Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nine Days and Counting

The Year is 2009 and Victoria Shaw is the President of the OPA and Beverly Curtis and Brenda Scott are the Chairs for Ceramic Showcase.

In 2009 the International adventure continued with OPA members traveling and exhibiting in Hokkaido, Japan.  Many members took side trips throughout Japan.  One side trip found Jim Johnstone and his wife in a tiny village that literally was closed but thanks to the kindness of strangers, found a room for the evening and a small pottery where Jim was surrounded by the works of Shoji Hamada.  Jim recounted this story at an OPA General meeting, and to hear the tone in his voice and the sparkle in his eye, you knew that he had experienced a life changing moment.  And when he unwrapped his little treasure, his delight was as evident then as it must have been in that tiny village pottery.

And the Best of Show 2009 was Penelope Dews.  I asked Penelope about the evolution of her work and this is what she wrote:

Best of Show 2009
Penelope Dews
"The idea for this piece evolved over a number of years.  I would make changes to the bird and the energy of the piece, but, the feeling I was searching for kept eluding me.  What ultimately made this idea come alive were two things, we adopted a cockatiel and having a live bird in the home changed my way of looking at birds, and I had seen an image on a calendar of a small bird singing its heart out.

The piece was made using a modified coil method.  Short fat coils, flattened into short slabs about 2 - 3 inches tall, and attached to a slab base.  The bird was added last and is hollow, using clay "flying buttresses" to hold it up until it was stiff enough to stand alone.  Then the supports were cut away.  The piece was anagama wood fired on a top shelf about a third of the way back in the kiln.  Placed with its back to the firebox, so not too much ash would fall on the birds face, and potentially obstruct it's features. The added bonus was the shape the flame made up the back of the piece during the firing."

The 30th Ceramic Showcase opens on May 4, 2012 at 10am and runs through Sunday, May 6.  This year's Ceramic Showcase will celebrate our 30th Anniversary with a weekend full of art, music and camaraderie.  We hope you will join us as we welcome back many of the artists that participated in the 1st Ceramic Showcase.  Live music will happen Friday and Saturday evenings featuring Lynch Mob, Mo Mac and Mood Area 52.  There will also be live music throughout the weekend performed acoustically by local area high school students and musicians.  Our Demonstration Stage will be busy all weekend, Adult and Children's Clay areas if you feel the urge to get your hands dirty, local beer,wine and spirits featured at our no-host bar and last but certainly not least the ceramic work of more than 200 local ceramic  artists.  Find that beautiful cup to enjoy morning coffee, a bowl to grace your table, sculpture to enhance your home and come meet and talk to the artists that have created this amazing work.

We hope to see you in just 9 short days.

(Can you hear the kilns of the Northwest just fire up?)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Three Weeks and Counting

The year is 2008 and the OPA President is Larry Nelson and the Chair of Ceramic Showcase is Beverly Curtis.

2008 was a very international year for the Oregon Potters Association.  We welcomed a delegation of potters from Hokkaido, Japan who participated in events at Ceramic Showcase as well as the Japanese Garden.  The 15 Hokkaido potters brought with them a breadth and diversity of clay techniques and styles which they shared through demonstrations during Ceramic Showcase.  An integral part of the OPA's mission is to provide public educational opportunities in the art of clay.  Although many did not share a common verbal language, the dialogue through clay was extensive.  Through this exchange, 28 OPA members were juried into a show in Sapporo, Japan.

In addition to the Hokkaido exchange, 3 OPA members traveled to El Salvador in February on a volunteer mission to teach art to children.  Artists taught paper making, mask making, book making, weaving and textiles.

And Best of Show 2008 is Karen Washburn.

Best of Show 2008
Karen Washburn

Poster Award 2008
Alan Higinbotham

And The Poster Award for 2008 is Alan Higinbotham

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Four Weeks and Counting

The year is 2007.  Natalie Warrens is the President of the OPA and Ginger Steele and Beverly Curtis are the Chairs for Ceramic Showcase.

And Best of Show 2007 is Dennis Meiners.  You may recall from an earlier posting, that the Best of Show award was bestowed on Dennis in 1993.

