Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I love when my work makes the postcard image for a show!!!

If you are in the Philadelphia area check it out!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sir Mugs-A-Lot...

Did I ever tell you that I love mugs...well, in case I haven't...I love mugs. This week I got three wonderful mugs that I will be drinking my morning coffee from. All three are different from each other and all three exhibit qualities that are very attractive to me as far as what I look for in a mug. Let me tell you about these guys...
The first mug that came into my possession this week was from Keith Phillips down in North Carolina. Keith and I have been online friends for the last couple years...exchanging comments on blogs and checking out each others etsy shops. Well, Keith contacted me about needing a new mug since there was some strange accident in his home where somebody broke one of the mugs he had bought from me a while back. This was a pretty good mug with a perfectly good decal image of a 16th century prostitute and a floral gold luster commercial decal layering around the surface...broken! My first thought was "dear god man!"...was he not caring for that poor mug the way he should have been...was he exposing his children to this work of questionable morality?! Although questions like this raced through the fog in my murky brain, I suggested that we make a trade. Honestly, I have been eyeing up his fancy decal work over the rich shino glazes on some of his pieces and thought...yeah...lets trade mugs. The above image is my mug from Keith complete with everything I was hoping for from him...really nice shinos, good form and cool decals! I have already enjoyed one morning coffee from this mug...more soon to come...thanks for the great trade Keith!

I actually paid cold hard cash for the next two mugs. I bought these mugs at IUP's ceramic sale that was happening on Friday and Saturday. The first one was made by Josh Floyd and is absolutely blasted with salt and dripping with ash. I could not pass it up. It has a great handle and I know I will be using this rugged beauty quite often. Check out Josh's blog to see his latest adventures at Red Lodge with other potter friends from our little area, Donn and Betty Hedman.

The next mug is by a local area potter named Kathy Bizousky(Im sure this spelling is wrong, sorry). This is a wood fired mug that's long and tall with a mellow yellow salt glaze. This mug is all about function and has an Asian inspired dogwood flower motif all around the surface...my wife wishes I would have bought a small group of these.... but why have matching mugs when you can have mugs of different shapes and sizes, mugs with sweet ass decals, and mugs that show the power of their firings. I love having friends over for coffee or what not when we drink from my collection of mugs and the questions start: who made this one, where did you get this one, how was this fired?
So, yeah, this week was a good mug week...but I should also show you this gem too. I bought this mug at the cup sale during NCECA. Its an awesome mug...I love the shape, the slightly over fired glaze and especially the handle. I do not know who made this guy because by the time I made it up to the tables to pay for it, I had lost the dot with the price and number that identifies whose cup it was...ugh. Oh well, it looks like a Deborah Schwartzkopf soda fired second. I am not sure she soda fires anything but, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. The handle really inspired me to enlarge my own some as well as to start letting them cantilever out more. Funny how inspiration comes from the most random places.

Thanks for ckecking out my new mugs...sorry you can only look and not handle them or bring them to your lips...that is unless, you drop by for coffee.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Look whats popping up...

In this crazy month of April where Spring really came on unseasonably warm we have days like today interspersed between the beautiful weather. Yesterday it was in the upper 70's and then all of a sudden today's high is in the upper 40's...maybe. I swear it is showering random snow flakes while writing this! Well, the weather has been very erratic but with plenty of nice warm days that both Nancy and I have been able to get back into the studio and start making new work. The trees are budding and the flowers are beginning to bloom and I have been enjoying watching the new growth unfurl. The above image is of the Bloodwort up at the studio...opening up to greet the new day with a couple jewels of morning dew still cradled in its veiny leaves. Along with all the new flowers popping up, I have been making new mugs with a more generous handle, allowing two fingers through the loop. I have always been a "one finger through and thumb on top" type of handle guy, but recently I have become interested in a slight variation on that design. Here is a six pack of mugs sitting out to dry in the nice weather.

I have also begun making teapots which is not something I do very often...I am not a fan of the teapot. I thought it would be good to relearn making teapots...so, here are a couple I am trying out...I am thinking of making a number of various styles and shapes and see which one I like best.
Nancy has been busy busting out the garden ware. In the Spring, she usually makes a bunch of red ware planters that are then slipped and under glazed in a variety of bright colors. Nancy then scraffittos through the brush work creating another layer of interest by bringing out that red clay as a linear element, and finishes it by firing them in a clear glaze. I have a nice big one on my deck!

