search  current discussion  categories  events - fairs & shows 

really smashing show

updated tue 14 oct 03


primalmommy on sun 12 oct 03

Friday night I went with potter friends -- Ann Tubbs, Ellen Marks and
Edith Franklin - (local elder stateswoman of pottery, still potting at
80) -- to Columbus, Ohio for the 21st Century Ceramics show at the
Columbus College of Art and design. 250 potters from the US and Canada
had work there.

My Jeff thought I needed a road trip so he came home early to watch the
kids, and we potters took off in the afternoon. In the van on the way
down I read the list of potters in the show aloud.. Alphabetical order,
Aerni and Arbuckle, Autio and Balistreri, Bean and Benzle, Bringle and

About every third or fourth name I ready led to an exclamation of joy or
surprise from one of us, or a story about a workshop, or a pot, or an
article. Edith told stories about Barbara Brown, long lost potter pal
out on the west coast, whose work we would see. I asked my friends to
yell out if they owned a pot by someone featured -- it was amazing.
Christianson, both Colemans, Crowe, Cushing, Davis, DeWeese, Dresang. We
had a loaf of crusty bread in the van, watermelon, cheese, crunchy salty
things, since we spent dinnertime on the road and didn't dare stop lest
we miss a moment of show. Federighi, Ferguson, Funk, Glick... When we
arrived, the gallery was white and cavernous and bright.

I started along one wall and felt like i was alone in the crowded
gallery, i was so absorbed and diverted by each piece... Graber's
miniatures, trompe l'oeils I wanted badly to touch and believe.. Susan
Harris's artifacty pots.. Steven Hill's melon pitcher, Thomas hoadley's
intricate colored porcelains, Horsley, Hyman, jaeger, Randy Johnston's
boat form I wanted to lie down in and float forever.. Katz, kenney,
Peter King and Xinia Marin's huge glorious gateway out by the table
where Tim frienderich <-- (that was a typo but i am leaving it..) was
sitting w/ some smiling, familiar ACERS folks...

I literally bumped into a potter, while studying the million little
duck-soldiers of doug Baldwin, and guess who it turned out to be?
Barbara Brown, Edith's long lost friend. I took her to find edith and we
went to see barbara's pots... but then i had to cross the gallery back
to where i left off. The show was organized with such artistry that each
work seemed to lead logically to the next... I couldn't "skip a chapter"
or see works 'out of order" or context.

Kotula and Kwong, Lawrence and lawton, Dick Lehman was there in person!
Leuthold's wheels, Lewing's tiles,
Lysohir and a lovely fluted lidded jar by Warren mcKenzie... malloy and
Malmgren, oh my GAWD Craig martell's glorious bowl and platter... o that
bowl.. sold by the time i met it but color so luscious i wanted to lick
the side of it... Massaro, McCauley, Metz and Ron Myers, a toady teapot
and a primal looking nude on a plate...

Mark Nafziger was there with his pots.. neely and Notkin, Oesteriech and
the seagrove Owenses.. Peterson and Pete Pinnell, a cup that look like
it grew from the ground... Our own Vince Pitelka's oil cans with
laminated colored clay surfaces, intricate like marbling but random and
fascinating. My traveling companion kept her eyes open for Richard Aerni
(who, like his pots, is reportedly not hard to look at!) but there were
no sightings. Pleak, pope, Pozo...Quackenbush, Ruggles and rankin... Don
reitz... Romecki, russel, harvey sadow.. Silverman, Skudlarek, Mckenzie
smith and nan smith.. Cohen&smith...

