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I want to share so much today that I am not sure where to begin.

cups for Potable – Rock Springs

As the gesture Potable – Rock Springs, WI unfolds I wanted to firstly share the invitation to join me somewhere in Rock Springs or Reedsburg.

Here was the invitation I compiled for the opening of Watermark at Woolen Mill Gallery in Reedsburg, WI.

The cups are on exhibit with some wonderful artists that have made a career of making works related to our world’s water.  A link here to my Facebook images will give you a feel for the works at Watermark along with the opening reception.  The show was wonderfully received with Michael Frels and Hyeon Jung Kim present to celebrate our works and the works of the other artists unable to attend.

I dutifully laminated an invitation, just like the Potable – Pryor Avenue Iron Well in Milwaukee, and placed it near the (public access) well in Rock Springs prior to the reception.  I went to the well with Michael and Hyeon to collect water for the reception too.

Here we are at the well last month…

Hyeon, me, and Michael

at the Rock Springs Well

Husband Paul and I visited the well (me for the first time) last summer per the request of Jay Salinas of Wormfarm.  The well has a history with Paul as he took an across the state bike tour with some good friends in high school back in the 70’s.  They were riding to LaCrosse, WI and came upon the well and drank voraciously. It continues to be a fond memory of his.

Also, here is the well filmed and described on the FindASpring site.

So, on to the present day situation.  I received this email the day after the reception:

************

Ms. Schwalbe-Bouzide,

Your sign was brought to my attention today.  Even though the free flowing spring water is available to the public this location is on private land. Because this is private land you are not authorized to sell or give away any merchandise.

Diane Stoeckmann Chalmers
Rock Springs Artesian Water Corp.
PO Box 181
Rock Springs, WI  53961

***************

And then moving backwards in time from August 5th…

***************

Ms. Bouzide, Ms. Neuwirth and Mr. Salinas,

Thank you for your letters.  As indicated in my daughter’s original email this is my private property and the only activity I have authorized to the public is the collection of water. Consequently, I will not authorize any other type of activities including those discussed in your letter. I ask that you respect my decision.

Sincerely,

William D. Stoeckmann

***********************

From: wormfarm <wormfarm@jvlnet.com>
To: Catherine Bouzide <casbah3d@gmail.com>; Diane Stoeckmann Chalmers <dmschalmers@yahoo.com>
Sent: Thursday, August 4, 2011 6:34 PM
Subject: Re: Terra Cotta Cups

Ms Stoeckmann Chalmers,

We are writing on behalf of Cathy Schwalbe-Bouzide and her proposed Potable Gesture intended to be realized August 13 at the Rock Springs well head. Her intention is to simply fill plain yet beautiful hand-made ceramic cups from the free flowing well and offer them to passers by. She will neither sell nor distribute any merchandise or literature and may engage in pleasant conversation with anyone who stops.

Cathy is a talented and thoughtful artist who has worked with the Wormfarm for 3 years now. Her work both as an artist and curator addresses a range of issues, pertinent to agriculture and rural life in ways that are thoughtful, express respect and curiosity and that have been profoundly moving.

In 2010, she curated “Women and Grains” at the Woolen Mill Gallery in which artists from across the country converged on Reedsburg to create and exhibition that reached beyond the walls of the gallery and had lasting beneficial impact on this community. The Potable Gesture has the potential to do this once again. If there is anything we can do to help facilitate this by speaking to the regulating authorities and securing all necessary permissions and assurances please let us know and we will comply.

Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas
Co-Founders
Wormfarm Institute
culture/ agriculture
608 524-8672
wormfarm@jvlnet.com
http://www.wormfarminstitute.org

***********************
—– Original Message —–
From: Catherine Bouzide
To: Diane Stoeckmann Chalmers
Cc: wormfarm
Sent: Saturday, July 23, 2011 11:21
Subject: Re: Terra Cotta Cups

Dear Ms. Stoeckmann Chalmers,
Thanks so much for your communication regarding the Potable Gesture scheduled for August 13 in conjunction with Watermark at Woolen Mill Gallery.

Please accept my sincere apology for not having contacted you prior to posting my invitation.   It is my hope that I will gain your permission, or permission from whomever necessary, to celebrate this wonderful artesian well.  Please know that I was made aware of the Rock Springs Well last year during an art exhibit here in Reedsburg through the Wormfarm Institute, Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas.  Looking the well up on line via Find a Spring,   I was unaware of any permission that might be necessary.

I am an artist who has donated her time, resources, and creativity towards contemplative events, such as Potable, that call attention to agriculture and water use.

You may look at my blog entry here from a similar gesture in Milwaukee, WI in September 2010:
https://casbah3d.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/potable-realized/

Again, it is my hope to gain your permission to complete my art piece Potable – Rock Springs with your generous permission.

Thanks so much for your contact.  I look forward to hearing from you.
Cathi

c.a. schwalbe-bouzide
casbah3d@gmail.com

http://www.casbah3d.com
https://casbah3d.wordpress.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/casbah3d/
http://www.lillstreetstudios.com

************************

Well (no pun intended), that is where it all stands today.  I am not sure where the gesture will take place.  On the public access road near the well, back at the gallery with pitchers of Rock Spring Well water back at the Woolen Mill Gallery, or an as yet undisclosed place in between.  I know that if you are still reading this you wish this project well in every sense.  If giving away handmade cups is a radical idea and gesture then please count me in.  Please look forward to more images as the weekend unfolds.

