Posts Tagged ‘NCECA’

The baking dish.

Friday, January 14th, 2011

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Lee made meat loaf last week. It was divine as usual. It was the three way mix of beef, pork and turkey with her own special twist. She baked the meat mixture in an oval baking dish that has been in our home since I made it in 1985.
In 1985 I was a student in Brigham Young University’s MFA program. Here is a passage from an article I published a couple of years ago in Studio Potter telling the story of the pot featured above.
“One day in graduate school, I was working on a run of about a dozen baking dishes. I had them laid out on a table and was deciding how to glaze them when a professor passed through the room. He asked in a slightly irritated voice, “What is all this production work?” I mumbled something about Zen aesthetics and the Un- known Craftsman and kept on with my work. Later, when I was inspecting the finished pieces with my wife, she picked out one she wanted for our kitchen. The one she selected grew on me, and at her urging I photographed it and entered it in the 1985 NCECA Members’ Juried Exhibition. My piece was selected for the show. Word spread quickly in our ceramics department that I had gotten a piece into the NCECA show. Soon the same professor was in my studio, wanting to “talk about my work.”
I asked him if he remembered that run of “production work” that he had complained about. I then explained that he and I work differently to get to the same point. His approach involves a series of thumbnail sketches and maquettes, from which one is chosen to be executed full scale. I work by making a lot of pieces in series (read: production work), without a lot of con- scious thought given to each individual piece. After the firing I will select the one or two that have that “thing” that I can’t articulate but rec- ognize when I pick them up and examine them with my eyes and my hands.
When I was in San Antonio for the conference, a friend and I were visiting with a young woman who had a piece in the show. Her piece was an intellectually driven sculptural vessel that addressed how women are often tied to domestic drudgery in their traditional roles. It was a very smart and well executed piece and I enjoyed looking at it. She was not aware that I had a piece in the show when she said to us, “Did you see that “pot” in the show, you know, the casserole?” Her tone and diction didn’t speak of admiration, but of disdain. I wouldn’t have said anything, but my friend piped up, “Oh yeah, that is Joe’s piece.” She was embarrassed and I was amused. It was clear to me that my mundane pot, with its intentionally understated aesthetic and requiring touch and use for communication, was fighting an uphill battle for appreciation in that academic arena.”
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That was all a lot of years ago. The dish is still in use in our kitchen where it risks wear, tear and possible breakage, but it has the best life a pot can have.

Why I am not going to NCECA.

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Last April Lee and I went to NCECA in Phoenix together. We had a great time. We had a show together at the Marshall Gallery in Scottsdale. We had talked about attending the 2010 NCECA Conference in Philladelphia, PA. Then this letter came two weeks ago:
The letter starts like this:
Dear Joseph Bennion,
Thank you for submitting an application in the Grand Canyon National Park noncommercial river trip lottery. We are pleased to inform you that your lottery application was successful and we have scheduled a Standard trip for you to launch from Lees Ferry on February 26, 2010.”
Though the trip is listed as “Standard” (up to 16 participants) Lee and I are not taking anyone besides ourselves on this trip. We will launch on the date specified and run for 28 days to Pearce Ferry at mile 280 on the river. We have been sceming on this one for about three years, ever since we went down Cataract Canyon on a similar one boat, two person trip. It was one of the best things we had ever done and we decided then that we would do a trip like that in the Grand Canyon.
We submitted to the 2010 river permits lottery in February of 2009 and finally got lucky on January 9 this year. We have five more weeks to get ready. I’ll be throwing and firing a lot of pottery and going through gear. Lee is handling the logistics of gear rental, car schuttle arrangemnts and finding a house sitter. It will all come together on time.
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I’m sure you get the picture. We will be taking a commercial trip through the Canyon in June that still has seats open. Click here for details. See you there.

Arizona and back.

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Lee and I drove down to Phoenix/Scottsdale last week and hung our show at the Marshall Gallery and spent the week at the NCECA Conference. it was a great time. I saw dozens of old friends and made many new ones. We were selling Lee’s salve and our Grand Canyon river trip that will take place in June of 2010.
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This is NCECA, dinner and conversation with old and new friends, Ah Leon and Eric Serritella. I made pots for Creative Industries and they let us work out of their booth.
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Von Allen put together a show of BYU Ceramics graduates for the conference. As ever at that institution as was the token potter, a distinction I rather relish.
The show at the Marshall was nice. Ron Richmond and Doug Fryer, both neighbors and friends had work in the gallery and it played well against ours. Ron’s pieces worked especially well as he uses my pottery as props in a lot of his still life paintings.
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My pottery interspersed with Lee’s and Ron’s work.
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