NCECA for First Timers: Claytopia online edition

NCECA for First Timers: Claytopia online edition

Many years ago, Steve Hilton, (then NCECA’s Programs Director) had the idea for NCECA to offer a special session directed at first time attendees.  And he “nominated” me to present it.  It was pretty popular, so I continued to present that session for the next three years I think.  But in that time, I realized that it would be MOST helpful if new folks could get the information BEFORE the conference.  So then, i created a video of my complete presentation and posted it in advance of the conference.  Old versions from previous conferences are still floating around out there, but I’m excited to announce that I have just completed the 2019 Claytopia-specific video, and you can watch it right here.  If you find you still have questions after viewing, please post them here so that I can answer them for everyone.   Or if your question is more specific, feel free to email me directly at I try really hard to respond to any/all emails within a day.

Scenic Western Suburb Home to Noteworthy Shows and More

As is the case with all NCECA conferences there are so many great exhibitions to see. With shows both in and outside the host city it is always difficult to decide what where to go. When it comes to NCECA in Minneapolis consider heading to the suburbs to check out an exhibition. There are a number of excellent show venues nestled in the vibrant burbs that are sure to inspire.

One trip that is well worth your time is a drive out west to Wayzata and Minnetonka. Approximately a twenty-five minute drive from the convention center The Minnetonka Center for the Arts will host two shows in their spacious gallery. Renovated in 2002, this nonprofit serves their creative community in a spacious, architecturally attractive building situated near the coast of beautiful Lake Minnetonka. As well Bob Bowman, their Exhibits Director and Retail Manager, has curated a showcase of sculptural and functional ceramics on view in a unique and unexpected venue.

What to see?
The first show is curated by Peter Held, the exhibition Lost & Found will highlight a selection of work by Chris Gustin and Don Reitz. The show will also include “Lost Works”, five posthumous collaborations between the artists.

Exhibitions on view March 11–April 4
Reception: Thursday, March 28, 6:00–9:30pm
Exhibitions on view March 11–April 4
Lost & Found: Reitz + Gustin Collaborations


If that is not enough to entice you to take a scenic lakeside drive, within the same space you will also be able to take in the show Warren MacKenzie + John Reeve: Kindred Spirits, curated by LaiSun Keane, Lucy Lacoste and Nora Vaillant. Highlighting two legendary proponents of the Mingei aesthetic, this exhibit features works by lifelong friends Warren MacKenzie and John Reeve.

Exhibitions on view March 11–April 4
Reception: Thursday, March 28, 6:00–9:30pm
Exhibitions on view March 11–April 4
Warren MacKenzie + John Reeve: Kindred Spirits


Finally, merging retail therapy and an art experiences, Minnetonka Center for the Arts has also curated a self guided tour of Minnesota ceramic artists’ work in the Ridgedale Mall. Yes, in the mall! Visitors to the show Clay. Here. Now. can grab a map at the entrance and lead themselves through a tour of work by 30 artists.

On view March 15–April 19
Ridgedale Center


Where to eat?
If you are hungry, Wayzata is a growing upscale foodie hotbed. There are many options sure to fit your budget and food preferences. Here are a few options to get you started:

Bellecour – Incredible bakery, named for Place Bellecour, the bustling town center in Lyon, France and attached to a full service restaurant, their pastries, soups and sandwiches are sure to please.

Baja Haus – A california inspired oasis with and endless summer beach vibe this joint is perfect for the taco-loving, tequila and mezcal aficionado.

Wayzata Brew Works – felling thirsty? This brewery has great brews and views of Lake Minnetonka from both the interior and outdoor patio.

Birch’s on the Lake – From private dining, supper club, to bar this brewery meets supper club has a menu and many options sure to suit your eating and drinking needs.

Crisp & Green – With a selection of signature salads, bowls, and smoothies, this budget friendly health conscious option is a great way to catch a bite out west.


Beyond the Conference: 2019 Pre/Post Conference Options

Beyond the Conference: 2019 Pre/Post Conference Options

NCECA 2019 in Minneapolis is just around the corner. As you plan your trip consider enhancing your experience with a Pre/Post Conference workshop. These events are not organized by NCECA. Instead they are planned and offered by the local clay community in the Twin Cities and surrounding area. These workshop options are a way for participants to connect with each other while learning from knowledgeable makers in the ceramics field. They are a great way to meet other clay enthusiast and build excitement ahead of the conference.