Its back to the studio tomorrow...we are going to fire the salt kiln in the next couple weeks and then one of the wood kilns in the middle of May. Enjoy the images of flowers because that may be all we are left with in this weird weather...I better get back to being dirty!

Friday, April 9, 2010

RVAMAG.com review...

Dig this review from the Richmond based online mag about my two person exhibition down in Virginia!...

Not Particularly Precious

Posted by: anthony – Apr 09, 2010


When an exhibit is filled with objects dunked in industrial porcelain, male fantasy rattles, and adulterated flasks, “Not Particularly Precious” is an apt title. In j fergeson gallery’s newest exhibition, Adam Paulek and Kyle Houser transform perfectly functional forms into fabulously functionless sculpture. Their work varies in complexity and intent, but what doesn’t vary is their desire for the viewer to laugh.

Kyle Houser happily admits he is in the business of making nonsense machines. He describes his work as “kitsch reproducing itself”. He mixes surfaces, images, and references, purposefully using methods and materials usually relegated to hobbyists or contractors: industrial grade porcelain, flocking from model railroads, liquid rubber tool dip, vintage decals of Santa, fake flowers, and naughty brides. In less skilled hands this could create an annoying ADHD art experience, but underneath his fuzzy flocking and appropriated vintage imagery lie a rare combination of humor and razor sharp wit. In Houser’s work, kitsch isn’t mere decoration: it’s bastardizing force.

In “Tubor and Corms Landscape #1,” clay blobs, reminiscent of acorns and Christmas ornaments, are clustered together, hung on the wall, and coated with blue flocking. Green strips of Astroturf seem to drip slowly down the wall. The resulting scene is alluring (the flocking is hard to resist) and certainly mischievous. Did the Christmas balls drink too much eggnog and squabble with the model railroad set?

One of the most successful pieces is a 14-inch unholy hybrid of judge’s gavel, dildo, and steroid-pumped child’s rattle called “Male Fantasy Rattle.” The rattle is slightly ribbed and coated with thick, smooth industrial porcelain—the same porcelain as your toilet. The rattle’s end is dipped in thick black rubber. Metallic flowers and a vintage illustration of tarted-up bride in her wedding night attire, garter, veil, lingerie, decorate the rattle’s bulbous head. Instead of resting on a sound block, this gavel rests in an ashtray covered with Elks Lodge and the Moose Lodge logo. It’s over-the-top fun belies its smarts.

Adam Paulek’s work is more narrowly focused, concerned with one complicated subject: drinking. Paulek exhibits two kinds of drinking vessels, one ceremonious, one sneaky, but both are concerned with pleasures, perils, and governmental control of consuming alcohol. Based on early Iranian ceremonial pouring vessels, his wine vessels have absurdist flair. If a mullet is business in the front, party in the back, then Paulek’s wine vessels are the vintner equivalent: ceremony above, solemnity below. The backs of two or three small, pale-skinned, red-eyed ceramic bulls support the weight of the ceramic vessel. The vessel’s surface details a quirky history of drinking and prohibition. Dionysus releases fish that circle the vessel until caught by a screeching cat or by electrical lines. Following the swirl of images requires turning the vessel again and again resulting in boozy state of art-induced spins. Paulek’s other drinking vessels are ceramic flasks. On these, Dionysus is replaced by appropriated imagery from the Volstead Act—the act enforcing prohibition. On “Drinking Problems, Cycle III, Adventures in Prohibition,” repeated images of federal officials dumping alcohol cover the flask. Bulls thwart the flask’s potential—a perfect fit for a man’s inside suit pocket—. The body of the flask is rammed by a bull and yoked, via gold chain, to two more blue bulls. Of the eight flasks in the “Drinking Problems” series, the most successful is “Drinking Problems, Cycle I, Gentlemen's League, Hall of Champions.” This flask is covered with current and historical distillery logos. The Wild Turkey struts towards Mr. Boston while the Miller High-Life girl gazes down from her perch on the moon. Paula’s deft use of appropriated imagery prevents his weighty concepts from turning maudlin.

Not Particularly Precious, March 30-April 30, 2010.
Artist reception, Saturday April 10, 2010, 5-8pm. j fergeson gallery, Farmville, VA.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cluster travels...

Just a short little post to toot my horn about this exhibition...The piece that will be making the trek is my "Poppy Field". I am very pleased to have this opportunity for my work to travel as part of this wonderfully curated exhibition...maybe this calls for another trip out to Philly!

