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Find me more frequently for the time being at Folk-Art-Life.


Off Subject: A J Fosik

Aj Fosik is one of the few artists, thus far, whose work I have seen up close and personal. My friend had been raving to me about an acquaintance who owned a Fosik which was reportedly 'just laying around on the floor'. The context of this remark was simply a commentary on how amazing it must be to have a limitless budget for contemporary art. True, true. I am supremely jealous of the owners of the Fosik I encountered (which was at that point in time respectfully displayed). The artist's work is amazingly detailed, incredibley fresh, and dangerously imaginative. I bow down. BTW his sculptures are primarily created with wood.

Now, can I do that with clay?

(images via Jonathan Levine Gallery and artist's Flickr)


Open 4 Discussion: Collecting Ceramic Objects

I am wondering... do ceramic artists collect ceramic art? Do we collect ceramic tchotchkes? On the whole I mean. I know that I do to an extent. I collect those Japanese bowls, seconds from potters I like or mini-sculptures likewise from sculptors. I would collect Dutch ceramic clogs if I found them more often, and English teacups. But I realize that I don't really have a filter for what I collect except that I only take home that what pleases my eyes, my heart, and my hands.

I dunno... I'm putting it out there. What do you think of collecting ceramic objects, be they art or otherwise?


Joseph Pintz

When I finally opened up the September issue of Ceramics Monthly a few days ago, I ran into some very familiar work. Joseph Pintz, one of NCECA's Emerging Artists of 2009, mostly handbuilds utilitarian objects. On one hand his 'pottery', while slightly clunky, is completely usable, on the other hand however, the domestic tools he builds become sculpture as the weight of Pintz interpretation of these objects is far heavier than the objects themselves. What first caught my eye about the artist's work years ago at the Red Lodge Clay Center, was how minimalist and how rustic his pieces were. Yet they were coated in a delicious glaze that was reminiscent of a bright sugar glaze one might find on a cookie or small cake. My mom fell instantly in love with them, commissioning from me what she called Flintstones Pottery. And that's what Pintz has created here, a body of work that harks back equally to primitive society and nostalgic culture. I love it.

P.S. Pintz has been kind enough to share with Ceramics Monthly reader a couple of his glaze recipes and a clay body recipe. Totally gonna try the glaze.

(images via Santa Fe Clay, AccessCeramics, and Archie Bray)


Ai Weiwei

I love it. I love him.

(images via The Arm, Things I like, and the Saatchi Gallery)

Diego Romero

Yes that is Bart Simpson and Shrek and Garfield. Read more about Diego Romero here. He is a fascinating artist.

(images via Clark + Del Vecchio)

Past Perfection: Beatrice Wood

All I can say is she was one snazzy lady. Her gumption for opulence and eccentricity defined the artist as well as the art. I love her luster pottery... it makes me go totally gaga. It's just so... so... so indulgent. Like, excuse me while I grab a small pastry from this incredible gilded platter with loads of useless and lovely curly cues.

There was a documentary released in 1993, "Beatrice Wood: Mama of Dada", when the artist celebrated her 100th year (she lived to be 105). Has anyone seen it? Scratch that. You can watch the entire thing on YouTube. Now excuse me while I go learn me something.

(images via Clark + Del Vecchio, ModernSculpture.com, The Studio Potter, and The Arm)

Kuraoka Says to Know: Rudy Autio

Rudy Autio was born in Butte, Montana, studied at MSU Bozeman where he befriended Peter Voulkos, helped found the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena Montana, and started the ceramics department at University of Montana, Missoula. Needless to say, he was an incredibly influential ceramic artist of the 20th century. His work is marked by giant, sculptural vessels wrapped in Matisse-inspired illustrations of reaching figures and cantering horses. I like them well enough, but I am sure a face-to-face introduction would find me more greatly wooed by Autio's work.

(images via artist's website and AskArt; portrait via Distinctly Montana)


Morten Løbner Espersen

Espersen is likely to be to foremost leader in contemporary glazing.

From his website:

All my work is hand built. The clay I use is an English stoneware – since there is no natural stoneware clay in Denmark. I add a lot of grog (highfired, crushed clay) to make it stronger and to give it more roughness, and also to create a more three-dimensional surface, full of holes and peaks. About 75 per cent of the body consists of sand and grog. Some of the grog comes from smashed bisqued or fired pots. I add earthen ware clay to give a deeper colour and this, in turn, also increases the amount of iron in the body and gives the glazes more to interact with.

My forms are simple and pure, which provides an open space for the glazes to invade. My aim is to let the ceramic materials and the heat work together to create textures and surfaces that are unique to the ceramic materials. I have discovered that superimposing glazes (layer on layer) is the most powerful way. It is striking that even very dull glazes can become essential in combination with others. More often than not I refire my work, as the pieces very rarely come out with the desired result after the first fire. Reglazing adds yet another layer. Five or more makes it just right, or can cause the complete destruction of the piece, making it collapse, the glaze literally eating its way through the clay. I have a considerable wastage, about one in two proves successful, sometimes less, sometimes a little more.

Five years ago I started giving my works numbers in order to keep track of them in the glazing process. This not only helped me remember what I had already put on, but also it became a sophisticated glaze test. Sometimes I try to remake successful numbers, but it always fails. This used to frustrate me, but I have grown to appreciate it. The result is determined by several factors, and I am not the one in control inside the kiln. My work is outside, fortunately.

(all images via artist's website)

Kuraoka Says to Know: Viola Frey

Viola Frey is one of the most enigmatic artists from the California Funk movement. She studied at California College of the Arts like Voulkos and Arneson. Her work is quite literally and figuratively larger than life and completely unparalleled in contemporary ceramic art.

Please watch the video, Viola Frey: Memory Assembled, where you can watch artists such as Richard Shaw and Betty Woodman speak about the artist and her work. There is also a KQED Spark video here which you can watch if you have the right application.

Frey's unabashed and painterly use of color is absolutely inspiring as is the piece by piece construction of her towering figures, each standing at near nine feet tall. Sadly, Frey recently passed (2004) after a battle with cancer. Her influence on contemporary ceramics is nevertheless alive.

(images via the Nancy Hoffman Gallery; portrait via KQED)

Open 4 Discussion: Ceramic 'Art'?

So the question that's been meandering around my brain since I posted about the ceramist versus ceramicist thing is 'Why am I so triggered by these two words?' I think I know the answer and it boils down to a feeling of exclusion. And that makes me feel completely whiny but I think there is some validity to this. Artists working primarily in ceramic are still fighting the remnants of a societal agreement that ceramic is pottery and pottery is a craft not fine art. Voulkos and Arneson and Frey and Autio all toiled to bring us out of the craft age but we're still struggling to be excepted in the fine arts' world.

What I see, and I could be completely wrong so do correct me if I am, is one or two ceramic artists breaking through into recognition by the fine arts' world every once in a while. However, the majority of our appreciators seem to in fact be ourselves. In other words, ceramic artists primarily make art for other ceramic artists. We engage in a unique and private dialogue that is more difficult for outsiders to understand than say the dialogue between painters or metalsmiths. Our proccess is less accessible to general patrons of the arts and so the general fine arts audience becomes less accessible to us.

It is not only the complexity of our medium however that keeps equal recognition at bay. Time has its hands at work here as well. Because time is so integral in the actual process of the ceramic medium, there is an unequivocal amount of preparation and planning that goes into a ceramic sculpture. Take Jun Kaneko for example. The sheer scale of his work drastically affects the time frame of each piece. In order to ensure a full return from the kiln, he fires at a rate 10 times or more slower than a traditional firing. In the case of Kurt Weiser's sculpture, time plays a role in the number of different firings the artist has to preform just to get the layers and depth of color from china paint that a painter using acrylic or oil could develop over a couple days.

