Clay artists exhibit works at Davis Art Center

By March 29, 2011

"Opossum with Book" is a ceramic sculpture by Susannah Israel.

"Opossum with Book" is a ceramic sculpture by Susannah Israel.

Celebrate the strength and delicacy of clay at the Davis Art Center’s exhibit, “ACGA at DAC,” opening April 27 at 1919 F St. Seven artists involved with the Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California will collectively show about 40 abstract and representational works in the Art Center’s Tsao Gallery through May 24.

A reception in conjunction with the opening of the California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Art takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 29. The Tsao Gallery also will be open for clay conference visitors on Saturday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Contributing artists — all of whom are nationally recognized — are James Aarons (Mokelumne Hill), Linda S. Fitz Gibbon (Davis), Susannah Israel (Oakland), Lynn Landor (San Francisco), Diane Levinson (San Jose), Tomas Post (Davis) and Liza Riddle (Berkeley).

The show is juried by Nancy Selvin (Berkeley), an established clay artist and adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts in Oakland. Among other honors, Selvin received a Visual Artist Fellowship from the California Arts Council and was an art history lecturer at the DeYoung Museum. Her work can be seen at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and in the Renwick Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

For “ACGA at DAC,” Selvin said she was looking for strong, well-executed work from a diverse group of artists whose ceramics would exhibit well together.

Fitz Gibbon, a Davis Art Center ceramics instructor, presents a clear vision with her low-fire hand-built ceramics that fool the eye, while expressing each object’s unique character — mixing realistic representations of fruit, household objects and Wedgwood pottery, scaled up to giant proportions. In this series she calls “Cup Runneth Over,” viewers will stumble upon symbols of domestic life and classical mythology while peering at her sculptures, which are literally run over with tire tread, and/or stepped on.

Other featured artists take inspiration from the rhythm, patterns and forces of nature. Riddle, for example, uses boulders on a Sierra slope, wind ripples on a gray blue sea and the ceramic work of ancient cultures to guide the creation of her graceful vessels. Riddle hand-coils each vessel, slowly building the form using fine-grained, “porcelainous” clay. The gently applied water-soluble metals leave intricate and exquisite galaxies of dots on the piece’s surface.

Similarly, Post looks to the textures of nature when creating his smooth, ceramic stones, made from clay, formed, compressed, eroded and fired.

“My back yard has hundreds of worn and weathered river rocks winding around and retaining small plateaus of terraced earth. I can’t help but admire the rugged beauty that thousands of years of moving water has sculpted and left behind,” he explained.

Levinson explores wood-firing clay in her series “Weapons of Mass Construction.” Each sculpture — bomb-like shapes resting on rough tablets — possesses natural texture resulting from what Levinson calls “painting with fire,” the effects of the flame pattern, ash and wood.

The abstract is represented through Aaron’s square slabs of clay with angular patterns connecting over separate pieces — an exploration of the urban/human condition.

“I am devoted to the task of making objects from clay and feel that the clay itself is an important component of my work,” he explains. “It’s fitting that, since our constructed environments are made from clay, my work should be also.”

Melanie Glover

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