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Jim Melchert  | Works of Resonance 

Article by Nancy M Servis 

Reprinted from Ceramics: Art and Perception No 100, 2015, with permission of the author. 


In the spoken work performance, 100 Statements About Myself, 1992/2013, at Southern Exposure Gallery in the Mission District of San Francisco, California, US Jim Melchert calmly stood before a restless urban crowd restating 50 phrases written two decades ago followed by 50 contemporary statements. His vocal. Cadence and intonations infused the cavernous room with warmth, humour and surprise. As one might expect, his comments touched upon observations on art and living a creative life. But others such as, “Most people could use some good news,” from 2013, hinted at a humanitarian perspective gained over the course of time. 


This performance was part of the exhibition, The Long Conversation, featuring select multigernerational artists from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area who were exhibiting, performing and creating conceptual work. It was also one of a number of exhibitions in which Melchert and his work were recently featured, illustrating his enduring and productive career. His inclusion in. Many exhibits such as Paul Kotula Projects in Ferndale, Michigan; Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco; Scores for a Room: David Haxton and Jim Melchert at the Worth Ryder Art Gallery at University of California, Berkeley; Lively Experiment during NCECA’s 2015 conference in Providence, Rhode Island, US; and recently, the art commission, Riven/River, 2013 for the San Francisco Airport Museum, sharpen anew the focus on a conceptually driven artist whose creative output is often, but not always, associated with the material of clay. 

The Southern Exposure reading illustrates an essence in Melchert’s work, spawned decades ago by the ideas presented in Raymond Queneau’s book, Exersises de Style, in which, as the artist notes, “he related the same anecdote over and over, but each time in a different literary style. I seem to have a passion for multiplicity.”1 This idea prompted Melchert to devise his 1970 lowercase a series where he placed 21 a’s throughout the main gallery of the San Francisco Art Institute. Some were sculptural, made of varying materials while others were two-dimensionally flat such as a word on paper. As both a single letter and a word, the multiple uses of ‘a’ challenged art and exhibition mores of the time, as the conceptual messaging that unfolded suited the artist’s intent. 

A slightly earlier piece in Melchert’s sculptural explorations is Photo Negative with Metal Ashtray, 1968. It captures the artist’s early probing of ideas through materiality and starts to pave the way for both his time-based work and his celebrated expansive planes of tile. This curious serial piece is a three-dimensional representation of a photographic negative. It is only complete as a work of art when someone’s hand enters the scene to approach the ashtray while trailing cigarette smoke. 

The duality often present in Melchert’s body of work is better understood when considering his participation in two landmark and distinctly different Bay Area shows during the provocative 1960s: The Slant-Step Show in 1965 which revolved around the painter, William T Wiley and his then University of California, Davis graduate student, Bruce Nauman, exploring the confounding mystery regarding a small linoleum-covered slanted chair spawning artistic speculation to its intended use; and the 1967 Funk show curated by Peter Selz at the University of California, Berkeley where the controversial wave of sculptural work was shown by 26 artists, including Robert Arneson, Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Roy De Forest, and Manuel Neri. Both exhibitions were bold harbingers of creative societal thought that stimulated many artists not artistically bound by the use of any one specific material. Melchert successfully and simultaneously straddled both realms.  

Melchert’s investigation of existential ideas was poignantly illustrated in 1972 with the performance piece Changes: A performance with drying Slip, a well-known landmark event in the annals of conceptual and ceramics history, undertaken during a visit to Amsterdam and Documenta 5 in Kassel, Germany. Melchert recalls this original event where 10 people dipped their heads in slip and then were guided to sit on either side of the temperature-variant room. He recalls, “The studio in Amsterdam was large. I placed the two benches perhaps eight feet apart in more or less the center of it. Between them I had the blocks of ice at one end and the charcoal fire at the other.”2 The respective rate of drying slip encasing each individual’s head defined their interior sound scape of breathing, heartbeat and even nervous system pulsations. Consequently, participants were shifted out of the realm of an artist acting on a medium into an arena where the medium asserted control.3 This communal performance and his 1975 one-person show, Points of View, Slide Projection Installations at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art permanently anchored Melchert in the realm of conceptually driven engagement.  

