Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Museum of Contemporary Craft Community Show and Demo Series

On Monday at eleven a.m. sharp, I walked through the doors of the museum to meet with Kat Perez, the Exhibition Coordinator at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, to hand off the artwork for OPA's Community Showcase.

I hadn't coordinated an exhibit like this before, and so was curious to experience the installation and the actual placing and arranging of the pieces in the case. I also hoped to be involved in that process, but wasn't sure if Kat would need or want the help. As it turned out, she was very willing to have me take part. As the museum is closed on Monday, I had to be admitted through the side door and ring a buzzer to be let in. I felt somewhat official and important! As I went through the day, I had feelings that I was involved in something worthwhile... like we were all contributing to the world of art and giving pleasure to the museum's audience. It felt good. I documented the process, much to Kat's chagrin! She and the museum's curator, Namita Gupta Wiggers humored me with some candid shots.

Kat had a very neat and tidy reception waiting for me and the pieces, three long sturdy tables covered in a cushion padding, and an empty case, that morning vacated by the Bead Society. Kat said she had been working toward these shows becoming concept based, and so the theme we chose "Emerging" worked in well with her future plans. I wrote a small piece to accompany the exhibit.

Members of the Oregon Potters Association (OPA) create an astounding variety of work. Though each artist and their work are unique, they share the inherent ability to create something new. Their artwork evolves over time, with the emerging new qualities coming through education, experimentation and the sharing of ideas, techniques and processes. It is this emergence, or the showing of change over time, which makes "the making" so exciting and keeps the artists coming back to the table or wheel for decades.
Perhaps next time we can make more of a process of this show, if and when we are invited again. The pieces were chosen with a jury of six artists and we had 30 submissions. The case is fairly small, so we were limited to the number of pieces we could include. All the submittals were wonderful. Kat Perez seemed genuinely impressed by the work we selected...

We gently unwrapped the pieces and set them on the tables, and I noticed that Kat was extremely careful with them, setting them down with mindfulness. Then after some time, which felt like a truly meditative consideration, we began placing the pieces one by one into the case. We started with the larger pieces, as Kat said she felt it helped to work around them. Then other pieces followed. Soon we started to coordinate the work into groupings which she hoped would create stories within the case. Certain pieces worked well with others, but not at all with some... and we found after two hours of moving and switching the art around, a strong and unexpectedly harmonious solution. It was wonderful to see how Kat considered shape, color, texture, height, and chose all of the wooden blocks and bases for each piece. It is more of a project than I could have imagined to create a properly composed exhibit case and Kat is a master!

(from left to right: Ginger Steele, Sara Swink, Kris Paul, Dara Hartman)

Kris Paul's raku was the last to place. Where does this wild card belong? (I know you'll be laughing at that, Kris!). We tried it in a number of locations. As it turned out, it felt most harmonious between Sara Swink's brooding thinker, and the tall ebony of Dara Hartman. Of course! We should have seen that from the beginning. It wasn't until Namita, the Curator, aimed her trained eye at the case, that Kris' piece was properly positioned with her suggestion. The verticality of Kris' piece went best further toward the center between the two pieces. And Ginger Steele's lovely teapot and cup moved to the outside... directing the eye inward with it's spout. Namita knows her business!

The other groupings went together a bit more easily as we discovered which pieces "played well" with others. Brenda Scott's piece, a wood fired vase had bits of green in it. That and it's sheen finally found a home with Kristy Lombard's tall and lanky teapot, Michelle Gallagher's "Baby" on wheels, Chayo Wilson's dainty and ancient cups and Megan Chalmer-McDonald's other worldly sea creature. The largely green story. I won't go through how everyone was placed or by what means... but I'll say it was a real pleasure to handle all of the beautiful work and really study each piece. What a beautiful process it is and I told Kat that she has quite a job!

(from left to right: Michelle Gallagher, Brenda Scott, Chayo Wilson, Kristy Lombard, Megan Chalmers-McDonald)

(from left to right: Victoria Christen, Debra Nelson, Jan Edwards, Rhoda Fleischman)

(from left to right: Pat Berman, Larry Nelson, Jan Richarson)

I left so that we could all get to our lunches and Kat promised to work her refining magic on the display. She schedules an entire day or more to the set up of each of these Guild shows. She also has to create the signage, including the tags for each work identifying the artist and the title. She sent me photos of the finished display so that I could share them with you all.

I can truly say that our work is in the best of hands at the museum. They treat art with the utmost respect and care. And they have a huge appreciation for the artists of our guild and all the other guilds. They express a sincere desire to encourage, support and be a part of our strong and vibrant arts community. I felt relieved when I got into my car to head home... with a wagon full of empty boxes!

Thank you to everyone who submitted work. It was such a pleasure seeing the variety our guild represents!

The show is up now, so please go take a look and keep in mind the process involved in placing every piece. I think you'll enjoy what you see. Also, keep watch for the demos scheduled every Saturday beginning June 19th from 1 pm to 4pm, going through the month of July.

