Monday, March 26, 2012

Six Weeks and Counting

The year is 2004 and the Chair for Ceramic Showcase is Natalie Warrens and the OPA President is Anne Stecker.  2004 proved to be a year of loss for the OPA; longtime member Chris Gum past away and this beautiful remembrance appeared in the newsletter:

CHRIS GUM: 1952-2004

To our great sadness, we have lost our friend and fellow potter, Chris Gum. Chris has been an OPA member for 23 years. He has been on the board of both OPA and Showcase and has often been the voice of reason (sometimes to all of our chagrin) amidst chaos. Chris died in his home of unknown natural causes on June 29th. A Memorial Potluck was held at the home of Linda Owen and Craig Martell on July 18th.

Chris is survived by his father, Robert, and his sister, Karina, both of California. Just as importantly, he is survived by Patty Cirello and her children: Sally, Angie and Joseph of Corvallis, who from his college days together made him a part of their family. He is also survived by his good and close friend, Nancy Hart, who will perhaps miss him most of all.

Chris made beautiful pots, and for many years he dug his clay from local stream banks and collected local feldspars and other materials for his glazes. His work was very careful and methodical. Efficiency was never a concern for him, he would rather be true to his work and its process. Chris’s work was well known by potters and art appreciators alike, although Chris never wanted to be a famous person. Chris chose to move through this world quietly and modestly, doing his share of the work without demanding too much of the spotlight.

Chris had a passion for gardening. He probably felt that laundry sorting and truck washing were overrated, but he always took exquisite care of his plants. He was a good listener and never hesitated to express his opinions.

In recent years, Chris avoided attending OPA Meetings (why deal with petty bureaucracy?), but he almost always came to Portland to visit his friends (the most important part of this group) on the days we held our meetings and thus we could all spend time with him. He was a wonderful friend and his sudden death has affected the entire pottery community in Oregon. We will all miss him terribly. (thank you to Ellen Currans, who presided over the Memorial Service, and to Anne Stecker, both of whom provided some of these words)

And Best of Show 2004 is Ron Linn.  This is what Ron had to say about his process:

Best of Show 2004
Ron Linn
"Our lives are systematically constructed from repetitious moments both unique and mundane. In isolation they may seem remarkably unremarkable and easily dismissed. Tethered by time, they teach and transform, creating who we are and who we are becoming. This notion that our lives are bound by an underlying geometry, hidden patterns, and layered meanings, is a recent preoccupation that informs much more than just my work.

My process, in rhythm with these materials, creates artifacts whose intention is to emphasize and place into foreground the consequence of daily living, stand as metaphor of events planned-for and unsolicited. Drawn into this collaboration the objects become a secondary witness to all contributors, a testament, a reflection of their inspiration and existence."

Friday, March 23, 2012

What We're Jammin' Too

This week's top 5 courtesy of OPA member, Steve Sanchez.

As Steve stated, "It is a mix...anything from Japanese Shakuhachi music to Pearl Jam...lately I have been listening to Laura Veirs "July Flame".

But the playlist I use the most includes:

ok, so this is more than a top 5 but I was so intrigued by the list, I included them all!

Monday, March 19, 2012

7 Weeks and Counting

The year is 2003 and the Chairs for Ceramic Showcase are Natalie Warrens and Margie Adams and the OPA President is Michael Fromme.  The OPA took a huge step organizationally in 2003 by being awarded non-profit 501(c)(3) status.  As a non-profit organization, the goal is to continue to offer the membership community and the general public as many educational opportunities as are possible.  Besides the educational opportunities that are offered, the most powerful validation for the non-profit status is that the OPA is an all volunteer organization.   And these musings on life and art appeared in the OPA newsletter:

"For art to become universal and free, one must be God to create it, a King to pay for it, and a slave to make it."  Constantin Brancusi, Sculptor, 1876 - 1957

