Although the Tea Fire ravaged many parts of Westmont College’s campus, the school’s faculty and students have forged forward toward as much normalcy as possible. One of the departments affected by the fire was Reynolds Gallery, which, after being closed for two weeks, has reopened to the public. Rising from the ashes, both figuratively and literally, Reynolds is currently featuring the exhibition Ceramics: Form and Function as its annual fundraiser to support the gallery, one of Santa Barbara’s richest venues for the visual arts. For gallery hours and info, call 565-6162 or visit westmont.edu/reynolds_gallery. And read on for some more about the show.
1) Because art can be accessible: The exhibition features guest curator Chris Rupp, a sculpture professor in Westmont’s Art Department and a ceramic collector and potter. Initially invited by the Reynolds Gallery’s former director, Tony Askew, to curate a ceramic show in 2004, this is Rupp’s third turn as curator in six years. Rupp chose the works of 14 internationally renowned artists for the show that represent diversity in style, scale, and technique, offering the Santa Barbara community an opportunity “to see work of this caliber in person, outside of books and magazine publications.”
2) There are many ways to get fired up about ceramics: There’s an irony to the focus of the exhibition, which features artwork borne by hours spent baking in the high, fiery temperatures of the kiln. The accidental correlation with one of nature’s most intense chemical processes provides a unique context for the show. Some of the artists included, like S.B. potter James Haggerty, rely on the unpredictability of the firing process to achieve distinctive results. Haggerty is a master of the Persian Luster technique, which requires firing the pot several times to encourage the finish to bubble and crack, giving the final product an iridescent surface with a tactile texture. Jon Dix, an American artist living in Japan, relies on the falling ash and flame to produce the glaze effect on his pieces, which spend up to seven days in the kiln.
3) Variety is always a good thing: Rupp explained, “One of the things I love about ceramics is that each potter uses pretty much the exact same medium: clay. Yet the work has so much variety and character from artist to artist.” And since many of the pieces in the show are for sale, some starting as low as $25, beginning your own collection with character has never been easier.