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Tea for 100

Baltimore Clayworks

One of my favorite art venues in Baltimore is the Baltimore Clayworks, whose home, a former city library, in the Mt. Washington section of town. From the time I moved here, several light years ago, Clayworks has been a major resource for me. I fired my first ventures into ceramics there. Over the years the program, which includes studio space and classes, has grown by bounds, and with the purchase of a former convent, across the street, they now have a fabulous exhibition space.

Julia GallowayNow showing is 100 Teapots III: that’s 100 pots by 60 artists from around the country. These aren’t Granny’s teapots either, unless your Granny is hip. Curated by master ceramist and professor at the American School of Crafts at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Julia Galloway (her work is shown at right), has assembled a fairly strong show with something for even a teapot curmudgeon.

Roberta PolfusHaving had a little experience working with clay and being forsaken by the kiln gods, with months' worth of work blowing up in the kiln, I have great respect for this work. Many of the pots in this exhibit are traditional, functional containers, all well crafted, with a variety of clay and glaze combinations, which offer endless possibility for surface textures and color. Electric kilns, gas fired, wood fired: if you’d like a different effect, try wood fired and dust in some salt or soda powder, during the firing; the results can be fascinating. If there's iron in the clay, you could end up with a crusty pot that looks like it was recovered from a sunken ship.

Pat ScullTea drinking is currently undergoing a semi-renaissance, which makes this show of timely interest, with high-end shops selling imported Japanese tea sets, complete with procedural instructions for traditional tea ceremonies. Tradition is wonderful, but it would be much more enjoyable using one of Pat Scull’s stoneware tea sets (shown at right), or what an impressive pour it would be with Farraday Newsome’s Green Garden Teapot (shown below). I love her name and the pot.

Farraday NewsomeFeeling a little out of kilter some mornings? Try a Scott Dooley Creation, followed by Certain Side Effects that David Collins has prescribed, no prescription needed. For simple organic beauty, I recommend one of Carol Yost’s stoneware creations, or if you’re very parched, this beautiful pot from Niel Hora will quench your soul (shown below).

Niel HoraOf course I've only mentioned a few of the one hundred pieces in this exhibit, but with all the variety and cultural influences brought to this collection I was struck by the continued subtle influence of the original teapot makers of China and Japan. The ancient masters had it down; they nailed the true functional and spiritual beauty of the tea ceremony.

With 100 Teapots III, a great tradition continues, at The Clayworks through February 21st. For more images see my flickr site or go here for more contemporary examples.


Anonymous said...

Mark - I love YOUR ceramics - wish you had entered a bunch. Clayworks is a great group, one of my favorites, but I am so saddened by their modern addition to the original architectural gem of an old library building - a rape to the aesthetic that looks like a 70's dental clinic. What a missed opportunity - did you ever look at the remnants of cobalt blue on the arched columns of the orig. building? If they were NOT an arts organization I would have been lots less upset. But they remain an amazing group that does lots of good, but when one thinks of Gaudi and the Watts Towers, their outside could have served as a lovesong to their innards!.

Mark Barry said...

You really need to be more candid about the new building, annon. But since you like my work so much I'll forgive you. I don't disagree with you though, it really could have been more adventurous, as you say, definately Gaudi would have been a great influence and some outdoor ceramic sculptures. I've mentioned here before that American architecture more often than not can be quite restrained (boring).

Anonymous said...

I am charmed by the teapot on the pillow.

Mark Barry said...

As am I, laynaportugal, it was one of my favorites, very delicate. It reminded me of elfin furniture.