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.

 

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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Games People Play: Gummo

Ceramc Gum Playing Pieces, found Object checkerboard
“Gummo”  Clay, Found Object, Magnets, Foil, 2017

 

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?

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Games People Play: Color Theory

Ceramic Board Game Color Theory
“Color Theory” Ceramic, Sand and Found Object, 2018

 

 

 

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.

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Games People Play: Intro and First Game

 

Ceramic Crystals and Corns Game
“Crystals and Corns Game”, Ceramic and Found Object, 2017

 

Let me formally introduce you to the first installment of a series that I’ve been creating for my upcoming (March 2018) solo show at Roscoe Ceramic Gallery in Oakland, CA. With a working title of “Games People Play,”  the show’s all about seven artfully intriguing and fully playable games which incorporate my hand built ceramics in major ways. I fashioned the playing pieces for all of them, and sometimes I created the playing field as well. Found Objects abound. Let’s look at the Big Idea for this Exhibit and then at the first game I made. We’ll explore the other six over the month of February, providing I finish the last two!

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