Collecting ceramics for me builds on (and has replaced) my childhood interest in collecting interesting rocks, old coins, coins from around the world, costume jewelry, and anything that caught my eye while exploring outside. I find that in both cases, the stories and sense of creativity and curiosity these objects embody is similar.
The two pieces pictured here are at opposite ends of my ceramics collecting timeline. The Julia Galloway pitcher is one of the first pieces I acquired with the intent to buy handmade ceramics not only for everyday use, but also to start a meaningful, inspiring collection. Galloway generously donated the pitcher for a student fundraiser at San Diego State University back in 2005, and I was the lucky raffle winner! Joanna Powell’s mug, one of the most recent pieces I purchased, was part of the exhibition concluding her residency at Denison Art Space here in Ohio. She had arranged a series of cups on a long shelf hung at eye level and while this one called to me, when I look at it, I like that I still remember the series as a whole.
As fellow ceramic artists, you can probably identify with the giddy feeling of using a new mug or bowl made by an artist you admire, or contemplating a sculpture that you just hung on the wall. Using and being surrounded with handmade objects increases a home’s creative energy; the concepts and ideas artists infuse into the pieces feed off of, contrast, and challenge one another. I find that, as I work in my studio I start to think about what resonates most for me in different pieces I own, how that has changed over the years, and what that reveals about my own work or how it reflects the evolution of my own studio practice.
The artists we interviewed this year for our annual focus on galleries and collecting—Sam Scott and his wife Dianne in Seattle, Washington, and Bill Abright and Claudia Tarantino in San Anselmo, California—share the effects their collections have on their creative practices, and the ways their focus as collectors have evolved and expanded. Tarantino and Abright also share their penchant for collecting everything from scrap metal, to turtle figures made out of all kinds of materials, to taxidermied animals rescued from a defunct a sporting-goods store.
While artists often collect from their peers, overall, collectors are a diverse group. Some have relationships with artists and visit their studios, but many rely on curators, art dealers, and gallery directors to access and acquire artwork. Galleries act as a bridge between artists and people purchasing their work, with staff members using their expertise in the field to inform and guide patrons and promote artists’ careers. This expertise comes from a passion for the subject and, in our field, often from direct experience, as gallery staff are often artists, too.
Dubhe Carreño fits that description. She shares with us the way that her varied professional and personal relationships have informed her career path, each one making successes possible in the next pursuit. She started as a ballerina, fell in love with and studied ceramics, became a gallerist, then transitioned into working as a full-time studio potter. Her insights show the connections between these careers and the creativity, drive, and discipline needed for success in all of them.
Rounding out the focus, check out our annual gallery guide, where you can find venues to visit to help satiate your need to see, learn from, and buy handmade ceramics. When you visit a gallery, think about the ways the staff has curated and arranged the work on display to provide a space to explore art in a contemplative way, and the role the space plays in strengthening our community.