KRAFTY KORNER: Beauty Is . . .


An Asian-infused ceramics collection that is both functional and decorative comes from Jeannine Calcagno Niehaus of Santa Cruz. (Courtesy of JC Niehaus Pottery)




Bronze panels holding the inscribed names of those who lost their lives on 9/11 define two reflecting waterfall memorials. (Courtesy of T. Miyasaki)

A poignant phrase often heard, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” is a quote from the 1878 book Molly Bawn by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford.

Tragedy shook our souls on Sept. 11, 2001 when terrorists attacked the U.S. using planes as weapons for destruction. Two hijacked planes targeted the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City, colliding into the Twin Towers on a workday morning.

Ten years later, a heartfelt memorial has risen from those sacred grounds in Lower Manhattan. Truly a beautiful remembrance, the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center pays tribute in those whose lives were lost on Sept. 11, 2001 at the WTC, near Shanksville, Pa., Washington, D.C. and on Feb. 26, 1993 at the WTC.

In the void where the mighty towers once stood, two waterfall memorials command that space as their own. Called “Reflecting Absence,” this contemporary design is all-encompassing in size alone.

1 WTC will be the tallest building in the U.S. when completed in 2014. (Courtesy of T. Miyasaki)

Inscribed in bronze panels placed at a readable level for most are 2,983 names that define the massive quadrants. A math algorithm determined the order in which each name or grouping of names became linked. To personalize connections, names are grouped by companies, friends, firefighters, cops, co-workers, rather than in alpha order.

Cascading waterfalls mesmerize as the water flows endlessly down levels, reflective images come and go, a spectrum of colors results in a rainbow and you feel good at that moment in time.

Capturing those reflective qualities of light, water and space with the surrounding structures at varying times of the day are a photographer’s playground. Lights go on at nightfall and the water glows a different hue.

My family was humbled. We touched some of the names. We watched others run pencils over papers to preserve loved ones’ names in contemplation. We saw groups of school children, most too young to know that day, in awe of this experience. We quietly counted our blessings as people of all ages and colors united within this space to pay respect.

A lone callery pear tree survived the devastation that day. Preserved for re-planting, it is thriving in new soil on this eight-acre plaza. Complementing the man-made structures is a refreshing green forest of 250 white swamp oaks.

The National September 11 Museum and 1 World Trade Center, a 105-story skyscraper, remain works-in-progress.

A word to the wise — reserve visitor passes in advance at Free entry, donations are encouraged. Wear comfy shoes, be prepared for a security screening and know that there are no public restrooms.

Back on the West Coast, the Japanese American Museum in San Jose holds their Japantown Winter Boutique on Saturday. Expect a shopper’s haven. Check more names from your holiday wish list. Stop by and see the Asian-inspired ceramics from JC Niehaus Pottery.

Gingko leaves embrace a hand-thrown bowl by Calgano Niehaus. (Courtesy of JC Niehaus Pottery)

While growing up in the Central Valley of Cali, Jeannine Calcagno Niehaus was lucky enough to be surrounded by a beautiful garden that her parents created in the middle of fields. That left an indelible mark on how she approached life.

“I’m drawn to Asian arts because it is nature-based,” she said. She thrives on working with high-fire stoneware with that feel.

While earning a BA in art and secondary teaching credentials, an interest in ceramics was sparked. A full-time potter since 1976, she balanced her creative side while raising two daughters. Lucky for them, the studio was at her home.

Through the years, Niehaus has traveled abroad to see potters of the world with an affinity to Japanese ceramics. So much so that she’s involved with wood firings in a traditional Japanese noborigama-style several times a year to focus on new directions.

“In five years, I hope to still have my hands in the clay bucket because I love the process and it has become a part of my identity,” she concluded.

Saturday, Nov. 12 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Japantown Winter Boutique
Japanese American Museum of San Jose
San Jose Buddhist Church Gym
640 N. 5th St., San Jose
408-888-8798, Gail Sugiura Bush

Sunday, Nov. 13 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Holiday Crafts Faire
Gedatsu Church
7850 Hill St., S. San Gabriel
626-372-4914, Judy Hamamoto

Saturday, Nov. 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Ayame Kai Holiday Craft Fair
Blaine Memorial Methodist Church
3001 24th Avenue So., Seattle, WA
425-827-4930, Shizue Yahata

Saturday, Nov. 19, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Koi Krafters
Almansor Court, Lakeview Room
700 S. Almansor, Alhambra
626-282-2932, Irene Jong

Sunday, Nov. 20, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Beary Best Friends
Holiday Inn
7000 Beach Blvd., Buena Park
562-865-2637, Ellen Mabuni

Saturday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
imaginAir Crafts Boutique
Toyota Meeting Hall
3330 Civic Center Dr. North, Torrance
310-719-8697, Deanna Takahashi

Sunday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Krafty Delites Christmas Boutique #2
Carson Community Center
801 E. Carson St., Carson
310-329-5874, Stephanie Nakayama

Sunday, Dec. 4, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
St. Mary’s Christmas Boutique
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
963 S. Mariposa, Los Angeles
213-215-3883, Fifi Newcomb

Sunday, Dec. 11, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
A Time for Sharing Christmas Boutique
Gardena Elks Lodge
1735 W. 162nd St., Gardena
310-329-5874, Stephanie Nakayama

Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Kimochi’s Silver Bells Arts & Crafts Faire
The Event Center at St. Mary’s Cathedral
1111 Gough St., San Francisco
415-931-2294, Sakura Suzuki


1 Comment

  1. Thank you Gail for such a well written and thoughtful article about my work. I really appreciate the promo and the JAMsj show last weekend was very successful for me I’m sure helped by being featured. I am continually amazed at the wonderful feeling all of the Japanese events I’ve participated in over the years and continually enjoy the camaraderie and welcome I receive. Thanks again, Jeannine

Leave A Reply