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Two Potters Inspired by Oil


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#1 OffCenter

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 08:23 AM

I'm interested in hearing what people on this forum think of the "Is This as Good as it Gets?" letter in the new Ceramics Monthly (Oct. 2011). Basically it accuses Michale Schmidt of plagiarising Dan Anderson's work.

Jim
E pur si muove.

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#2 OffCenter

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 05:26 PM

I'm interested in hearing what people on this forum think of the "Is This as Good as it Gets?" letter in the new Ceramics Monthly (Oct. 2011). Basically it accuses Michale Schmidt of plagiarising Dan Anderson's work.

Jim



I guess that was too hard. I should have asked a question more appropriate for this forum such as "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?"

Jim
E pur si muove.

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#3 Sherman

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 08:04 AM

Jim, it's a sticky question. I can believe that most folks have an opinion (if they are familiar with the work), but maybe don't want to wade in---especially in an online forum. I can tell you we have received one letter in response to Mr. Kovatch's letter so far, but it only addresses the issue of copying with respect to learning and training. Of course, my own response is that we would not have published the work if we felt it was plagiarism, but then my point of view on this is pretty much what Mr. Kovatch is disagreeing with. In short, I suppose I said my piece and he said his and here we are...
I do appreciate you bringing this up, because I think there are some things he mentioned in his letter that are continuing topics of interest in this field, which basically boil down to the idea of copying to learn and knowing how/when to leave that behind. So many of us see what we do as working within a tradition, and that can encourage study by way of imitation. I know this does not get to the center of your question, but perhaps the conversation can be encouraged by me asking you if you think we should have published that letter. I know it was strong, and discussion and conversation is always what we hope for through the Letters column, but perhaps Mr. Kovatch took such a strong position that most folks would feel daunted by addressing the issues he presents. Or maybe he's just right? Back to you.

Respectfully,

Sherman
Sherman Hall
Editor, Ceramics Monthly
Co-host, Ceramic Arts Daily
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#4 JLowes

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 11:59 AM


I'm interested in hearing what people on this forum think of the "Is This as Good as it Gets?" letter in the new Ceramics Monthly (Oct. 2011). Basically it accuses Michale Schmidt of plagiarising Dan Anderson's work.

Jim



I guess that was too hard. I should have asked a question more appropriate for this forum such as "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?"

Jim



A Pterocarpus because I like the red of Paduak wood. But seriously, it could be that, like me, some folks may be waiting for their CM to arrive. You must have been an early adopter and get yours a lot earlier than this new suscriber. I suppose I could have gone online with my mailing label to look this up, but I thought I would wait. I am really interested and am also a fan of Michael Schmidt. My favorite drinking tumbler in the cabinet is a soda fired one of his with some nice carbon trapping.

Personally, I don't care much for the oil related work of anyone, but in looking at Mr. Anderson's work on Google images, I would not immediately match the two up any more than I would with say, Franks James Fisher's work. Once my CM gets in, I will look up the letter and ponder this some more.

John

#5 OffCenter

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 01:43 PM

Jim, it's a sticky question. I can believe that most folks have an opinion (if they are familiar with the work), but maybe don't want to wade in---especially in an online forum. I can tell you we have received one letter in response to Mr. Kovatch's letter so far, but it only addresses the issue of copying with respect to learning and training. Of course, my own response is that we would not have published the work if we felt it was plagiarism, but then my point of view on this is pretty much what Mr. Kovatch is disagreeing with. In short, I suppose I said my piece and he said his and here we are...
I do appreciate you bringing this up, because I think there are some things he mentioned in his letter that are continuing topics of interest in this field, which basically boil down to the idea of copying to learn and knowing how/when to leave that behind. So many of us see what we do as working within a tradition, and that can encourage study by way of imitation. I know this does not get to the center of your question, but perhaps the conversation can be encouraged by me asking you if you think we should have published that letter. I know it was strong, and discussion and conversation is always what we hope for through the Letters column, but perhaps Mr. Kovatch took such a strong position that most folks would feel daunted by addressing the issues he presents. Or maybe he's just right? Back to you.

Respectfully,

Sherman


My reaction to Mr. Kovatch’s letter was similar to his reaction to seeing pictures of Michael Schmidt’s work for the first time: “It really infuriated me that Pewabic Pottery and Ceramics Monthly celebrated Mr. Schmidt’s work.” His letter really infuriated me.

