Influences Orbiting Around the Rare Earth Exhibit


Three ceramic sculptures of incinerator, gas can and communication device
Ceramic Works by Karen Hansen (foreground) and Liz Crain (middle and background)


One great thing about a National Ceramics Exhibit in the neighborhood is there are bound to be several invitees who one might know personally. Or even have studied with. The Rare Earth Exhibit at Cabrillo Gallery is about half way through its run and, since I walk by it twice a week going to my Beastly Beauty Philosophy class, I usually pop in for another gander. To see what I didn’t see. To notice what I didn’t notice. To appreciate not only the anointed company my work is keeping in general, but to acknowledge my connections to the meaningful work of five women I have either studied with and/or feel a tribal closeness to. I am sharing photos of a portion of their work on display and thanking them for the ways they have touched me.

Up top are my two pieces on the left (“Homefire 1957”, last seen in the PVA “HOME” exhibit I have written extensively about and the “Horseshoes and Handgrenades Tea Can” last seen in my private collection.) What tickles me no end is that they’re next to my longtime clay buddy Karen Hansen’s “Amplifier Contraption” on the right. Karen! Look at us up there on a national stage, doing our can-can, or three-legged race, or whatever! I am so proud to be your companion in this funny endeavor of trying to make personally meaningful stuff out of clay and daring to put it out there in the world. Thanks for your humor, insight, tough love and unique point of view.


small ceramic portrait wallpiece by Cynthia Siegel
“High Anxiety” by Cynthia Siegel

Cynthia Siegel guided me deep into figure sculpture and portraiture, an exploration I intend to catch up with in my upcoming new adventures with clay. (see my last post about that intentional seachange.)  Thank you Cynthia for your high standards, in-depth explanations and ongoing international research. You are both my bedrock and my springboard for understanding the skeleton and facial expression. (“Make a figure sculpture working for two hours only start to finish,” you assigned me. Ha!) This little wall portrait shows your skills so nicely: the animation, the bone structure and musculature! That hair. The evident personality. The fact I can notice and appreciate this comes directly from my work with you.



Ceramic Sculpture of chair, oriole and magnolia
“Oriole’s Magnolia Chair” by Gail Ritchie Bobeda

One regular old night in Beginning Ceramics, Gail Ritchie Bobeda delivered the single most compelling demo and explanation of how to form a simple pinch pot that I have ever seen. (Out of at least 30 – 40 priors.) After her thoughtful description, covering the tricky parts and emphasizing style and graceful finishing,  a three-toed sloth could have made a good one! Gail, I so appreciate your warm clarity and continuing curiosity. Your gentle affection for birds is inspiring. I am grateful for any iota of your prodigious brush skills and design insights that I have snagged as my own.



Ceramic Basket by Sylvia Rios
“Wild Basket” by Sylvia Rios

Sometimes all a person needs is a direct explanation at exactly the right time. Sylvia Rios has shown me several skills I still use: How to keep clay workably wet for a long time, not just a day or two. How to effortlessly form twigs and branches, similar to her basket. A nice dose of sales encouragement when I was very green. And the phrase, “Pouring with a brush” which describes perfectly how one best applies underglazes to reduce streaks. Thank you Sylvia!



Three freeform and illustrated ceramic teapots by Julia Feld
Three Teapots by Julia Feld: “Interrupted Comfort,” “Leashed,” and “The Doll”

After marveling at her work for years, just a short demo workshop with Julia Feld changed my understanding of source material, personal narrative and the melding of idiosyncratic form and imagery. Julia, I am always happy to run into you or your mysteriously compelling work, and both you and it together are the best! I look forward to the time I can study with you more extensively: I still have lots of questions! Your bright and wry spirit is a balm.


–Liz Crain, who fondly sees the threads of connection from each of these women’s pieces to their personalities to their lessons to her hands. It’s not direct or literal, but damn near. She’s reveling in seeing their works together in one place for the next week and then the moment passes.

Exhibit Details: “Rare Earth National Ceramics Exhibition,” Cabrillo Gallery, Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive, Library Rm 1002, Aptos, CA, October 3 – October 28, 2016.  M-F 9-4, M and Tues eves, 7-9.

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