The Blog

Portraits and ponderings from the writing desk of Jill Foote-Hutton.

Summertime Slump Jolted by the Bowery

If bloggers had a nickel for every time they apologized for a lapse in posting...
Betty Woodman

So just to get back in the swing of posting from May's trilogy, let's take a moment to consider the recent exhibition Paul Clay now showing at Salon 94 Bowery. A friend sent me a link to the exhibit at the beginning of the month and there have been several facebook posts about the exhibit. We live in an age too jaded/savvy for folks to come out and overtly bash just about anything, especially an art exhibit. The case may better be put that this exhibit seems to cause a wave of nervous titters across the cocktail party.
Raphael de Villers
My friend asked me, "What do you think about this exhibit?"

After letting the show cook in my head for a couple of weeks and reading and re-reading Roberta Smith's review I came up with the following reply,

"I had to think about your question. And then I saw the exhibition again, but now paired with Roberta Smith's review.

Of course, your question makes me want to ask you, 'What do YOU think of this?'

As usual, I think a lot of things about it. I thought, 'Who is doing Betty Woodman impressions!'

'Oh, hey look, it's Betty Woodman doing Betty Woodman with remnants of Laotian fabrics.'

Then I lived with them for a bit in my mind, and they began to delight me. But she always has delighted me.

I think the masses in the field of ceramics run the risk of repeating the crimes (and I use the term relatively loosely) of the past when they turn their noses up at shows like this. Is the current generation of ceramist going to be like the allegorical realists who scoffed at Whistler? at Gauguin?

What I believe is this: these artists are not bound by a deified respect for the material. The makers in Paul Clay are chewing up the material and spitting it out in mostly guttural ways. I do believe such a process is the best way to find the limits of a medium and that when restraint is displayed in this particular exhibition, it seems to be coming from the artists who are most familiar with the material.

The curatorial statement, says much the same, 'These artists play dirty, unafraid to push their material.'

I believe a lot of working ceramists, think they are pushing material, but more often than not it's just a dance within established parameters. Even when the dance is lovely and eloquent, it's often not breaking new ground. Then when the majority seems to believe innovation is invoked, it's only innovative within the field of ceramics and not the field of art.

It's necessary to let those who can macerate and/or eviscerate the material. Then we might learn something new. It won't always be pleasant to watch. Our sensibilities will be tried most certainly!

SO! My friend what do you think?

Oh, and my faves? Definitely Betty Woodman, but also: Raphael de Villers, Takuro Kuwata, William J OBrien and, of course, Andrew Lord

Still not sure I can get my head around the likes of Naoki Koide though."
Naoki Koide

Well? What's your opinion?