Thursday, May 30, 2013

Good Year

I bragged about my clay students in my last post, but I've had a great year too.

At School
I've had a great year in my teaching career. At the YVCC graduation ceremony in June I will be receiving the Sherrie and Daryl Parker Faculty Award. Award winners are nominated by students. My clay students (the one's I just bragged about) nominated me this year.

The Distinguished Service Award goes to the Larson Gallery Guild of which I am a board member.

I was also nominated for ASYVCC (Associated Students of Yakima Valley Community College) Teacher of the Year. Both full time art instructors and three Humanities instructors were nominated this year.

And finally, I was awarded a sabbatical for next fall. I will be working in my home studio, preparing work for an exhibition in January at Columbia Basin College, exploring the problem of integrating non-ceramic materials into my clay sculpture, and preparing an article about my research.

Top half of "SRAM Gears" currently on show at the DoVA Exhibition at Larson Gallery

bottom half of "SRAM Gears" recently shown at Collective Visions Gallery in Bremerton, WA

In My Work
It has also been a good year for my sculpture. At the end of summer I completed a small set of work incorporating bike parts. I am pleased with the direction of this work and have shown the results in New York City, Bremerton, Ellensburg and Yakima

"SRAM Supported Botany" donated to World Bicycle Relief as part of the pART Project fundraiser

"Big SRAM", recently show at Central Washington University and the Tour of Artist's Homes; soon to be on exhibit at the Larson Gallery Membership Exhibition

I have also had success with other work in national and local shows. This year I have shown work in Texas, Illinois, Washington state (of course), and I have work currently en route to New Hampshire for a show called "Human/Nature." I was so busy with Tour of Artists' Homes and my students' events or other local events, that I completely neglected to even mention the "Women's Works" show in Woodstock, Illinois or the "Human/Nature" show in Manchester, New Hampshire before this. The New Hampshire show runs June 15-August 1 and I know at least two people who will be able to see the work in person.
"Zebra Mussels" on its way to New Hampshire for "Human/Nature."

It appears I will also have work making its way from its temporary home in my parent's basement in Wisconsin to St Croix, Wisconsin for a continuation of a Climate Change exhibition that traveled Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota from 2006-2009. 

"Taka Kozonanka" is in Texas for the "Texas National" exhibition.

Coming Up
Locally, my work is currently on display at Allied Arts of Yakima for the exhibition, "In Case You Were Wondering..." and I have work in the Larson Gallery through the end of this week for the DoVA Student and Faculty Exhibition. Next Friday the Membership Show opens at Larson Gallery and I plan to have work there as well.

Allied Arts Exhibition (their website is not up to date as of this writing)

My next big local event is June Art Fest at Chalet Place Mall (near Oak Hollow, Wray's and Inklings). Mike Hiler and I will share a booth. June Art Fest runs from 9am to 5pm on Saturday, June 8.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My Clay Students

Can I just say how proud I am of my clay students this year? I have an amazing group of students and this May and June seems to be a culmination of their superior achievements. My clay students are winning nominations and awards for their art and their schoolwork. My clay students are strongly represented in the Student Exhibition (and awards) and I have students showing their work professionally at various locations in Yakima.

Tour of Artist Homes
I recently wrote about my home on the Tour of Artists' Homes and Studios. Several of my intermediate, advanced, and independent students showed their work at my home.

work by Grace Keller and John Peterson (photo credit: Gary E. Miller, Larson Gallery)

work by John and Timer Harrison-O'dell (photo credit: Gary E. Miller, Larson Gallery)

work by Shannon Hoptowit (photo credit: Gary E. Miller, Larson Gallery)
work by Katie Schnieder (photo credit: Gary E. Miller, Larson Gallery)

Student of the Year Nomination
Shannon Hoptowit, one of my independent clay students, my most senior clay work study and an invaluable worker for the last few years, was recently nominated by the students of Yakima Valley Community College for the ASYVCC student of the year award. YVCC students can vote for her for Student of the Year. 

Professional Venues
Besides the Tour of Artist Homes, I know of at least 4 other professional venues where students have or will show their work this year. 

Grace Keller, an advanced clay student, has a tiny studio in Glenwood Square on Tieton Drive and displays some of her work at The Glass Kaleidoscope on the main floor.

Mason Cooper, an intermediate student from 2012, displayed one of his pieces at the Emerging Artist show at Allied Arts earlier this year.