At first, these events seem unrelated to Melchert’s current large-scale tile-based artwork. While he does not describe himself solely as a ceramic artist, the category fits most of his work. Through conversation, however, it becomes clear that his 20 years engagement with large, fractured tiles (each tile measuring 18 x 18 in) that are glazed and realigned achieving a constellation-like presence, is rooted in his lifelong meditation of ideas that often intermingle avant-garde music with surrealism and even physics. 

Born in 1930 and raised in Ohio, Melchert circuitously made his way to Northern California to work with the unconventional Peter Voulkos, with whom he first briefly studied in 1957 during a summer session at the University of Montana, Missoula. Leah Balsham, an instructor at the Chicago Art institute where Melchert was pursuing his first graduate degree in painting, encouraged this contact. She encountered Voulkos and the unapologetic use of large amounts of clay in the early 1950s at the recently formed Archie Bray foundation for the Ceramic Arts (then known as Pottery, Inc at the Western Brick Manufacturing Company) on the outskirts of Helena, Montana. Balsham’s two introductory classes enabled Melchert to complete his graduate studies in three quarters. In 1957 he was hired to teach art at Carthage College, Illinois (now in Kenosha, Wisconsin). As sole art instructor for the school, he taught all the course offerings including ceramics. “Having had nothing more than an introduction to it,” he stated, “I would work with clay the evening before class to get some ideas to present to the students. I began enjoying those sessions. That is when I decided to spend the following summer investigating clay.”4 He wrote Balsam inquiring about the Bray, which she praised yet directed him toward Voulkos’ course in Missoula instead.  

As for many Bay Area artists, Peter Voulkos served as a magnetic draw. And for Melchert, the early association in Montana lured him to UC Berkeley (Cal) where he undertook a second graduate degree with Voulkos in the Department of Decorative Arts. There, he and Sandra Johnstone were Voulkos’ first and only registered graduate students in ceramics. Soon thereafter, many artists came to Cal either as students or auditors to be a part of the unfolding dynamic scene at Berkeley’s ceramic Pot Shop. John Mason was one of many artists Melchert met during this time; and Melchert fondly recalls driving to Los Angeles in 1959 with Voulkos to connect with several of Voulkos’ friends and fellow artists. Mason, along with many other artists such as Michael Frimkess and Henry Takemoto were also periodic auditors at the UC Berkeley program working alongside enrolled students such as Kazuye Suyematsu. These early associations set the groundwork for the lifelong friendship Melchert and Mason still share. Their enduring artistic relationship also illustrates the creative fluidity that exists between Northern and Southern California. Although the San Francisco Bay Area and greater Los Angeles are 400 miles apart, the channels of ceramics engagement were direct. 

Melchert also was an influential teacher at the Bay Area universities: San Francisco Art Institute 1961-1965 (ceramics) and University of California, Berkeley (sculpture) from 1965 until 1992, and is now Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art Practice. He led the Visual Arts Program at the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC (1977-1981) and was Director of the American Academy in Rome (1984-1988). Such advocation took seed early in Melchert’s life. Upon graduation from Princeton University in 1952 with an AB in art history, he travelled to Japan to teach English for four years.5 While in Japan, Melchert met his wife, Mary Ann, and started their family that grew to three children. These guideposts create a framework in which Melchert’s artistic productivity is considered. 

A complexity of cultural forces also underlies the essence of Jim Melchert’s lifelong work. Raised in a musical home and adept at piano and choral singing, Melchert’s creative thinking reflexively aligns with experiments in music, especially John Cage, the development of indetermination and the role of chance guiding artistic direction. Musician and composer, David Tudor, whom Melchert admired for several years and then met while in Rome, performed many of Cage’s works.6 Melchert’s dept of thought and ongoing engagement with subliminal tenets find realization in a series of recent works collectively titled, Piano Scores for David Tudor, 2011-2013, illustrating both his kinship with indeterminate music and the incorporation of chance to dictate surface design. This series illustrates the artist’s method of spinning a short measuring stick-like tool that lands on the porcelain tile to indicate where the glazed bands of color are applied. Once fired, he then conjoins his reassembled tiles to create visual resonances mounted on the wall. Melchert then draws with graphite on some of his large wall works, intentionally departing from traditional ceramics practice since graphite vanishes when fired. Each square section is an opportunity to further articulate his ideas. For the artist, graphite renderings on tile succeed in a way that drawings on paper cannot.  