June 19 (1 pm start time)
Jan Richardson & Tea Thanhbinh Duong

June 26 (1 pm start time)
Larry Nelson & Debra Nelson

July 3 (1 pm start time)
James DeRosso & Brenda Scott

July 10 (1 pm start time)
Michelle Gallagher & Victoria Christen

July 17 (2 PM start time)
Ginger Steele & Rhoda Fleischman

July 24 (1 pm start time)
Alissa Clark & Renee Shearer

These should all be wonderful. So I hope you can attend!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Its a small clay world

Last week I made the trip from Portland, Oregon to the town of Cannon Beach on the coast. My purpose was to re-establish a presence on the coast as my current work involves octopi, and it seems like a natural fit.
Here I digress. When I was at California State University, Chico in the 70's one of my instructors, Vernon Patrick, participated in an exchange program. He went to Texas for a month or so. When he returned he said to me, "Your cousin says "HI"".
All that I could say was "What?".
Vernon said, "Your cousin Rob (McClurg) says "Hi"". Vernon went on to tell me that he stayed at my cousins place while he was in Texas on the exchange. The school was East Texas State, in the town of Commerce.
I had just gotten into clay the year before, and hadn't heard from Rob in years. It turned out that Rob had just gotten into clay at the same time that I had. What a flash!
Fast forward to last week.
While I was in the gallery that I had chosen to represent me, a customer asked the proprietor if it was alright to take some photos of some of the work. Of course, she was asked the purpose. The customer replied that she wanted to send them back home to friends in Michigan. She continued that normally she would be back there taking classes at Oxbow, but had some family business to take care of out here in Oregon. This caught my attention because cousin Rob has taught wheel throwing at Oxbow for years (yes, we stay in touch).
I said to her, "My cousin taught at Oxbow. His Name is Rob McClurg. Do you know him?"
It turns out that she has taken his course three times. She asked me if I knew why he wasn't teaching this year, and I explained what was happening in his life and what he and his wife, Donna Berrati, (also an artist) were up to.
As I left the gallery I was struck by what a small world it really is on this clay ball that zooms across the universe.

Monday, June 7, 2010


This is a little video by OPA member Jeanne Garrett. Jeanne is a Flight Attendant and while working dreams about being in her studio. So while she was not able to be in her studio she put this little video together and I think it's brilliant. Jeanne is also Co-Chairing the OPA's Empty Bowls event this year with Bill Sanchez. This is a great event that raises money for local food banks. The OPA sets up a booth at the Waterfront Blues Festival each year and has raised over $200K over the last 10 years for the Oregon Food Bank.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Love a Ten Dollar Cup

This is Spring Studio Sale time of year, and as always, I visited Janet Buskirk and Jim Koudelka's sale over on SE 46th, just north of Hawthorne. If you haven't been there, it's high time. One can expect a wonderful collection of artists showing their work. During the sale events, Janet and Jim generously share their beautiful place with pottery and jewelry friends alike. Of course, it's mainly dedicated to pottery and they usually have from 5 to 10 different artists represented.

For the last few years I have bought pieces made by Janet, that is, until I felt I had a critical mass of her work... large coffee cups with saucers, wonderful textural plates and little cups I use for wine. I bought one of Jim's coffee cups last year and I just love it from year to year. Their work is built to last both in the utilitarian and visual sense. I never get tired of looking at or using these pieces.

This year they are hosting a new artist called Ji-Min Lee (at least she is new to me). It's funny... because at the OPA board meeting this last week hosted by Kris Paul, I coveted the cup Kris was drinking from... a beautiful cup with what looked like a grouping of small baby heads painted on it. I picked it up at the end of the party and admired it's qualities up close. No time to ask about the artist, what with trying to find my car keys and the tour of Kris' AMAZING studio. Honestly, she wins the "Best Studio" Award! Especially designed for her by Willie, her husband... with big picture windows looking out to their woods, where she often gets a view of the dear eating her garden! I was treated to a Kris Paul naked raku piece when she saw how luscious it felt in my hands! Thank you Kris! Kris' collection of cups is inspiring!

So, it felt somewhat synchronicitous to find Ji-Min Lee just a day or two later there at Janet and Jim's. I so connected with her use of color and the illustrative vocabulary and was gently reminded of both Jan Edwards and Victoria Christen's work. Of course, she has qualities all her own, but it felt like a related visual language. (Her cups are featured in the photos. And don't you just love the dark coffee color against the blue of the cup?). She offered her work at wonderful prices too (My cat loves a Ten Dollar Cup! in the photo), so I couldn't help bringing home some of her work... even though my cupboards are running over. When one no longer has space to put another cup... one is forced to ask the question... "How much is too much pottery?" Is there such a thing? And my answer to this is... "BUILD MORE SHELVES!" One can never own enough pottery.

I had a marvelous time a day later at Jan Edwards Spring Studio Sale. She hosted a wonderful and sunny Spring Sale party. I tell you... if you ever want inspiration... just go visit Jan. Throughout her studio, you'll witness her endless and bountiful creativity, all around her home and everywhere you look there is beauty. I love her delight in the painted image. Natural imagery, such as birds or trees or leaves, landscapes, figures and abstract patterns and shapes are her subject matter. And the terra cotta clay with her special brand of coloration is so vivid and alive. I brought home a delicious small leaf shape platter (in the photo). It came in handy this morning to serve my kalua and cream French toast! (Gotta add the recipe to the next cookbook!)

Both sales are still going on today (Sunday, June 6th!) So, check them out!

Janet Buskirk and Jim Koudelka & Friends SPRING STUDIO SALE
4614 SE Salmon St. Portland, OR 97215 at corner of SE 46th and Salmon 503-231-2810

JAN EDWARDS’ 20 & 20 CELEBRATION In thanks for 20 Years of support in my studio I’m offering 20 %off on all Claywork by Jan JUDITH ROSE’s jewelry will be 10% off

Friday, June 4 / 5PM to 8 PM
Saturday, June 5 / 10 AM to 5PM
Sunday, June 6 / Noon to 5 PM PARTY
Saturday June 5 . 5PM -10PM
(Music on the deck with Kevin Shay Johnson)

at Jan Edward!s Studio
2650 SW Custer Street Portland


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Meet an OPA Member: Julie Asbury

Three things about Julie that have nothing to do with clay

1. Grows African Violets

2. Lived in Fairbanks, AK for 13 1/2 years

3. Spent 24 hours in Shemya, in the Aleutians