Here are two more of the seven sculptural ceramic games going into my upcoming solo show. For a fun contrast to the others, they come up off the flat playing surface, create fusions of well-known games and open the mind to further possibilities. “Toss It Off” is a combination of Ring Toss and Beer Pong, while “Gear Train” is a steampunky variation of “Connect4” and similar. Let’s see how they work.
We’re continuing our explorations of the artworks that will comprise my upcoming solo show, “Games People Play,” with this take on the venerable boardgame family internationally known as Draughts. (That’s Checkers to Americans.) In this version, which I titled Gummo, the ceramic playing pieces are fashioned to resemble used chewing gum and, just like gum, they can cling to the underside of the checkerboard when not in play. Whaaaaat? How? Why?
Here’s the second installment exploring the series of ceramic works I have created in the past nine months: sculptural but playable games. Let’s take a closer look at “Color Theory” which challenges players to move across an 8-colored grid based on what color their opponent just landed on.
I am in my final approach to my first Open Studio in two years and moving like a dervish. Like childbirth, I guess, one mercifully forgets the gory details, remembering only the love. The task this year was to trim the whole affair and still retain excellence. I think I did that. I think that stripping it down led to solutions to recurring problems such as flow, display, and labeling and here are some that took it to new levels:
Adding the Open Studio 2017 section in my website’s SHOP creates a whole new staging arena. It extends the weekend in-person tour mightily, with new work being added all month. Samples of everything are there, except for sculptures and sale stuff. I had a lovely first sale and a couple of inquiries. After the live weekend, I will add even the Sculpture and Studio Sale items – if there are any left.
Two years away let me go deep into new creative territories and find the heart of what I’m about now. While I have plenty of vintage trompe l’oeil cans remaining, fully 70% of my work is new to my Open Studio gallery. It’s delicious to present it in such fullness and fun to find out how each new series looks best. I have lots of wallpieces, too, which is brand new territory, needing a fresh approach to my display spaces.
The Studio Sale table is a deep dive into the archives this year. I even got stuff from the attic I forgot I had. Not only are things wildly varied and priced to move, I am continuing something I started two years ago: Anyone still in high school (18 and under…) can choose one item from the Sale Table and get 50% off. It is heartwarming to foster new art collectors by moving into their realistic budget range.
In the end, I see that going simpler is essentially good editing: the story gets told with more verve and sparkle and we all benefit from it.
–Liz Crain, who invites you to visit her this weekend if you’re in the area (details below) or move over to the SHOP to enjoy a bit of the new works.
OPEN STUDIOS 2017 brought to you by the wonderful Arts Council Santa Cruz County. My Capitola Studio is open one weekend only: Saturday and Sunday, October 14-15 from 11-5, Artist #234 in the free printed Guide or in the free App by artscouncilsc.org. My studio is also available for private appointments, so contact me directly for that, but it’s always lovely to visit when things are all cleaned up. Gotta go back to work now, being on deadline and all. Hope to see you here or there.
I’ve struggled this week to write a coherent journal post. I think I have five heartily dissatisfying drafts in the queue. It happens. My observations seem both lightweight and heavy-handed. At least I know not to inflict them on you!
Instead, you get these random and pure talking points.
I’m entering the final week of preparing my studio/gallery for the Art Council’s Open Studios Art Tour 2017. It’s been an extremely challenging year on half a dozen personal (but not creative…) fronts and, a month or so ago, I was ready to bail. Instead, through some fluky coincidences, I got curious about how simple I could make my own Open Studio weekend and still have integrity. All I needed were Excellent New Works, A Stripped-Down Set-up and A Minimalist To-Do List. Check!
Working to keep it simpler helped me ease into a clarity I haven’t had in the past. So now, I just do the next thing, no lists in hand, and am not daunted by the whole exquisite endeavor. (“All is well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well,” to paraphrase both T. S. Eliot and Julian of Norwich, take your pick.)