While I agree with some of the points Mr. Kovatch makes in his letter, only in an exhibition of ignorance can they be associated with Michael Schmidt. Schmidt is the very opposite of the lazy tenured professor regurgitating the ideas of others. He is one of the most creative potters working today. While he is nationally known for his exploration of the petroleum industry, his work ranges from traditional huge platters to cutting-edge cast cups.

Sure, over the years I’ve noticed the similarity of Schmidt’s and Anderson’s oil-inspired pots, but never for a moment thought of it as more than two potters with similar interests. If two potters are making pots that are takeoffs of the oil industry, you shouldn’t be surprised that among the many pots they do are some similar pots that look like beat-up oilcans with an oil company logo.

I am surprised that it has taken Mr. Kovatch so long to discover Michael Schmidt. It’s hard to find one of Lark’s popular 500 series ceramic books that doesn’t include at least one example of Michael Schmidt’s work. Take a look at them. They show the work of an artist who is interested in old metal signs, logos, and typography -- not plagiarism.

Yes, just as Mr. Kovatch knows Dan Anderson, I know Michael Schmidt. We exhibit at some of the same shows in the Southeast. Also, I studied pottery at Valdosta State, but that was probably before Michael was even conceived.

Jim Sandefur
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#6 ErikHaagensen

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 12:21 PM

I found Mr. Kovatch's letter to be presumptuous, intellectually sloppy, and unnecessarily rude. Here are some questions I would like to seem him respond to...

Who owns the intellectual property rights to the logos, the companies in question or Dan Anderson?
Is it ever appropriate to use another artist's work as a starting point from which to reinterpret, advance, wander, etc?
Doesn't plagiarism refer to an exact copy? Are you accusing Mr. Schmidt of making an exact copy of a specific work?
What is his base of authority for instructing a gallery curator what their curatorial responsibility is? Isn't deciding that part of being the curator?
Why in leveling such public criticism are you so focused on one particular piece and not the artist's entire body of work?

Overall I was unimpressed with the quality of his thinking and writing, which is too bad, because the overall theme of his note raises questions that should intrigue the field. But he needlessly distracts with poor argumentation, and oversimplification. I think he might have taken a bit more time with his research and chosen a better example, which if ceramics was honest with itself, we would admit it would not be hard to find.

It would be interesting to see more coverage of the topic, just more thoughtfully executed.

#7 Big Electric Cat

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 02:52 PM

Hi Jim,
I have not responded to to your question, because I have not read that letter. I am not a subscriber, and our local libraries do not carry it, and the Borders where I used to peruse/buy issues is gone, so I am "out of the loop". So it's not that I have no opinion, I just am not fully up to speed on the issue at hand.
I have some opinions about copying, but they might be better expressed in Lucille's thread on that subject.

SHERMAN! - With regard to CM publishing that letter, I can say, even without having read it, that it SHOULD be published,as I feel that it encourages discussion, without which no human endeavor can thrive and prosper. I know, from being a collector of past issues of CM, that almost every past issue had a letter from someone raising a hue and cry about the state of ceramics, as represented in the last issue or so. This was always good, in my opinion, as it stimulated thoughts, and a bit of argy-bargy is always good for any subject. There are some publications ( I won’t name names, in the interest of .. oh what the heck- American Craft) in which they only publish facebook posts and tweets, and if you read them, everything is JUST FINE, nothing in the craft world should be changed or questioned, and the magazine is just doing a “super, super job”. I doubt whether the majority of that magazine’s readers have ever sat on chairs.



Anyway, maybe the letter could be posted by someone from CM, so we could all have a peek, and then weight in with “learned” and certainly “well-reasoned” opinions.
"Free yourself - that leash is long,long,long!"
-YeahYeahYeahs

#8 Sherman

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 03:02 PM

Hi Jim,
I have not responded to to your question, because I have not read that letter. I am not a subscriber, and our local libraries do not carry it, and the Borders where I used to peruse/buy issues is gone, so I am "out of the loop". So it's not that I have no opinion, I just am not fully up to speed on the issue at hand.
I have some opinions about copying, but they might be better expressed in Lucille's thread on that subject.

