Monday, April 28, 2014

April 2014 Gallery Picks Newsletter

April showers?  Indeed!  We've just broken a rainfall record for February through April here in the soggy Pacific Northwest, but that's all right.  The flowers are bursting into bloom, and we are counting on those May flowers to brighten up the place, just in time for Mother's Day.  Which reminds us, you might find something for Mom amongst the wonderful new pieces suddenly popping up in the Gallery or our online shop, in all our areas of specialty:  Fine furniture, wearable art, ceramics, paintings and prints.

For right now:  A new Wood-Fired Ceramics exhibit opens on May 2nd (we'll have a peek at it here, but please see further info in our First Friday: You're Invited post), we introduce several new artists and, finally, give mention to the inauguration of our brand new blog feature, HOT SELLERS!  Scroll down a post and enjoy an in-depth look at the artistry of Carol Lee Shanks.

But in the meantime, we welcome you to take a visual stroll below and enjoy the offerings of these superlative artists.

Somewhere Beyond the Sea.  Robin Hominiuk
A most intriguing character, Somewhere Beyond the Sea is one of approximately
30 wood-fired ceramic and jewelry pieces featured in our upcoming exhibition,
Earth Elements:  Robin Hominiuk, that opens on May 2nd.
This particular sculpture is created from porcelain and sits on a stoneware base.

It is of interest that Robin, who is also a jeweler and metalworker, is blending
metal features into her new ceramic sculptural work.  This can be seen in many of her
exhibition pieces, which can be viewed here.

A little about this versatile artist:

Currently living in Ridgefield, Washington, Robin was born in Canada and moved
to the United States in 1998.  She received her clay education via community
education courses and several terms at Mt. Hood Community College.
She regularly attends workshops to keep a fresh perspective and learn new techniques.
In 2004 she built her home studio and has never looked back.

In addition to the beautiful functional pots she produces from her
studio kiln, she also creates pottery and sculpture for wood firing.  These
pots are fired in huge kilns based on ancient Japanese traditions.  The pots are
fired for 70 plus hours with a committed group of potters and six to eight
cords of wood.  Pottery fired in this intense method is transformed by flame
and ash; the colors and marks cannot be replicated or produced in any other way.
Robin’s work has been featured in numerous national and international collections,
and appears in this May's Ceramics Monthly magazine.

In Robin’s words:

A lump of clay is a seductive thing - it is the beginning of a journey, an
exploration of possibilities.  My clay work is inspired by many things, from
the practical considerations of the everyday utilitarian - the plate-cup-bowl…
that you envision and know will give joy in its function and beauty, to the
natural world that surrounds us, like the softly rounded water-etched rocks
that are formed by the river near our home.  Inspiration also comes from
sources a little more obscure – a dream from the previous night, or perhaps
from that weird thing that just happened to the piece you are working on!

I utilize both hand building techniques and the potter’s wheel, often in
combination, to achieve the form I am looking for.   I give much thought
to the selection of clay, glaze, firing method and kiln before picking up
that lump of clay.

The majority of my work is wood fired in kilns based on ancient Japanese and
Korean designs. These are large tunnel shaped kilns – that are fired upwards
of 70 hours, fueled only with wood and the hard work of fellow potters.
Various zones within each kiln yield individual characteristics, and while I
use my experience to place my pots where I feel each will receive the best
effect, the outcome is always unpredictable.  In these types of firings, there
are no guarantees - you surrender your expectations and control to the kiln.

The unique aesthetic of wood fired pots reflects the ever changing
dynamics of fire and ash, potters and clay.   Your efforts are rewarded whe
 the kiln is cool enough to open. Pots emerge from the kiln, transformed
beyond preconceived ideas and anticipations.  Each piece awaits your
attention and slowly reveals itself  - ash drips, luster, swirls of the flame path,
etching  – all provide a permanent record of each firing captured on each pot.
Every firing is eagerly awaited, knowing that just as the kiln transforms my
pots, the experience of the firing, and the coming together of likeminded souls
working for a common goal also transforms me.

Tea BowlReid Schoonover
From the studios of Reid Schoonover comes yet another extraordinary
wood-fired tea bowl.  Here's a little about the artist:

Reid Schoonover is a ceramic artist and mixed-media sculptor, living and
working in Wisconsin.  He was educated at the University of Wisconsin (BAE)
and University of Montana (MFA).  He has been featured in many exhibitions
throughout the United States, including in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kentucky,
Montana, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington and Washington D.C.

