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Bob Coyle

Does Any One Else Miss This Nutcase?

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Benzine    610

 

John, why would that Volkous piece, never have been fired?

 

 

Some programs won't fire the work, as that's part of the artistic process...

Hmmm, interesting. It is amazing that it has lasted as long as it has, either due to someone not knowing what it is, and throwing it out, or knowing what is is and selling it. One of our state universities, discussed selling a Pollock painting, they have, simply to bring in some money. The idea didn't get far.

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Babs    386

Hope ther eis always someone around who appreciates what this is..Local experience a reitring teacher left very detailed research results and examples of local clays and glaze ingredients, 30 years of research. Incoming person did not know the value of this and cleared the decks!!

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bciskepottery    925

 

John, why would that Volkous piece, never have been fired?

 

Some programs won't fire the work, as that's part of the artistic process...

 

"There in a corner was a large maybe 5 1/2 - 6 foot tall piece" -- maybe it did not fit in the kiln. Or maybe not firing demo pieces was a stipulation in the agreement to do the workshop.

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Benzine    610

 

 

John, why would that Volkous piece, never have been fired?

 Some programs won't fire the work, as that's part of the artistic process...
"There in a corner was a large maybe 5 1/2 - 6 foot tall piece" -- maybe it did not fit in the kiln. Or maybe not firing demo pieces was a stipulation in the agreement to do the workshop.

Whoops, I kind of skipped over the dimensions. That definitely wouldn't fit in my kiln, never mind the fact, I'd have to lift it high enough for my top loader.

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neilestrick    1,381

There is a difference between things that are loosely made by skilled hands and poorly made by unskilled hands. However simple a piece may be, if it is made by skilled hands it will show an intent and confidence that unskilled hands cannot duplicate.

 

I had the opportunity to help fire John Balistreri's anagama in Denver in 1995. In that kiln were several pieces by Ken Ferguson and Don Reitz, as well as a Voulkos stack and several of his platters. The stack had already been sold to some company in Japan for tens of thousands of dollars. The platters were thick as can be, about 24 inches across, and amazing. We had a special surprise when Voulkos flew out to see the pieces when we unloaded. Really nice guy. He was clearly not in the best health at that time, but he was still making great work. And there was plenty of technical skill involved in their construction.

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Babs    386

It's always interesting when an artist keeps moving on and his 'audience' wants him to stay where they feel comfortable.

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Benzine    610

It's always interesting when an artist keeps moving on and his 'audience' wants him to stay where they feel comfortable.

I think that is the most apparent with musicians. Everyone just wants the "Old stuff".

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CarlCravens    58

Thanks, Marcia.  Was idle for 2.5 years (yay, firing logs)... spent most of it thinking, "you know, I really ought to throw more bowls" every time I had to use a factory-made one.

 

I don't really "get" a lot of ceramic art.  I guess I'm craft-fair attendee material.  I don't like Voulkos' "Stacks" and don't see why anybody would pay serious money for them.  Not saying people *shouldn't*, just that I don't connect to it the way others do.  So a lot of the "greats" kind of confuse me... I don't see how their art made them great, and sometimes I suspect it wasn't the art but the person and the situation around their art (political statements, etc.)

 

I'm a functional kind of guy.  I want pots that are useful, and given a choice, I'll choose the pots that are pleasant to look at, feel good in the hand, etc.  And I appreciate a lot of non-functional work... just the guys who seem to try hardest to be different are the ones I like the least.

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oldlady    1,323

thanks for being you, it is refreshing to find someone who can say what he likes and mean it. 

 

how did you feel about the pot on the cover of may ceramics monthly?  did anyone else pity the poor maker whose work got spilled on by a crappy cobalt glaze?

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Bob Coyle    113

Yeah Carl If I had to choose between the scarab vase and a Voulkos stack, well no contest. I think beauty trumps novelty every time.

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Babs    386

Would Voulkos been making stacks if no one was buying them?

I'd like to think he would have, his need ?

Some artists just do what drives them, audiences don't matter.

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Yeah Carl If I had to choose between the scarab vase and a Voulkos stack, well no contest. I think beauty trumps novelty every time.

 

Vaguely confused about what we're considering to be beauty and novelty here..

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clay lover    133

I'm with Carl all the way.  People craving attention and art that does the same thing both make me want to cross the street to avoid them.

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CarlCravens    58

Vaguely confused about what we're considering to be beauty and novelty here..

 

 

That's the crux of the matter, I think... beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Voulkos made his Stacks for a reason, and it probably wasn't "let's see if I can throw some stuff together and get someone to buy it."  He either found them aesthetically pleasing, or he was trying to make some kind of statement, etc.  People bought them because *they* found them pleasing, or they supported the artist's statement, or possibly because they were following the crowd, making an investment, etc.