SHERMAN! - With regard to CM publishing that letter, I can say, even without having read it, that it SHOULD be published,as I feel that it encourages discussion, without which no human endeavor can thrive and prosper. I know, from being a collector of past issues of CM, that almost every past issue had a letter from someone raising a hue and cry about the state of ceramics, as represented in the last issue or so. This was always good, in my opinion, as it stimulated thoughts, and a bit of argy-bargy is always good for any subject. There are some publications ( I won’t name names, in the interest of .. oh what the heck- American Craft) in which they only publish facebook posts and tweets, and if you read them, everything is JUST FINE, nothing in the craft world should be changed or questioned, and the magazine is just doing a “super, super job”. I doubt whether the majority of that magazine’s readers have ever sat on chairs.



Anyway, maybe the letter could be posted by someone from CM, so we could all have a peek, and then weight in with “learned” and certainly “well-reasoned” opinions.


Herb, of course I agree with your astute, well-reasoned observation that discussion is important. And less-than-glowing letters are more interesting and often more informative than their friendlier, cheer-leading counterparts (that's my job, anyway). That said, since Mr. Kovatch's letter was submitted for publication in CM, I really don't feel comfortable posting it outside that format without his knowledge---even though he may, in fact, approve.

BUT--if you promise to subscribe to our fantastic magazine, I could find a way to send you a copy of the issue in question. Oh, so sneaky...

Be well,
Sherman
--one subscriber at a time--
Sherman Hall
Editor, Ceramics Monthly
Co-host, Ceramic Arts Daily
http://www.ceramicsmonthly.org

#9 OffCenter

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 10:08 PM

Hi Jim,
I have not responded to to your question, because I have not read that letter. I am not a subscriber, and our local libraries do not carry it, and the Borders where I used to peruse/buy issues is gone, so I am "out of the loop". So it's not that I have no opinion, I just am not fully up to speed on the issue at hand.
I have some opinions about copying, but they might be better expressed in Lucille's thread on that subject.

SHERMAN! - With regard to CM publishing that letter, I can say, even without having read it, that it SHOULD be published,as I feel that it encourages discussion, without which no human endeavor can thrive and prosper. I know, from being a collector of past issues of CM, that almost every past issue had a letter from someone raising a hue and cry about the state of ceramics, as represented in the last issue or so. This was always good, in my opinion, as it stimulated thoughts, and a bit of argy-bargy is always good for any subject. There are some publications ( I won’t name names, in the interest of .. oh what the heck- American Craft) in which they only publish facebook posts and tweets, and if you read them, everything is JUST FINE, nothing in the craft world should be changed or questioned, and the magazine is just doing a “super, super job”. I doubt whether the majority of that magazine’s readers have ever sat on chairs.



Anyway, maybe the letter could be posted by someone from CM, so we could all have a peek, and then weight in with “learned” and certainly “well-reasoned” opinions.



Hi Herb,

Come on, man, pony up for a sub to CM. We're lucky to have such a good 'zine around. In the meantime, I'll see if I can send you the letter.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#10 OffCenter

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Posted 04 October 2011 - 10:14 PM

I wasn't able to send a message to you, Herb. Your email is a secret and the personal message thing didn't work.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#11 Big Electric Cat

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 04:57 PM

Well, having read the letter, I think that Mr. Kovatch has some valid points, and I think that he did copy Dan Anderson’s idea to put the oil company logomarks on the side of vessels. If Anderson was doing it back in the ‘80’s, then he was first, and should be given credit for his ideas.

Schmidt must have thought that Anderson had left some things unsaid, else why would he ape Anderson’s work? The same might be said for Frank James Fisher. Yes, each man's work is distinctive, but... what? I don’t see the point, anyway, neither potters work gets ME all that excited, so I guess the issue, for me, is who did it first. Both men make vessels that have wonderful surfaces, interesting shapes, and is certainly well made. It’s quality stuff, I just don’t get the point, I guess.

Sherman is right in that this feature, and the subsequent letter, raises many daunting issues of copyright, ownership of ideas, etc. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know the fine points of any of this stuff, but I know we must give credit where it is due, after all, I know I like to be given credit for my ideas, and I bet some of you feel the same.

Mr. Schmidt’s “Non-petroliana” pots are perfectly good without logos, as are his plates, sculptures etc. They are interesting, and I wish I had made some of them .I’m not sure what he was saying when he decided to add the logos, other than “Yeah, what Dan said!”

What is the issue beyond that?

