Thanks to the National Council for the Education for Ceramic Arts conference coming up in Seattle (March 28-31) a lot of local galleries are mounting clay-based shows. One of the first ones open is at The Art Stop, housed in LeRoy Jewelers in downtown Tacoma: The gallery’s sixth annual Washington Clay Arts Association juried exhibit is up through April and features many innovative and thoughtful ceramic artists from the region and continent.
Right by the door are three imaginative sculptures by Eva Funderburgh. Two are of wood-fired stoneware, with the cloudy ochre raku-style glaze – a large and a small animal, humped like mountains with deliciously lumpy fungi growing out of their backs, unnoticed. In between them, vertically, is a small, antlered animal gazing eyelessly and wistfully at a wilting flower held in its paws.
Other animals are around the back. Makiko Ichiura free-sculpts some delightful rabbits out of pale cream clay, balancing innocently in a dancing chain or on a crescent moon. It’s a perfect fairytale of simplicity and joy.
There are plenty of stylish functional items also. John Ellefson shows an inventive split vessel with a warm black glaze; cups and jugs by Quebec artists Denise Goyer and Alain Bonneau are sleekly thin and ultra-designy, with a Japanese feel to the black porcelain. Also Japanese-influenced are Paddy McNeely’s black bamboo-shaped vessels, while Donna Perugini sculpts a Chinese dragon-coiled pot and Ginny Conrow explores a bubbly jade crystalline glaze.
One of the most fun artists, though, isn’t in the juried show but is a regular at Art Stop: Michael Harvey, who works his brown-paper-colored clay into small-scale grocery bags, cardboard boxes, undershirts and baseball caps with terrific surreality.
9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Saturday through April 18. Free. The Art Stop, 940 Broadway, Tacoma. 253-274-1630, artstoptacoma.com