Monday, March 24, 2014

NCECA success!

The NCECA crew: Samson (production manager), Mark (owner), 
Vicki (school accounts and store manager) and Gina (web content)

Wow, we had a great time at NCECA - and we'd like to extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by our both in the exhibitor hall.  It was awesome seeing a lot of familiar faces from the Philadelphia area, and it was really cool to meet a lot of our web customers face-to-face for the first time.  Not to mention all of the new people we got a chance to chat with!  At any rate, we're so glad that you're our customers -- we had a lot of interesting chats, learned a lot of cool new things ourselves (we looooove feedback!) and had a lot of laughs, so thanks for being awesome. 

For those who didn't make it out to Wisconsin, though, I figured I'd post some highlights of our trip today. So, spoiler -- Milwaukee is an AWESOME city.  Considering all of the amazing artists scattered around the state, it really was a great location for this year's conference.  

Vicki and Samson are totally cheesy.

There were a ton of amazing installations, but the one I've posted below was probably my favorite -- Nichole Howard set up an amazing Kickstarter project that consisted of water, coffee, a bunch of little tiny terra cotta mugs, and a box in which to smash them upon finishing your beverage.  Cathartic, destructive, and just generally rad.  Don't worry, Nichole's plans include recycling all of the unfired pottery. 

Also, Samson and I agreed that 
this coffee was just really gooooood.  

Samson relieves some rage.

The funny thing about NCECA is how we traveled halfway across the country and wound up spending a lot of time with other Philly folks. Our friends from The Clay Studio put on an amazing exhibition in honor of their 40th anniversary, featuring some breathtaking work by a wide variety of artists, including Ceramic Shop favorite Peter Morgan.  Hey, Peter, if you're reading this -- great duck!  So many pieces in that show were amazing, but I'll leave you with just one image, a detail of Linda Cordell's Lincoln Vignette (2013): 

Vicki and I stood and stared at this porcelain rat for a looonnnngggg time.

Another fairly mind-blowing exhibition was the Archie Bray Foundation's showcase.  Unsurprising that this ceramics mecca put forth an incredible show, but still deserves a mention. The Foundation's Resident Artist Director, Steven Young Lee, is a resident artist there himself, and his current work results in forms that have been intentionally deformed or 'damaged' by the firing process.  How many times have you taken a waster out of a kiln and thought, 'Wow, that unexpected result is actually really cool'?  If you're like me, that happens roughly once a week, which either speaks to my eternal optimism or my terrible technical skills. At any rate, here's his contribution to the Bray show:

Steven Young Lee

So, lots of cool stuff to see -- but we hardly stayed inside of the convention center the whole time.  Milwaukee is an awesome and a big part of NCECA is catching up with far-flung potter friends, sometimes over an adult beverage.  Luckily, Brew City had a ton of amazing options for doing just that.  Microbrews everywhere! The food was really good, too.  We had an awesome dinner at the gastropub Hinterland with our friends from Spectrum Glazes and had a pretty amazing and wild night at the Safe House, which was a great bar and definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Milwaukee, particularly if you want to check out Mr. Blackjack -- a dead ringer for Christopher Walken.  

$5 buy-in for spoof black jack -- SO fun.  
Here Samson goes ALL IN. He, uh, lost.  

We also made it out to the Milwaukee Art Museum because we wanted to check out the NCECA invitational, Flow. Oh. My. Word.  Not only was this museum one of the coolest spaces I have ever entered, the collection was pretty insane too.  Great spacious galleries perfect for large-scale minimalist works.  Here's the breathtaking entry hall:

As far as the work for NCECA's Flow goes, the always-amazing work of  Beth Cavener Stichter seemed to have been THE most-photographed image of the entire conference.  Every time I see new work of hers, she tops herself all over again. Here's her jaw-dropping work in the museum:

No words.

So that's about all until 2015, when NCECA hits Rhode Island.  We're all pretty much recovered from the whirlwind week, but once again, to all of our customers and everyone who stopped by our booth to check out our products and chat, THANKS! You make this fun stuff even more fun.  'Til next year!

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