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One Person's Reflections -- CoC 2022: Uplifted at Taos Ceramics Center

20 Jun 2022 11:51 AM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

This is one of the strongest COC shows that I have seen in my time with this group.  The set up by owner Jules Epstein is superb!

The work in this show is varied and strong.  The strength of a member show is that the artist chooses what will be seen.  This offers an insight into the creator’s thought process.  Following an artist over time allows a glimpse of their growth process, or none.   This sort of appreciation and apprehension is not for those in a rush. 

These are the impressions of one person viewing the exhibition at the opening and then relying on the Peoples’ Choice list, to fill in names and other detail.  Sara D’Alessandro admits her many biases and preferences.   Michael Thornton says he will write a review of the show as well giving a couple of opinions to compare.  But, you know, go see for yourself. Don’t take our paltry words for it. 

By SL, eNews Editor (aka Sara D'Alessandro)

Work by Artist alphabetically

Lee Akins’s seemingly effortless surfaces always are impressive and worthy of study.  He has two hand built works in this show, fairly large.  One, a gorgeous globe shaped jar, a form for which he is known; the other is an open form called “Lobed Bowl”, an apparent new direction formally.  Both pieces have rich texture intrinsic to the forms with subtle colorations.  I hope to own one someday.

Melissa Alexander’s “Golden Bull” is a rapid study of a bull full of motion, (something clay does so well).  It is a reflection of the large Morgan Stanley bull sculpture in lower Manhattan but, as a sketch it has more animation.   Kintsugi would be a perfect solution for the breaks in the tail.

Leonard Baca’s “Turquoise Flared Bowl” is simply thrown and graceful.  It is turquoise glazed with the rim the color of the clay body.  Four light finger flares in the rim give accent.  It is lovely and to the point.  It will never will overstay its welcome.

Luisa and Frank Willett’s covered jar.  It is my understanding (I hope this is correct) that in these collaborations Frank did the throwing and Luisa did the glaze or surface treatment.  If you have managed to acquire one of these works consider yourself very lucky.  This is lovely in every way.

Luisa Baldinger’s “Basins” I had only seen pictures of this series of Luisa’s.  Pictures, almost always do not convey what an in-person experience provides.  That certainly is the case here.  These are not new works but they inspire!  The two basin snuggle together on one side encrusted with the past.  They are forms which hold, which keep.   They are a prayer.

Kathy Bartlett’s “Mudcrack” is a work I can look at again and again.  The crackle surface, frequently over used, is here expertly applied over and ancient mottled coloration, a mysterious combination.  But the real draw for me is the almost liquid globule form itself.  I am guessing a closed form was paddled to the absolute extreme of its cohesiveness, then pierced by a finger pull.  A sipapu. Extremely sensual.

Kathy Bartlett’s “Raku 1” is the same sensibility of form as “Mudcrack”, sensual, swelling from within with two “openings”.  The black and white raku surface is intrinsic to the form.  It is a voice of eternity.

Jorge Luis Bernal has six cups, small mugs, decorated with what I assume are personal motifs of his.  He is a new member and I have no past reference to relate.  It will be interesting to watch this work going forward.

Jorge Luis Bernal’s “Columna 4” looks like a doumbeck.

Elaine Biery’s two works are jars lidded with birds atop.  Jars with an animal lid.  Here they are done to perfection.  Metallic pastels are the luscious finish of the jars.  One with an interesting cut foot detail which gives a dark accent to the pale color.

Steve Blakely has two small (circa 10-12”) vases one glazed in solid turquois with red accents, the other is more green.  They present themselves as much larger than they actually are.  They could be enlarged to a monumental scale and would still hold their impact.    

Joe Bova has two animal heads. One is an owl mug, “Night Commander” quite hilarious.  The other is a very serious rabbit, with a mottled dark glazed surface.

Sharon Brush, a juror from last year’s COC 2021exhibition, offers us “Acclimation”.  This is a meticulously considered profile.  The surface is not the usual black but rather an uplifting grained white.  The variation from the profile is a widening of the left (as you face it) foot which enables it to free stand.  A symbolic birthing figure.

Sheena Cameron’s “Sea Horse” is a clever and well done variation of her Horses.  One side , is a clear rendition of the title.  The other side has her signature door in the side of the horse which contains some eccentricities. You may want to ask the gallery to turn the piece to be able to see the other side.