 

I wouldn't want to discourge anyone from making the art *they* want to make.  Whether I like it or not doesn't really matter, unless they want me specifically to buy it.  As long as the artist likes it, and it fulfills the purpose for which it was made (making the artist happy, making a statement, making money), that's fine with me.  But I don't have to appreciate it, or even call it "art" except in the broadest terms.  (That guy who sold a pile of money at auction by calling it art?)

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Stephen    139

Not arguing, just throwing tossing in some thoughts.

 

IMHO, when a ceramic piece becomes whimsical or abstract it often sheds the need to conform to any particular litmus test on skill to be appreciated and admired for just what it is and the emotions it stirs. Sure anyone with minimal skill may have been able to create it and I'm sure often the person who is moved to admire or even buy it may not care. The value of an unknown artist produced piece is simply tied to the piece, not the artist.

 

Having been made by a known and collectible artist makes it part of that artist portfolio and that does add value and I think to some extent a greater appreciation is often assigned to the piece by those that like abstract art because now it has a back story and that may well add an additional dimension to the work because it can be taken as part of something bigger. Pablo Picasso created more ceramic pieces than paintings and all of his work seemed to be best appreciated as part of a 'period' that he was working through as an artist. 

 

Peter Voulkos demonstrated a mastery of technique throughout a long and distinguished career as a potter and educator. He also demonstrated mastery of technique as an abstract ceramic artist but I see no real connection between a beautiful piece of functional ware he made in the 50's with an abstract piece he made that was meant to be in a museum, art gallery or some  appropriate setting and presented in such a way to evoke a certain feeling or emotion. They just are way too far apart in what they are as pottery pieces.

 

For the record I have questioned abstract art my entire adult life until the last few years of trying to understand this path I've chosen. While I tire of the internet, it has afforded me the opportunity to span the globe on a whim and view so many different types of pottery from so many different artist that like and dislike seems to give way to trying to understand the intent.

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Bob Coyle    113

The problem I have with abstract art is that a whole lot of it is not very good, yet people insist that it have some meaning beyond what it looks like. Seems like most people think there is a statement behind Peter Voulkos abstract works but nobody seems to know what that is... but by golly there MUST be a meaning somewhere. People have said that they see great skill and mastery in Peter's later works. I am not sure what skill they are talking about, but I am willing to be educated.

 

Here are two of Peter's works. To me they look sloppy and careless, though I am sure that people will say no,no... they are spontaneous!

 

So what is the deeper meaning here, and ...truthfully now.. would you pay $5000 for them if  you saw them at a craft fare?

post-45594-0-77819800-1401822930_thumb.jpg

post-45594-0-18912400-1401822942_thumb.jpg

post-45594-0-77819800-1401822930_thumb.jpg

post-45594-0-18912400-1401822942_thumb.jpg

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Tyler Miller    331

Bob, I think it's about approach.  The question isn't whether there is meaning present, but whether you can find meaning/aesthetic pleasure in it.  If you can't, it's nothing against you or the artist, you just don't like it.  Sometimes that happens.

 

It might be best to think of it like food experiences.  When you go to a restaurant and try a new style of cuisine from a country you've not experienced before, it's like looking at a contemporary artist's work.  You need to assess what you're having within some kind of context.  There's nothing like stir-fried chicken feet within traditional american cuisine, nor anything like a cheese sandwich in Chinese.  Now, I like chicken feet, but my girlfriend hates them.  She orders something else, and it tastes good to her. She and I both don't like certain traditional North American dishes, though, too--I'm not a fan of meatloaf, or scalloped potatoes, for example.

 

The point, I think, with abstract expressionist art is that every time you view an artist's work, you're stepping into a new restaurant with a menu from a country you've never heard of.  You try what they've got to offer, explore the menu and its flavours, try to contextualize them, and then use it as a way to think about the flavours and textures of the food you've already had.  That's the process of acculturation, I think.  I don't know, though, just my thoughts.

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CarlCravens    58

Man, you're making me hungry.  Meatloaf and scalloped potatoes are comfort food to me.  Gotta go tell my wife what I want for dinner, now.

 

And get where you're coming from... but sometimes I can't help but think that the artist is pulling our legs, telling us that "Yeah, yeah... where I come from, hens teeth and bull pucky are a delicacy!  You'll love this dish I cooked up."  And because folks can't tell the emperor he's naked because, what will the neighbors think!, folks say, "Yeah, yeah... this is good stuff you're feeding us, we'll buy two!"  Dude, that's not even food (art)!

 

I'm not saying it's common or that it even happens at all... but that's how far away from "getting it" I am with a lot of abstract work, that I feel like someone's trying to pull a fast one on the art-appreciating public.  (I'm still convinced that the guy who converted his art grant into sacks of money and called it "art" didn't actually believe it was art... that he was just pulling a stunt.)

