Celebrating contemporary interpretations of the mug as a drinking vessel
October 5, 2012 - November 17, 2012
October 5, 7 - 9 PM
(Above: “Monsieur Mustach” by Megan Gulland)
The Walnut Gallery presents a new exhibition, Mug Extravaganza!, which celebrates contemporary interpretations of the mug as a drinking vessel. The show runs from October 5 – November 16, 2012 with an opening reception, Friday evening, October 5th from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. The mugs will be for sale. Visitors are also encouraged to bring their own favorite mug to enjoy a full range of custom made coffee beverages free with any donation. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.
Steve Loucks, Professor of Art at Jacksonville State University, was the juror assessing the works on the following criteria: the object as a mug, artistic craftsmanship, and the interpretive concepts. Mugs must have been made dominantly out of clay and glaze materials, made within the last two years, not exceed 18 inches in any dimension, nor weigh over 25 pounds, and must have a handle or some kind of means to pick up the piece.
The Mug Extravaganza! exhibit consists of a selection of 42 mugs by 20 artists. Artists who entered their work for jurying, were encouraged to interpret the “mug” in various ways. Their mugs could be utilitarian, sculptural, or conceptual. Five cash awards will be given out for outstanding mugs worthy of recognition for their innovative interpretation on form and design, execution, and use of the ceramic processes: construction, glazing, and firing. The Walnut Gallery would like to thank the exhibit sponsors: Downtown Gadsden Inc., Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, Holiday Inn Express, and the City of Gadsden for providing the awards.
In addition to the juried mug selection, there are mugs made by the juror and mugs and cups with handles from his personal collection. Combined, over 60 mugs will be on display representing over 32 artists from all over the United States. “It is evident in the show how the artist enjoys the opportunity to break the rules of tradition in order to express his/her interpretive meaning for the piece under the limitations of the material. These explorations lead to stretching boundaries and coming up with new solutions and avenues of artistic expression. Each artist’s mug displays character and personality”, said Steve Loucks.
Mugs of all kinds will be on exhibit. Most are utilitarian and glazed with appealing glazes from earth tones to brightly colored lightning streaks. Several are more sculptural where they abandon strict utilitarian concerns for a more sculptural or decorative approach from floating dots to imagery on social commentary. For many the decorative element each artist uses separates one style of mug from another. Some artists just use simple glazes that dress up the mug forms. Some carved intricate designs, manipulated the clay away from the round form, or added embellishments. Others brushed on glazes and glaze stains in a rather painterly manor.
A variety of techniques were utilized to produce the mugs. Most were thrown on the potter’s wheel which produces a round, symmetrical form. Others were built from slabs of clay rolled into cylinders and then manipulated into mug forms. All have handles to easily pick them up. A few have saucers which are usually associated with tea cups. The mug shape has been utilized for thousands of years to hold warm liquids, or in the case of a stein, large amounts of cold beer. It is often considered to have a more robust presentation of the drink than a delicate tea cup.
Today most potters and ceramic artists buy clay premixed in 25# bags, moist, and ready to use. A number of small art clay companies make many different types of clays for artists that are mixed to have particular properties or qualities. They vary in color, such as the pristine whiteness of porcelain to reddish firing earthenware, and they fire to different temperatures to make the clay impermeable to liquids and to be food safe. The clay varies in its feel and consistency as it is formulated for using different techniques depending on the artist’s needs. Those same clay companies also sell glaze materials for artists to develop and mix their own glazes. Commercial glazes are available and they are getting better with greater variety. However, most ceramic artists choose to make their own glaze which requires some basic knowledge of chemistry and understanding of glaze theory.
Visitors to the reception are encouraged to bring their favorite mug to enjoy a variety of custom made coffee beverages. “We are very excited about this exhibition and we want the community to come out and celebrate the mugs on display and to bring their own favorite mug”, said Mario Gallardo who is the Executive Director. Josh Hale a professional barista will be at the event making custom coffee and tea beverages for visitors free with any donation to the gallery. “Josh is passionate about coffee and works full time in the industry as a professional barista. He will be making lattes, cappuccinos, and chai teas just to name a few. Visitors to Walnut Gala will remember the fabulous coffee bar that Josh provided this past Spring.
Flipside Café who is sponsoring the reception will offer a sampling of tasty accoutrements to compliment the coffee bar. Come see, drink, and enjoy the show!