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.

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A Lasting Impression: Hot Out of the Kiln for January 2015

Textured porcelain hand-built teabowl with celadon glaze in front of three bisqued impressed texture tiles, all by Kathryn McBride.


Although I’ve done so a few times, I find it confounding to write about my longtime ceramics mentor,  Kathryn McBride, who died in February, 2012.  Later that year I wrote “What Dreams May Come” about receiving a heartwarming bit of understanding and resolution. Last year I wrote “The Apron” about taking on one of her physical mantles. Regardless of my meager written output, she daily abides in me physically, mentally and spiritually.

Physically: I have many of her tools and materials. And I use them!

Mentally: I call a woven basket she gave me her “In Basket.” It contains small trinkets of hers and when I really need to tell her something, I write it down and put it there, smiling to myself.

Spiritually: Her Christmas Card from December 2011 reappeared a few weeks ago, full of loveliness and hope,  speaking about the coming spring she did not yet know she would never see.Read More >

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Sitting One Out



Works of Elaine Pinkernell, Hank Scott and Paula Prekowitz
Works of Elaine Pinkernell (on wall), Hank Scott and Paula Prekowitz, with Weller ceramic basket and faux poppies on left.

Last fall, during the 2013 Santa Cruz County Open Studios, I determined that I would not be applying in 2014.

For the best of reasons! My older son Roger had proposed to his love Cassandra and they set the date for early September 2014.

Their wedding would be in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a whole wide country away. I knew I wanted to focus on that wedding and not have the pressure of a looming OS season right after.

From the get-go that decision created a heady freedom and rapidly led to taking a conscious Full Year Away from active applying and showing. (I kept two shows: the annual Association of Clay and Glass Artists Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival in July and an invitational  three-artist gallery exhibit in July-August.)

I went deep into my studio practice, redefining my path. I observed the hell out of the year’s cycles and refined my core values to lead me into action again in 2015.Read More >

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My Art Buddy Karen: An Illustrated Panegyric

Love Karen Hansen's playful WallHeart

I could have said paean or laudation or even, dare I, encomium, but panegyric was the big ass word I needed for this public praise piece about my Art Buddy Karen Hansen.

So, without tons of backstory, and letting the photos describe her ceramic art, what’s good about Karen as an Art Buddy?

What's she DOING in there? (Karen Hansen, greenware)

She’s Magnetic. It’s got to be about Frequency (or is it pheromones? I forget.) No matter, when I’m in classes with her, I want to know what she’s doing, thinking, making. It matters to me a whole bunch. Even though our styles are divergent, they’re sourced from similar resonances and I simply need to be around that to channel the muse and protect me from the detrimental energies in the room.

You know, deep down inside, TV is good for you! (TV Wall Plaque - Karen Hansen)

She’s Associative. That means that she collects her fascinations from nearly any quadrant and synthesizes them into enjoyable quirky meanings. A quick study of human foibles, she makes good fun of nearly every thing and every body. She’s facile with words and slippery thoughts. As a matter of fact, that might be her true medium. But it comes out in the clay too.

Half Empty? Half Full? Nope, just 1/2. Deal. (1/2 Lidded Jar - Karen Hansen)

She’s Versatile and Steady. Adaptive and Constant. Ever-changing and Predictable. Do I speak in parables and opposites? Yes. Because it’s true. I’ve probably quoted it before, but it was Steve Allen (or maybe Marshall McLuhan) who said, “The funny man (sic) is a man (sic) with a grievance.” If we go beyond the oppositions, we find the unifying core of humanity in both tragedy and comedy and I enjoy that skill in Karen.

Karen's Playland (or one of them...) Hey, I see that oil can back there!

She Brings It Basically it’s a Full Catastrophe Package with Karen. Equally capable of shop talk, philosophy, baudiness, pop culture or fine art references, and animal humor, she most humbly reveals her passions. She can simultaneously complain and assess, with chuckles. She buys my art, too, astounding me.

Skullheart, Pitfired babydoll head, Pillsbury Doughboy, Candies and dial tile...the beginning of my Karen Hansen art collection

Well, I mean to say I’m pretty fond of her. Art Buddies cannot be conjured. They ARE. I have a modest shelf of Karen’s treasures, pictured above. Some I traded with her, some I just purloined from her “extras.” Karen would modestly say these pieces reflect more about the eye of the beholder (me) than the maker (her), but I like them because they hold her special juju. Back to that vibe thing. And I want MORE stuff in this collection, especially of her newer work.

Polka Dots and Spirals for Everybody (Lidded Jar - Karen Hansen)

Fortunately for all of us, she recently entered the art market, a move I applaud. There’s her Etsy Shop, Polka Dot Clay Studio where you can see and buy lots more of her fun style for yourself. And there’s the Santa Cruz Open Studios Art Tour 2011, which we’re both still waiting to hear about our acceptance.

One Word: Birds (Lidded Jar - Karen Hansen)

Conspirators. Birds of a feather. Com-madres. That’s how I feel about knowing Karen and her art. Did I heap enough public praise? Did I use enough illustrations? I hope so.

Corazon Espinado in the most exquisite way. (Wallheart - Karen Hansen)

Thanks, Karen!

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