A wonderful new take on what an Open Studio could be arose from my purposeful calmness: a dedicated but temporary “aisle” in my website’s SHOP titled, adroitly enough, Open Studio 2017. Check it out. It’s intended to provide both a small sample preview and a continuation of my one live weekend for all of this month. It’s got a little bit of everything. (Everything except the mixed-media sculptures and the close-out sale works.) I offer it as a way for anyone to tour the artifacts of the studio seachange I have undergone in the past couple of years.
Clay has been healing me all along, through a nearly daily practice, zillions of test tiles, and an inclusion of found objects and mixed media to riff off of. You’ll see a little of that in the SHOP (look for the crocheted-by-me additions,) but know that much more is coming. It’s just that clay work takes so much friggin’ time! My ideas are constantly outstripping my hands and materials, but that’s good.
Here’s the first post in a new “”sometime series” I think I’ll call Loose Ends, with the idea being to look around my creative life and see what needs tidying up. Today’s missive is a belated virtual thank you card written due to a new understanding about a gift I received which I frankly did not understand very well at the time.
Earlier this summer my friend Patrick S. mentioned that he thought 2010 was his peak year as an artist. He had scads of examples of why that was true for him, but one especially pricked up my ears: he was nominated for a local Rydell Fellowship administered by the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County.
Not too shabby, Patrick! The nomination process alone is pretty exclusive. The field of nominee/applicants is bursting with superb talent. The three awards given every two years are both prestigious and lucrative. When does any artist receive wide acclaim, a museum exhibition and $20,000 with practically no strings attached? It’s basically the Art Oscars for Santa Cruz County. Even if one doesn’t win, – and only roughly one in twenty do – one can forever append “Rydell-Nominated Artist” to one’s pertinent professional descriptors.
Thing is, up until Patrick mentioned his, I had not truly valued my own 2013 Rydell Fellowship nomination for what it IS and not for what it was not. I am certain I did my best with the only requirement: 12 images of my finest works (the piece up top is one.) I delivered my Image CD and Application in person, trailing clouds of glory, and then went off to Mono Hot Springs on a late September vacation you really need to read about.
In December came the lovely rejection letter. Once I saw that it mentioned there were 62 nominees and named the 55 who actually applied as well as the three winners, I was at peace. That list was a Who’s Who of local creative glitterati, many I knew. To be included at all, was, as the letter read, to be a “part of a remarkably talented pool of artists whose work reflects this region’s artistic quality and diversity. The [national] panel expressed their regard for the breadth and vitality of the artists’ work they viewed.”
Breadth and Vitality! Remarkably Talented! Quality and Diversity! Why did I miss theses accolades and only notice the Not Winning part? Why did I put away all my files and never mention the experience to anyone? Hrmmm…
Answer: It’s only human! When the eyes are trained on the prize, a lot goes missing in the service of that focus. Unless…
Unless and until one wakes up to the whole of it, maybe years later. Until now. Thank you Patrick, for opening my eyes to the monumental significance of being nominated at all. It was a high point in my own artistic career, too, and one I would love to repeat, now that I get it.
Belated Deepest Thanks to the arts organization that nominated me: I treasure your support and confidence whoever you are and wish I could have done you proud.
So I am slow on the uptake, but seeing this juicy nomination in a prouder light is oiling my newest studio endeavors. I’m feeling a tad more artsy, a smidge more deserving, a soupçon more saucy and will soon have a whole new range of work I adore to show for it.
— Liz Crain, who has graciously taken her seat among the rare cadre of Rydell Fellowship Nominees and will be adding it to her resume in its next update.
For what it’s worth, I’ve been making artstuff out of clay since 1999 or so and have been earnestly involved in selling it since 2007. You’d think by now I would have an accurate sense of what prices to ask. You would think. But I don’t. What I always suspected, and now am completely sure of, is that monetary value is squidgy and at best thinly related to the highly subjective valuation of a work of art. Throughout the art world, price is often nebulous, magically derived, and certainly very negotiable. And Ceramics carries another challenge because of the FineArt/FineCraft pricing disconnect. Let’s look at all this a little more personally.