Ceramics Central

For the next six weeks, clay exhibitions are being mounted all over the city, as well as in surrounding counties and states

Tour De Clay

February 17, 2005|By Mary Carole McCauley | Mary Carole McCauley,SUN ARTS WRITER

Deborah Bedwell has a lot on her plate. But in her case, the plate is made of clay and fired in a kiln.

Bedwell is executive director of Baltimore Clayworks, the agency organizing Tour de Clay, a six-week visual arts extravaganza starting Saturday and running through April 3. (For those readers who may be wondering, it should be noted that the Tour de Clay has absolutely nothing to do with that other clay, Clay Aiken.)

Tour de Clay features 170 ceramic exhibitions created by 878 artists. Though most of the free exhibits are in Baltimore, a few also are spread through Annapolis, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia and elsewhere.

And all of that is making Bedwell just a little bit crazy.

"Let's see," Bedwell said, standing still for a moment in her winter coat and ticking off a list: "Today, we're delivering 400 pedestals to galleries that have not previously shown ceramics. I've unplugged my chief financial officer from his desk and put him in a truck with a Chinese artist who speaks no English.

"We put up a Tour de Clay lighted display in the new Southwest Airlines Terminal at the airport. It's a big case with a lighted banner and sculpture and pottery.

"We're organizing 25 volunteer teams of at least two people each to deliver a guest book and Tour de Clay poster to galleries. They're making sure everything is going well and will do a follow-up evaluation at the end.

"And every two hours I get 12 more messages on my answering machine of things that need to be done right away."

Tour de Clay is bracketed by two events: the American Craft Council show Feb. 25-27 at the Baltimore Convention Center, and the National Council for Education in Ceramic Arts conference, March 16-19. The show and convention combined are expected to bring nearly 10,000 visitors to Charm City, and Bedwell wants to make sure they have plenty of browsing and spending opportunities in their off-time.

The festival is juried. One exhibit was selected for roughly every two proposals submitted, and the show includes Norwegian, Korean, African and Chinese ceramics.

Some of the festival's best-known exhibitors include Baltimorean Joyce Scott, a multimedia artist; Richard DeVore, a Californian who creates large, sculptural vessels; and Adrian Arleo, a Montana artist who crafts clay into arresting, troubling animal images.

In addition, the festival will include workshops, gallery receptions, and other lighthearted events. On "Clay Day," March 4, pottery stations will be set up throughout the city so visitors can spin their own pots; a "Clay Crawl" is on March 11, when, for $10, participants can get discounts at about 80 restaurants, taverns, gift stores and galleries; and yes, there's even a bike "Tour de Clay" challenge on April 3, culminating at a big party at Baltimore Clayworks, 5707 Smith Ave.

Which reminds Bedwell of yet another chore that needs to be done.

"The hedges," she said, her eye caught by a piece of white trapped among the bare winter branches. "I'll have to find someone to clean them up before the festival begins."

Schedule highlights

5th Story, 405 W. Franklin St. March 16-March 19: Building Blocks: New Work by Albert Pfarr

Academy Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton, 410-822-2787 Tomorrow-April 2: Particles and Passion: The Art of Clay

American Craftworks Collection, 189-B Main St., Annapolis, 410-626-1583 March 1-March 30: Large Scale Ceramic Sculpture

American Dime Museum, 1808 Maryland Ave., 410-230-0263 Saturday-April 3: Wormholes Caught on Paper: Tim Rhoda

American Style Magazine/The Rosen Group, 3000 Chestnut Ave., Suite 300, 410-889-3093 March 15-March 19: A Natural Touch March 15-March 19: ASU Suitcase Show

American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway, 410-244-1900 Through Sept. 1: Andrew Logan Cosmic Egg Through Sept. 1: Community Mosaic Wall Through Sept. 1: Holy H2O: Fluid Universe

Annapolis Pottery, 40 State Circle, Annapolis, 410-268-6153 Thin Wire: Ben Culbertson Recent Work

Anne Arundel Community College: Cade Gallery, 101 College Parkway, Arnold, 410-777-7495 March 1-March 31: Norwegian Clay

Anne Arundel Community College: Pascal Gallery, 101 College Parkway, Arnold, 410- 777-7023 March 1-March 19: CERAMIC CURRENTS: Program in Artisanry 1975-2003

Area 405, 405 E. Oliver St., 410-528-2101 American Al2O2 SiO2 2H20: Contemporary Sculpture

ArtFX, 45 West St., Annapolis, 410-990-4540 March 1-March 31: Tactile Sensations

Aurora Gallery, 67 Maryland Ave., 410-263-9150 Sunday-March 20: Illuminations: Mind and Spirit

BACVA Visitors Center, 401 Light St., 877-BALTIMORE Sculpture by Chuck Johnson

Baltimore Clayworks, 5707 Smith Ave., 410-578-1919, ext. 10 Saturday-April 3: 2004 International Orton Cone Box Show Saturday-March 20: Endless Variations: Shino Review 2005 Saturday-April 3: Richard DeVore solo exhibition March 13-March 20: Clay-Connected: Baltimore Clayworks Student Show March 13-March 20: Clay in Common: Baltimore Clayworks Member Artist Studio Tour and Exhibition

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