Don Pilcher and Rascal Ware Pottery  

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Vitreous Vicissitudes

By Georgette Ore

Chapter Four

Vitreous vicissitudes sounds like an oxymoron but it isn’t. Last week we heard that some of my Rascal Ware was actually accepted for exhibition. I was 0 for 11 up till then and the air in the studio was getting a little tight. As a bonus, the judge (who is now referred to around here as St. Virginia) saw fit to anoint these pieces with an award. This all sparked a lunchtime discussion about judges, quality, who might be blind to it and other touchy subjects. People were naming names and the conversation coarsened very quickly. Blind justice is one thing. Blind judges are another.

The upside of this brawl was that the new guy, Hairy Potter, crossed a line and Junior fired his ass. The truth is that Hairy’s first day on the job was his best and it was downhill after that. He looked like an opportunity but it turns out he was just an opportunist; common enough in the art game.

pot The downside was that Pilcher tried to restore order and elevate the discourse by posing questions nobody could (or wanted to) answer. He can turn small talk into a seminar in a heartbeat. That stuff flew at the U but we professionals weren’t having any of it.

Anyhow, back to judges and quality and all that. The problem begins at the beginning and it hangs on this notion: Some pots are better than others and if you work hard, you can learn to make the better ones. So your teacher says, “I’ll show you how it’s done.” The line that usually doesn’t follow is this one - “By the way, while I know these are really good pots, they are frequently rejected by others, currently at a rate of 11 to 1. Take advanced ceramics and I’ll tell you why that is.”

In advanced ceramics you learn that the disconnect between the maker and the viewer (or judge) is not a scandal, it’s a mystery. For example, don’t we all see work published in magazines all the time that is nothing special? Maybe even on this very page. Well somebody likes it - a lot. The explanation comes from our resident philosopher, Mosley Bunkham. He embraces this disconnect as follows: “Art is a business with no bottom, which is not to say that all of it is equal. It’s just that where you stand on better and worse depends entirely on where you sit.”

At Rascal Ware here’s where we sit. Find an empty chair. Keep an open mind. Stay as long as it takes. It’s OK to let them see you sweat. Think faster, work slower and let the kilns cool even slower than that. Keep good records. Answer your mail. Don’t become a slave to your cell phone. Try not to make the same thing over and over. Keep coming back and, as I said last time, go easy on the pork buffet.


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