Melchert’s use of chance for breaking tile is not an uninformed act. Similar to how potters perceive the firing results of an anagama kiln, Melchert experientially intuits the breaking of tile. The sidewalk just outside his studio is where he drops and cracks commercial tiles knowing which abruption will cause a spider crack, radiating fan, or elegant arc. This act exposes the clay’s interiority and, for the artist, respects the path of energy. Contextually, the artist often describes his conversation with a physicist regarding the definition of a crack and that it is forged along a weak alignment of molecules. “The point is” he explains, “that on one hand you have fired clay which is a mass and on the other, energy rushing through it separating sections where the bond between molecules is weak.”7 This material vulnerability suited his desire to identify and explore the inherent vice of ceramics. “But surely in clay,” the artist pondered, “there was a place for the concept that was other than structural.”8 Melchert’s tiles attest to this idea. It is fitting, then that avant-garde Bay Area composer, Greg Moore, visited the artist in his studio to record Melchert’s shattering process which he then recalibrated into a sound performance.9  

This layered approach enters the realm of creative phenomena and is where Melcher’s tile murals insightfully succeed. Wayne Higby discusses the idea of creative phenomena in his curatorial essay “Material Matters: Art and Phenomena” for the 2010 Scripps College 66th Ceramic Annual. “The dynamics of perception,” he begins, “are central to both the experience of art and to the critical theory that examines the experience of art.” … “I have become convinced that we initially experience works of art through our senses in response to phenomena.10 He featured 14 artists whose work attained an insightful depiction of materiality deeply informed by process that bridled phenomena accelerating the final work. Melchert, whose pursuit of conceptual ideas led him in and out of the use of clay as an artistic medium for many years, similarly has been investigating this complex balance. “What I had formerly thought of only as a flaw I could now regard as a positive feature worth investigating….Opening a tile is like entering a hidden place. There are seemingly endless ways of interacting with what you encounter, each of which can lead to a discrete body of work.”11 During his active 60-year career he has made sculpture, film-based conceptualizations, drawing, performance, and commanding wall-mounted tile murals creating a life-long collection expressing a varied dialogue of universal thoughts and ideas. 

Jim Melchert’s tile panels and large murals are the most appropriate forum for his complex artistic pursuit. Pieces such as Reassure, 2008 illustrate one aspect of his approach. He draws upon ideas that, after many years of inquiry and experimentation, summon poetics in his work. The graceful arc of a cracked, often sharply edged line is carefully echoed through repetitions of bands of glaze that follow the crack’s trajectory. Merged with sibling tiles to create pairs, triptychs or 60×40 inch painting-size works, Melchert’s ensembles attain visual and perceptual effect. They emerge from thoughtful reformations of abrupt occurrences where studied embellishments unfold into eloquent imperfections. Further, his fascination with patterned light and light’s transparent and reflective capacities, synchronize with his conceptualizations while utilizing the realm of clay. Melchert’s preoccupation with tile’s ability to react to light emerged while visiting mosques in the Middle East during the 1980s. His discussions of those observations, of seeing the changing light reflect off large architectural forms by way of small, angled tiles, assist our understanding of his focus. His recent 2014 trip to Iran, where he visited more ancient architectural sites, is evidence of his enduring consideration of the ethereal capacity of tile. 

