Ben Skiba "Knuckle Cracks and Toe Taps" Opens March 1, 2017

Can't wait for the opening of Ben Skiba's show, Knuckle Cracks and Toe Taps, that I had the opportunity to organize and curate over the last several months! It opens March 1, 2017 at Rainmaker Gallery in Portland, OR.

 

 

"Rainmaker Artist Resident, Hannah Newman, presents the work of Portland artist Ben Skiba in her latest curatorial project. Skiba’s show, "Knuckle Cracks and Toe Taps," is in conjunction with the 2017 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference in Portland on March 22–25. Skiba’s work is inspired by small moments and unconscious gestures and he creates sculptural assemblies, drawings, and installations that feature colorful compositions and intuitive constructions. Incorporating a wide variety of materials including ceramic, tape, paint, and cardboard, Skiba’s work uses familiar objects to create unfamiliar pairings. 

 

Shifting between two and three dimensions, Skiba’s work moves playfully between the floor and the wall, challenging material traditions. Sculptures rooted in ceramics transform into drawings, before reasserting their physical presence as clay, while two-dimensional works seem to pulsate off the wall. Using perspective and scale shifts, the work presented in "Knuckle Cracks and Toe Taps" offers both monumental and minute moments for consideration.

 

Representing a new generation coming to the forefront of the ceramics community, Skiba’s work features a lively sense of materials and a dedicated joy in making.

 

Ben Skiba received a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2015, concentrating in painting, ceramics, and printmaking. Upon graduating he moved to Portland, Oregon to take part in the Emerging Artist Mentorship Program at Ash Street Project where he is now studio assistant to the program. In addition to exhibiting extensively, Skiba has participated in several artist residencies." 

benskiba.com

Rainmaker Gallery at Rainmaker Artist Residency

2337 NW York St. #201, Portland, OR

Opening reception: Wednesday March 1, 2017, 6–8pm

NCECA Conference reception: Thursday, March 23, 2017. 5–8pm

Gallery hours: March 21–25, 12–4pm and by appointment at hnewman08@gmail.com

Trying to be more playful and less serious in my work.  Lately I'm making an iPhone pillow, working with string drawings and casting nothing in plaster.  It's been a lot of fun!

This week we finally made it out to the coast for the first time!  It's so strange that we live so close to the ocean now.  It was my first time to a beach with tidal pools and I was so excited.  I felt like such a tourist on the beach going crazy at every starfish and sea anemone, while everyone else is so casual about all the amazing things they are surrounded by.  I've spent so many hours looking at these things in books and online and making special trips to aquariums that to go see them in person, for free is incredible.  Growing up in the midwest these sea creatures seem a bit like fairy tales that exist in the same realm as outer space and bacteria.  You know it must really be true, you just have no experience with it.  Anyways here's a couple pictures from our coastal adventures!


Some incredibly soft green moss that was covering the rocks.

Some incredibly soft green moss that was covering the rocks.

These sea anemones were everywhere!

These sea anemones were everywhere!

So many incredible textures!

So many incredible textures!

ocean7.jpg



So fun to see one of my mugs out in the world doing fun things like holding people's tea and being enjoyed!  

     Over the last month or so Brett and I have spent a lot of time intentionally going to places that are special to us in Springfield and making extra time to spend with our friends and family here.  In preparing to be gone for a couple years, we've been forced to reflect on the people and places that have made our time here so unforgettable.  Despite the bittersweet feelings of saying our first goodbyes to people and places that have been so meaningful, it's possibly been one of the best months we've had in Springfield.  In taking time to honor and remember all the important events that have happened in our lives here and the people who have surrounded us through those events, Brett and I have been much more deliberate with where and how our time is spent than we usually are.  Last night as Brett and I spent time talking, eating ice cream, mushroom hunting, and catching lightning bugs at one of the parks where we fell in love, I wondered why we don't live this way all of the time.  Why does it take a coming change in life to appreciate and make time for the things that add value to our lives? 

Expression

"To express yourself is your birthright." Louise Bourgeois

One of my favorite songs is First Floor Generator by Freelance Whales.  I love everything about the song and often listen to it on repeat when I have the house to myself (When you play the song on repeat the song never ends, continuously looping back into itself, which is a clever and lovely illustration of the song's lyrics).  Tucked away inside the song are the lyrics "/And in our native language we are chanting ancient songs./"  I love the idea that perhaps we all have our own native language of expression that comes most easily and naturally to us and are each using our personal form of expression to speak of the emotions and story lines that have always been familiar to humans.  

