Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Art of Function and Contemporary traditions of Art Pottery. Two shows @ Craftsman House (NCECA)

 Craftsman House is a beautiful, spacious 1918 Arts & Crafts bungalow situated at 2955 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg, owned and operated in an amiable way by Jeff and Stephanie Schorr. The space and carriage house artists' studio multitasks as a gallery with multiple rooms, delightful cafe, where all drink and food are served in handmade pottery,  intimate music venue. Craftsman House also shows blown glass, wood, metal, furniture and jewelry, and specialize in sculptural and functional clay. Everything at Craftsman House is handmade by American Artists. Over three hundred are represented by the gallery.

They are having two shows concurrently (and will be at NCECA 2011): "The Art of Function", and "Contemporary Traditions of Art Pottery" . For those not familiar with pottery, there's basically two kinds. That which is usable to hold things, or make tea, etc., i.e., functional, and that which is sculptural. The picture above is a view of the main room, where the "Art of Function" is being shown, which includes work by   top functional ceramic artists like Jennifer Allen, Posey Bacopoulos, Elaine Coleman, Tom Coleman, Marty Fielding, Susan Filley, Peter Karner, Moira Mathison, Branan Mercer, Cheyenne Rudolph, Nigel Rudolph, Amy Sanders, Stephanie Schorr & Gay Smith.

Susan Filley has been making clay works for over a quarter-century. These works are in porcelain, with exquisitely deep, translucent glazes and whites that shift with one's point of view. Some of these lean more towards the functional than others. Some are more gesturally exaggerated. All have her distinct signature. Ms. Filley hails from NC, though her path has taken her through many places. She served as President, Director-at-Large and Administrative Assistant for NCECA.

The picture doesn't do this small bowl by Tom Coleman justice.  The front edge of the lip of the bowl is washed out, but the view of the interior gives a much better idea of the delicacy of the glazes and how beautifully modulated the colors are. This bowl took my breath away. Tom and his wife Elaine are both renowned potters known for their innovative techniques. They've also collaborated for thirty-five years.

This shows more of Tom's work, and on the lower right, you can see another view of the bowl above.

At right is Elaine (aka :"The Celadon Queen") Coleman's work. Note the surface design for which she is famous. Look carefully. These are not just incisions, but also additions of clay to the surface.

Peter Karner does these distinctive pieces with strong, yet living geometric patterns. Some look quite tribal, others more abstracted. They are done by layering various glazes, using brushwork, wax resist, and liquid latex. He hails presently from Colorado. Like most of the artists in this show, his work has been published and shown widely.

The "Contemporary Traditions of Art Pottery" show at Craftsman House is in one of the side rooms of this house. The picture on the left gives a very good idea of the variety of work in the show.

Suzanne Crane's work is hand-thrown stoneware. Some of the biomorphic forms are direct pressings, leaving fossil imprints on the clay. Several techniques are employed to achieve the glazes, including waxing, dripping, wiring and brushing. What makes these stand out for me is the contrast between the ordered pattern of the geometric incisions, and the spontaneous-looking natural fossil impressions.

A beautiful display of work from Jemerick Art Pottery, by Steve Frederick & Cherie Jemsek from the Catskills.


Pewabic Pottery was founded by Mary Chase Perry Stratton in1903 and is still operating. Their NCECA collection includes limited edition glazes, vases and tiles. Truly beautiful decorative objects.

In closing....these three beautiful lamps by David & Melanie Leppla, from Vermont, caught my eye.

Congratulations to Craftsman House [Link] for two wonderful shows.

--- Luis

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