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!


  1. As a side note, I would have put everyone's name in the Labels section, but it only holds 200 characters!

  2. Jenny what a beautiful exhibit at MoCC - you did an amazing job putting this together and I can't wait to see it in person. I hope that all get a chance to visit the museum to see the show as well as the Demo's. Great job as always!