"Free yourself - that leash is long,long,long!"
-YeahYeahYeahs

#12 JLowes

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 03:52 PM

Well, it took me a good while to ponder on this subject. I really haven't changed my opinion much after reading the letter on whether Michael Schmidt's work copies from Dan Anderson's work, any more than Frank James Fisher's work does. Just so you don't have to go way back to the top of the posts, I said:

"Personally, I don't care much for the oil related work of anyone, but in looking at Mr. Anderson's work on Google images, I would not immediately match the two up any more than I would with say, Franks James Fisher's work."

I do think that Frank James Fisher has a reason for making oil related work, as that is what interests him; the idea of old product cans, advertising with logos and such. With that interest expressed, it makes sense to me that his work would include oil cans. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Schmidt seem more interested in the logos on structures and Mr. Anderson and Mr. Fisher share a love of the cans. So, I think it is not copying, but a shared interest in an aesthetic.

I did think that the letter was a bit strong in pointing out Michael Schmidt as a copier, at least of ideas, then apologizing for having singled him out in the same letter; a bit disingenuous to me. If I feel I have to apologize in the same letter I chastise someone, I probably should edit myself somewhere, and perhaps not send the letter, or remove specific references and just rant on people not coming up with fresh ideas of their own. Others may feel more strongly about this the other way.

John

#13 Big Electric Cat

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 04:28 PM

Mr. Kovatch obviously feels strongly about the subject, so maybe by the time he reached the end of his letter, perhaps he felt he pressed his point a bit too hard.
"Free yourself - that leash is long,long,long!"
-YeahYeahYeahs

#14 OffCenter

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 09:20 AM

Mr. Kovatch obviously feels strongly about the subject, so maybe by the time he reached the end of his letter, perhaps he felt he pressed his point a bit too hard.


Yeah, that's when most people would have decided to re-write the letter.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#15 OffCenter

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 09:24 AM

Well, it took me a good while to ponder on this subject. I really haven't changed my opinion much after reading the letter on whether Michael Schmidt's work copies from Dan Anderson's work, any more than Frank James Fisher's work does. Just so you don't have to go way back to the top of the posts, I said:

"Personally, I don't care much for the oil related work of anyone, but in looking at Mr. Anderson's work on Google images, I would not immediately match the two up any more than I would with say, Franks James Fisher's work."

I do think that Frank James Fisher has a reason for making oil related work, as that is what interests him; the idea of old product cans, advertising with logos and such. With that interest expressed, it makes sense to me that his work would include oil cans. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Schmidt seem more interested in the logos on structures and Mr. Anderson and Mr. Fisher share a love of the cans. So, I think it is not copying, but a shared interest in an aesthetic.

I did think that the letter was a bit strong in pointing out Michael Schmidt as a copier, at least of ideas, then apologizing for having singled him out in the same letter; a bit disingenuous to me. If I feel I have to apologize in the same letter I chastise someone, I probably should edit myself somewhere, and perhaps not send the letter, or remove specific references and just rant on people not coming up with fresh ideas of their own. Others may feel more strongly about this the other way.

John


Thanks for bringing Fisher into this. I was familiar with his work, but didn't think of it when I wrote the letter that is in CM. I wish I had.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#16 Joanie

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 04:10 PM

I read in a book once that NO ONE can invent something that hasn't been thought of before. I think that is true in our craft also. It doesn't bother me if someone copys my work. It is a compliment. Maybe Schmidt is better. Just saying. Joanie

#17 Big Electric Cat

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 04:57 PM

Well, I guess that settles that. If only I'd known that it's so simple.
"Free yourself - that leash is long,long,long!"
-YeahYeahYeahs

#18 Benhim

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 05:15 PM

It is entirely possible that these two men came about the idea separately, giving the benefit of the doubt. In any case the guarding of a style or idea suggests that one might be a one trick pony. All of the exceptional potters I know personally have a body of work that is recognizable, but evolves over time. Few of them stick with one thing and repeat it for their career, probably because they just get bored. At any rate their work progresses indeed changing at least slightly from year to year, and being in some way quite different from what they produced just a few years ago. It's fine if someone finds something they like and wish to keep producing it exactly the same forever, but everyone should know that someone is either going to come up with that same idea on their own or see your pots and decide to try the same things. If true talent exists by the time someone has a body of work that might be considered as copying, a potter could have made a considerable distinctive change in their own work. Not to beat a dead horse, but if the work is truly exceptional it would take substantial talent for someone to copy it anyway. Enough so that they earn some respect in their own right.

BenCo Ceramics





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