In Which It All Gets Done Handily, A Photo Essay

 

New booth banners

By the time you read this I will be one or less days away from my only major in-person show this year: the annual ACGA Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival. There’s an unholy amount of prepping to do to ensure I represent myself well in a constrained 10′ x 10′  setting.  Add to that the fact that I haven’t been able to do this show since 2015 and have both cream-of-the-crop older and brash hot-out-of-the-kiln work to share.  Still, after five times, I know my drill and the Festival itself is fantastically organized, so it will all happen as it should.

After the art was finished and curated, I got curious to photo-document the maelstrom created by the show preparations. It matters that it’s done at a measured and sane pace because it’s absolutely the optimum way I support my exhibitorship in advance. The photographing, the pricing, the list-checking, the rounding-up of all the booth and display parts, the packing, the snacks and the changes of shoes all count. So, with only a few days to go as I write, here’s an annotated behind the scenes photo essay for you. Let’s start with the uncurling of the brand new but long-stored booth banners relaxing in the sun on the hot tub cover, looking like the Star Wars opening crawl — if it were done in classic Cooper Black  (a typeface “for far-sighted printers with near-sighted customers.”) 

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My Back Pages

 

ceramic centerpiece
“Centerpiece” Clay, Stains, Glazes, 2013

 

 Up in the attic pawing through tubs teeming with my older ceramic work, I sat chuckling and chucking a goodly portion of it. Then I hauled the remainder down into the daylight to plead its case for retention. Concurrently,  I clicked to the outer reaches of my Artwork Image Folders, creating sleeker organization and curating like hell. (Don’t worry, as of this writing 17,127 files remain.)  This trip through my overgrown creative back pages has served to both inform and to deeply overwhelm. SO much work and so many changes of techniques and styles! For clarity’s sake, couldn’t I have settled, made only one or two styles and just been happy?

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We Nourish Each Other

Artist's Alchemy Set 2018
“Artist’s Alchemy Set” Found and Acquired Objects, Ceramic, Underglaze, 2018

 

If this was a chapter in my autobiographical how-to book (working title: Fired Up), it would be much longer and charmingly anecdotal, starting with one premise but taking off on profound and oh-so-meaningful tangents before returning to a heart-rending culmination. But, instead, it’s a journal entry and it needs to get in and out in 800-1000 words. I think I can do it – particularly the heart-rending part – and I will tell you the word count at the end.

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All My Clay Chickens Fly Away

Big Broody Ceramic Chicken

 

As it turned out, three events this Spring in the same town at the same time invited my ceramic works to participate. One entailed making a chicken, any kind of clay chicken, to be shown with dozens of other chickens in a group setting on a lawn. A second asked me to add larger works to those they already displayed in their Gallery Shop. A third was an annual statewide ceramics exhibit, juried, curated and fairly prestigious. I was happily All In with all three and here’s a briefly annotated photo essay so you can be All In along with me.

 

 

Nakie Time and Homefire 1957 at California Clay Competition 2018

 

Starting with the third event, the California Clay Competition – held annually at The Artery in Davis, CA – entices me yearly, yet I have only entered one other time (2012) and was accepted then as well. Like most folks, I dislike being rejected and it takes a special effort to cowgirl-up enough to feel the worth of my entries in that statewide arena. This time I took the leap because the juror was Tiffany Schmierer, a beloved former instructor, and I simply wanted to formally place my recent work before her eyes, even anonymously….even if she did not select it. These two pieces, Nakie Time and Homefire 1957, are from my personal collection and it means the world to me to display them in this venue in a heady group of mega-talented artists, with her blessing to boot.

I went to the Opening Reception, but “forgot” to wear my nametag.  Few know me by sight there, so I had the tremendous joy of watching a man encounter Nakie Time, do a double take, smile broadly, get out his phone and ever so slightly tilt the can to the right angle and take a couple of shots, chuckling the while. I got to watch him fall in love! What a testimony.

 

 

Ceramic Cans at the Pence Gallery

 

Meanwhile, a few blocks away at The Pence Art Gallery, I have many of my ceramic cans: beer, spice and assorted, available in their Gallery Shop. The Exhibit Coordinator asked if I had anything larger to augment the Gallery during  annual Ceramics Conference and beyond. Yep, I did. I selected a few more pieces from my personal collection that I am now willing to part with. It was a pleasant surprise to see them at the head of the stairs on pedestals looking right at home. I’d say it was an honor to bring them there.

 

 

Cabrillo Ceramic Chickens

 

And lastly, there was that lawn-ful of chickens who flew into town for a long weekend. The Cabrillo College Intermediate Ceramics class, plus friends, made dozens of them. There were eggs and chicks and even a fox under the henhouse. They were elegant and thoughtful, ranging from astonishingly realistic to goofy and endearing. It was great fun to wander through the display a few times and discover new angles and personalities. I had dawdled and dithered in making mine until I was nearly out of time. With three weeks left, desperation focused my mind and hands and the Muses/Kiln Gods supported me. I called her Big Broody – she’s up top there – but the Cabrillo crowd quickly dubbed her Mother Clucker cuz she was of heroic proportions and obviously about to hatch something wonderfully badass.

–Liz Crain, who remembers attending the Davis Clay Conference (CCACA) weekend back in the day as an astonished ceramics beginner, never daring to imagine being a participant in the all the exhibits and galleries she was in awe of.  Still feeling a tad like Lizzy From the Block, which is probably a good thing, she nevertheless was right at home this year, a refreshing evolution.

 

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With A Lotta Help From My Friends

Games People Play Ceramic Exhibit

 

This is my Oscar Acceptance Speech. Or maybe it’s my Jimmy Fallon-style Thank You Notes, and I promise to keep it short and heartfelt. But guys, just look at that shot of a portion of my Games People Play Solo Show! To make such a sustained effort in the studio and to see it showcased so nicely gives me a thrill over and over. It’ll be great to move on to whatever’s next, but first, a moment please, to acknowledge the crap ton (a technical term) of help from my friends that I had in bringing it to this point. It would have been insanely harder, if not impossible, without them. In no particular order, other than what my perforated remembrance affords, they are:

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Games People Play: Glyph Con and Packrat

 

 

Two Ceramic Games
Rear: “Glyph Con,” Ceramic and Metal, 2018 and Front: “Packrat,” Ceramic and Glass, 2018

 

I finished in time! Here are the final two of the seven ceramic games I will have in my March, 2018 solo show at Roscoe Ceramic Gallery in Oakland, CA. One is a 3D version of Concentration, the other is a fun ceramic faux log form for Mancala. Let’s check them out.

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Games People Play: Toss It Off and Gear Train

Two Ceramic Games_Toss It Off and Gear Train
Rear: “Gear Train,” Ceramic, Found Objects, 2017                 Front: “Toss It Off,” Ceramic, Wood, Rubber, 2018

 

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.

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