As people who work with clay, we know the reasons that motivate us to go to the studio. As makers, we also understand the draw to buy handmade objects, both for the joy of using them and for the connection to the person who made them. I think it can sometimes be a bit harder for artists to understand what motivated a gallery owner or arts center/museum curator or director to choose his or her career. From the curators, gallery owners, directors, managers, and sales associates I have spoken with, through my work for the magazine, as an artist, and as a customer, I can say that they share the same interest, both in handmade objects, and in the makers in the field as a whole. Whether the primary focus is the sale of work or sharing artwork with the community, the belief that our field is an exciting, challenging, and thoughtful one is genuine common ground.
Galleries and museums are beautiful, often pristine spaces in which to view work that can be both inspiring and sometimes intimidating. Having worked for various exhibition venues in the past, I can tell you that the behind-the-scenes areas and the day-to-day routines are quite different from the serenity of the exhibition space.
Most independently owned galleries and small art centers operate on a very tight margin with a small but versatile staff. In those back rooms, there are people working long hours every day cataloging, documenting, and organizing artwork; researching for upcoming shows; or promoting the artists they represent; building relationships with collectors; and connecting with the community in various ways. These include coordinating outreach activities like artist talks, traveling exhibitions, and even mobile art galleries and studios. Depending on the funding sources, this may be part of the organization’s mission and they may receive grant money to do these things, or smaller, individually owned venues may do it because they feel it is an important way to both engage with and give back to their community.
This issue includes our Gallery Guide listing, which I think of as the annual call for all of us to go visit at least one of the venues in our area that support artists working with clay. If I may, I would also suggest you get to know the people who work there.
In addition to the Gallery Guide, we are also continuing our annual focus on artists who collect ceramics in our Clay Culture articles. This year both Dwight Holland and Julia Galloway discuss their reasons for collecting the thousands of pots they each own, and the ways they share the artwork with their communities.
An article on John Glick discusses the way he has collected his own work over the years, selecting pieces he could have easily sent to exhibitions to keep for his own study, for his apprentices to learn from, and for an eventual exhibition or retirement fund. As he winds down his studio in Michigan for a planned move to California, some of these 1000 collected pots and sculptures are being curated into an exhibition, while others are finding new homes.
Forrest Sincoff Gard, our assistant editor had a chance to visit Glick’s studio on one of his trips up to Michigan, and brought in a cup that he purchased on that visit for me to use so I could get to know the work first hand. The cup is a joy to hold and reveals details like stamped or combed textures, floating crystals, and glaze pools and rivulets each time I pick it up.
Noticing the many nuances when using this cup is just one of the moments that remind me why I chose this field, what motivates me to get into the studio, as well as what inspires me at work every day.