 

First Floor Generator by Freelance Whales

"I think people are afraid of beauty in painting, beauty in art for another reason.  And that is if you see something really beautiful there is a desire to hold it, to hold the moment.  And as soon as you want to hold that moment you realize that life is temporary.  That you can't.  And so every time you see beauty along with that beauty comes the sense of disappointment of life passing.  If you ignore the idea of something beautiful you ignore the idea of that pain of trying to keep it.  I think that, just now this fear is very pronounced at the end of the century and at the end of the last century as well. . . ."    Pat Steir (1998)

 

Evening Waterfall, Pat Steir

Evening Waterfall, Pat Steir


Masterpieces

"Yes, masterpieces are made today.  Masterpieces are only works of art that people especially like.  The twentieth century has produced very many. . .  Let us not be intimidated by the pretending authorities who write books and term only this or that Mona Lisa as the only masterpiece.  Masterpieces are only especially considered works of art.  They occur now and they occurred 30,000 years ago."

David Smith

Old Work

In going through my home I've found work that I hadn't thought about in years.  My living room floor has collected quite a little pile of old work that I'm just not sure what to do with.  (Some) of my old work has reached the point that I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to claim it, yet there's a strange disconnect now in looking at my at most of my old work where I wonder why I thought this work was important enough to envision, create, and complete.  Yet it's still important because it is the work that has brought me to my current work.  How much time will pass until I feel that same disconnect with my current work?

I like my wilderness tame and my interiors rustic.

Workspace: I'm so thankful for a husband who lets me take over the kitchen table as a second work space...for 4 months.

My work has been slowly creeping from my work room table to the kitchen table.  It seems that when I hit a period of creative blankness I feel that if I have more workspace it will prove that I'm working and trying.  Maybe I believe that a new room will bring new vigor into my work (it hasn't).  I also seem to feel during these periods of blankness that maybe if I try every idea I've ever thought of or heard of that eventually something will materialize out of the chaos and present itself to me as worthwhile.  Currently this desperate (frustrated) grasping at straws means I'm cultivating several types of salt crystals in the kitchen, trying to grow moss on different surfaces and materials outside, attempting to sculpt with silicone caulk, and am avoiding clay in a manner I would typically reserve for vegetables.  I seem to think that if I continue to push boundaries in every direction I know that eventually I will have a breakthrough and finally begin making work that is good.  There is a fear in the thought that maybe you are only an artist in the act of creation and every moment you are not creating is a moment that you are not an artist.  Yet in the frantic scramble to make something good I wonder if I miss the things that could be the impulse of my next work.   

  (It looks more romantic in black and white)

  (It looks more romantic in black and white)


Sentimental Value

     Getting ready to move has been forcing me to evaluate each and every belonging I possess.  It's a strange process deciding what is necessary and what can, and perhaps should, be done without.  In sorting I have come upon a strange (large) pile of objects that is not necessary, but sentimental.  These are the items I have avoided going through because in sorting them I must decide what experiences in my life are so important that I wish to continue holding on to the special little knick-knack that visually holds the memory for me.  The pile cannot be taken care of quickly because each and every object demands a reliving of the memory it holds.  After going through the pile last week, I came to the last object, placing it in the "keep" pile only to realize that the space where the "throw away" pile should be on the floor beside me was empty.  I hadn't found a single item I was willing to part with.

 Giving up sentimental objects has always been a difficult task for me.  It's not that I worry that the memory will be forgotten if the sentimental object is thrown out.  My worry is simply that the memory will never again be called to mind if the object is discarded.  In saving the pile I feel comforted knowing that eventually a new time in my life will come when I will be forced to forge back into the pile to revisit my memories and make new decisions about what is valuable.  I know I won't go through the pile again until this time.  I never do.  Will I save everything again next time?  Perhaps going through the pile is itself an important journey as you remember the experiences that have brought you to this place and carry those things (both physically and internally) with you onto new places.

 

My little guys have been out and seeing the world at Baltimore Clayworks in Maryland!  Check out some pictures from the show:

For more pictures of some of the excellent work at the show check out Baltimore Claywork's FB page:   Baltimore Clayworks

 

 

Messing around with some new textures using sodium silicate.  These little forms remind me puffball mushrooms!

puffball.jpg

I read an article today by Robert Krulwich about the first time he fell in love with a painting.  I love his description of what happened to him when he saw the painting, how he felt like he already knew the painting.    

Here's all I can think: that when we are born, we are born with a sort of mood in us, a mood that comes to us through our genes, that will be seasoned by experience, but deep down, it's already there, looking for company, for someone to share itself with, and when we happen on the right piece of music, the right person, or, in this case the right artist, then, with a muscle that is as deep as ourselves, with the force of someone grabbing for a life preserver, we attach.   --Robert Krulwich