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July 20, 2004 > Olive Hyde Presents Of This Earth/ Ceramics on Exhibit

Olive Hyde Presents Of This Earth/ Ceramics on Exhibit

by Susana Nuñez

The Olive Hyde Art Gallery proudly presents an exhibit dedicated to the delicate art of ceramics. The exhibit features the works of artists such as Janet Leong Malan, Eileen Morrison, and the Orchard Valley Ceramics Guild. With influences such as pop art, Greek and Chinese-American culture, these pieces reflect the artists' own diverse perceptions of nature and the world around them.

Janet Leong Malan's influences include pop art and her Chinese-American heritage. In A Prize in Every Box, Malan presents a Chinese take-out box filled with fortune cookies. A few cookies are scattered outside the box, including one silver cookie among the ordinary. Use of fortune cookies represents her Chinese and American cultures. In another of her works, entitled There is No Point, Malan presents oversized pencils intertwined in a knot together. The pencils literally do not have points; both ends have an eraser. In many of her art works, she uses humor and a visual pun in this piece. Malan states, "I found I liked to play with words and to perhaps inject a sense of humor. This is evident with There is No Point. The piece grew out of many influences: the obvious being pop culture art of the 60s, watching tech-savvy 6 year-olds learning how to form letters with a very basic tool, to the pressure of corporate life and the endless trail of memos."

While Malan has been working with clay for years, the art medium is fairly new to artist Wendy Osborn Stenzel. Her debut piece, Nesting Puffin Teapot, is an expression of her appreciation of the perfect form, line, and texture in the world. She states, "I chose the puffin because it is a favorite bird of mine and because of the clown-like orange, yellow, and bold black. It struck me my whole life, like the penguin and the zebra. Dark blacks and whites have always grabbed my attention." As opposed to the strong, classic teapot handle, Stenzel used a woven wooden handle because of its natural feel. "I felt like it matched the subject matter of nature and I wanted the nesting posture of the puffin to be the dominate form." Although ceramics is a new medium for her, Stenzel has fallen in love with it, stating, "My heart and soul went into that little puffin!"

Other choice pieces, such as Her Mystery by Cindy Couling and Greek Vase and Tripod by Swanica Ligtenberg, are intriguing as well. The deep, vein-like designs and serene hues of blue in Her Mystery seemingly reflect the sky. The texture given by the colors has a likeness to clouds, while a bold red heart with wings sitting atop the piece complete its angelic appearance. The rich, vivid colors used in the Greek Vase and Tripod by Swanica Ligtenberg make this artwork stand out in the exhibit. The different shades of yellow and the deep red in the pieces are a contrast to its glossy, delicate appearance.

Various members of the Orchard Valley Ceramic Guild are included in the exhibit, as well. The Guild was formed to give clay workers of all levels a chance to work together toward common goals. Whether someone is a professional or a beginner, they are treated with the same respect. The long-term goal of the local potters who formed the Guild is to create an ideal working studio.

The exhibit has been open since July 9, but you still have time to catch it before it ends on August 7. The Gallery is open Thursday through Sunday from 12-5 p.m. It is located at 123 Washington Blvd., Fremont, at the corner of Washington and Mission Blvd., across from the Historic Mission San Jose. For more information about the Gallery or to arrange a group tour call the Gallery at (510) 791-4357.

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