I discovered that for the first time in my 42 years I am in need of
glasses. After making the entire first round to see all the pots, it
occurred to me that some of those potters could be milling around in the
crowd.. if only I could see their nametags. I tried to be subtle and
sneak a peek without looking like a pathetic groupie but my eyes are
just not that good anymore. Squinting at people's chests.. and still i
had no idea who was who. i think a major league potter ladeled some
melted cheese on my tortilla chips, though. I saw Paul Soldner's tea
bowl and sculpture.. Spinski's paint roller/can/tray.. staley, starr,
stephenson.. Takada's impossible detailed surfaces.. Toshiko Takaezu's
closed forms... Brother Thomas, Jack troy, Ann Tubbs (who drove the van)
with a lovely lemony majolica platter and a sculptural piece called 'the
devil and ms majolica". Tom Turner.. Brian Von Nostrand.. Warashina and
Watkins, Kurt Weiser.. white, williams, both Winokurs.. Woo, Wright,

And those were just the american contingent! Canadians included
Archambeau and chuang, Cochrane and Dyelle, Foulem, Heinemann and Robin
Hopper (who ellen's daughter calls "Hoppin' Robin".)Hutchins, Mortimer,
both O'Youngs... Osterman and Ostrom.. Payce with his "blur" and those
tumblers with the little human body profiles defined by the negative
space between them. Pellettier, Powning, Roberts, Rolland... smith,
taylor, thompson.

And lined up in a space near the bar, the bottles of sand and clay from
the mandala world project...

before we left Edith introduced me to Bill Hunt... when we climbed into
the van to head for home i felt like my brain was flashing "disk full"
and I had seen more than I could process. We had spent under two hours
in the gallery (total of 6 hours on the road) and i could go back and
see things i missed.. or see the same things in a new way. If the door
prize had been 'take home any one pot".. I would have had to choose
between Tom Coleman's 22 inch vase... Val Cushing's tall brown jar..
Susan harris's "Zhong with Bufonidae".. wonderfuly intricate surfaces by
anita fields.. or that boat of randy johnston's. The price list was awe
inspiring,, lots of work sold the minute the doors opened.

If you live within a day's drive GO TO THIS SHOW. It will fill up your
brain to the point where you might have to delete, say, high school
algebra to make more room for pots.

The day after the show (yesterday) I went out to my work/storage space
and got my hammer, and smashed (no kidding) about a hundred pounds of
pots. (ok some old ones had pretty thick bottoms so it's not as many as
it sounds like. :0)

it wasn't a case of boo-hoo-my-pots-suck. It was just that I had this
"middle catogory" all these years.. pots that had some appealing quality
but were not perfect enough to sell.. seconds, or "this was good when i
made it but i am better now" pots. Smash, smash, smash (safety goggles
in place). I have SEEN the promised land.. and life is too short to
tolerate a mediocre pot. Sheesh, I have SOLD pots worse than the ones I
just smashed. I should look those people up and give them their money
back. I am eyeing the ones on my website, now, hammer-in-hand,

I can do so much better... and after this glorious show the bar in my
mind has been raised.

i just looked back at this letter.. i left out some awesome potters,
hopped from capitals to not, made lots of typos.. but it's 1:30 in the
morning and i'm dog tired, so off it goes... clayarters out there tell
us about your pots in the show... o what a show. go, go, go. I may make
the six hour round trip just to see it again. It's there til december

yours, kelly in ohio
whose kids will be jumping on her bed long before she's ready to rise
and shine

Kelly Averill Savino

Get the FREE email that has everyone talking at

Jeanette Harris on mon 13 oct 03


Egad! What a line-up!*

Shows like that make me feel as if there is an excess of oxygen in
the room. I love it.
("How can so many beautiful and different things exist.")

and at the same time totally frustrated. I hate it.
("My work is just as good as this; why isn't my work here!")

In college, after seeing a show of the paintings of Thomas Eakins and
Winslow Homer, I wanted to go home and jump all over my watercolors.

It is good to smash.

It is also good to keep even the bad stuff-- to see where you have
been. And to keep a record of previous thoughts.

After Mel's workshop, I went home and wrote "EXCELLENCE" on my studio
wall just above my wheel. About a week later, I smashed the bad
stuff, rearranged my studio shelves to see the previous pieces I want
to chase further.

It's good to have an aesthetic cleansing.

*Just googled the show--There is a series of PDF files of the
artists and their work.

Down-loadable at