I know, there are lots of things to do… Spring is in the air, summer is on the brain… But don’t let another important exhibition deadline slip past you. NCECA’s (first ever) Annual Exhibition, entitled “The Evocative Garden” and curated/juried by Gail M. Brown, will be held during the 2017 conference in Portland, Oregon, and the deadline for entry is just days away – June 15, 2016.
This new exhibition format replaces the alternating NCECA Biennial and Invitational exhibitions, and seeks to blend impactful attributes of each of the previous models while also cultivating opportunity for curatorial practice in regard to ceramic art. Each year NCECA’s Exhibitions Director will choose a curator/juror to develop a theme and invite 5 artists from the field to participate. The remaining artists will be ajudicated from a pool of applicants.
While in Portland last week with the NCECA board, I had the pleasure of visiting the future home of “The Evocative Garden”: Disjecta Contemporary Art Center. Disjecta, whose mission is to “build ambitious programs that promote artists and engage communities” boasts 3500 square feet of professional exhibition space, beautiful vaulted ceilings, and the reputation of being “one of the region’s most vibrant contemporary art centers.” (as seen above)
So if this isn’t the dangling carrot, then let me tell you a little bit more about the exhibition. You might not be able to tell, but “The Evocative Garden” was inspired by the NCECA 2017 theme, Future Flux. Gail intentionally decided that she wanted the exhibition to somewhat stand in contrast to “the future” and its digital age, and immerse viewers in the natural world. She invited five artists to set the tone: Megan Bogonovich, Jess Riva Cooper, Kim Dickey, Linda Sormin and Dirk Staschke. About the exhibition, Gail states, “A breadth of implied and articulated dramas will be staged as a personally defined natural landscape or more formalized garden scenario. In works of ceramic sculpture, installation, object and vessel format, each participant will offer a new or recent work- some potent objects-as-metaphors, with sub-text and, others as choreographed scenes with figuration or the figure/s implied in a verdant location, in vocabularies from nuanced realism to personal symbolism. Each will be designed to reference an array of issues- nature’s fragility and sustainability, the wild and the tame, life’s appetites and dilemmas, conflict and resolution, the everlasting and the temporal- social and historic events, of the natural world and the human condition. Artists remind us that nature and the articulated garden, as context, stimulation and tactile allure, is a seductive, universal, ever present enticement.”
Gail Brown also pointed out that Portland identifies itself as The City of Roses. It abounds with lush public and private gardens and the climate to nurture them. Therefore, she seeks submissions that “visually define a garden allusion, as subject, context or setting, according to their own narrative and ceramic vocabulary.”
What a garden is or can be is as bountiful as the possibilities in clay. So, don’t let the lure of lazy days in the sun let this deadline slip you by. Apply by June 15th!
My first memorable NCECA was the 1995 Minneapolis, Minnesota conference. This was before cell phones, and Mark Zuckerberg was 10 years old and he hadn’t yet revolutionized the way we communicate, and galleries were the only game in town. Minneapolis was a vessel-heavy NCECA with more galleries with great work than one could possibly take in. I was an undergraduate student at the time and I remember being fully inspired by all the vessels and atmospheric fired ceramics. Things were happening in ceramics in the northern reaches of the Midwestern United States. This was an era when the Mingeisota school in American ceramics evolved out of the impactful work of Warren Mackenzie, Linda Christianson, and Jeff Oestreich among others. Their influences on me were potent, and it was during this NCECA conference that I committed myself to making pottery.
My next memorable NCECA conference was 2004 in Indianapolis, Indiana. That was the conference where I was one of the emerging artists. I don’t remember much due to the level of stress and fear that I felt being on stage in front of my peers. I had since gone to graduate school at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, and my thesis focused on sculptural vessels. My presentation was well received and Mark Zuckerberg was 18 years old.
In 2002 Art Basel, a premier art fair in Europe since 1970, made its debut in Miami Beach, Florida. Just two years later in 2004, Facebook was launched, followed in 2010 by Instagram’s arrival. This brief, recent time period parallels the proliferation of art fairs around the world: there were 68 art fairs in 2005 and 189 in 2011. Shifts were taking place both in how we communicate and how art and artists reach their markets.
In 2009, Red Lodge Clay Center participated in the Gallery Expo at the Phoenix / Tempe NCECA conference, and I felt honored that my work was featured there along with many other artists whose work inspires me. Galleries were still the predominant way for artists to gain exposure and sell work. In 2009, I posted my first Facebook image after Ben Ahlvers told me to check out this thing called social media. The gallery as the principal gatekeeper was quickly changing with the advent of social media.
While social media changed the landscape, and in my view for the better, we still need each other; we’re all in this together, artists, galleries and patrons. We are an interconnected ecosystem. While social media has changed how art is viewed and purchased, social media alone doesn’t have the synergistic energy of another person or entity advocating for the artist. Relationships are built on trust and when an artist and a gallery come together with similar values, both benefit. The Gallery Expo at the Portland conference is a perfect opportunity for galleries to showcase this synergistic relationship, at a professional level, between artists and patrons and to educate future artists and makers of the benefits of gallery representation.
It’s been my association with galleries that has raised my status and legitimacy as an artist and maker. I use social media to promote and sometimes sell my work, but it’s more often my relationship with a prominent gallery that closes the deal. My trusted gallery adds credibility to my work, and because of my gallery, my work has found a home in many significant art collections.
I’m thrilled to be a part of NCECA and pleased that my role is to facilitate the Gallery Expo. It’s my hope that galleries will continue to add to the commercial and educational component of NCECA, and that artists can find the gallery that best suits their work and values. My association with galleries has only improved my exposure to a wider audience and I look forward to helping NCECA and the Gallery Expo evolve to embrace the ever-changing world of ceramic art collecting and advocacy.
As Gallery Expo has become a more sought after avenue to exhibit work during the NCECA conference, we will sometimes face very difficult decisions about which venues to include. I am thrilled that Ben Ahlvers of the Lawrence Art Center and NCECA Fellow Susan Harris will work with me to identify a solid and complementary collection of exhibitors representing work that is compelling and varied. I consider them a dream team in their experience, depth of knowledge, and breadth of understanding about what is happening in contemporary ceramic art.
The deadline for venues that wish to be part of NCECA’s 2017 Gallery Expo in Portland, Oregon is Wednesday, June 20, 2016. Visit http://nceca.net/nceca-calls-and-exhibitions/gallery-expo-call/ to learn more about submitting a proposal.
FUTURE FLUX, the 51st annual NCECA conference takes place in Portland, Oregon in 2017. Although it seems a long way off, it will be here before we know it!
NCECA is committed to the exhibition and expansion of contemporary ceramic practice including diverse approaches that range from utilitarian and designed objects to sculpture, installations, site-specific works and performative events.
Concurrent Exhibitions (CEs) are an important feature of NCECA’s annual conference experience bringing high visibility to the work of participating artists. NCECA seeks exhibition proposals that have conceptual resonance with the theme of its 51st annual conference, Future Flux. As we pass beyond NCECA’s first fifty years, the interconnection of mind, materials, and transformation at the heart of ceramic process, art and education can serve as trailheads to our future.
Click here to learn more and apply today
Deadline is February 3rd! Do not delay!