Bowled over: Artists' vessels are rough and smooth


No two vessels look alike in the current exhibit at Baltimore Clayworks. "Surface + Forms" features 12 artists from around the country whose surface treatments of their vessels range from the rough integrity of earthenware to the glistening smoothness of porcelain.

At one end of the spectrum, an earthy texture and coloration characterize the plates and containers of Linda Christianson of Lyndstrom, Minn. Even earthier in appearance are the bowls of Robert Briscoe of Harris, Minn.; the surfaces of his vessels are covered with a network of fine cracks that remind one of parched soil.

By glossy contrast, Linda Sikora of Huston, Minn., makes teapots whose angles are as sharp as her colors are bright. She sometimes incorporates vineyard imagery to make the surfaces of her vessels seem cheerfully pastoral.

A number of the artists similarly take a painterly approach to vessels whose ceramic sides amount to curving canvases. Dan Finnegan of Fredericksburg, Va., covers his vessels with undulating lines and raised white dots. The exhibit's curator, Baltimore artist Peter Kaizer, is represented by vessels whose sides are marked by raised, squiggly lines that seem to sleekly move across the surface.

Matthew Metz, also of Huston, treats the nearly flat surface of one of his vessels as if it were a face by placing slightly indented eyes, a nose and a mouth there. Organic patterning on his other vessels reinforces the sense that something as inanimate as clay can be animated through its shaping and surface treatment.

If there generally is a painterly quality to the surface decoration in this show, Lisa Orr of San Antonio, Texas, is the most directly painterly of all. Her pieces include a bowl in which you'd expect to be served soup. Look inside the bowl and you'll see she has allowed streams of green, blue and brown paint to run down the sides and form a now-dried-up pool at the bottom. It's a soupy mix that owes as much to the palette as the kiln.

'Surface + Forms'

Where: Baltimore Clayworks, 5706 Smith Ave.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through Saturday.

Call: (410) 578-1919

Pub Date: 9/26/96

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