"The jurying process is not impartial.  As someone said, 'There is nothing fair in life and this is an example.'  Juries are but the sum of their parts.  Maybe someone is in a bad mood.  Maybe they're recovering from rich food at lunch.  Maybe your slides are sandwiched in between ones that are better or worse.  Strange things happen when people are in a room together."  public forum

"There cannot be a crisis next week.  My schedule is already full."  Henry Kissinger

And Best of Show 2003 is Kathryn Finnerty.  Kathryn writes about her process, early influences and how she and her work have grown and what influenced that growth:

Best of Show 2003
Kathryn Finnerty
"I am drawn to the historical traditions of European decorative ceramics.  My work is ornately decorated with surface patterns and images integrated in the form of each piece.  Earlier work focused on patterns and ornamentation that defined form with this decoration.  My concentration was with a close-up, intimate, and confined sense of space much like the spaces that I physically inhabited living in a city.  Moving from an urban center to acreage in central Oregon has expanded by perspective and presented me with the opportunity to discover a natural world outside of my previous daily experience.  From my studio windows I witness a pastoral landscape particular to the Northwest, lush and green, wet and moist.  There are quail living in our hedge-row, starlings nesting in the eaves of our barn, hawks that soar over our pasture and the owls that hoot from the woods at dusk.  I see the coyotes cross the fields on the edge of our property, hunting for vermin, hummingbirds flutter in our garden in search of nectar and a Great Heron resides in our pond in the summer months.  All of this delights and nourishes me daily and I have found it impossible to resist the tug to draw on this abundance for inspiration in my creative process.  This landscape has found a way to impose itself into the existing framework, drawing my attention and the viewer's eye deeper into the pieces."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What We're Jammin' Too

This week's top 5, courtesy of OPA Member,  Barbara Haddad.

"Voodoo Chile Blues" by Jimi Hendrix
"Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zepplin
(I was wondering if this was going to appear on someone's list)
"Harlem Nocturne" by Danny Gatton

Nothing like being transported back in time, taken there by some amazing riffs and guitar licks.

Monday, March 12, 2012

8 Weeks and Counting

The year is 2001, Sandy Brown was the OPA President and Sumi Wu and Margie Adams were the Co-Chairs of Ceramic Showcase and this was published in the June/July member newsletter:

An Ode to the Sales Tags Workshift
or Them Sticker Pickers
by Frank A. Gosar

How 'bout them sticker pickers, ain't they slick?
Pickin' them stickers off, that's the trick.
Picking off little stickers, pickin' off bigger
Pickin' them slower, pickin' them quicker.
Stickers on the boards and the books on the table
Stickers outa every kind of Avery label.
Nit pickin' sticker pickers, ain't they grand?
Pickin' off the stickers, addin' them twice by hand
Addin' them stickers, addin' them twice.
Squintin' and peerin' jes to read the price.
Stickers for a sawbuck, stickers for a dollar
Stickers that go home on Terry's collar.
Alla them stickers gettin' stuck in books
Potters pushin' shovin' jes to get a look
Hair trigger sticker pickers, off the rails
Tryin' to pick stickers outa under the nails.

And the Best of Show winner in 2001 was Natalie Warrens.  I asked Natalie to describe her process and this is what she wrote:

Best of Show 2001
Natalie Warrens
"I started making a body of work based on some low fire sculptures and decided to use cone 10 porcelain, Klieber from Clay Art, in preparation for a wood firing at Hiroshi's in 2001.  I struggled at first trying to manipulate the large slabs like I had done with my earthenware and while I stood the vessel upright, it totally slithered back to a horizontal position.  This was Porcelain 101 once again, since I had not used cone 10 porcelain for twenty years.  Once I got a handle on the short window of the leather-hard stage, I was then able to build geometric forms and stack them together.

This piece was fired in the Spring of 2001, only the second wood firing I had ever participated in.  Instead of making round forms that are more traditional in a wood firing, I chose to make the flat, angular pieces and chose not to glaze the work to see what kind of results I would get.  This particular piece was stacked in the third row back from the front of the kiln and was fired for about 100 hours.  It was placed next to a figurative sculpture of a Buddhist monk to the point of almost touching which resulted in the beautiful halo effect.  I was especially thrilled with this piece and several others because they all had flashing, carbon trap, crystals and veiny ash running down the sides.  We fired primarily with alder and with a mix of fir and oak."