Reid discusses his work:

The work I produce is a conscious amalgam of a number of interests I have
 and an attempt to reconcile these interests in a contemporary way while at the
same time re-enforcing history through art and craft.  Also, I try to produce work
that is easy to use, and live with and yet provides visual stimulation and aesthetic
pleasure while encouraging a conceptual link to life and times long past.

I am fascinated by most things ancient and by life in ancient times in general
 in particular the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages of Korea, China, Japan and Europe.
I also have strong interests in architecture, design and our natural environment.
I believe that these interests express themselves best through my mixed-media work.
The materials I use continue to speak in a contemporary way about life
and times past through compositional, visual and tactile aspects such as color,
grain, pattern and texture.  I see my work as art of today speaking as artifact
of tomorrow, referencing historic times through both function and visual stimulation.
Essentially I see myself as an object maker with some pieces having a
specific use and others remaining intentionally mysterious.

I see myself primarily as a ceramic artist and mixed-media sculptor.  With clay
I work on the potter’s wheel as well as hand-build, and find the dichotomy
between these two techniques both challenging and invigorating.  The thrown work,
somewhat understated in both form and decoration, closely represents my
interests in ancient forms of containment, in the family, in ritual and in social
structures in general.  The purely hand-built sculptural pieces also reference
historic times, but in a more subtle and contemporary way.  The tools I use
to work in wood often mirror in many ways, both the wheel throwing and
hand building with clay.  I often work in series in clay, wood, metal and other
materials, making a number of similar pieces.  No two, though, are ever exactly
alike. This work is often somewhat more detailed, but in very subtle ways.

I believe it is here that the “joining” of my interests is most evident.  All ceramic
work is fired in wood-fueled kilns exclusively.  I particularly like the historic
aspects and surface quality the work exhibits when fired in a kiln fueled by wood
alone.  It is here that I give up my ability to exert complete control of the final
artistic process and allow the wood-fired kiln to exert its influences on the
transformation of the work.  Ultimately, the results are an unconscious amalgam
of control and freedom from a partnership of artist and kiln.

Salad Plate, Dinnerware Series #2.  Mark Strayer
These beautiful place settings are available by order from ceramic artist Mark Strayer.
They are not wood-fired, but they evoke the somewhat random markings
and colors characteristic of wood-fired pieces, which naturally is one of
the reasons we find them so attractive!  These are quite dark grey
with rust, caramel and turquoise glaze splashes, and will look wonderful on any table.
Place settings are comprised of a large plate, salad plate, bowl, and cup and saucer.
Pieces can also be purchased individually.  A cup and saucer for a relaxing cup
of tea would be a wonderful gift, we think!
View these and other pieces from Mark here, in our shop.

Low Fir Table.  Nathan Christopher
Another fascinating piece of furniture from Seattle artist Nathan Christopher.
This is a piece of live edge old growth fir from the Pacific Northwest which has
been smoothed and minimally finished with oil, then attached to two
black hot rolled steel legs, long and slender.  The table hugs the
floor, and would make a wonderful low coffee table or a
Japanese zataku-style dining table.
To view more unique furniture pieces, visit our
online shop here.

Shaman 3.  Gerardo Aguayo
Our newest visual artist, Gerardo Aguayo, brings us work that is notable
for its vivid color and deep symbolism.  He works in oil and oil pastels
on paper, but has also explored ink and other mediums, including mosaics.

Gerardo was born in Mexico City.  He graduated from the School of Architecture,
University of Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1979, and went on to a career in architecture
that spans from then until the present.  He is now residing in Washington State.
During his early studies he also attended drawing and painting courses at
El Jardin del Arte in Guadalajara, Mexico, training that has carried him
to numerous solo and group exhibits in Mexico, Washington and Wisconsin.

He has accepted commissions for portraits and mosaic art, and his poetry has
appeared in publications both in Mexico and the United States. 

Gerardo describes his approach to his art:

What I intend in my works is the transformation of literal reality events
into ones of magical character; deep in uncommon elements and intriguing situations.

My images are borrowed from experiences of every day life,
and deep in personal and universal symbols and myths. 

Several of Gerardo's pieces will be on display in the Gallery in May,
with more to follow.  They will be viewable here.

Turquoise and Sterling Silver Ring.  Robin Hominiuk
 Once again, we draw attention to the work of Robin Hominiuk.  Not only an artist
in clay, she is also an accomplished metalsmith and jewelry artist.
Her upcoming show here at the Gallery, Earth Elements,
will include a good selection of her jewelry work.

This beautiful turquoise ring is currently available in the Gallery
and our online shop.  Her newer pieces will become available
after the show opening, which is May 2nd.

