art is my middle name

philip arthur porter

crocheted basket detail

textile art

I have a Masters degree in Visual Design from the University of California at Berkeley. I went there to study textiles as a fine art from a marvelous man named Ed Rossbach. Baskets were his specialty, both contemporary and modern. Since some traditional baskets were made from reeds soaked in water to make them pliable, and since some basketmakers actually submerged the reeds as they worked, you might say that I came very close to getting a Masters degree in Underwater Basketweaving.

You might say it, but you probably shouldn't.

I still do textile artwork to this day. My current fascination is crocheting small, single-thread basket/sculpture thingies. I hand-dye the string in complicated ways to create colors and patterns. Are you getting this? I don’t change string to get the change in color—it is all of a piece. The dyeing process is top-secret, although I have blabbed it to a few people if they show enough interest. (Actually, if they show any interest at all.) I crochet a lot on airplanes, if I have the nerve. At take-off on one flight, I dropped my ball of yarn and it rolled about 15 rows back. Now that was embarrassing!

Visits since April 13, 2009

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Although a few people call me “Philip” and fewer still have called me “Felipe” or “Philodendren,” I have gone through most of my life as “Phil.” If I were to use Philip more consistently, I think I would have to demand that everyone say it with an English accent, to keep it crisp. Otherwise it goes a little flat—“fillup”—like the sound of a loose shoe sole on hard pavement.

My middle name honors Arthur Weimer who was the Dean of the School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where my father was a professor and administrator.

I come from a line of Porters either short or long, who knows. That particular line of Porters will die out before too long, because in my round of siblings and cousins, the boys didn’t beget boys who might pass on the Porter name, and the girls seem to have taken on their husbands’ names. So the Porters will be drowned out by “Cohns” and “McGuires” and “Flodders” at least in the descendants closest to me. (I have no children, thank God, and my only brother has three daughters. What ever happened to that feminist concept of keeping your own name? Those three beautiful and liberated and charming young women certainly didn’t!)

In the crowd in which I run, people are often changing their names—in every which way—especially as they “find themselves.” Mostly I couldn't take the time or trouble, but when I do imagine the possibility, I can imagine myself as “Art.” For the moment, though, I am happy to be able to say to folks “Art is my middle name.” I was surprised and delighted when I found out that “” had not been taken.