Monday, March 5, 2012

9 Weeks and Counting

The year is 2000; doomsday predictions have come and gone and the world as we know it still exists.  The OPA, along with the world has moved into the 21st century.  And with that, the Oregon Potters Association celebrated its 20th Anniversary.  In 2000, Rhoda Fleischman was the OPA President, Margie Adams was the Chair of Ceramic Showcase and this was overheard at the May General Meeting:

"You don't want to get too technical because then you have to buy too much stuff."  by Craig Martell

And Janet had this to say in the OPA newsletter:

A conversation the newsletter editor has with herself: "I think it’s the Wednesday after Showcase, or is it Thursday morning? It might be, and the anagama kiln is heating up. It’s gotta be about 3am, I hope it is, then I’d be about half way through this shift. This kiln is pretty easy to fire, it only needs stoking every 5 to 10 minutes. Speaking of which, I’ll be right back... Where was I? Oh yeah, I think I can read the board minutes before the next stoke... When I saw those ads for sport utility vehicles where the guy is sitting in the woods with his fax machine, cell phone, laptop computer, etc, I thought that guy must be a pretty sorry person, out in the woods with his computer? But here I am with the laptop next to the anagama firebox. Kinda like a dweeb potter, I guess. Oh well (oops, the kiln’s getting quiet again. Gotta stoke). It’s the middle of our weird mid-May cold snap and my hands are cold. I wonder how much closer I can get this computer to the firebox? Speaking of weird, what is that lumpy stuff in my tea? Maybe I should have used fresher milk, but this is the last cup of tea in the thermos and I’ll drink it anyway. I should have brought some strong coffee, but I drank too much coffee during Showcase. I wonder how much soot I can imbed in my computer and still have it function? The battery won’t hold a charge, but I can always run an extension cord from the light fixture...Gotta go fill the wheelbarrow with wood now. Wow, the mouse that lives under the extra kiln shelves just hauled off a quarter slice of bread (it’s a tiny mouse). This kiln must be getting hotter, it sure is burning wood faster. I’ll bet we run out of wood for the side ports sometime tomorrow night. And people wonder why this newsletter doesn’t always make sense..."

I asked Craig about his process and how his work has evolved over time and this is what Craig had to say:

Best of Show 2000
Craig Martell
"The covered jar that won Best of Show 2000 really began it's evolution in 1994 when I started doing all the slip decoration with ash glazes.  Prior to that I'd been doing some very "quiet work" with an emphasis on form and glaze.  I liked the work and was happy making that stuff but it was selling slowly and since I'm full time at making pottery I needed to plump the bottom line.  So I started doing some work in my sketch book and came up with some geometric sorts of designs and worked on them for a few years with an idea to abstract them a bit.  They were sort of stiff and stodgy at first.

What really helped soften the final result and abstract the designs was using ash glazes which can be very fluid, resulting in a lot of bleeding and moving of color.  So things were moving along OK and I started working with a lot of color tests and different methods of applying the slips.  What I finally came up with was a many staged approach to doing the decorating.  First, I sprayed large areas with colored slips and then brushed designs were painted over and finally I would add white and black lines, spirals, etc, with the aid of slip trailers.  This was all done when the pots were green (unfired).  The work was then bisque fired, given a liner glaze inside and then sprayed with ash glazes.  Finally firing the work to cone 10 in my gas kiln.

I'm still doing this kind of work but not exclusively any longer.  After all, the whole gig is really discovery as well as making sure you have enough in the bank.  Some of the newer work still employs slips and a lot of the old technique but with some different approaches to form, surface and glaze.  Hopefully, I'll be seeing some new light thru an old window or something like that.  The journey is more satisfying than the destination from what I've experienced, so we'll see where it goes."