Yes­ter­day I had the plea­sure of shar­ing an after­noon with one of the most gra­cious, Super Achiev­er, Artists, of our time: Martha Lon­ge­neck­er. Martha start­ed out as a painter, and back in the ’50s became enam­ored with Pot­tery and Ceram­ics. There was a not­ed group in Cal­i­for­nia then, in crafts and ceram­ics. Martha was part of this group, and she also trav­eled to Japan in those days. There, she became acquaint­ed with the famous pot­tery mas­ter, Hama­da. He took a lik­ing to this charm­ing woman, and she was invit­ed back to Japan many times. Fast for­ward to the 1960’s, where I met Martha teach­ing Ceram­ics and pot­tery throw­ing, at San Diego State Uni­ver­si­ty. She was imbued with a pas­sion and a spir­it for aes­thet­ics that was con­ta­gious.

She became a great influ­ence in my life, and we mutu­al­ly adored each oth­er. Fast for­ward again: Martha retired from SDSU, and went on to found the Mingei Muse­um in Bal­boa Park, San Diego. She was the found­ing direc­tor, and a most won­der­ful, unique insti­tu­tion grew under her tutiledge. It is now one of the most pop­u­lar musuems of Folk Art in the Unit­ed States. There are many back­ers, and endow­ments from know­ing indi­vid­u­als, who saw the amaz­ing work she did, with the best of taste and qual­i­ty. Tru­ly the Mingei Muse­um is one of the trea­sures of San Diego, CA.

Martha is 90 now. I invit­ed her over to vis­it, and to see the mod­ern home I built on a hill­side. I thought she would enjoy the view. She amazed me yet, again! Dri­ving her own car, she whirled into my home, and drunk it all in, in a few moments. She was com­pli­men­ta­ry, and want­ed to try sit­ting in the low Barcelona chair. I was wor­ried that at her age, she would have trou­ble maneu­ver­ing. Not her! She sat, expe­ri­enced the chair, and then said she would like to try sit­ting in the Cor­busier chaise lounge. This is no easy feat. Once in it, it is dif­fi­cult to get out! Martha would not be dis­cour­aged. In it she went, and loved the way it sup­ports your back. She had no trou­ble at all, at 90 years of age, maneu­ver­ing that sculp­ture of a chair. I was very impressed with this, and with every­thing she said in the next two hours of our chat. She is charm­ing, open, will­ing to share ideas, per­son­al feel­ings, and enthu­si­as­tic to relate all the upcom­ing lec­tures, and talks she has been invit­ed to give, at var­i­ous insi­tu­tions around our state. She is being induct­ed into a local Wom­an’s hall of fame. She is real­ly about 50 years old in her mind and in her actions! I was so impressed. What is it that keeps one enthused with life? What keeps us “out­side” our­selves, as we grow old­er, not dwelling on how our bod­ies hurt, but what next, can we learn? How can we par­tic­i­pate in the joys of our lives, even at 80 or 90 years of age? This woman gave me such an inspir­ing lift, yesterday…and her spir­it that impressed me in 1965, is still there, inspir­ing and uplift­ing us all.

Bra­vo, Martha Lon­genek­er. I hope you will live to 110!

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