Pottery with Personality and Purpose

Featured above: Handpainted bluefish bowl with incised details by Shirley Gromen of Arlington, Va. is accompanied by her recipe for cioppino fish stew.

Mundane modernity may have run the table, but anonymous molded dishware is sidelined as local potters assert their personalities in pottery, complete with homespun recipes at Scope Gallery’s Torpedo Factory Art Center in October.

While the matchup between Washington Ceramic Guild artists and corporate Crate & Barrel creators seem uneven, root for the underdog in the field. Whether from Barrel or Barn, pottery mass-produced for mall shoppers fumble fine artistry. Soulless porcelain cylinders are offensive when faced with forms hand-thrown and glazed in stunning crystalline finishes.

Golden layered bowl by Klaudia Levin of Silver Spring, Md. is accompanied by her recipe for seasame peanut noodles.

Golden layered bowl by Klaudia Levin of Silver Spring, Md. is accompanied by her recipe for seasame peanut noodles.

A pivotal confrontation, local ceramicists are cooking with gas; fired up for a fight and ready to rumble.

Martha Stewart’s canned casserole bakers are bested by handmade lidded work with perfect spirals. Plates and platters from Walmart are overwhelmed by the spectacular play of artisan glazing and granny’s recipes. Soup bowls are clearly super, beautifully incised and salad plates are more organic, less conventional. Then pile on the slurp-able recipes and artisan salads.

Inclised high-fire stoneware pie plate with incised rim by Chris Coyle of Glenn Dale, Md. comes with her personal quiche recipe.

Inclised high-fire stoneware pie plate with incised rim by Chris Coyle of Glenn Dale, Md. comes with her personal quiche recipe.

Stay tuned to see if scrappy clay artists can orchestrate a comeback. It’s decision time. Artists clearly have the ability to air it out and insert spunk and muscle into the ground game. Their creative touch makes them the Cinderella team, the sentimental favorite. They’re playing for pride.

Handbuilt trays elevate play beyond the rectangular regulations as edges are fluted, folded and curled.  If basic white mugs are not ringing your bell, huddle over ergonomic tankards or superbly thrown tumblers. Artists go up against an imported factory lineup, looking for the support of the hometown crowd. They rally with original sculptural work, besting hordes of Hummel cherubs, Lladro ladies and Hallmark figurines. Washington-area favorites are showing great individual effort, creative and competitive juices flowing.

"Oyster Pearl" sculpture by Christine Moerenhout-Hubloue of McLean, Va. is accompanied by a homemade cocktail sauce recipe.

“Oyster Pearl” sculpture by Christine Moerenhout-Hubloue of McLean, Va. is accompanied by a homemade cocktail sauce recipe.

Handmade pottery fans are really getting their money’s worth, they’re on their feet, going wild, electrified … and this one’s in the bag!

The Ceramic Guild show runs September 29 to October 26; hours are Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Thursdays open until 9 p.m. The gallery is located at 105 North Union Street, ground floor Studio 19, Alexandria, VA. 22314. For further information, call Scope Gallery at 703-548-6288, visit www.torpedofactory.org/galleries/scope and Scope Gallery at the Torpedo Factory Art Center’ on Facebook.

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