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mark's post: meaning of art, etc.

updated wed 31 dec 03


Vince Pitelka on tue 30 dec 03

> I snapped at one of those art rants and went on one myself .Rikki
> Gills reply set me straight
> ( Check it out). On with the rants. My delete button is poised.
> My comment was off base. Lets move on

Mark -
When I wrote that response I did not even realize it was going out to my old
Humboldt County friend Mark Cortright. I did notice his name on another
post, and was delighted to see him appear on Clayart.

Mark has been plugging away making fine pots on Liscom Hill in Humboldt
County, CA for a quarter of a century now. When I was running Railroad
Stoneware in Blue Lake, Mark was running Liscom Hill Pottery only a few
miles away. I have such fond memories of those days. There were quite a
few committed full-time potters around, and it felt like we were all part of
one big organism. We all worked hard, but it never felt competitive - just
a positive symbiosis.

Mark, I expect you are right concerning the West Coast universities. As you
know, there was an explosion of population on the West Coast in the 50s and
60s, with many new colleges and universities starting up. Being so far
removed from the rest of the country, the art departments felt little need
to follow the more conservative academic traditions of the Midwest and
Northeast, and so we had the extraordinary explosion in clay of the Abstract
Expressionism of Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, and John Mason, the California
Funk of Arneson, Gilhooley, Clayton Bailey, Robert Hudson, Fred Bauer, Patty
Warashina, Howard Kottler, etc, and the Super Object tradition of Ron Nagle,
Adrian Saxe, Ralph Bacerra, Ken Price, Marilyn Levine, etc. and none of it
had anything to do with utilitarian issues. Many of the best ceramics
programs on the West Coast have NEVER been about function, so it is little
wonder now that other colleges and universities out there are following this

Elsewhere in the country, I see lots of university art departments
maintaining an ongoing concern with issues of function and utility, and a
commitment to the noble endeavor of teaching functional pots in a university
setting. Look at potter/educators like Linda Arbuckle, Jack Troy, Lee
Rexrode, Pete Pinnell, Gail Kendall, Margaret Bohls, Jason Hess, Julia
Galloway, Frank Martin, Matt Long, Brad Schweiger, John Neely, Kurt Weiser,
Linda Sikkora, on and on. I have a more extensive list at school, but I am
out in California right now, so these are just off the top of my head.

As long as the public wants handmade pots, potters will appear. You are
right to be concerned, because lacking good pots from well-trained potters,
the public will buy bad pots. It is up to us to provide the very best pots
and potters we can produce - in essence to provide the context for
comparison, so that the public will learn to recognize superior pots.
Best wishes -
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Craft
Tennessee Technological University
1560 Craft Center Drive, Smithville TN 37166
Home -
Office -
615/597-6801 x111, FAX 615/597-6803