The inaugural Silver City Clay Festival celebrates a humble medium with an ambitious program.
by Harry Williamson
The 2012 Silver City Clay Festival, August 3-5, celebrates the humble material of clay, in all of its forms, showcasing tile, pottery and adobe. There will be three full days of workshops, demonstrations and lectures, featuring some of the nation's leading clay experts, along with sales and exhibits of clay art of all kinds, child-friendly activities, tours, films and receptions.
The website, www.clayfestival.com, is continually being updated with new information and activities, according to the event director, Lee Gruber, who along with her husband David Del Junco, owns Syzygy Tileworks in downtown Silver City. (See accompanying story)
The Clay Festival will feature two juried art shows:
Art Tile Show, juried by Alfredo Ratinoff, faculty member of the ceramics department at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The 130 tiles entered, from 52 artists, will be on display at five Silver City art galleries from August 3 until Sept. 3. An artists' reception is scheduled at Syzygy on August 2. The award for Best of Show is $1,000.
Neo-Mimbreño Exhibition, juried by Harry Shafer, who holds a PhD in anthropology and is professor emeritus at Texas AandM University. His books include Mimbres Archaeology at the NAN Ranch Ruin and Ancient Texas. The exhibition will feature works in all media influenced by the painted pottery of the prehistoric Mimbres culture, and will be on display at the Western New Mexico University Museum from August 5 through Sept. 5. A WNMU Black-On-White Gala Opening Reception is planned for August 4.
All of the demonstrations and lectures will be free and open to the public.
- Wren Nest Mural Installation, Bear Mountain Lodge, August 1 and 2, 9 a.m.-noon, each day: Linda Brewer. Those attending can help install this clay mural, depicting several species of wrens and hand-built by Brewer, onsite at the Bear Mountain Lodge.
- Clay Slip Decorating Techniques, Silver City Museum Annex, August 3, 1- 4:30 p.m.: Kate Brown.
- Taos Pueblo Building Techniques, Murray Hotel, August 3 and 4, 2-4 p.m.: Pam Lujan-Hauer. A member of the Taos Pueblo Tribe, Lujan-Hauer will demonstrate the building of both traditional and contemporary Taos Pueblo clay pots.
- Clay Shaping Techniques, Murray Hotel, August 3 and 4, 2-4 p.m.: Dan Lauer.
- Sgraffito Design Techniques, Murray Hotel, August 4, 1:30-4 p.m.: Beth Menczer. In this technique, Menczer paints on unfired ceramic bowls using a layer of contrasting slip, then scratches through the clay slip to produce an outline drawing.
- Wheel Throwing Techniques and Altered Forms, Seedboat Center for the Arts, August 3, 9 a.m.-noon: Dave Roberts.
- Carved Tile Techniques, Seedboat Center for the Arts, August 3, 9 a.m.-noon: Marcia Smith. Slabs of red clay are laid onto cement forms; Smith carves designs into the cay, cuts them out, and returns them to the piece for finishing. A ceramic bench, created with this technique, will be displayed.
- Bas Relief Custom Window Surround Installation, Seedboat Center for the Arts, August 4, 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. and again 10:30 a.m.-noon.
Lectures, all held at the Seedboat Center for the Arts, include:
- "Taos Pueblo Pottery" by Pam Lujan-Hauer, August 3, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
- "Why, Me? The Unexpected Sage of Mata Ortiz" by Spencer MacCallum, August 3, 11:30 a.m.-noon. MacCallum, noted author and social anthropologist, played a pivotal role in the economic development of the art-pottery village of Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico.
- "Contrast Within Traditions, New Mexico's Pueblo Potters" by Claude W. Smith III, August 3, 1-2 p.m. Smith is a retired Western New Mexico University professor who led the ceramics program.
- "Classic Mimbres Pottery: Technology, Function and Symbolism" by Harry J. Shafer, August 4, 11 a.m.-noon and again 1-2 p.m.
- "Brick by Brick: How Silver City Was Built to Last" by Susan Berry, August 3, 2:30-3:30 p.m. Barry is the co-author of Built to Last: An Architectural History of Silver City, New Mexico, and longtime director of the Silver City Museum.
- "Using Clay in Construction" by Catherine Wanek, August 4, 2:30-3:30 p.m. Wanek has written numerous books on natural and straw bale building, and is developing the Black Range Lodge in Kingston, NM, as a center for healthy living and summer workshops on natural building.
- "Tiles Out of the Blue" by Joseph A. Taylor, August 3 and 4, 4-5:30 p.m. each day. A writer and educator, Brown is the co-founder and current president of the Tile Heritage Foundation.
Workshops — Information (dates, times, locations and costs) and registration forms on the following workshops is available at www.clayfestival.com or by calling (575) 538-5560:
- Firing a Gas Kiln (three-day workshop) — Mariana Gasteyer-Roumell
- Clay Tiles for Mirrors — John McNulty
- Community Earth Oven Building — Sheila Menzies
- Fundamentals of Mata Ortiz Pottery — Edmundo Lopez and Luz Elva
- Design, Create, Install Ceramic Tile — Shel Neymark
- Relief Tile and Mold Workshop — Stephani Stephenson
- Create a "Found" Object d'Art Sculpture — Jean-Robert P. Be'ffort
- Sculpt a Ceramic Ocarina (Ancient Flute-like Instrument) — Zoe Wolfe
- Get Down… With Clay — Zoe Wolfe
- Surface! Think Beyond the Glaze — Zoe Wolfe
- Pinch Pots: Enclosed and Beyond — Zoe Wolfe
- Building Structures with Architectural Form — Cecelia Stanford
- Applying Mosaic to Foam/Concrete Sculptures — Cecelia Stanford
- Intensive Tile Making Workshop — Kate Brown.