Through January 11, 2009
Opening Reception:  Friday, December 5, 5-8pm

5504 West Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, California 90275-4998
Contact:  Scott Canty, Exhibitions Director
310.541.2479, FAX (310) 541-9520
Web site,
Public hours, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; and 1 – 4 p.m. Sundays.

Ralph Bacerra, Ceramic Platter, 23-1/4 inches in diameter and 3-3/4 inches deep.

A free reception will be held from 5 – 8 p.m. Friday, December 5, 2008 at the Palos Verdes Art Center (5504 W. Crestridge Rd., Rancho Palos Verdes) to honor the 13 ceramic artists in INFLUENCES: A Survey Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics of Southern California. The free exhibition runs through January 11, 2009 (except Christmas and New Year’s Day) with the galleries open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1 – 4 p.m. Sundays.

The Palos Verdes Art Center’s ceramics program has long been a star in the community visual arts organization’s crown, drawing premier ceramists from Southern California and beyond as teachers, workshop leaders and exhibiting artists. Their influence has been felt by generations of Art Center students as well as in the wider art community.

In their honor, this exhibition features work by ceramists Ralph Bacerra, Philip Cornelius, Patrick Crabb, Keiko Fukazawa, Lukman Glasgow, Richard McColl, Harrison McIntosh, Ricky Maldonado, Neil Moss, Jerry Rothman, Porntip Sangvanich, Peter Shire and Paul Soldner, all of whom have influenced the arts community through their college teaching, gallery and museum exhibitions and public art.

The exhibition is dedicated to Ralph Bacerra (1938-2008), whose work is represented by pieces loaned by art dealer Frank Lloyd. Bacerra headed the ceramics department at Chouinard Art Institute in the 1960s and at Otis College of Art and Design in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. His work is in collections from the Smithsonian to the Victoria and Albert and, rare among American ceramists, in museums in the Orient.

Bacerra once stated:  “My pieces are based on traditional ideas and engage in certain cultural appropriations—in form, in design, in glaze choices. However, my work is not postmodern in the sense that I am not making any statements—social, political, conceptual or even intellectual. There is no meaning or metaphor. I am committed more to the idea of pure beauty. When it is finished, the piece should be like an ornament, exquisitely beautiful.”

Beautiful pieces abound in the current exhibition, ranging from purely decorative sculptural forms and vessels to exquisitely decorated “functional” plates, cups, vases and, of course, imaginative teapots.

Many of the pieces—by influential ceramists Philip Cornelius, Harrison McIntosh, Ricky Maldonado, Jerry Rothman and Paul Soldner—are on loan from the collection of David W. Armstrong, founder of the American Museum of Ceramic Art.

Combining the practical with the aesthetic puts INFLUENCES squarely in the tradition of prior Palos Verdes Art Center ceramics exhibitions that celebrated the diversity of the medium, from Hold Everything in 1978 to Vessels in 1998. The extreme example was 1994’s High Tech/LowTech, which combined industrial ceramics (space shuttle tiles, joint replacement components, Japanese knives, golf clubs and ball bearings) with sculptural art forms. Videos of High Tech/Low Tech have been used in ceramics education programs throughout the country and will be shown during the current exhibition.

Among the artists selected for INFLUENCES are:

- Philip Cornelius, who has crafted his own signature form of “thinware,” which is ultra-thin and fired, in his words, “right to the edge.” “I’ve been developing my style for 30 years, so I’m 30 years ahead of everybody who’s starting now. Everything I make is designed around a teapot — a spout or a lid. I use the parts of a teapot differently and it becomes a unique creation.”

- Patrick Shia Crabb, who has assembled clay figures combining wheel-thrown forms (bodies) with press-mold facial images (heads). After bisque-firing, each form is intentionally broken, with each shard glazed in a distinct pattern, fired with various methods from raku to sawdust and re-assembled with epoxy glue.

“The aesthetics revolve around my interests in the fragileness and the archaic (broken fragments/missing parts) along with the wonderful beauty and the contemporary thoughts (bright colors) of the human spirit,” he wrote.

- Keiko Fukazawa, who also breaks and re-assembles bisque pieces. Her two series, L.A. Majolica and Japanese Pop, fuse ceramics with the aesthetics of graffiti. She gives some shards to incarcerated young adults to tell with their stories in words and images, while decorating the remaining pieces herself.

“The glue and broken shards serve as a metaphor that these kids are from broken families trying to hold on,” she wrote. “The act of literally breaking the ceramic form is my way of escaping traditional limitations of form and process in the ceramic world. It is also a metaphor for those inmates assigned to break the mold of their old reality, to find positive and new creative ways of representing themselves.”  

- Richard McColl, who searches for timeless qualities, “creating work which could be from the past but can only come from today. My forms and designs connect with the past while reflecting contemporary culture and environment.”

- Ricky Maldonado, who is known for his geometrically detailed pottery. He is a master coil builder whose pieces are hand burnished, slip decorated and over glazed.

- Porntip Sangvanich, who creates impeccably-crafted, fluid, geometric teapots. She focuses “on the simplicity of curved and straight lines, designs and colors.”

- Peter Shire, whose uniquely balanced sculptural teapots combine bright colors and purposely deformed shapes. His works in the exhibition are from two recent series: Peach Teapot and Mexican Bauhaus.

Shire has said: “Mystical absurdism, amazing, astounding phenomena on a human scale and what is funny about the way we love and hate industrial things…is what interests me.”

The Palos Verdes Art Center, a non-profit community organization, has served southwestern Los Angeles County with visual arts exhibition, education and outreach programs since 1931. For more information about INFLUENCES or other Palos Verdes Art Center exhibitions and activities, call 310-541-2479 or visit

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