Shannon Hoptowit, Grace Keller, and Katie Schnieder, all students who displayed at the Tour of Artists' Homes this year, will also be featured in the Emerging Artists Exhibition at Oak Hollow Gallery in June. The Exhibition opens June 4 with a reception on June 7 from 4-6pm. Monika Lemmon, the painter who showed at my house for the Tour will also have her work in this exhibition.

Additionally, on June 8 my perpetual clay student, Mike Hiler, will be sharing a booth with me. I believe we will be up near Wray's if you are looking for us. Mike is nearing the limit of what one might call a student, as his work is regularly show at Oak Hollow and Larson Galleries and I saw his work in Yakima Magazine's Art Issue. (Look closely at the third picture in the linked article to see Mike's work.)

There is one more place you might be able to see my students' work in the future. I know at least one student is expecting to have work in Larson Gallery's Membership Exhibition, opening Friday June 7 from 5-7pm.

DoVA Show and Awards
The DoVA Student and Faculty Exhibition has been up for some time, but I haven't gotten a chance to mention the awards or show pictures. Seven of my clay students took home awards, including cash awards, purchase awards and Best of Show.

More than two dozen clay students exhibited work in the Student Show. Several student exhibited more than one work and a few showed three pieces, one for each quarter they took clay classes during the previous year.

clockwise from top: work by Sandra Juarez, Katie Schnieder,  Shannon Hoptowit and Shannon Hoptowit. 
Katie Schnieder, hand-built vases
Honorable Mention: Sandra Juarez's hand-built "Twisted Lady"

I taught beginning throwing and beginning hand-building classes this year. I taught throwing classes every quarter and my higher level throwing students have been experimenting with larger and more complex forms.
center: Shannon Hoptowit's "Giant Cookie Jar" wheel-thrown clay Award of Merit
also pictured, clockwise from top right: work by Janice Buckler, Jamie Davis, Amanda Gutierrez and John Harrison-O'dell 
Honorable Mention: Grace Keller's "Lidded Casserole"

My beginning students are making strong, though usually smaller, work. I believe part of the overall quality of my students' work comes from seeing each other working in the studio. I have a strong group of continuing students who demonstrate a solid work ethic. Students see each other working in the studio, recognize hard work as an expectation and thus work harder themselves. The hard work is practice and practice results in more work and better work. 

Shauna Avery, Functional Pottery (first quarter wheel class)
Amanda Gutierrez, Functional Pottery (first quarter wheel class)

My higher level throwing students combine hand-building and throwing techniques, altering their forms off the potter's wheel.

Doug & Laurie Kanyer Purchase Award: Mariah George's "Owl Lamp"
thrown and altered wheel pottery
Janice Buckler's "Paddled Vase"
Shannon Hoptowit's "Fish Kiss Vase"
Katie Schnieder's thrown and altered vase

This past winter I was blessed with an incredible hand-building class. Somehow I ended up with a whole cohort of hardworking student who challenged themselves and their classmates. Some of the strongest work in the exhibition came from first-quarter hand-building students. The class included a couple of students who had taken throwing classes before. Throwing skills may not directly translate to hand-building skills, but familiarity with clay helps with any technique.

Joshua Baxter's "Log Cabin"
Sarahgenie Bliss' "Centaur"
Makaela Duim's "Waterfall"

In fact, the hand-building energy was so strong this past winter that I wrote a new course to be offered next year which will be a second quarter continuation of hand-building. I have one continuing hand-building student this quarter who is testing out some of the hand-building projects that may be used in the new course next year.

hand-built clay Award of Merit: Lydia Gallegos' "Cebollas"

Jessenia Rodriguez's "Pomegranates"
Students in the Hand-building class made work inspired by Yvonne Pepin-Wakefield's "Abaya and Beyond" show, which was up during the winter. "Pomegranates", "Cebollas" and the Purse bag below were all inspired by this exhibition.

Further evidence that the clay work in the DoVA show is strong is that my clay students took home seven awards including Best of Show, a purchase award, a design award and three honorable mentions, as well as two clay specific awards. I also noticed, when I was last in the gallery, that several clay students had sold their work. 

Dick Lord Memorial for Excellence in Design: Timer Nite Harrison-O'dell's "Abaya and Beyond Purse bag"
Assistant Director Honorable Mention: Katie Schnieder's "Cracked Jars"

If you haven't gotten over to see the show, I highly recommend that you do. The show closes on June 1. Larson Gallery is open 10-5 Tuesday-Friday and 1-5 on Saturday. Students may start picking up work after 3pm on Saturday, so get their early. If you do miss it, never fear, you'll hear from these students again.

