Art of the Pot Studio Tour 2013, Part 1

The always awesome Art of the Pot in Austin, TX is coming up this Mother’s Day weekend in May 2014. Leading up to the next studio tour I have a whole slew of photos from last year’s event, so I’m going to split them up into two installments.

Ryan McKerley pots.

Ryan McKerley pots.

We usually start at Ryan McKerley‘s studio. He’s such an awesome potter and a wonderful person to boot. I have fired my pots in his kiln a few times, which definitely numbers among the highlights in terms of my experiences in the pottery community.

One Ryan's large jars with the trademark Pac Man knob.

One Ryan’s large jars with the trademark Pac Man knob.

Soda firing is my favorite firing method and Ryan’s surfaces are akin to what I strive for in my own work.

Flower brick by Joan Bruneau.

Flower brick by Joan Bruneau.

A few invited artists share each host studio. Joan Bruneau of Novia Scotia presented her gorgeous terra cotta pots alongside Ryan McKerley, Chris Campbell, and Bryan Hopkins.

Lovely plates by Joan Bruneau.

Lovely plates by Joan Bruneau.

The brilliant glaze colors coupled with the rich red clay body makes for a highly covetable pot.

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Chris Campbell pots.

Ryan McKerley shares his studio with fellow host Chris Campbell, who wood fires his dark stoneware clay pots.

Porcelain ware by Bryan Hopkins.

Porcelain ware by Bryan Hopkins.

Thin, translucent porcelain abounds in Bryan Hopkins‘ work, often textured with carving and mundane objects like wood planks or diamond-patterned steel sheets.

Saying farewell to the mural on Ryan's studio exterior for another year.

Saying farewell to the mural on Ryan’s studio exterior for another year.

Onto the next studio!

A different studio happening concurrently in the building housing Keith Kreeger's studio.

A different studio tour happening concurrently in the building housing Keith Kreeger’s studio.

Photographers, painters, and other 3-D artists presented work in the other studios adjacent to the next AotP host potter.

The entrance to Keith's studio.

The entrance to Keith’s studio.

An array of pots from all of the presenting artists within decorate the table.

Keith Kreeger pots.

Keith Kreeger pots.

Host artist Keith Kreeger produces minimal, sometimes softly colored, functional pottery.

Some of the more colorful Kreeger pots.

Some of the more colorful Kreeger pots.

There’s always something new in Keith’s array of pots, so I look forward to seeing the latest and greatest each time I enter his studio.

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Another assortment of pots from the potters in Keith’s studio.

I love to see different work shown alongside each other, the variety makes for a strong and visually appealing presentation. Decal encrusted pots by invited artist Dan Anderson appear at top left and bottom right.

Courtney Murphy pots.

Courtney Murphy pots.

I loved the clean forms augmented with brightly colored surfaces from invited potter Courtney Murphy.

Especially this cream and sugar set!

Especially this cream and sugar set!

The arched line of raw clay on the sugar jar made me swoon. Two more studios to come, stay tuned for photos!

Art of the Pot studio tour, part 1

Aaron and I rolled in at 1 am last night after a whirlwind overnight trip to Burnet and Austin,Texas. My cousins live in Burnet, and we stayed there Friday night before driving into Austin on Sat morning for the pottery studio tour named Art of the Pot. A giant jackrabbit graced our path down the driveway of my cousin’s rocky, cactus-strewn front acreage as we departed for another Mother’s Day in Austin. In fact, Art of the Pot always falls on Mother’s Day weekend. I have taken my Mom with me for the tour in past years; that mom-on-daughter time can’t be beat. Anyway, we made the 1st studio by 10:30. The tour ran until 5ish on Saturday, and runs from 11-5 today.

We typically do the tour backwards from how the studios are numbered in the mailer, beginning with Ryan McKerley’s studio near downtown on Cesar Chavez. I have known Ryan for several years now; he is an excellent ceramic artist, and a really great person. He shares the studio with Chris Campbell. The other potters who had been invited to display and sell work are Carl Block and Ingrid Bathe.

Part of Ryan McKerley’s inventory on display in his studio.

Ryan’s pots just get more superior with each passing year. To get the dimensional surface texture, each thrown piece receives an application of fixative like lacquer in a hand-painted pattern, which is then sponged heavily to remove clay around the fixed, waterproof pattern. It’s a technique I’ve seen referred to as water carving. He then glazes and soda fires the porcelain pots to cone 9/10 or so, in reduction. I have had the privilege of firing some of my work in his kiln, and the results are generally spectacular. The kiln I’m building this year is based partially on his kiln, since I intend to soda or salt fire.

A close-up of some more of Ryan’s pieces.

Chris Campbell shares the studio with Ryan. His pots this year were dipped in white slip and glazed clear to emphasize the natural imperfection and beauty of the slip coat. His pots have a genuine solidity, due to elements like the simple forms and straightforward design.

Some of the elegantly simple pots by Chris Campbell.

The bowls on the middle tier have a beautifully tall incised foot. I speculate that the feet were thrown, because trimming out that much clay would be a total headache, not to mention wasteful. Also note the finger marks where Chris gripped the pieces as they were dipped in slip: a nice record of the artist’s involvement.

This large jar by Chris Campbell is a beauty.

Ingrid Bathe brought her ultra-thin porcelain pinch pots to the Texas art appreciating public. While some of the work was glazed a subdued, cool color on the interior, most were fired raw, probably to cone 9/10. The texture of her process and the vitrified porcelain is tactilely pleasing.

A part of Ingrid Bathe’s display.

The five-lobed vessel with smaller dishes nested in each nodule was my personal favorite. Such beautiful and interesting work.

Some of Carl Block’s figurative pots.

Carl Block of Waxahachie, TX works in earthenware with colored slips and clear glaze, which of course gets low-fired. To me the influence of South American tribal pottery and Mexican folk art appears evident. Carl stated that a major influence which isn’t necessarily visible is the joy that drives his studio practice. The stirrup vessel shown in the back, with the skull and long-bones sculpted on, made a perfect graduation gift for my friend David who just acquired his PhD in Anthropology, with a personal focus in Mayanism.

More Carl Block head jugs and jars, and a mug.

Mr. Block serenaded the studio visitors on his mandolin, happily engaging folks in conversation when the opportunity arose. He actually gave me an interesting tip for working with porcelain. To stiffen the walls of the pots when I’m throwing, I could make porcelain grog to mix in the clay body by bisqueing ground trimming scraps, then ball-milling the bisque craps down to powder.

Mr. Block with his mandolin and a tall figurative vessel.

Stay tuned for the second of the four studio tour installments.