TASI brings art – gumbo style – to the heart of Southeast Texas
The Art Studio, Inc. (TASI) will host Gumbo Clayfest, a celebration of ceramic arts, July 6-8 at its gallery at 720 Franklin St. in downtown Beaumont. Clayfest is a public event featuring demonstrations and workshops for those interested in ceramic making or who simply wish to observe the fascinating process.
TASI executive director Greg Busceme says he was seduced by the call to forge a career in clay in the 1970s – a love that hasn’t faltered over the years. With this ceramics festival, Busceme hopes to help others cultivate a love of clay creations.
“Some of these artists I’ve known for many years, and some are more recent friends,” Busceme shares of artists invited to descend on southeast Texas the week of July 4. All the ceramists, he added, “are looking forward to coming to our community and I hope, I hope, I HOPE you want to meet them too.
“It will mean a lot to me that everyone comes to meet and learn from these generous ceramists and friends.”
Admission to the event is by donation only, regardless of the amount. There is a reason behind this “pay what you feel” approach, Busceme added, and it has to do with the inclusive nature of ceramic arts.
“Clay is one of the oldest arts,” Busceme said. “It’s a 20,000 year old art. From cooking pots to drinking vessels to sculptures, it was one of the first things humans did once they mastered fire and understood how clay reacted with it. It’s one of the things that made us human.
Presenting artists include Gary Greenberg of Clarion University; Patsy Cox, visual arts professor at California State University-Northridge; Danielle Weigandt, a pulp artist working in North Dakota; Stephen Wolochowicz, an artist specializing in abstract industrial forms with organic characteristics; and Steven Erickson, a New York-based artist working with large-scale clay constructions.
Gary “Greeny” Greenberg spent most of his formative years in the principal’s office, and as many years as he can get since then he’s stood in front of an oven. Featured in a multitude of publications and scholars over the past 52 years, Greenberg takes the humor of his work seriously.
“Although I am very serious in producing a work, I am convinced that it should contain an element of humor, reflecting the absurdities of life, in general, and art, in particular,” said explained Greenberg. “In that regard, all the time I spent in the principal’s office and all the time I spent watching The Three Stooges and The Marx Brothers hasn’t really been wasted.”
Patsy Cox, a Thai-born Bay Stater who grew up in Massachusetts, has exhibited her work from China to California — and beyond. Cox also holds a litany of titles, professor and director of ceramics at California State University-Northridge and past chairman of the National Board of Education for the Ceramic Arts, to name just two accolades.
Leaving his digs in Los Angeles for southeast Texas, Cox anticipated what TASI participants would find most useful in cultivating their own ceramics.
“Participants will learn how to create small plaster mother molds using alginate,” she shared. Topics covered will include creating and using stamps/strands and making colored clay bodies.
Stephen Wolochowicz was born and raised near Trenton, New Jersey, but toured America – attending the University of Ohio and Delaware, before taking on a teaching role at the University of Notre Dame, University of Central Missouri, and Central Michigan University. . He currently lives, works, and maintains a studio in Ogden, Utah, where he is an associate professor of ceramic art at Weber State University.
“The work I create is entirely made of ceramic material,” Wolochowicz explains. “My constructed forms are derived from abstractions and are inspired by a range of thoughts and objects that include the themes of industrialization, humor, games, politics and the environment. that I have these specific areas of interest that shape and define my practice, I find interesting how a viewer perceives and interprets my works.
Self-proclaimed army brat Danielle Weigandt, who is currently artist-in-residence at the University of North Dakota, has equated her art with the notion of “time.”
“What is time? You can’t see it, or hear it, or smell it, or touch it,” Weigandt muses. “It escapes all of our senses, but we all experience it. days. Time is omnipresent. For most, time is just a wall clock, a constant 24-hour cycle that resets and repeats itself over and over in an endless continuous loop.
“My art creatively shapes these ideas using art, geology and quantum mechanical physics. Like time itself, my work and these forms have no end in sight.
Chris Leonard arrived in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas in 1987 and soon began making big plans while living small. A teacher for decades, Leonard has also found a family of four, pets, and trying to find as much time as possible for his art keeps him very busy. Yet he has taken the time to help coordinate the South Texas Ceramic Showdown over the past decade, showcasing collaborative talent from participating schools inside and outside the Lone Star State, as well as workshops and exhibitions by established ceramic artists.
Steven Erickson went from studio manager at Greenwich House Pottery in New York, New York, to running a nonprofit organization focused on mentoring at-risk teens through a ceramics program, to now becoming a full-time studio artist living in upstate New York, exhibiting in galleries in New York and Pennsylvania.
“I make art because I love magic,” he said. “Making something appear out of nothing never bores me. I love how art brings together all the things I love, the mental exploration of ideas, solving the puzzle, and then the physical work of production of the final part.
Workshops/demonstrations will include working with paper mache clay, building clay pieces with coils and decorative glazing.
Gumbo Clayfest will start each day at 9am and end when the projects are finished. There is no registration required.
“We’ll stop letting people in when we hit the fire code limit!” said Busceme.
For more information, call TASI at (409) 838-5393.