I was a good boy all winter, secretly toiling away in my studio. I can finally reveal the fruits of my labor, a new solo show at The Clay Studio's Bonovitz Space in Philadelphia. The show opens today, but I'll be there for the opening on February 6th. I'm showing sixteen new altered collector plates, ranging from decorative to a serious lack of decorum. I've created a web gallery on Extreme Craft for those of you who can't make it to the show.
Collector plates have been my muse for almost ten years now. Every now and then, I'll go on an eBay jag, buying a dozen at a time. It's kind of heart-breaking to buy these plate collections. They represent the one-time hopes of collectors who hoped the plates, usually purchased for around $30 a pop, would escalate in value. The golden age of the collector plate was the early 80's, when prices soared. The late 80's saw a crash of near Beanie Baby proportions.
Sometimes, the alteration a plate deserves springs quickly to mind, and sometimes they have to marinate for months...or even years. Each plate goes through a minimum of three firings, as I sandblast away old imagery, then add china paint, gold luster and decals to finish them off. I love adding text to the plates...sometimes they call for elaborate quotes and phrases, and sometimes, just a few words will do.
I love using (and bastardizing) quotations on the plates. Old, battered sayings are sort of like collector plates. They're kitschy, tired, and worn-out, but there's something compelling about them. Anyone that's opened a junk email or cracked a copy of Parade Magazine had noticed that the Obama administration has ushered in a new era of collectible plates. A public that is hungry for change apparently wants it served up on crappy commemorative plates.
I'm honored to be showing work at the Clay Studio while they are showing the work of my greatest ceramic hero, the late, great Howard Kottler. Kottler was a trailblazing artist who pioneered the potent mixture of art, hobby craft and sarcasm that's so prevalent today. Kottler also liked to work with plates, manipulating and collaging hobby decals on porcelain blanks to make bizarre one-off collector plates. He also had beautiful embroidered velvet bags and wooden containers fabricated to hold his plates, adding an extra whiff of luxury to his beautiful, debauched objects.
So visit the Clay Studio! If only to see this once-in-a-lifetime Howard Kottler show. This show put quite a dent in my plate collection, so if you inherited Great-Grandma's plate collection, I promise I'll take reeeeeeeeeally good care of it!