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Non Potable spigot Paulina Station CTA

I wanted to share some sentiments from an unprepared but inspired participant in the Potable gesture in September.  He captures much of what I was trying to communicate and so much more.

Michael Blahy writes:

“Hi Catherine,
You might not remember me from September 28th, but I was the person who came to the Pryor Avenue Iron Well with the big five gallon bottle (and was too camera shy to get photographed!). I am a graduate student at UW-Milwaukee and am currently working on my Master’s thesis. I have been mulling over my essay for some time now, when I realized last night that there’s something particularly significant happening at the well that your Potable Realized project helped me realize (I am so thankful that you extended your experience and thoughts from the well to your blog). The iron well is just as much of a neighborhood gathering place as any of the corner bars in Bayview. For people like me it has become a quotidian experience to fill up and quickly chat with anyone else visiting the watering hole. It is so casually nestled in our neighborhood that it is easy to forget its long history and, more importantly, the connection it provides city residents with local geography and natural resources.
My concerns about the iron well arise out of a narrative I constructed about another vernacular landscape in the area–that of Hubbard Park in Shorewood. I trace its history back to the 1800s when the land hosted a mineral spring resort. Over time the landscape morphed from a rustic park in the country to an amusement park, a train depot, and, finally, what it is now, a residential/park hybrid. However, with the site’s evolution, each layer of history has been slowly erased. The landscape’s rich history is only acknowledged by a few plaques–kind of a let down considering the significance of the geography of the site.
Anyway, it seems to me that the Bayview iron well, in general, and, your artistic project, specifically, have done a better job of inscribing a sense of place that is alive both in its present, day to day form and in its history and geography.
I apologize if I rambled on for too long here, but, if you’re at all interested in discussing your experiences further, I would love to talk more.
And thank you for the wonderful drinking cup! We are enjoying it very much here at home!
Michael”

Michael and I spent some time on the phone with his prepared questions relating to my project and his thesis “In Small Urban Places.”  From his viewpoint I learned and I will be forever grateful.  An artist and one who responds is a true gift.  There are so many of us that make work day after day, year after year and wonder about making an impact.  I am honored by Michael’s thoughtful sentiments and how they might relate to his own discoveries about community.

From Michael’s thesis draft:

“It is so casually nestled in our neighborhood that it is easy to forget its long history and, more importantly, the connection it provides city residents with local geography and natural resources.  Artistic endeavors such as “Potable” literally help one to realize the significance of the place.  It seems to me that the Bayview Iron well, in general and, Schwalbe-Bouzide’s project, specifically, have dona a better job of inscribing a sense of past that is alive both in its present, day to day form and in its history and geography.”

I have been researching other possible site for Potable events in the future.  You might enjoy following this blog:

Find a Spring.  Michael and I both have!

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Plenty of art for Everyone!

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Potable

The art gesture called Potable is taking shape.  Family members with whom I have spoke are excited about the project which I am humbled and excited about.

Participants will include my mother, Helen Schwalbe of Cedarburg, WI 79 yrs.  My brother David’s daughter Sheri Paape and her daughter Addison – 1 year old of Port Washington, Wisconsin.  My other brother Vince’s daughter Cristina and her daughter Lillie 2 yrs. old of Milwaukee.  Possibly my sister Jacquie’s daughter Ruby 9 years old of Chicago, IL.

Pryor Avenue Iron Well Bayview, WI

Here are the specifics:

100 Terra Cotta Cups "Potable"

100 Terra Cotta Cups given to the first 100 in attendance – stamped for the project “Potable.”

4 Generations of Women

Tuesday September 28, 2010

at the Pryor Avenue Iron Well   Milwaukee Wisconsin

(S. Superior and E. Pryor or N 41° 58.218 W 87° 39.582)

Some facts about water and why this well? Why now?

Potable

A gesture and celebration of public water in conjunction with
Tapping into Solutions:  The Future of Water Conference  09 . 27-29 . 2010

  • In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s time is consumed for the most basic of human needs — collecting water for domestic use. – water.org
  • At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. -2006 United Nations Human Development Report.
  • “For 127 years, Bay View neighbors, and the occasional visitor, have gathered together, bottles and jugs in hand, at the Pryor Avenue Iron Well for its continuous flow of fresh groundwater. The public well, located in a residential neighborhood just a block away from the lake, is the only one of its kind left in Milwaukee, a lone sentinel standing on Pryor Avenue between South Superior  Street and South Wentworth Avenue.”  Shepherd Express  04.10.2010
  • Milwaukee – 1993  By the numbers  44,000 doctor visits.  4,400 hospitalized.  725,000 lost workor school days.  $96 million lost wages and medical expenses.  $90 million new water purification system.   “It was a real tragedy for the community, bu even more for the individuals affected by it.”  – John O. Norquist, Milwaukee Mayor

And finally, Paul and I visited the well on Saturday nite for the first time.  Here are our own images and a video.  Delightful.

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