More on Critical Santa Fe Events

Is this blog keeping up with events at Critical Santa Fe?  No…not really.  This is really just the tip of the iceberg of impressions, intended to give the NMPCA member or casual viewer who finds this blog a sense of what the Critical Santa Fe symposium is about and provide a way for comments from participants, should they wish to share them.  What are my qualifications for publishing this blog?  Discussions at the symposium bring up issues of responsibility, training, knowledge and rigorousness of approach to writing in Ceramics.  Good questions and valid issues.  Only one person so far, Glenn Brown, remotely from a read statement, has referred to the fact that the internet sidesteps all of this.  It kind of reminds me of my “other” career…computer program development…where professional programmers had lamented young people coming in and teaching themselves and doing a lot of development very fast and for a very cheap rate.  Well, yes, some of it was crap, but some was very exciting.  I believe all users of the internet, myself included, need to become more adept at filter and evaluating what they find on the internet.  What is worthwhile, what is truth and what is a waste of time or lies.  I try not to lie…but certainly my qualifications and training are not up to the standards of the presenters at this symposium.  So, who am I?  I’m a self-taught ceramic artist and the current president of a widely varied group of clay people named the New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists.  I accepted this position because I feel that art is important in our world and I want to help move this art organization into the future as my small contribution.  I studied in college with Jim and Nan McKinnel but my work doesn’t really reflect their influence, rather the influence of a myriad of artists and experiences.  I have had a career (and still do) in computer software design and development.   See my work at

Garth Clark said yesterday that sculpture is intolerant of mediocre clay.  I know what he means, and I agree to a certain extent.  I just hope that I don’t contribute to the mediocre image.  So, I feel somewhat brave in citing my website in this blog, but hey, at age 64 I no longer care that much what people think of me or my work.

I do promise to come back and write about the many sessions and my impressions.

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One Reply to “More on Critical Santa Fe Events”

  1. Michael Lancaster

    I am hopeful that more people will participate in your (our) blog following the event. Someone reacted on FaceBook to a comment by Garth Clark, over the weekend and it began a thread of dozens of ceramic artists (some in other countries), all with great comments and different points of view.

    More important, in my POV, than being right or wrong on some of these subjects, is that we hold a sincere dialog and keep it going. Regarding Garth Clark’s statement about sculpture and mediocrity, I have a good deal of strong feelings about this. A friend of mine once approached the master of the studio, in which he was apprentice, and asked how he could achieve the making of more ‘good pots.’ The master responded simply this way, “If you want to make more good pots, then make more good pots.” (with an emphasis on more). Many years ago I worked with Werner Erhardt in many of the EST seminars and workshops. One stood out, for me, and changed my life. It was titled “About Excellence.” It was Erhart’s assertion, from my perspective, that excellence was never a result, but rather, both a process and a commitment. Those who live in work in excellence likely never attain it. It is the constant striving for, the commitment to and even the endless longing for that makes greatness and sets that greatness apart from mediocrity. That very premise limits our ability to judge greatness as a universal concept, but rather a relative view of an individual, or an individual work of art. Unfortunately, I think this may render the critic somewhat stuck in singularity. Then again, what does any one of us have other than our own singular point of view? The hardest job(s) I have ever had has been to jury shows and exhibits. I have to look at one or a few pieces of work and then give a verdict as to whether it should be in a show, or win a prize or acknowledgment. The relative point of view is the other work in the show. Some would think this task simple, but I often lament my decisions later.
    One of my favorite quotations was from Jun Kaneko and I paraphrase: Kaneko, who makes giant pieces, reflected on the surface of a small tea bowl, in which he said held the vastness of all ceramics and indeed the world itself, in such a small space. Kanekko’s work is consider sculpture, but here he was saying that everything he could do in the huge pieces could be seen in s small humble tea bowl. I assert that the greatest of potters and the greatest of sculptors may have more in common than our ‘inner-curator’ allows. I think that the discussion will always return to the perception of the viewer regardless of the rules and guidelines. I defer to the statement “There is no right or wrong.”

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