Riven/River, 2013 is Melchert’s latest work resulting from his 20 year inquiry into the structural, artistic and poetic properties of tile murals. The title reinforces the artist’s act of fracturing with the idea of energy release and flow. Here energy, like water, is seen with select blue glazing, takes the path of least resistance. With its saturated use of red on gray tile, visible from great distances often negotiated in airports, the work is charged by intense patterning in the two large pulsating sections. Fundamental to this energised piece is his willingness to engage chance in its initial tile breakage. The sensitive reassembly of shards into bold swaths of vibrating color distance the work from its ceramic reality, positioning it in the realm of eloquently depicted ideas. While process is not the main consideration for his work, it fosters our understanding of his transcendent result. Jim Melchert’s tile murals depict his conceptual message in the realm of ceramics. They also direct our thinking toward a resonate aesthetic that attains what Higby concludes is “phenomena imbedded in the never-ending richness of material and process.”12 



  1. “James Melchert: Conversations on Time, Chance and Creative Intelligence:,;jsessionid=D. This article first appeared in the publication, Studio Potter, No. 25, pp 43-59, June 1997. 
  1. Email from the artist, January 1, 2015. 
  1. 3. See: for the original b/w filmed performance. 
  1. Op cit, email. 
  1. While at Princeton, Jim Melchert met another student, Stephen De Staebler, two years younger, who was pursuing a degree in religion. 
  1. Melchert was introduced to the musical scores of John Cage by Peter Voulkos in 1959/1960. Voulkos acquired them while at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, in exchange for some wares. “You look at these scores and it is almost as if somebody had written a letter. They have nothing to do with notation. And he (Voulkos) said that David Tudor could play these. He remarked that David Tudor could play the telephone directory.” Melchert, Jim. Interview by author. 14 November 2013. 
  1. Op cit, email. 
  1. Op cit, interview. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Higby, Wayne. “Material Matters: Art and Phenomena.” in 2010 Scripps College 66th Ceramic Annual. Exh. Cat., Claremont, California: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, 2010, p 9. 
  1. Melchert, Jim. “Breaking and Entering.” In Jim Melchert: Breaking and Entering. San Francisco, California: Gallery Paule Anglim, 2008, p 3. 
  1. In discussing the idea of art and phenomena, Higby cites the book Aesthetics and Appearing by Martin Seel, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Giessen, Germany as an influence. Op cit p 10. 

Nancy M Servis is an essayist, curator and ceramiccs historian who resides in Northern California, US. She was the 2014 Jentel Critic at the ARchie Bray Foundation, Montana, completing her residency aththe Jentel Foundation in Banner, Wyoming. As Research Fellow at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California, Servis is continuing her oral history interviews with ceramics artists and practitioners in preparation for her upcoming book on ceramics in Northern California.  

By |2023-06-05T15:41:24-07:00June 5th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Jim Melchert  | Works of Resonance 

12-Day Korean Ceramics Tour hosted by Miki Shim

A self-guided travel to Korea visiting ceramics friends got me thinking I should share my experience with other ceramics enthusiasts, professionals and friends. Hope you can join me in the all-inclusive tour in South Korea visiting ceramics related sights, and to earn from local masters in their craft. Just meet me in Seoul, I’ll take care of the rest for the duration of the tour.

Fee: $3500, includes meals, lodging and travel fees. PLUS:

  • Group exhibition with local artists group in Yeoju
  • 1-day workshop with @moondobang, master potter
  • 5-day wood fire workshop with @youngtaek_shin, Tea Master and kiln builder
  • 1-day Naked Raku workshop with, Naked Raku artist and Raku kiln builder
  • Seoul sights
  • Busan sights
  • Icheon Ceramics Village
By |2023-05-29T08:48:54-07:00May 29th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on 12-Day Korean Ceramics Tour hosted by Miki Shim

Menagerie: Animals Real & Imagined opens in Fresno

Menagerie: Animals Real & Imagined opened for an Artists Art Hop Reception May 4 and will be open through May. This exhibit showcases Central Valley clay artists at Clay Hand Studios Gallery in Fresno. Artists invited to exhibit include ACGA members Ren Lee @renleestudio, Hannah Witter @hannah.rose_ceramics, and 15 more area clay artists. Clay Hand Studios Gallery is at 660 Van Ness in Fresno, Gallery is open 10-4 Tuesday – Saturday.

By |2023-05-05T09:27:58-07:00May 5th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Menagerie: Animals Real & Imagined opens in Fresno

San Joaquin Clay & Glass Festival – Fresno – May 13

The San Joaquin Clay & Glass Spring Festival will be on the grounds of Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1084 W Bullard in Fresno, Saturday, May 13, 10am – 3pm.

