We would like to thank Rosey Bell, realtor with Coldwell Banker, for this lead, which prompted us to undertake a spur-of-the-moment midday trip to see the Scripps College 73rd Ceramic Annual exhibit.
From Pasadena to exit 25B in Claremont, it was a quick half hour drive, which provided a constant backdrop of snowcapped mountains defying the open driver’s side window and balmy weather. We found parking on campus (delightfully free), right in front of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery.
The gallery is small and intimate with a warm wood floor and white walls. Looking at the space as a whole, it seems empty as none of the works of art are oversized. Yet the magnitude of the craftsmanship, skill, and artistry, the wondrous detail, and the blatantly different styles makes this an exhibit to behold. We meandered, captivated by every artist, and departed feeling enriched and buoyant.
Diego Romero’s three works greet visitors; an intriguing combination of the religious, mythology, and 21st century male bonding…
In selecting the 73rd Scripps Annual artist, I sought ceramic heroes from across the United States who are masters in their fields, whose achievements have inspired us and whose accomplishments have left us in awe. I looked for artists who showed an absolute fearlessness of the technical challenges associated with pushing the limits, and who rejected anything less than the highest of standards for their work. These artists are not typical in today’s restless world of instant gratification; instead, they are willing to labor for months, with exacting precision, to keep the spirit of each piece alive.
—Joan Takayama-Ogawa, curatorial statement
Michael Sherrill grew up in western North Carolina the Appalachian Mountains, the “backdrop” for his youth and training have had a profound effect on his work. Sherrill’s “heightened representations,” according to Jo Lauria, writing for the exhibit catalog “are hyperreal, intensely observed studies, amplified by chromatic saturation; they are the marriage of nature and the artist’s intervention.”
Lauria writes, “Oestreich has developed his glazes in direct response to the colors he experiences in his surroundings: dark greens of the pine tree forest, ochre hues from the wheat fields, and ‘a turquoise grey of the sky as a storm sweeps across the fields.’ ”
Some pieces in the show reflect a politically liberal, some would say “left”, viewpoint, especially those by artists W. A. Ehren Tool, Mara Superior, and Chris Antemann. Antemann also has two large pieces, Garden of Delight and An Occasional Craving, which are whimsical, probing, and clothing optional.
“Antemann’s work is a mirror reflecting forward, not backward: she skillfully blends historical attitudes of genre roles with 21st century gender politics to whiplash effect,” writes Lauria.
The theme for the exhibit is “a sense of place,” which Takayama-Ogawa admits is not a new idea. But she believes the artists’ work reflect their “connection to a rural landscape” and the concept “takes on a fresh and important role in the face of globalization, personal mobility, and virtual worlds.”
Throughout her career, Mara Superior has created series bound by a central theme, what Lauria describes as “painted vignettes and descriptive text, creating documents akin to an illustrated haiku.”
Red Weldon Sandlin’s works come from the tradition of storytelling and “magical… tales.”
“Sandlin’s sense of place originates from the pages between book covers,” writes Lauria.
Whether you are an art viewer who likes to delve into meaning and substance or one who is satiated by what one’s eyes see before them, Scripps’ 73rd Ceramic Annual is an experience to relish and treasure.
Scripps College 73rd Ceramic Annual
Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery
Through April 9, 2017
251 E. 11 St., Claremont 91711
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Find complete details at ScrippsCollege.edu
Ehren Tool was a Marin veteran in the first Gulf War in 1991. Once his tour of duty was completed, he used the G. I. Bill to fund his study of art and ceramics, attending USC and UC Berkeley for his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
“The cups in this show,” Tool states, “were made in America, but have images from my war in the Middle East, my father’s in Vietnam, and my grandfather’s war in the Pacific. We all carry our stories and they echo on.”
Sangvanich was born and raised in Thailand. Wishing for a “progressive approach,” she came to Los Angeles in 1982 to attend Otis College of Art and Design.
Jo Lauria writes: “Sangvanich carried with her the Thai sensibility of color and pattern—saturated, rich colors that endured in the perpetual sunshine, and complex dynamic patterns that evolved from centers of sophisticated textile design.”