Sheena Cameron’s “Our Deb Haaland” is a portrait, a sincere and effective rendition of appreciation.  I hope Deb Haaland gets to see this one.

Anna Bush Crews, “Snow Flurry” is a small form, well developed to obscure the columnar core.   It wants to be larger. (Or, I want it to be larger).  A fine marriage of surface treatment with the form.

Sara D’Alessandro “River Styx” is a bozetto and as yet I have not been able to enlarge the idea to the scale that I would like.   This work is not in narrative form rather it skirts the narrative.

Caroline Dechert “Yellow Vase” is off center and organic without trying to overwhelm the flowers that would be put in it.

Jan Doris has two works: “Black Ball”, a sphere with a small hemisphere cup at the top.  The interest is the surface treatment of the sphere which is like the reading of a planetary object.  Her second work utilizes the sphere in a bead like formation, a figure reduced to its basic three elements, a satisfying arrangement of three forms which many of us have come to as stations in our own work.  This is the clay deciding. 

Adam Emery’s “The Tower” is an absolute joy to see.  The picture does not convey the exuberance of the Keep.  Adam makes monsters and now he has the castle for them to dwell.

Christine Evans, “Flying Dreams” is an exalted portrait of a mortal/ goddess, in the tradition of Roman portraiture. Her very accomplished, refined and serene work make me think of the Della Robbia terra cottas of the fourteen hundreds, Europe.  Google Lucca Della Robbia and see.

Gail Goodwin “Untitled” Just beautiful, that’s all, just beautiful.

Patty Mara Bourley “Three Ravens Running” is a black drawing over a cylindrical form in black.  Three ravens fitting on a slender terracotta vase.  And, she did it!  Very clever.

Christopher Hosbach “Scalloped Platter” This work seen in the gallery orange room is wall mounted.  A forceful dynamic pattern executed with extreme control and skill.  Impressive and intimidating; deserving of the award it received.

Svetlana Kirillova “Pitcher and Mug” Black shiny glazed top and handles with off-setting fluidly added flowers on the bottom, a pleasing contrast between the black and bright. A nice functioning pair.

Serit Kotowski “Three Tiers” This is a signature texture for Serit a texture she does so well. The proportions of the three are just right and her presentation of antiquity defying function continues.  I am loving watching this journey of hers.

Alex Kurtz “New Mexico Pollinators” and “New Mexico Plants”  are two sets of six three dimensional tiles, extremely well crafted, an interesting project and a very different interpretation of the tile form.   Tilers take notice!

Jennifer Lowell “Alegría” a small box with a golden bird flying over the waters.

Jennifer Lowell “Freedom”  Three nesting tiers each with birds flying around the sides and topped with a bird handled lid.  Birds are her iconology and they seem to be symbols for lots of people.    There are many in this show.

Dianne MacInnes “Becoming” is a small figurine, a trans figure, with a somewhat naturalistic head atop an amorphous form.

Catherine McClain “Amber Bloom” A cactus, such a clay friendly form, with blossoms on the top.

Sheila Miller “Sunset Jar” thrown form modified, fan shaped decorated lid, a fine looking jar.

Sheila Miller “Shades of Blue Leaf Jar” She embraces utility with beauty.  This piece is fun to look at because you can see the flow and joy of her throwing experience in the fluid finger marks, enhanced by the liquid blue color.

Vincent Morales “Round Wood” I would also say “round jar”.  The sphere is round and solid.  The cut of the lid provides interesting counterpoint.  The fetishized bound wood lid makes this a special stash.

Judy Nelson Moore “Back Seat Driver” is an assemblage that is self-explanatory and amusing, unless you are the driver under command.  Judy never shrinks from combining and exploring different media. She is always pushing new boundaries.  Here she has used metal and paper clay.  This is shown on a pedestal in the gallery it would be good wall mounted work, as well.  I like this 3D collage.

Richard Orlando “Hummingbird Bowl”    The hummingbirds are incised around the insides of the bowl.  You cannot see them in this photograph.  It is a shame there is not a better photo. This fine work will miss out in the Peoples’ Choice because of a poor photo.

Charlotte Ownby “Sunrise Uplifting”  I have seen other tiles of Charlotte’s and they have been of trees, birches, leaves and landscapes.  This is the first I have seen where she has introduced humans.  She worked within this year’s theme Up Lifted and has begun a narrative.