The Central Valley’s best clay and glass artists will be presenting their latest fine, fun, and functional works just in time for Mother’s Day. Exhibiting artists include ACGA members Kliss Glass @klissglass, Hannah Witter @hannah.rose_ceramics and Ren Lee @renleestudio

By |2023-05-05T09:03:45-07:00May 5th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on San Joaquin Clay & Glass Festival – Fresno – May 13



Ceramics by Claudia Tarantino, Bill Heiderich, and Daniel

Alejandro Trejo

April 14 – June 12, 2023  Reception : April 14, 6-9pm

Pence Gallery, 212 D Street, /Davis, CA

Tuesday – Sunday, 11:00am – 5pm

Open until 9pm for 2nd Friday ARTABOUT: May 12th and June 9th

By |2023-05-05T08:51:38-07:00May 5th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on MOMENTS IN TIME AND SPACE

Mari Emori: OFF CENTER 1st Place Recipient

Mari Emori was awarded 1st Place for her sculpture “Celestial” in OFF CENTER, An International Ceramic Art Competition, by juror Garth Johnson, Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan Curator of Ceramics at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York.

19”H x 13”W x 9”D
My “Drop Series” is deeply inspired by nature, both its beauty and the destructive power of its forces, as a single drop of water signifies life and the environment. I create pieces that reflect my connection to the natural world. When I’m not in the studio, I love to spend time in nature, hiking and wandering, always taking in new impressions that find their way into my work.
Most recently, I have been looking toward the night sky, inspired by a renewed interest in space exploration. I have expanded my “Drop Series” and created variations representing our universe and its beauty. “Celestial” represents the vastness of our universe, inspired by our galaxy. Wispy arms of stars reach out amidst a sea of emptiness while a mass of heavenly bodies cluster around a center that could be a black hole or a portal to the unknown.
—Mari Emori  @emoriceramics
OFF CENTER: April 8 – May 20, 2023
Blue Line Arts: 405 Vernon St #100, Roseville, CA 95678
By |2023-05-05T08:51:03-07:00May 5th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Mari Emori: OFF CENTER 1st Place Recipient

EAST BAY OPEN STUDIOS: May 13+14, May 20+21, 11 am – 5 pm

East Bay Open Studios is almost here! Over 185 artists across the East Bay will open their studios to the public so you can discover art where it happens.

EBOS is an opportunity to connect to the fabulous artists who live in your cities and neighborhoods. Meet artists, see or purchase their artwork, and build community. The event is free and family-friendly.

EBOS is self-guided and you can visit as many studios as you want. You can use the map on our website to locate studios or download Vibemap to participate in a Treasure Hunt and win prizes. If you need help getting oriented, start at one of our Community Hubs or RSVP to our Opening Celebration and Exhibition at Uptown Station on Friday, May 12. We can’t wait to see you there!

East Bay Open Studios  @eastbayopenartstudios

East Bay Open Studios is a program of Oakland Art Murmur

By |2023-05-05T08:50:29-07:00May 5th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on EAST BAY OPEN STUDIOS: May 13+14, May 20+21, 11 am – 5 pm

North Auburn Artists’ Studio Tour

The much-anticipated 25 th Anniversary North Auburn Artists’ Studio Tour will
be held Mother’s Day weekend, May 13 th &14 th . Twenty-one well-known North
Auburn artists will be showing their art at 14 different studios. The FREE tour
is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM.
There are sculptors, ceramic artists, painters, photographers, glass artisans,
wood workers, jewelry, textile and fiber artists on the tour. This is an
opportunity to watch the artists working in their studios and ask questions
about the medium they create in. This is an event that will interest and please
the whole family. You may also purchase and take-home original works of art,
cards or prints from the studios. An online tour guide is available at the

By |2023-05-05T08:49:51-07:00May 5th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on North Auburn Artists’ Studio Tour

OFF CENTER 2023: An International Ceramic Art Competition

April marks the return of Off Center, Blue Line Arts’ annual Ceramic Art Competition, which draws top talent in contemporary ceramics from around the country and abroad. The exhibition will host work from 41 different artists working in a variety of styles, from functional studio pottery to imaginative installations.