Lastly, a glimpse of:

Carol Lee Shanks' Wearable Art
We are delighted to spotlight textile artist Carol Lee Shanks
in our recent new blog feature, Hot Sellers.
We carry her work on a regular basis, and are always
thrilled to note the nuances and slight changes she engineers
into the most familiar, and deceptively simple, garments.
View her work in the Gallery, or in our online shop here.

Please scroll back an article or two this month,
where we go in-depth on her artistry.


We could go on, and on, and on, considering the constant stream of beautiful things our artists bring us, but must close out April with another reminder to visit us here often to see what's new in the Gallery, in our online shop, and our upcoming events, concerts and sales.  And please, don't - DO NOT! - forget Mother's Day!  (You have been warned...)

Hot Seller: Carol Lee Shanks

We love trends.  And from the look of our Gallery sales sheets, we're seeing a spring trend blossoming in Wearable Art.  Put into three words, one could simply call it Texture - Layers - Edge.

Or Carol - Lee - Shanks.

“I strive to make beautifully simple, unstructured garments that feel good on the body, function well and are easy to care for. Integral to these ideals is the element of surface texture which, as my work evolves, will continue to play an essential role in my process. I consider any unexpected results to be fascinating and welcome it…. The way we feel on the inside should be reflected by the layer we choose to wear on the outside."

Carol Lee Shanks designs and handcrafts clothing and textile art pieces. She has a great reverence for cloth, which is the foundation of her inspiration, and personally constructs each garment, one by one, building collections made from carefully selected fine materials. Her dressing concept encompasses coordinated silhouettes layered for style and comfort.  Whether worn on the body or suspended within a room, her work becomes moving sculpture.

Carol was taught to sew by her mother and her aunt at the age of ten. She attained a degree in Textile and Costume Design from the University of California at Davis in the mid-seventies, where she was fortunate to learn from many influential leaders in her chosen field. The artist attributes the expansion of her imagination to her studies at Davis, which gave her a broader picture of the world. Through the window of textiles, she was exposed to the vast world of global cultures, diverse people and places that continues to inform her art.

When first coming into contact with a piece of Carol’s work, it's best to take a close look: her designs are, we suggest, deceptively simple, with subtle detailing.  It’s easy to miss these unexpected elements, but they elevate each garment to the status of a one-of-a-kind work of art.

Carol accomplishes this in each piece as she manipulates the cloth, layering opaque and transparent elements, then stitching, piecing and wrapping them.  Thus, she is able to create greater surface interest and transform flat, linear shapes into dimensional silhouettes.  She might incorporate pieces of other fabrics that match in color though not in texture – seemingly mismatched, scraps saved, not discarded – that become details, perhaps, on a sleeve, a pocket, or on the back to create a patchwork of geometric or architectural elements or the appearance of free-form quilting. 

Trademark elements in her work, however, are selvage edges.  Selvages are the raw, imperfect edges produced on woven fabric during manufacturing which protect the fabric from unraveling on the bolt.
While most clothing makers cut their garment pieces specifically to exclude the selvage from the finished garment, Carol loves their happy irregularity and imperfection – certainly another take on the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi – and uses them to great effect.

Carol works and exhibits her clothing and textile art from her Berkeley, California studio. Her work is shown and sold in galleries throughout the United States and has been included in international shows and fiber art publications.

Seattle-based arts writer Robin Updike, quoted from her article “Carol Lee Shanks: Refining the Silhouette” in the July 2012 issue of Ornament magazine, comments on Carol’s work:

“Not only is Carol’s clothing singular in its architectonic-meets-romantic aesthetic, but there’s an impressive element of environmental awareness in her work. For instance, Carol tries to use up scraps of fabric each season, sometimes using tiny leftovers as ornament on other fabrics. Or she simply makes two-dimensional artworks - fabric collages really - to hang on the wall. Lots of style, not much waste. It’s impressive.”

Carol has designed an understated, timeless look meant to be collected piece by piece over many seasons.

Recent arrivals at the Gallery:

Thai Silk Stitch Resist Pieced Tunic, long

Thai Silk Stitch Resist Pieced Tunic

Watermelon Red Linen Pocket Tunic, long
These pieces are not yet viewable in the online shop but will be soon.

Details on Carol's most recent shows:

Our customers often request garments in special sizes.  While Carol can recreate a garment's design, one will often see slight changes from the original that render each garment essentially a one-of-a-kind item.

Catch a glimpse of Carol's clothing in the Gallery and the online shop, here.

(Photographs Courtesy of the Artist/E. Opalenik/S. Roth)