The National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts has landed in Houston, and it’s worth the trip downtown. Ceramic artists from around the country are showing off their best and newest pieces, and you can touch them! With many pieces priced under $50, you might even be able to buy them. If you’re not shopping for art, there are vendors ready to sell you the latest and greatest tools to enhance your pottery studio: from handcrafted wooden modeling tools to digitally printed decals.
For part 1 of my NCECA exploration, I visited with the artists and gallerists in the first (free!) portion of the sprawling conference, laid out in booths, like an art fair. Here are some highlights:
Spinning Earth Pottery, Kansas City, KS
Spinning Earth Pottery features four artists: Cathy Broski, Connor Burns, Susan Filley and owner Danny Meisinger. Danny, located right near the entrance, encourages conversation: “The thing that’s really cool about the general public coming [to NCECA]…One, it’s free and two, it’s the best it gets. There are a ton of artists standing by their work and they can talk about it with you. It’s an incredibly accessible experience.”
18 Hands Gallery, Houston, TX
Houston’s 18 Hands Gallery is showing 30 artists, some from Houston, at its booth and is hosting the Archie Bray show and a block party on Friday evening from 6-10 p.m. at its gallery on 19th St. called All Fired Up. It’s a multi-venue ceramic revel including Winter and Spring St. Studios. With a shuttle provided by NCECA making travel between shows easy, there’s no reason to miss out!
Red Lodge Clay Center, Red Lodge, Montana
Located near Yellowstone National Park, Red Lodge is a retail and gallery center representing over 80 artists in the U.S. and Canada. I had the opportunity to talk to a few women showing with the gallery.
Artists Alexis Gregg and Tanner Coleman usually collaborate on large-scale public works influenced by Native American culture. This totem is one of their first collaborations done in studio-size.
Brittany Helms makes childlike cups and bowls reminiscent of domestic space. She creates simple and innocent forms with refined slip work referencing domestic life, and maintains playful feminine theme. “One of my professors referred to my work as ‘nostalgia on estrogen,'” she said.
Art-Stream Nomadic Gallery, Aspen, CO
To form a nomadic gallery, artist Alleghany Meadows transformed a 1967 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht into a traveling exhibition which has gone from Los Angeles to New York City showing contemporary art. When I visited, artist Steven Colby was manning the yacht, which was parked inside the exhibition space. Steven’s work focuses on aesthetics and the pursuit of beauty through the journey of zen-like repetitive practice.
The Kiln Studio & Gallery, Fairhope, AL
Among the artists featured at The Kiln Studio & Gallery, I found Houston-born Brannen Mercer, who moved to Fairhope at the age of 11. Brannen is showing clean, white work focused on form and function. He’s explored a lot of aesthetics and techniques in his studies and is taking the time to back up and focus on the craft.
Other works that caught my eye from among the 100 or so exhibitors: