Happy Birthday Roger, to the stars and beyond!
In honor of the memory and legacy of our OG StarKeeper we have updated the StarKeeper page on our site to include the full story created by our founder.
"... the full, full day of the StarKeeper" an original story by Roger Allen, illustrated on colorful ceramic art includes the images of the 12 series plates depicting this short story.
For those of you who knew Roger you are most likely familiar with the story's origin. However, if you never had the pleasure of meeting the man, we'd like to pass on the short version of how the StarKeeper came to be.
Roger had been a man of man trades and talents; just to name a few: he worked as a TV repairman, school teacher, jewelry artist, painter, potter, and even had his own metal foundry here at The Chicken Farm Art Center way back in the day.
For a man who always had his hands in the proverbial "cookie jar" it was a huge blow to his self image when he was hit with a bad run of health issues in the late 80's and into the early 90's causing him to have to slow down and give up some of his projects. This devastated him emotionally, physically, and financially.
Living the life of an artist is great, but the health plan isn't.
He was faced with a difficult decision; keep the foundry or keep the pottery. At this point he had been invested heavily in both projects and had a deep love for both. The decision was hard, it was something that continued to weigh on his heart and mind for many years after.
He chose clay.
Roger had been a potter for years and years, working in big high fire gas kilns, throwing everything from the largest of baptismal fonts to the smallest miniature bowls and plates. Clay was a passion and a challenge, and now there was a new challenge. He needed another way of expressing himself in clay and, as most artists do, he fell into a bit of an artistic slump.
During this time of self-doubt and finding his life going down a path that was unexpected he, understandably, didn't know what to do next.
Life offered him the opportunity to experience clay in a new way, using under-glazes and clay as a canvas through an invited artist workshop at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts and a few years prior he has taken a similar workshop in Austin on painting clay tiles using bright patterns and colors. He attended a conference which covered Spirit Animals and Shaman practices and rekindled his love of Native American lore and histories surrounding these spiritual leaders and healers.
He was, however, still in a slump...
One night, he was feeling rather down about the state of things, he grabbed some loose paper and a pencil and started jotting down a story. Now, Roger was the first to admit that he was no writer, so it was riddled with run-on sentences, odd phrasing, and lots of "..." while he scribbled out a story.
The next day he contacted an old friend at the local newspaper, he wanted to know if they would read over his script and let him know what they thought.
The verdict came back, "It's so bad, it's good. Don't change a thing!"
So, the story of the StarKeeper was born! Roger spent the next few years creating illustrations to go with the story. He made sketches, paintings, and many, many pots before settling on the 12 story designs we have today.
Over the years he was assisted by various artists working for and with him in the studio to design and grow the story beyond its paper confines. Each artist's version of the StarKeeper changed subtly over the years, but the story and the meaning behind it remain strong and true.
Morals... of the StarKeeper...
1. Begin each day with a song of praise and happy activity.
2. Take time to see the spirits in the clouds.
3. Vary the day - even if the coyote and raven are about.
4. Occasionally, the coyote and raven get a star.
5. Control is important at all animal crossings.
6. It is going to rain.
7. Stay busy and honor... all things... all stars, bright and small.
8. If hung in haste the stars shoot downward and burn out.
9. Sharing with friends is important.
10. Don't tell the coyote
Psst... Psst... We're all StarKeepers!