On Exhibit: VESSELS and HOUSES

On the 3rd floor landing, the DIA DE LOS MUERTOS exhibit is coming down to make room for HOUSES.  VESSELS will be featured on the 2nd floor landing.

VESSELS and HOUSES are exhibits of ceramic works made of paper clay.

You may have seen paper clay in your local arts and crafts store.  That paper clay is generally for air drying.  That’s all good, but the EC artists need a lot of material, so we can experiment.  We made our paper clay for firing in the kiln, from a combination of our regular firing clay and a cellulose paper product.  It was a job and a half to make, but Kristine, our Clay/Ceramic Arts Teacher, was on it!

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VESSELS started as balloons dipped in paper clay slip.  It was a tedious process of dipping and drying… and dipping and drying… and dipping and—well you get the idea.  Layer by layer, day after day, Continue reading

Dance Like A Zombie?

August 28, 2014. Denise Saelee practices the insanely well-known zombie dance from Thriller.

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Almost everyone we know has seen the music video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, where funky and surprisingly agile dead people rise from their graves to rock out.

In preparation for a new performance project (tentatively titled The EC Halloween Special), the EC artists are studying the dance interlude from the music video.

Emulating a dance from video is hard enough. Emulating a dance performed by a bunch of (very robust) zombies is even more difficult. EC artist Larry Sutton pointed out, “I can’t dance like that. Look. He has big eyes. I don’t have big eyes like that.”  Fair point, Larry. Sometimes, make-up and costumes help us get into a new character. And a zombie is certainly a stretch. Larry gave it his EC-best, as did everyone else… even without the big eyes.

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Snail Hunt

We hope you like our street art snails. We made them just for you.

If you love one so much, that you can’t help but take it with you, we totally understand.

1. Give it a nice home, with lots of love.

2. Post a photo of your new friend, with a tag like #ECSnails, #ECArtists, #MercedSnails, #SnailInvasion, or even #Snails.

The EC artists are checking Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to see if any of their snails have been seen.

Happy hunting!

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Snails: An Artful Invasion

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The EC artists are embarking on a new project—public art.  The project was initially inspired by an

Imageimage of J. Seward Johnson’s public art piece “Awakenings” depicting a giant embedded in the earth, struggling to free himself as he wakes.  The image inspired conversations about the differences between public art and “private” art.  Who is the public art is for?  What is its purpose?  What do people think when they see it? Does it change the way the artist creates, when the art will be public?

Phase 1 of our project involved understanding the role of public art in the world, and in our small town.  We recognized that our project does not fit the standard definition of public art.  Our project will not be sanctioned by any local government.  Our art is not meant to be a permanent or fixed installation.  We know it may move, be damaged, and even disappear.  We want people to interact with our art.  Our art will not be big, bold, and obvious.  We want it to be small, subdued, and installed with guerrilla-style sneakiness.   So, the project soon revealed itself as being more street art than public art.  Same intention, different label.

Our ideas were all over the place during phase 1, until our clay/ceramic arts instructor Kristine Hansen introduced us to Ji Lee’s Mysterabbit project.  The message?  In this hustle-bustle world, stop to enjoy the moment—art is everywhere.   We love that.  We decided that Lee’s project was exactly what we were trying to achieve, in the same manner we were planning, but on a much (much) larger scale.  It was the template we needed.

Once we decided what our overall project would look like, we walked around our neighborhood (Downtown Merced), to scope out locations for installation.  We also needed to decide what our small sculptures would be.

It was important to everyone that they be simple and identifiable.

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There was brainstorming, model making, and eventually we decided upon the snail.

Phase 2 of our project involves the making of our snails…

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Enrichment Center Advice for Royal Baby George

The EC artists followed the royal pregnancy in its final weeks, wondering when the baby would come, and if it would be a boy or girl… a king or queen. When a baby boy was born to William and Kate in July 2013, the EC artists wondered about the kind of person he would grow up to be. Would he benefit from his late grandmother’s influence on his dad? Would he be pampered and spoiled into royal snootiness, like his grandfather? Would he be King?… So, we pondered the advice we would give, to make him a good king, and a cool, well-rounded guy.

Project: Art for the Heart

Phase 3:  “Glazing” is painting…

Technically, you’re painting a coating of silica-based fluid (glaze), which, when fired in the kiln, will fuse to the surface of the clay heart… now you know why we just refer to it as glazing.

From our first glazing workshop. Glazing is just painting. Harrison chose his heart, his colors, and his brushes. Photo by Melissa Kelly-Ortega

From our first glazing workshop. Glazing is just painting. Harrison chose his heart, his colors, and his brushes. Photo by Melissa Kelly-Ortega

When you spend as many hours as we do surrounded by art, making art, promoting art, talking about art, art becomes such a natural part of your speech and action, that you may forget the large number of people who may perceive art as being slightly foreign– a special skill, unique only to those gifted with a sense of creative genius.  Not so!!

When you ask people who feel that way to engage in artmaking, many of them may imagine that you are asking them to do something they aren’t qualified to do… like auto repair, networking the office computers, catering a wedding, or teaching high school math.

For this project, especially given the short time we have before it concludes, convincing people that they are fully qualified to participate has been important, and involved making a few assurances:

1. You don’t have to worry about your skills.  We will introduce you to the materials, how to use them, and be there to provide assistance and answer questions.

2. We’ve set it up so that it is only as complex as you want it to be.

3. It doesn’t matter how you paint the heart, as long as you paint the heart– whether you spend 2 hours perfecting every detail, or 2 minutes applying slapdash one-color coverage.

Answers to other questions people have had are:

  1. The funds we collect will be going to the Mercy Foundation to be used in the Cardiac Rehab department, to help people with heart disease who do not have a way to pay for their rehab.
  2. You should give yourself about 1 hour to select and glaze your heart.  Those who have come in expecting to do it in 30-45 minutes tend to run out of time.
  3. The glaze goes on looking very chalky, but firing reveals the vibrant color and glossy texture.
  4. Drop-ins are acceptable, but reservations are a good idea.  If you drop in, and there is no more space, you may have to wait.
  5. We do not have a credit card machine. We accept cash and checks.
  6. The cost is a $10 donation per heart.  We also have a few small hearts, which were designed to be glazed as a pair for $10, but which may be glazed individually for $5.

Fortunately, except in rare circumstances (usually involving a professional artist who is trying to become rich and famous, or doesn’t learn from his/her mistakes), there is no failure in art.  It is what it is.  Most artists will tell you that mistakes are gifts you give to yourself.  Making a mistake, you will either learn a valuable lesson—how not to do something, or you will learn something new—how to do something you didn’t intend to do… but will totally try again.

Glazing workshops:

Saturday, January 19th          10am – 1pm

Saturday, January 19th          5 – 8pm (ART HOP!)

Tuesday, January 22nd          4 – 6pm

Saturday, January 26th         10am – 1pm

Wednesday, January 30th     5 – 6pm

Saturday, February 2nd         10am – 1pm

All workshops are at the Enrichment Center in Room 1, on the 3rd floor of the Multicultural Arts Center– 645 W. Main St. Merced