For some reason, this year's exhibition had a significant selection of dragons and dinosaurs, including a combination thrown and hand-built piece by Janice Buckler
Dragon Alley also featured this thrown and altered teapot by Timer Nite Harrison-O'dell
John Peterson's "The Year that Was"
Best of Show: Katie Schnieder's "Tyrannosaurus Rex"

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tour of Artists' Homes and Studios

This weekend was Larson Gallery's Tour of Artists' Homes and Studios. My house was on the Tour and my work was spread throughout the interior of the house, the front porch and the garden. I also had several artists showing their work at my home including Monika Lemmon, Yvonne Pepin-Wakefield and several of my clay students from YVCC. 

my house, ready for action

Monika Lemmon

Monika Lemmon is a Selah artist and painter. Most of the works she had on display at my house were her paintings. She does beautiful work that is fascinating, surprising, intricate and impressive. 

Monika's paintings in the living room

I loved having her paintings in the house. I really enjoy looking at the pieces. I had seen a few of her works before and loved them. Monika has work in the permanent collection of Larson Gallery and three of her works are installed in the room on campus where I usually eat lunch. I have also seen some of her tall figures in shows at Larson Gallery and Allied Arts in Yakima.

two of Monika's paintings and some ceramics by various people

My favorites of Monika's works are the ones where she seems to hide and reveal different layers. She does this often in her figures, such as the birds or people who seem to be partially dissected or taken apart. She also does this in her landscapes and she sometimes combines the two subjects.

I love the color, and patterns inside the body and the feathers

I see similarities between Monika's work and my own, in particular in the hidden and revealed layers, complex and varied textures, busy surfaces and even in the gears seen in my SRAM sculpture and Monika's standing male figure. Unfortunately I didn't take good pictures of all of her best work in my home. Two of the paintings I spent a good deal of time staring at before and during the tour somehow were missed or photographed badly, so I have to go to her website to see them now. (Look for "Dissection" and "Buried" in "Portraits and Figures.")

I love the contrasting blue lines and dark sections. I also love the red veins.

When we were setting up for the tour, Monika brought several works and indicated she had more at home, so I sent her back for them because I like having a lot of work on display. I was surprised by how much I liked her landscapes and even her painting of corn. Since I liked the figures so much I just expected to be less impressed with her other work, but I was impressed and the work held its own at a smaller scale. 

The color seems to be dripping out of the cloud buildings

Monika's color choices are bold and there is a sort of repetition of textures, lines and patterns in her surfaces that I find rewarding to look at for long periods of time. Her images are complex and reward the viewer who invests time looking at the work.

This one looks better in person; the patterns are more visible on the right

We set up most of the work the day before the Tour while my daughter was at school. When she came home, my mother, who had come to help get the house ready for the tour and help with preparations and staffing (and moral support) during the tour, brought her through the house to show her the work and help her understand the importance of being careful around all the art. 

The grays of the tree and sky make the bird's subtle color pop.

When my daughter got to the living room, she looked at the work above the couch. She said that she liked it because the woman was partially hidden behind the water and the water looked like it had sea creatures in it. She also liked that she could see the woman through the grey areas of the painting. Monika agreed to trade the work with me, so I now get to look at this piece every day. The piece is large and complex and the copper sections in the hills seem to change depending on the lighting or time of day. Some people don't notice the figure at first glance.

my new painting! "Lithosphere"

And if this wasn't all enough, Monika brought some metal work from when she was an undergraduate student. My favorite was the lizard skeleton with flexible joints and fine detail. The piece is about eight inches long and just as amazing as her other work. 

metal skeleton

She brought several other pieces with fine workmanship and detail, including a working "Ear Guitar" with an amp and several hinged containers, like surreal lockets made of hearts and teeth.

playable ear guitar with hinged back

Yvonne Pepin-Wakefield
The only other independent artist at my house for the Tour was Yvonne Pepin-Wakefield. This past year she showed paintings at Larson Gallery from her time teaching art in Kuwait. The show, Abaya and Beyond, featured paintings of women in Abaya (full body covering) and paintings of pomegranates as well as photographs of men and women in Kuwait. Yvonne also wrote a book about her time in Kuwait, entitled "Suitcase Filled with Nails." At my home she exhibited some of her ceramic works.

