Ode to Archie Bray was designed and constructed specifically for the 2016 Live Summer Auction to benefit the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena. It is composed of a combination of collected vintage porcelain pieces (many of which were re-fired a number of times, with additional china paint, decals and gold luster) along with a mid-20th C. clay pipe shard produced at the historic Western Clay Manufacturing Company. The piece sits on a painted wooded base.
The central image is a technical drawing (made into a ceramic decal and fired onto the surface of the plate) of one of the old beehive kilns at the Bray that has been restored by students and faculty from the University of Pennsylvania’s Architecture Program.
Honoring the WS Dickey Clay Mfg. Co. and the Mission Clay Products Co.
Commissioned by Mission Clay Products company of Corona, California to honor the 130 year history of clay pipe manufacturing in Pittsburg, Kansas and given to long time employees. Glazed porcelain plates were repurposed and the surfaces embellished with layers of china paint, decals and gold luster. Ceramic decals were made from the original beehive kiln plans from the WS Dickey clay pipe factory.
The opportunity to mount a solo exhibition at Turman Larison Contemporary in 2013 was the pretext for an exploration of new ideas I began last year. Raw material for the concept included porcelain vessels, figurines and objects, along with a selection of historic bricks and brick shards I had acquired over the years.The concept for the exhibition was to marry the two seemingly opposite ceramic materials with precise cuts and commercial grade epoxy.
Recent images from my Granitewood studio where a collection of porcelain objects await a new life. Vessels and figurines from every corner of the world have found their way to Helena, Montana. Plans are to create an installation based on a museum experience I had at the Zwinger Museum in Dresden, Germany in 2013.
A mass of new work from the winter and spring of 2013 occupying a couple of studio tables. I chose 15 pieces from the 36 or so shown here to exhibit at Turman Larison Contemporary. Some were chosen for the exhibition and found new homes, others remain in the studio. In surveying the studio as pieces were being composed, I chose to re-purpose some of my own small pieces into these new brick and porcelain 3-D collages.
A collaboration between my good friend, poet, writer and publisher Rick Newby and myself, continues our efforts to create art together (we have previously collaborated on Queen City Gateway, a site-specific architectural sculpture in downtown Helena). I asked Rick to consider writing a poetic response to a series of sumi ink drawings I had created based on elemental line drawings (serpentine lines, water, circle, square, house, arch, spiral) I had been using regularly in my work over the past 30 years. Rising to the challenge, Rick came up with an amazing 10 part poem titled Ten Quick Sketches, written while traveling in Italy.
These images of large brick slab plates and tiny soft brick villages were made and fired in the brick factory kilns at Petersen TEGL during the WABA symposium in 2011. The large brick plates had thick white slip applied to them and then I raked through the slip surface into the soft brick clay with my hands, incising one of my elemental symbols on each plate. The plates were dried slowly and black fired at the brick factory, with gold leaf was applied to selected areas of some of the plates post firing.
I started my first series of Tile Houses in 2009 for a solo exhibition at the Turman Larison Contemporary gallery in Helena, Montana. The glazed fired tiles are water-jet cut to my specifications and re-fired at Quarry Tile Company in Spokane, Washington. Once in my Granitwood Studio, I fire ceramic decals (both custom and commercially produced), china paint and gold luster onto the ceramic tile surfaces prior to final assembly.
I received an invitation to participate in a Black and White themed exhibition at Turman Larison Contemporary in 2012, which forced me to reduce my usually colorful tile palette to it’s most elemental form. I chose to produce 3 new tile pieces, using black and white Italian porcelain tiles. I took my inspiration for the new architectural forms from structures that had fascinated me in my travels; a Danish tower, a single story long-house and the ubiquitous barn structure found in Montana. I sent my drawings for the pieces to Quarry Tile Company in Spokane, Washington, who then produced CAD drawings for the computer directed cutting of their on-site water-jet saw.
These Organic House Villages came about after returning from some of my international travels. On these overseas adventures, often building a large-scale site-specific architectural sculpture, I would take some time to build and fire some small hand-sized house pieces. I would make the small houses out of local clay and try to get them dried and fired in some sort of salt/soda or atmospheric wood firing. Decals, china paint and lusters are then applied and fired onto the surfaces.
I continue to make groupings of my small tiny houses on a regular basis. They have been a good counter point to the large-scale sculptural activity, and each new piece takes me on another aesthetic adventure. I have made the houses in low-temperature terracotta, mid-range stoneware clays and high fired porcelains. I have often wedged chunks of natural feldspar stone into the high fired clays to add an additional texture to the surfaces. I will group them, mount them in totemic form or in ovals, spirals and circles on the wall. Decals, china paints and lusters intensify the atmospheric fired surfaces.