Art lovers, take note. It's time for the annual pilgrimage officially dubbed the ASU Ceramic Studio Tour. This 14th annual event, presented by the ASU Art Museum Ceramic Research Center, features two days of self-guided studios tours and demonstrations by dozens of ceramic artists. It's a chance to look behind the scenes, learn more about local artists, and meet fellow folk of the art ilk.
The 2015 ASU Ceramic Studio Tour takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 21, and Sunday, February 22. Fourteen sites, mostly artist studios, are opening their doors so people can see where and how local ceramics get crafted. The line-up includes four sites in Phoenix, plus additional sites in Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, and Chandler.
Tempe options include the ASU School of Art Graduate Ceramics Studio at 730 S. Alpha Drive in Tempe and the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center & Brickyard Gallery, where you'll find an exhibition called "Fusion: Three Views/One Collection" featuring 22 works from the center's permanent collection selected by ASU ceramics faculty member Susan Beiner, Samuel Chung, and Kurt Weiser. Each is exhibiting one of their own personal pieces as well.
There's a lot of ground to cover, so it's best to consider your strategy before heading out the door. Start by deciding whether you want to stick close to home or venture to parts of the Valley with arts scenes you rarely make time to explore. Nifty online materials include a one-page list of tour studios complete with names of hosting artists and the guest artists joining them during the event -- plus a map showing each studio's location in the Valley.
Here's the breakdown of hosting studios/artists by city:
Phoenix: Patricia Sannit, Char Applen, Deborah Hodder, and Halldor Hjalmarson Scottsdale: Jan Peterson, Nicholas Bernard, and Julius Forzano Tempe: Sandy Blain, plus the two ASU venues Mesa: Greg Wenz and Farraday Newsome/Jeff Reich Gilbert: Beth Shook Chandler: Diane Watkins
Each artist host has one or more guest artists joining them for the event. Nine guest artists are participating at the ASU School of Art Graduate Ceramics Studio.
No worries if you're not familiar with artists featured on the tour. Just go with the flow, enjoying a bit of art-infused serendipity, or search artist websites and Facebook pages ahead of time if you'd rather know before you go which sorts of works you'll be seeing. You'll find a little of everything on the tour -- including functional pieces ranging from teapot to serving plate.
Several participating artists are offering works for sale, making this a fun way to snag gifts for upcoming occasions from birthdays to weddings. A portion of all sales is donated to the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center, which "provides teaching and research for the hands-on study and enjoyment of ceramics." Translation: Ceramics are cool; let's keep them coming.
If you're doing the Third Friday art walk in Phoenix on February 20, hit the Roosevelt A.R.T.S. Market to see Sannit's work exhibited inside Halt Gallery, one of three shipping containers transformed into sleek exhibition space. It's fun to see artists' works on exhibit, then go behind the scenes to see how they work their magic.
Folks with a heart for art in Roosevelt Row may want to start their weekend ceramics jaunt with a visit to Halldor Hjalmarson's studio near Central and McDowell. In years past, visitors have been enamored by the small ceramics disks he uses as business cards -- which bear images of small treasures in the natural world.
Those who've seen the new contemporary craft exhibition at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum may want to kick things off at Indigo Street Pottery in Mesa, where married artists Farraday Newsome and Jeff Reich created ceramics featured in the show. It's a fun launching point as well for those who say Newsome's citrus-laden vessels inside the Phoenix Sky Harbor Intermational Airport Museum Gallery during holiday travels.
Wherever you start, keep an eye out for public art and other unexpected fun finds along the way. This weekend's studio tour is a great excuse to slow down and appreciate the art all around us. Nearby galleries, museums, and local businesses will enjoy seeing your smiling faces too.
If learning a bit more about how ceramics are actually made sounds intriguing, check out the schedule of artist demonstrations -- which includes more than three dozen choices each day.
Some of our favorite demo options include Sam Hodges making small figurative sculpture, Priya Thoresen doing pinch pots, Elliott Kayser sculpting animals, Ann Orlando doing mini-house building, and Esmeralda DeLaney making handmade tiles and mosaics. Greg Wenz is offering a continuous demonstration of process, technique, and aesthetics both days.
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If you're all about technique, check out surface decoration techniques with Linda Painter, wheel throwing with Larron Lerdall, sculpting with wheel-thrown parts with Katheryn Sins, handbuilding with Dan Lin, throwing "off the hump" with Julius Forzano, and more.
Never mind if you think throwing "off the hump" means moving past that ugly midweek workday while inching closer to Friday's happy dance. You needn't be a ceramics expert to attend this weekend's tour, although being ceramics curious is encouraged.
You'll find one-page lists of studio tours and artist demonstrations, plus a map of the Phoenix metro area showing each location, on the ASU Art Museum website.