chest plates and masks cast from a fountain (with the water off)

YVCC Clay Students

John Peterson
I also had several students from YVCC clay show their work. After I bullied him into showing, John Peterson brought five intricate and complex sculptures. Bizarrely I only have a photograph of one, though I showed them off and spent time looking at them during the tour. (I am hoping some one will get me photographs of the others and maybe I can add them later). Though John takes clay classes with me occasionally, he trained as an artist and is not really my student in the same way the other students are mine. John's work is much more sophisticated than undergraduate work and incorporates a variety of media. Each of his sculptures have a story behind them, like the mechanical heart transplant or the Orville Redenbacher Lander. Visitors on the Tour were fascinated by his work and by the stories that he told them about his work.

in search of a popcorn planet

Grace Keller
The rest of my clay students who showed work at my house began their clay careers at YVCC with me. In the room with John Peterson were Grace Keller, Timer Harrison-O'dell and John Harrison-O'dell. Grace is an advanced clay students. She makes functional work and has a small studio in Glenwood Square in Yakima. She set up her work like a dinner party on the dining table. Unfortunately her work was not for sale during the Tour, as it was already promised to other people, but she does take commissions. Grace has a casserole in the DoVA show at Larson Gallery which won an award and was on the cover of the DoVA postcard. 

Grace's plates, bowls, mugs, casseroles and salt and pepper shakers

Timer and John Harrison-O'dell
John and Timer are intermediate and advanced pottery students respectively, though Timer has also taken a hand-building class with me.

Timer's sculptures and dish and bowl

Timer and John set up Timer's fountain and animals and John's functional work as a forest tea party at my daughter's little art table in the dining room. Timer's fountain was running throughout the day and the display was sweet. John's focus has been in making functional work, including vessels for cooking. Timer's work has ranged from functional to sculptural. Timer and John both have work in the DoVA show at Larson Gallery. Timer won a design award for her purse inspired by Yvonne Pepin-Wakefield's "Abaya and Beyond" Exhibition.

Timer's fountain, owl and skunk; John's teacups, saucer, bowls and casserole

Katie Schnieder
Katie Schnieder is now an independent study student in clay. She has taken all my clay offerings at YVCC and is becoming a very strong artist. Her work ranges from functional mugs and bowls to sculptural vessels to free-standing sculpture. 

Notice that the Zombie is coming out of Bosch's hell

Katie took her first functional pottery class with me and came back later for her second. In her second class she suddenly started making sculptural work in addition to her functional work and her work took off. She can hand-build or throw large work and some of her most successful pieces are those where she alters the thrown form after throwing it.

Katie's large hand-built and thrown vases

Katie has also taken my hand-building class and is very comfortable sculpting realistic figures and animals. Her Tyrannosaurus Rex won the Best of Show award at Larson Gallery for the YVCC Department of Visual Arts Student Exhibition

zombie gnomes, of course

Katie, Grace and Shannon Hoptowit, as well as Monika, will be showing their work at the upcoming Emerging Artists Exhibition at Oak Hollow Gallery in June.

Shannon Hoptowit
Shannon Hoptowit was unable to be at my house for the Tour, but she brought some of her work. She started working with clay as my work study student for over a year before she first took a pottery class. When she finally started to throw she already knew about clay, firing and glazing and had watched other students' successes and failures. She has now taken at least four throwing classes and is currently in independent study with me.

Shannon's planters, bowls, and vases

Shannon's work is functional. She is able to throw large quantities of clay and make large pieces. She has also made several multi-part planters, including a strawberry planter she had at the Tour. Recently she has been focusing on carved surfaces on medium sized vases.

Shannon's strawberry planter

Shannon and Katie have also collaborated on several of these carved works, Katie throwing the vase and Shannon carving the surface. Few of these are glazed and fired yet, but I had them bring the works-in-progress for the Tour.

bisque-fired carved vase

My Work
I also had some work in the Tour. Normally my studio is designed so that the work is stored away in cupboards and on shelves on the edges of the studio, with the oldest work stored highest, lowest, and farthest back. The newer work is out on the shelves in front and at the middle level to be available for shows (and so I don't forget I have it. The work in progress is out on tables and counters because I am working on it. 

In photos all I ever see is the carpet, but theres some work in there too. It's like Where's Waldo

For the Tour I pulled all my pieces, almost everything, out of cupboards and off the floor and out from behind things. Instead I put all my tools and clay and glazes away in the cupboards and out of sight. I brought the work out into the main house on the coffee tables and end tables in the living room.

