122 exhibit of self portraits “A Self Revealed”, but you have until November 5 to see the collection.



Local photographer and long time friend Doug Beasley curated the show.  Not only is Doug a truly gifted visual artist, but he is also a thoughtful, intentional and compassionate man.  I think that the images he frames in the viewfinder are so striking (and might qualify as one of Tony Kemps corner-of-the-eye haikus) because of the clarity he has about himself, and the care with which he places his foot on the planet.  He has composed a really nice collection of self portraits that should be seen.


In 2009 Doug wrote a notable piece about his experience as a juror.  You can read his words here.  

Have a wonderful weekend!  May it be filled with many things sweet, simple, and sublime.


thanks mpls photo center and gallery 122 for your images 



A Prize Well Won

October 4th, 2011


Image via Huffington Post


The Nobel Prize in Physics was announced today.  Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess get to share the honor for their amazing research which shows that the universe is expanding.

Phenomenal and awesome are some words that come to mind.  And the fact that our universe is growing larger as I type fills me with a comforting sense of excitement, and a peaceful sense that all will be well in the world.

There are more good space images and articles on the prize and the laureates here and here.  

And if the last two slow posts that I have made cause you to wonder if I am becoming a scientist, I must sadly disappoint.  But if you do know of a good book (for the non scientist/physicist types like myself) on quantum physics, I’ll be happy to learn of your recommendation in a comment here.




September 11th, 2011


Late Minoan Octopus Jar


I saw and touched some amazing pots this weekend (which I promise to post about that later), but for a quick Sunday night post I thought I would share this smart video that my sweetheart showed me yesterday afternoon (thanks  Science Friday).  It is truly astounding.  Breathtaking at moments.  And easily worth four minutes of your time.  


Watch the video for some real underwater magic.


Its also worth pondering the fact that things aren’t always what they appear to be.  



September 8th, 2011

Labor Day has come and gone, the light of the sun is more orange, the kiddies are back at school, and Minnesotans are no longer spending every weekend “up North” at the cabin (in theory anyway).  So that means there is some stiff competition for those precious few days of bliss.  This weekend, Friday in particular, it is going to be hard to choose where to go and what to see and do in this city that has so much to offer.  
























Autumn, North Shore by William Murray



If all goes as planned, my Friday will start out celebrating the words from Diane Wilson’s second book, “ Beloved Child” with Birchbark Books.  Then, I’m heading to Groveland Gallery to see the paintings of Rod Massey and William Murray (and have a visit on one of my favorite Minneapolis patio’s with some dear friends).  Last stop on the agenda will be Northern Clay Center.  The twelfth American Pottery Festival will be in full effect, and I am certain that my efforts to not acquire anything new or un-needed (sharing a home can make a gal want to streamline her possessions in a really big way!) will undoubtedly be put to the test.  Throughout the weekend at NCC, artists will give slide talks and there are a couple of panel discussions.  

After all the creative inspirations of Friday night and Saturday afternoon, the rest of my weekend will be filled with a birthday party for two lovely and generous men, time on the river and time in the garden, and I’m hoping lots of good cheer.

What are you doing this weekend?