That it takes longer to produce ceramic art means there is a delay in the expression of our ideas that doesn't exist as often for artists using other mediums. This is in no means meant to say that other fine art doesn't take time as well. I recognize that some paintings and sculptures take years to produce. What I am saying is that completing those works in ceramic would most likely take even longer.

This is sort of a cop out, though, and I see that. There has to be more reason that ceramic art seems slightly delayed when it comes to contemporary art movements. I'd love to know if anyone else has a take on this.

It seems to me that there is a strange community affliction in the ceramic world that hinders our ability to meet on the same level as other art forms. We seem to rely heavily on tradition in this medium. There are essential rules governing the medium that seem to be pulling us back from the edge of creativity. These rules differ slightly from school to school but they all say the same thing: Breaking from tradition is dangerous and highly discouraged. For instance, your teachers might prohibit you from using certain surfacing techniques or frown upon the use of other mediums in your ceramic work. Perhaps it is that your teachers discourage innovative throwing methods or novel production concepts. It might even come down to what content is acceptable for your ceramic work. It seems that the ceramic world, at least in the US, is terrified of change. (Kind of ironic considering the California Funk Movement.)

Really I don't know. It's just something that has been on my mind a lot recently and I wanted to put it out there. Please tell me what you think, if you agree or disagree or find it completely irrelevant. I'm really curious about this.

(image of Stilt #2 by Anders Ruhwald via Danish Crafts)


Cabracega's All City

From the Cabracega's website:

Within the graffiti context, All City intends to re-interpret some of the most classical Portuguese porcelain sets: the nobility of classical shapes were re-invented with improbable graffiti motifs, based on a contemporary urban language.

It’s intended to confront two different places and times. On one hand, we have the elegant quality of porcelain - represented by the table sets and decorative objects, taking us back to a different timeframe. On the other hand, there is graffiti as an art form and a way for contemporary urban intervention, which aims to promote new perspectives over cityscapes.

Kinda in the same vain as Wedgwood, no?

(via Design Spotter)

Off Subject: Kirsten Hassenfeld

Holy shit. This is paper.

P.S. A great interview with the RISD alumna is available in the archives of First Person Artist.

(images via the Bellwether Gallery)

Past Perfection: Wedgwood

Blogger Amy Azzaritto recently wrote a brilliant post for Design*Sponge on the history of Josiah Wedgewood. It's brief but chock full of wonderful images and great information. It definitely makes you want to read more... Thank goodness she included a further reading list! I plan on reading Dolan's Wedgewood: The First Tycoon as soon as I have the time. The company celebrates its 250th Anniversery this year. Talk about longevity.

(image via Antique Helper)

Kelly King

This is Kelly King. I really like her work which I think I first spied within the pages of Ceramic's Monthly. I wish I could find more images of her work as I would like to see (and share) more of the sculptures I stumbled across in a magazine ad.

Does anyone have any leads?

(images via the Guilford Art Center, the Signature Shop and Gallery, and Amy Sander's blog- There There Pottery)


Kuraoka Says to Know: Betty Woodman

I looooooooooooooooove Betty Woodman. And shame on me... I didn't even know who she was until a few days ago. I don't know how I got through this many years studying ceramics without her name being mentioned or her work being shown.

I adore her colors, her patterning, the shapes and construction of her vessels (or sculptures, I'm not sure which they are, and I love that too). I love her Matisse-esque illustrations. I'm greatly intrigued by the combination of her painted canvas and ceramic vessel and the overall presentation of her artwork.

She most definitely is one of the most prolific artists of the 20th/21st century.

And ps, doesn't she look like the greatest lady? Oh, also... you can listen to a rare interview with the artist about being a working artist, here.

(images via Max Protetch Gallery; portrait via Frank Lloyd Gallery; video via VodPod)

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