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.
Whenever I ponder why I am so drawn to writing this Studio Journal, it always comes back to: I write to understand, to reflect, to connect. The Desert Island Necessaries in my artmaking include both the doing of it and the writing about that doing, because the writing takes flights that illuminate the making. All else – especially that tedious biz end – can go hang, really. Validation of the power of a purposeful collection of writing was highlighted by a mostly-forgotten book we happened across in the attic last weekend: The Tooth Fairy correspondence belonging to my oldest son, Roger. It affirms that writing is more than just the words and ideas. Tucked in there is also a world view, original evidence of what was important once upon a time. I hope my Studio Journal does that now and in the future for each of us in some way.
Roger’s Tooth Fairy Book was written and thickly illustrated, starting with his first bottom tooth on April 21, 1991 until twelve teeth later on July 25, 1995, when the magic morphed. I’d like to quote at length from that correspondence, formed first in his youthful random caps printing, then in tentative cursive, and then back to printing. While I, in mysterious TF persona, wrote with my non-dominant hand – my brain crying out in protest the while – so he would not recognize my printing. Even if it’s a tad tangential to my usual posts, this is also a hoot – with original spellings – and we all could use that. Let’s start in.
An allegory: On one especially memorable family vacation when I was a pre-teen we drove from CA to WI (and back, but that’s another story) camping each night along the way. Donner Memorial State Park in CA. A last-minute offroad spot outside of Salt Lake City (with cows and a babbling brook.) Somewhere high in the Snowy Range in Wyoming, where we got altitude sickness. And then there was Nebraska, which was flat and took all day to cross. US80 (now I-80, but also known as the Lincoln Highway, Oregon Trail and California Trail) is an old road and in Nebraska there are 72 miles of the most absolute straightness in all of the Interstate Highway System, not varying by more than a few yards. Back in the day it was still a field-flanked two-lane clogged with slow-moving farm equipment and a town with reduced speed limits every ten miles. I stared out the back window of our 1956 Ford Country Sedan Station Wagon at the endlessness of the landscape and at the huge wall of black clouds that followed behind us in the west the whole inching way. We kept just ahead of the thunderstorm until we stopped and set up camp for the night at some tidy midwestern roadside wayfarer court where every car there was from California. Then came the deluge. It wasn’t like you couldn’t see it coming!