I asked Dennis about his creative process and the evolution of "Crashing Horse Teapot" and this is what he had to say:

Best of Show 2007
Dennis Meiners
"Crashing Horse Teapot"
"Prior to making 'Crashing Horse Teapot' in 2007, I had been painting or drawing falling or fallen horses, mostly on clay, for several years, after noticing how interesting an upside down horse is to me both aesthetically and metaphorically.  Horses have been used in painting and sculpture, mostly right side up, as metaphors for humans and our strife and striving going back to the caves, it can be argued, and I've always been fascinated with them.  I've never owned a horse or even had much of a relationship with one, but they seem so mysterious.  Why some of them allow humans to run their lives is beyond me.

In the early 'aughts' I had also made a few stump teapots with horses in one predicament or another, mostly having fallen, and serving as finials on lids.  The stump teapots were, and still are to some extent, my main outlet for my thoughts and feelings about social and political issues, but in the winter and spring of '06-'07, I decided to take a stab at using only the horse, still as a teapot, and see what might happen.  The 'Crashing Horse Teapot', which was the 3rd or 4th attempt in that series, came about when I had the horse fall into a ring of upside down and jumbled houses, the houses having been an image I had used for about 20 years previously in many different ways, and which I haven't used much since.  Neither have I used the fallen horse much, and I wonder about that.

Given the chaos which seems to be rising all around us, it seems like the falling, fallen, crashed, jumbled, upside down images would be everywhere in my recent work, but they are not.  Perhaps, paradoxically, I've reconciled myself with the world somehow, and found a kind of peace.  It's intriguing and humbling to look back on my work and find out things have been happening to me which I hadn't noticed despite the fact the changes have occurred literally right in front of my eyes.  Not the first time for that realization.  As a person who daily tries to make art, I get to learn once more that the work I produce is a record of where I've been and who I am becoming."

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Countdown to Ceramic Showcase continues

The year is 2006 and the Chair for Ceramic Showcase is Ginger Steele and the President of the OPA is Mark Heimann.

2006 was a big year for the ceramics community in Oregon as it played host to NCECA.  The entire arts community opened its doors and welcomed ceramic artists from around the world.

And at Ceramic Showcase, we opened our doors to Habitat for Humanity as a special guest. Leading the way in efforts to create affordable housing both along the devastated Gulf Coast and here in our own city, Habitat for Humanity conducted a pottery auction to raise money to complete a home for New Orleans, and raise awareness of their national and local efforts.

Best of Show 2006
Hsin-Yi Huang

And Best of Show 2006 is Hsin Yi-Huang.  As you remember, Hsin-Yi also received this honor in 2002.

Hsin-Yi Huang’s ceramic work is motivated by the need for self-examination. It is a tool she uses to visually express the encounters she has had with people and the events that occur around her. Huang draws references from organisms found in nature. She is attracted by their fragility as well as their strength; for example, “flowers are about the most delicate objects I know, yet I find the life they portray to be unquestionable. I use such contradictions to represent different possible perspectives of truths in life. As I form my work, every decision I make clarifies for me who I am and why I chose one path over another.”  Her preferred medium is porcelain. Enamored by its whiteness and translucency, she is also intrigued by its strength even when worked to paper-thinness. The use of dark glazes on the porcelain body creates a contrast that helps accentuate textures and edges, joints and intersections, overlapping layers and even the shallowest of recesses.   

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Five Weeks and Counting

The year is 2005 and the Chairs of Ceramic Showcase are Natalie Warrens and Ginger Steele and the President of OPA is Larry Nelson and this little nugget of wisdom was written in the member newsletter:

"An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the woman one day by the stream: "Old Woman, I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house." The woman smiled and replied, "Cracked Pot, did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on Perfect Pot's side? I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house"

-Author unknown

And Best of Show 2005 is Babette Harvey.  I asked Babette her process and where she drew her inspiration and this is what she wrote:

Best of Show 2005
Babette Harvey
"My art is an expression of thoughts and feelings regarding the relationship of humanity to nature.  I suppose it is an environmental statement.  I believe we need to make serious changes in how we live on this planet and how we think about the natural environment.  Through my art I hope to add a voice for envirnomental stewardship of this beautiful planet.

This figural piece was made at a time when I was exploring the idea of morphing the human figure into something which shows our kinship with other creatures in the natural world.  This human is shedding her skin and becoming the nature bound creature hidden under her human facade.

Her legs are joined in a spiral of shell, feathers, and dragonflies.  One shoulder becomes a nautilus and the other is beginning to take shape of a bird.

Maybe she'll find that she has wings to fly!"