 

There's a large stainless steel abstract sculpture here in Wichita called "Tripodal", which sits in front of the Century II conference center.

 

http://www.360cities.net/image/wichita-tripodal-i#285.10,-6.60,70.0

 

I think Tripodal borders on ugly, but it's been there since I can remember... except when it was removed because the interior framework was rusting.  And I missed it... Tripodal is part of Century II's identity for me.  And a lot of people missed it, because they raised money to have it repaired instead of letting the city put something else in its place.  For me, now, Tripodal has context, it has a kind of meaning that only applies to people who live in the area and appreciate having it around for bizarre emotional reasons.  Tripodal is part of *my* identity, it's part of my memories of Riverfest.

 

I *expect* that this is how abstract art works for a lot of people.  Either the piece conveys some kind of meaning to them ("it makes me melancholy, for reasons that are personal to me") or the piece in a particular context means something to them ("I knew and admired Volkous and this piece reminds me of the time I spent with him").  And I totally get *that*... but that kind of assocation doesn't come with seeing a picture of a blob of clay on the cover of a magazine.

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Tyler Miller    331

 

 

And get where you're coming from... but sometimes I can't help but think that the artist is pulling our legs, telling us that "Yeah, yeah... where I come from, hens teeth and bull pucky are a delicacy!  You'll love this dish I cooked up."  And because folks can't tell the emperor he's naked because, what will the neighbors think!, folks say, "Yeah, yeah... this is good stuff you're feeding us, we'll buy two!"  Dude, that's not even food (art)!

 

I'm not saying it's common or that it even happens at all... but that's how far away from "getting it" I am with a lot of abstract work, that I feel like someone's trying to pull a fast one on the art-appreciating public.  (I'm still convinced that the guy who converted his art grant into sacks of money and called it "art" didn't actually believe it was art... that he was just pulling a stunt.)

 

Yeah, that stuff gets to me too.  The sarcastic and ironic abstract expressionist stuff.  I think it's increasing in popularity among artists and will be the death of the movement.  It's killed a lot of good poetry and other media already.  Younger generations seem to have it out for sincerity.  Hopefully that changes.

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Stephen    139

Yeah but come on, Peter Voulkos was/is a really big deal in our medium and art in general.

 

I mean I guess you can say "so what, that cup sucked" or "my 5 year could beat that in 5 minutes before bedtime", but that really is missing the point. As a potter and as an artist he made an impact, a major impact. I guess I just respect the hell out of that and there is no way to separate that from his work for me, so yeah I might even buy something he made that I don't particularly like if given the opportunity and I had the dough.

 

If it was from an unknown then it wouldn't be five grand and to buy it at any price would depend on the individual piece but I think that is true of almost anyone who likes abstract art. I just don't see an appreciation for some abstract or expressionist art as shallow. Like all art there is some great work and crappy work out there depending on your likes and dislikes and only you can decide which one defines the work you are looking at.  

 

here's Peter Voulkos  LA obit:

 

http://articles.latimes.com/2002/feb/17/local/me-voulkos17

 

http://www.franklloyd.com/dynamic/artist_bio.asp?ArtistID=34

 

and countless others, everywhere.

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Bob Coyle    113

 

Yeah but come on, Peter Voulkos was/is a really big deal in our medium and art in general.

 

I guess I just respect the hell out of that and there is no way to separate that from his work for me, so yeah I might even buy something he made that I don't particularly like if given the opportunity and I had the dough.

You are not alone Stephen, quite a few posts stressed Voulkos's contribution to ceramics, and how that has to be factored in. I keep getting told that I should be more open and try harder to see the meaning. Seems like a whole lot of work to appreciate a piece of art.

Seems like if you say you don't like some of  Peter Voulkos' work it is kind of like saying that the pope is not infallible in front of the synod of bishops. :)

 

Sorry, I just can't see assigning automatic artistic merit based on anything other than how the individual piece visually and emotionally grabs me.  I know that no piece stands alone, it is all part of a body of work but if the same piece by an unknown gets a YUCH! but gets a WOW! if it is done by someone well known, then I think that something else is going on.

 

So...how about it... How much would you spend to buy those pieces, if you didn't know they were made by Voulkos?

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Tyler Miller    331

So...how about it... How much would you spend to buy those pieces, if you didn't know they were made by Voulkos?

 

 

I'm not sure it's a fair question.  If Michelanglo or Donatello were at a craft fair, what would you pay for their Davids?  What about the Sosibios vase?

 

If I were to buy them in a craft fair or art show, I'd be buying them in the context of a decorative piece for my home.  They don't fit with what art I keep in my home, but I know several people who would buy something very much like them and feature it prominently on their wall or on a table.  In that context, price is whatever you make of it, I suppose.  I'd buy it if it fit a decorating budget and pass it over if it didn't. So maybe $200 as a maximum based on what I can afford right now.

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