Adam Padilla “Lilies” A pleasant understated dish with three flower symbols of differing colors.  

Casey Pendergast “Turtle Chalice” is a visually interesting assemblage.  Probably not practical for function.  I couldn’t find a turtle.  I like it, never the less.

Andrea Pichaida  “I’ll Hold You” is a gorgeous pierced bowl form, glazed with her bright optimistic colors.  The bowl is very large, swelling and absolutely flawless, a result of paddling against air. 

Sabrina Pratt “Moving Forward” This work has solved a vexing problem of clay’s nature is to be “earth bound”.  Sabrina has broken through the pyramid solid to which clay is inclined, giving an open space at the bottom.  Bravo! (Also, see Sharon Brush).  The work balances on its two points.

Alma Quillian  “Big Horn Sheep” is a straight forward clear rendering of a big horned sheep.

Alma Quillian  “Pierre”  Here she has taken a serious portrait and turned this black bird into a pitcher with a red lid!  

Marianna Rabinowitz “A Series of Unnecessary Objects”  I was unable to see this more closely at the opening.  The picture tells little being too dark to make out.  Seems interesting.  I will watch for her future works.

Barbara Raulston “Celebrating Charlie” with your morning coffee and a warm hand grip.  Charlie probably would be pleased.

Jenna Ritter “Sky Bowl” is a lovely proportioned bowl with a smoked surface.

Greta Ruiz “Multi Pod” becomes even more interesting when you look down inside the pods. The lighting in the gallery encourages this view.  The photo doesn’t show this aspect.  A very different work to consider.  It garnered a deserved award.

Jill Schulman “Hanging by a Thread” A powerful portrait that doesn’t feel the need to be cute.  Seems as if I know her, or, have seen her.  Maybe I have.  I am curious about the four holes in the neck.  Makes me think of a cloth body might get attached, like the old cloth dolls with the ceramic head and hands.  I must ask her if we ever come into contact.  I found this a powerful work.   I kept coming back to it.

Joey Serim “Rising” is made up of two joined, thrown pieces.  A pathway to grow larger.

Cirrelda Snider-Bryan “10’ Above Our Roof” Here is another tile maker who considered the theme for this year. This is an interesting narrative with subtle twists by an abstract thinker.  The center is an insert with screws at the corners.

Darla Graff Thompson “When I fly” These heads of Darla’s continue to grow on me.  After the Sunport show was taken down I hosted two of these heads at home for a couple of weeks.  They have divergent attitudes depending on which side you look.  Then there is the melding in the front view.  With two heads I would make changing dialogues by moving them around. People visiting me would stop in their tracks when spying them. 

Michael Thornton “Chi Meets Epsilon” are two small columnar abstractions with openings at the top.  I am ignorant of the title reference. 

Atom Vigil “Dragon Runes” and “Runes” are two small cups about shot glass size, white with runic marks around the outside lips. 

Susan Voss “Raven Dreams” Head with Raven wrapping the head and neck, romantic, nice face.  I love the crackle most of all.

Susan Voss “My Raven Muse” Standard portrait bust configuration, pretty face, bird on shoulder, romantic.

Sheryl Zacharia “Ventanas” is a medium size, designed sculpture.  Her work is always satisfying.

The juror work:

Abby Salsbury is a juror and also has work in the show. Her work is not up to receive awards, but is included because they show a jurors point of view.  She has tiles which are an extension of her designed work.  These are tiles which advance into the space much as some children’s books which open and pop forward.  The projections offer shadow play between the levels presenting a lot to contemplate.

Hebe Garcia is a juror for this show and she has a work in the show as well.  I do not have the title of this work on hand.  It is a figure of a child holding a doll.  Hebe’s work reminds me of the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, particularly his novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.

Jules Epstein, owner of the TCC, is also a juror.  His skill is apparent in this clearly structured presentation.

To view the show, visit the Taos Ceramics Center, 114 Este Es Road, Taos, NM. Gallery hours Wed Noon-5, Thu-Sat 10-5, Sunday Noon-4. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Closing date: Saturday, July 23, 2022. If unable to attend in person, here is the online gallery:


  • 06 Jul 2022 8:10 AM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)
    I learned so much reading through these comments - thanks for your vision, Sara Lee.
    Link  •  Reply

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