March 22-25
Wood Fire Workshop with Jack Troy, Donovan Palmquist and Colleen Riley.
Spend the weekend before 2019 NCECA glazing, loading and firing a wood kiln in Minnesota with renowned potter/author Jack Troy (PA), kiln builder/potter Donovan Palmquist (MN), and potter/glaze fanatic Colleen Riley (MN). The bourry box wood kiln is designed to be versatile, efficient and easy to fire, providing a wide range of effects, from heavy ash to bright flashing, and even colorful glazed surfaces. Jack is known worldwide for his wood fired ceramics, writings, and poetry. We look forward to his delightful stories and observations about all things clay. Donovan (owner of Master Kiln Builders) will share his knowledge of kilns and wood firing techniques. Before loading, Riley will lead a session on glazing for the wood/soda chamber, with time for participants to experiment with more colorful surfaces. Additional talks and demonstrations will be held during the firing. This is sure to be an inspiring weekend for ceramic artists of all levels of wood firing experience. Participation is limited to 12.

Schedule: Friday, March 22 to Monday, March 25; unload kiln on Saturday, March 30.

Cost: $500, excluding housing. Firing costs, materials, snacks and most meals are included. Colleen and Donovan are happy to provide a list of nearby housing options.

Registration: Visit the website for more details and registration information. Or, email Donovan and Colleen at

Eureka Pots/Studio of Donovan Palmquist and Colleen Riley
27607 Grenada Avenue
Farmington, MN 55024

March 25 & 26
Animal Portraits, Print, Pattern and Paper Porcelain: In conjunction with the exhibition Urban Parallel: Ceramics in Scotland, Susan O’Byrne will be demonstrating her making methods at Artistry and running the master workshop Animal Portraits, Print, Pattern and Paper-Porcelain. Over two days Susan will demonstrate working on a nichrome wire armature, building with thin sheets of paper-porcelain and printing and collaging the surface of her forms. The master workshop will allow participants the opportunity to experiment with these techniques and make work in the style of her animal portraits on view through out March at Artistry. The techniques Susan uses in her work combine ways of making normally associated with papier-mâché, textiles, and collage. O’Byrne is a Scottish based ceramic artist. She specializes in the making of allegorical animal forms and has developed a unique set of making processes which aim to articulate human sensitivity.

Full two-day workshop, including Demo: 9:30am – 5:00pm each day (Artist Talk and
Demo separately open to an audience for reduced fee).

Demo Cost: $60-80
Workshop Cost: $345-395 (Materials fees may be included).

Monday, March 25
Artist talk and slide presentation from 9:30-11:15am
Demo with hour lunch break: 11:30am-4:00pm.

Artistry Theater and Visual Arts, Bloomington Center for the Arts,
1800 W. Old Shakopee Rd.,
Bloomington, MN 55431

Contact Sarah Beggs
Handicap Accessible

March 26
The Socially Engaged Craft Collective, in partnership with the School of Art and Design at  Minneapolis College, is excited to announce a day of workshops, panels, and participation with Cross Pollination: an NCECA pre-conference for artists and educators about socially engaged craft, pedagogy, and artistic action.

Cross pollination suggests exchange and interchange, collaborative action and genetic recombination. Craft and education, art and society are each varietals of humanity’s richest plants. The conference will record, report, conceptualize and enact cross pollination between disciplines and methods, cultures and ideas, objects and people. We aim to speak to interdisciplinary, remixing, intersectionality, and novel combinations while considering traditional and emergent theories of making and teaching.

A one-day participatory conference experience, Cross Pollination will incorporate expert voices from both craft and social engagement perspectives. Participants will find resources and emerging ideas for their art practices and classrooms through panel discussions, lectures and interactive learning experiences. Breakout sessions will focus on the following: Communities (Engaging in Cross-Sector Collaboration); Pedagogy (Engagement and Collaboration in Learning); Idea Generation (Socially Engaged Craft in Practice); and Logistics (the “How To” of Socially Engaged Craft including Ethics and Sustainability).

Date:  Tuesday, March 26, 2019 from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Location:  Minneapolis College, near Loring Park and the Minneapolis Convention Center in downtown Minneapolis

Cost: $75

Registration will open January 1.  Please visit Minneapolis College Continuing Education for more information.

**A certificate of completion from the School of Art and Design at Minneapolis College will be available to educators interested in professional development credit.