April 26 – May 21, 2010
"Selections from Cluster"
The Center for Emerging Visual Artists 1521 Locust Street, Lower Level, Philadelphia, PA 19102.
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 29th 5-7pm. This exhibition exchange is part of an ongoing collaboration by CFEVA and PF/PCA Created in order to strengthen the artistic dialogue between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Cluster was originally presented at The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and curated by Adam Welch. The Philadelphia presentation of this exhibition was curated by Amie Potsic. Participating artists: Dee Briggs, Connie Cantor, Nayda Collazo-Llorens, Kyle Houser, Ben Kehoe, Jacob Koestler, Michael Sherwin, Lenore Thomas.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A bit of NCECA...Philly 2010

Happy Easter...eggs. After all the bunny stuff this morning, I am squeaking out some time to recap my NCECA experience. This was a fun trip with a whole lot to hear and see and I was able to bump into and meet up with many friends whom I have not seen in a long time. I saw some really great pots in the "Strictly Functional" show and bought a couple mugs at the "Cup Show"...I went to several really good talks and scored a new tool or too to boot. One of the better talks I went to was given by my friend Justin Lambert, "Flash and Ash", and was choked full of great advice and tips concerning many aspects of wood firing. Justin's pieces are really gorgeous and it almost seems impossible to think that he rarely uses a glaze or even a slip. This is the link to his talk from NCECA. Downtown Philadelphia was bustling at all hours and there was never a shortage of something to do or see. I was not the best about shooting a lot of images however...we were doing a lot of walking and I was traveling light. So the main images all come from the madness that was "First Friday" in the "old city"...all the galleries were having openings and stir into the mix about 6,000 more clay folks searching out ceramics and you have quite an event.
Me and my NCECA companions, Maki Funi and Dan Kuhn hiked about 10 blocks from our hotel and made the rounds to The Clay Studio, PH Gallery, Nakashimi Gallery, and a handful of other smaller galleries checking out all the clay and soaking up the free or cheap beers, wines, and whatnots.

The Clay Studio was everybody's main destination and it was packed. There was a lot of great work to be seen there like these two small but powerful pieces by Nathan Prouty and Jeremy Brooks.

I also loved this wall piece at The Clay Studio... ceramic bits and pieces, vinyls, Japanese influenced fish imagery, a nude woman on a tortoise, and plenty of gold luster...whats there not to love.

We also some some great historical pots at the Nokashimi Gallery...awesome Ken Fergeson shino baskets and equally awesome wood furniture.
Another show I really liked "Flotsam and Jetsam" featured new works by Rain Harris and I must say, they were some of my favorite things I saw the entire conference. They were simplified, decorative forms glazed in a solid opaque color and then layered in commercial decals. Here are several images...what great surfaces.

One of the biggest bummers of the night however was that a bunch of the galleries closed at 8:00...yeah, 8. There were literally hundreds of people out walking around just to see what some of these places had to offer and they simply closed the doors right in our faces. The Wexler Gallery was one of these places...they had advertised this big name contemporary ceramic show and instead of stretching out the regular hours for their "First Friday" opening to accommodate the overflow of people who wanted to see the exhibition, they just locked the doors promptly at 8:00. I squat on you Wexler.

But those galleries that did stay open later were bumbin' to say the least. Like I said before, I got to see a lot of people whom I have not seen in a while...one of these somebodies I really couldn't wait to see...the hardest working woman in Philly, Ashley Dodge. Ashley worked as the tech for the ceramics department in Chautauqua back in the summer of 08. We had a blast that summer but I have not seen her since that August. Currently she works as a production assistant for a local Philadelphia ceramist and she is involved with a group of people that promote the arts along with the social and cultural well being of their neighborhoods in the Fishtown area of Philly. Ashley was showing her new Blaauw fired work, which I loved, and her friends exhibited paintings, and mini-installation type work. This was a solid show and also a great little space that was jamming all night. Below is the front of the gallery...Maki on the side...Dan...and Ashley workin' her work on the other side. The other image is Ashley and another super person who I have not seen since the 08 Chautauqua season also...straight from Brooklyn...Devin!YAY! Clay is a good community, and it was great reconnecting.

Pardon the brief tour of NCECA but I hope that was enough to give you a little taste of what was going down...Now excuse me while I rest and recover...