Writer, curator, artist, educator, and self-described craft activist Garth Johnson served as this year’s juror. Here is a special note from the juror:

“As someone who is surrounded by the greatest works in the history of studio pottery at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, I’m astounded by the energy that is driving the field today. Community studios are having a hard time meeting the demands of a public that is increasingly turning to ceramics for solace and to transform their environments. The resulting show, Off Center, is truly that. It’s full of work that makes me curious and excited about what is to come.”

–Garth Johnson, Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan Curator of Ceramics at the Everson Museum of Art 


Congratulations to the ACGA members who juried into OFF CENTER 2023!

Mary Catherine Bassett:  @mcrathergather

Michele Collier:  @burningclay 

Mari Emori:  @emoriceramics

Vince Montague:  @vincemontague   

Jan Schachter:  @janschachter



Exhibition Dates: April 8 – May 20, 2023

Alongside Off Center, you can also catch solo exhibitions in different mediums for Nina Temple, Robert Obier, and Brooke Aruffo.

Opening Reception: Saturday, April 15, 4–7 pm

Stop by to enjoy a live demo at 4 pm, with a reception to follow. Juried prize winners will be announced at 6 pm.

Blue Line Arts: 405 Vernon St #100, Roseville, CA 95678

Open Tuesday through Saturday from 11–5 pm or by appointment.  


Blue Line Arts is a regional cultural hub committed to fostering impactful arts experiences. Through exhibitions, educational programming, and public arts initiatives, we support a full creative life for all.


For more information, please visit @bluelinearts


–Brooke Abrames, Blue Line Arts Co-Director

By |2023-04-07T14:54:40-07:00April 7th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on OFF CENTER 2023: An International Ceramic Art Competition

Visions In Clay Call for Entries

Entry is open now through June 26, 2023

Exhibition Juror: Joan Takayama-Ogawa, Professor of Ceramics and Product Design, Otis College of Art & Design, Los Angeles, California

Gallery & Online Exhibition:  August 28 – September 21, 2023

Gallery Reception: August 31, 5:00-7:00p.m.

Gallery Awards $800 | $600 | $400

San Joaquin Potters Guild Founders Award ~ $300

Regional Artist Award $800

Entry Fees: $30 for 3 entries / $45 up to 6 entries

For the complete Prospectus Guidelines and to enter go to: – Call for entries

By |2023-04-05T18:11:46-07:00April 5th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Visions In Clay Call for Entries

ACGA Board Meeting Minutes – March 13, 2023

Present: Mari Emori, April Zilber, Sally Jackson (recorder), Ren Lee, Emil Yanos, Vicki Gunter, Cheryl Costantini, Chris Johnson, Susie Rubenstein, Iver Hennig, Joe Battiato, Trudy Chiddix, Barbara Prodaniuk (Absent: Sonja Hinrichsen, Lee Middleman, Jan Schachter)

Guest: Julie Taber

The meeting commenced at 5:30 p.m.

Welcome (Mari)

Treasurer’s Report (April)

April introduced ACGA member Julie Taber, who will be taking over the position of Treasurer. Julie is a ceramic artist in Altadena, CA, and she has extensive experience as a bookkeeper for nonprofits. Thank you, Julie, and welcome!

Our total assets as of February 28th are $117,651. This has been boosted lately by booth fees received for the festival in July. Our 2022 tax information has been submitted to our CPA. We discussed the possibility of giving our members the option to pay a little extra when using PayPal to cover its processing fees.

Festival Report (April)

April reported that 98 artists have signed up for the 2023 Palo Alto Clay & Glass Festival in July. We discussed how to staff Clay-for-All in the courtyard, and how to ensure that the courtyard is properly cleaned up afterwards. We discussed having demos outside this year to attract more attention. We also discussed how to recognize new festival artists, how to select Best-in-Show artists, and how best to collect and enter contact information for those who sign up on our mailing list. The auditorium will be available possibly as a cool place for visitors to sit and eat. Messenger Events will try to address problems we had last year with unsecured fire extinguishers and rutted spots on the grounds.

