Celebrate the handmade elegance of pottery at the Clay Studio in Goleta, where A Collector’s Eye: Selections from the Rupp Collection, the personal pottery collection of Chris Rupp, is on view through September 30.
Rupp (a well-regarded artist himself, as well as an instructor of art at Westmont College and collections manager at Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art) has been collecting pottery since 2000, when its relative affordability compared to other forms of art appealed to him as a recent college graduate at the time.
He explains his particular affinity for the rustic, artisanal look of pottery: “The thing I love about ceramics is seeing the hand in the handmade,” says Rupp. “I gravitate toward works that emphasize the hand of the person who made it.”
Rupp’s collection features work from about 80 of the most celebrated potters of our time, including Warren MacKenzie, Shōji Hamada, Bernard Leach, and Peter Voulkos, as well as a number of incredibly talented local artists like Norm Hendry and Oscar Bucher.
“While I appreciate ceramic sculpture, my longtime interest has been primarily in functional ware — things you would use to serve food or eat from,” says Rupp. “So one thing that is special about ceramics is that you can collect art you eat off of — not something you can do with a painting! I also feel strongly that handmade ceramics encourage people to slow down and to learn to look and appreciate something they take for granted. There is a quality in the handmade that you don’t get from dishes bought at department stores, and while some try to replicate the handmade, it is only a simulacrum of the real handmade item.”
His fondness for the functional is abundantly clear in his collection. Rows of colorfully hand-painted mugs stand, displaying eclectic patterns and round, smug-looking faces. Large dinner plates with sweeping brush strokes hang solemnly on the wall. Various vases and plates line the shelves, speckled with grooves and painted lines. Be sure to swing by to view this spectacularly diverse collection.
The Clay Studio (1351 Holiday Hill Rd., Goleta) is open weekdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and by appointment on weekends. Find out more at claystudiosb.org.