The only picture I have of the coffee table includes a blanket and half-eaten waffle from my daughter's breakfast.

I installed some work on the wall above the oven last weekend and on the wall and the high shelves in the laundry room. After clearing out the laundry room this past week, I installed some more work on the windowsill in that room.

laundry room shelf
An army of small creatures protecting the house from invaders.

Of course my studio had every surface filled with work. I brought out all my old work, not just the work I made in Yakima. I turned on some old fountains I had made in Iowa or Wisconsin before or during graduate school. Most of my pumps appear to have died of old age, so I was only able to turn on a few fountains. I also discovered my hands have grown since 2005, so I was unable to reach inside the small openings of some fountains to adjust pumps I know I adjusted in the past.

A fountain at the right with an array of work behind, in my studio

I brought out my raku fired work which came mostly from my senior show at Coe College in Iowa. A few raku pieces were done after college or maybe during graduate school (though the school raku kiln at Wisconsin was a beast to fire).

raku work on my wedging table

My mom helped me arrange some work when I reached the point where I could no longer make decisions. It helped to have someone else take over some aspect of the decision making, even though she had also helped considerably with cleaning the house and putting out flowers in the rooms.

my mom's installation

When people entered the clay studio especially, they mostly commented on how much work there was. I was pleasantly surprised; I feared they would all just laugh at the strange carpet on the walls of the studio. Plenty of people also commented on the walls, but it wasn't the first thing they noticed.

my more recent work, and a very old painting of a clay table

I had work out from graduate school too. I still have wood fired pieces and pieces from the lawn installation of my MFA show. Before the preparations for the Tour kicked in to high gear, I had been preparing our home garden with my daughter. I put most of my remaining "lawn sticks" out in the garden or in the planter on the porch. I also hung some work from my MFA show around the house.

lawn sticks and mug planters

Of course I had recent work made in the last few years. Last summer I didn't make much, because my bike part project took so much time, but I had one bike part piece (one is at the Student and Faculty Show at Larson Gallery and the other went to the fundraiser event in NYC). I also had work from the last seven years in Yakima--or maybe the last five or six years, I don't remember making much my first year or two here.

work right beside the studio door

Since my summer last year didn't result in a vast quantity of finished work, I showed a vast quantity of unfinished work. Only about a third of the pieces I made for my Daily Mini Sculpture Project last Spring were finished. The rest are fired and partially underglazed so I arranged them on one of my work tables and let people see them as they were. I hope to finish them this summer or during my sabbatical in the fall, though they aren't a top priority. 

unfinished mini sculptures

I had one more set of unfinished work and those are the beginnings of an installation for my show in January 2014 at the Esvelt Gallery at Columbia Basin Community College in Pasco, WA. This installation is similar to one originally called "Ericano." I have installed iterations of this in galleries, condos, homes, and offices in at least four states. I just installed one above my own clay studio door for this Tour. The work for next year's installation is far from complete, but I wanted people to get a sense of the future installation pieces, not just the older raku work that is up in my home.

bulbs for "Ericano" installation

The tour was exhausting, but I think the day went well. Over the course of the day we had more than 130 people in the house for the tour. For me, since I had so much old and new work out, it was an interesting chance to take a look at what I have, where my work was and where it is going. I think just going through the massive effort of moving everything out, arranging it for view and deciding where I put something out (or not) forced me to introspection. I decided not to price my work, in part because there was so much of it, but also because sales were not my focus. It's nice to have a job and therefore not be required to make work to sell. My work isn't appealing to everyone; the freedom from pleasing allowed me to tell more of a controlled story with my work grouped, massed and hidden in and around the house.

My daughter's work was also featured on the Tour.

Of course an entire day spent talking about work, listening to people talk about work and comparing ideas with other artists naturally results in comparisons, ponderings and ridiculous things overheard, but those thoughts are for another post some other day. If you came this weekend, I hope you enjoyed it. If you didn't, I hope you enjoy the pictures and if you helped, I greatly appreciate your time and effort. 

Special Thanks to Sean, Mom, Monika, John, Timer, John, Grace, Katie, Shannon, Yvonne, Randy, Lori, Keegan, Linda and Kathy. Thanks also to M R, Jeff, Kim and Jack. Sorry if I missed anyone. The tour was a tremendous effort and I appreciate all the assistance--even if I'm too exhausted to remember it now.