Membership (Emil)

ACGA’s website feature “Artist of the Month” has thus far been populated by a small pool of members who have volunteered for the honor. When this feature was introduced, we expected more members to embrace the opportunity, but response has been sparse, leaving us with fewer choices. Some on the Board believe that only festival-eligible artists should be featured as Artist of the Month, whereas other Board members who actively exhibit, but do not plan to jury into the festival, would like the Artist of the Month to be chosen from a broader pool. We will continue discussions to resolve this issue in a future meeting.

“Meet-Your-Board-Member” in the Newsletter (Mari)

Mari has prepared a monthly calendar assigning each board member to provide a profile for the newsletter. This slot will be titled “Meet Your Board Member”. The profiles will be due on the 8th of each month.

Encouraging More Sign-ups for the Festival (Mari)

We discussed ways to regain some of the artists who were accepted in 2019 and 2020 for one-time-only festival eligibility. Some have since juried in as fully eligible, but others have not reapplied. It was proposed that the Board admit all of those one-time-only artists as fully eligible. Chris, Ren, and April will look into the artists’ original applications and festival participation for assessment.

Communications (Susie)

The Communications Committee is working to make our website more engaging and more financially viable. The Treasurer reminded the Board that it had budgeted $300 per month as a stipend for communications work. The Board approved initiating this monthly stipend for Ren, retroactive to January 2023. Ren will send invoices to April. Ren informed the board that it should allocate money to pay writers to write articles for the newsletter. She also requested that members submit more information for the calendar.

Managing Access (Mari)

Cheryl and Mari will talk about how to transfer Zoom meeting management to one person on the board. Sally will step up for this role. Later discussions should address access to all other ACGA accounts with logins.

Exhibitions (Sally & Vicki)

The Exhibitions Committee recently visited the gallery Curated by the Sea in Santa Cruz, and met with the owner, Melissa Kreisa. We will have a juried exhibition there in 2024, probably in the spring. This will be a clay and glass show open to ACGA members and to clay and glass artists residing in Santa Cruz County. Opening it to local artists is a good way to spread the word about ACGA. Those who visited included Jan Schachter, Sally Jackson, Chris Johnson, and Randi Silverstein (who was also the original contact). Iver Hennig has also been in consultation and has visited the gallery on his own.

Vicki Gunter reported that Arts Benicia is a promising space for an exhibition in Benicia. She is pursuing this opportunity with a letter of inquiry and will know more after March 22. In addition, a new gallery in Benicia called NY2CA may also provide a chance for ACGA artists to show their work.

The meeting adjourned at 7:10 p.m.

Next Meeting: 5:30 p.m., April 10, 2023 via Zoom

All Members are Welcome

By |2023-04-04T08:54:42-07:00April 4th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on ACGA Board Meeting Minutes – March 13, 2023

Meet Your Board Members: Emil Yanos

I came into ceramics almost by accident.  Due to the recession in the early 90’s I was without a job and looking for an activity to fill my days.  I found Ruby’s Clay Studio on one of my neighborhood walks.  I signed up for a class and was hooked.  I took several more classes and began to experiment, working part-time, after work and on the weekends, mostly throwing and making functional work.  

I went into hand building after years of throwing because I developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from my day job.  With a new aesthetic and a new set of skills, my work eventually emerged into what is more intrinsically me, which is mostly rough with a few smooth edges.  On my second try, I was finally juried into the ACGA Clay and Glass Festival.  

Being part of ACGA raised my awareness to the possibilities of clay and glass.  I joined ACGA because I wanted another venue show my art.  I found that without ACGA, that venue and the opportunities that come with it wouldn’t be there, so I volunteered to help this organization provide what I was looking for.  I started as the Membership Coordinator and continue that role as a board member.

I still work out of Ruby’s Clay Studio, creating textured sculpture that is mainly hand built but sometimes thrown and have fully recovered from CTS.  I no longer have a day job, I have an activity to fill my days and some of my nights.

By |2023-04-04T08:55:16-07:00April 4th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Meet Your Board Members: Emil Yanos

Art & Ecology Online Gallery Show

Art & Ecology
juried by Obi Kaufmann
with poetry by Linda Martinez Robertson

March 20 to April 30, 2023

O’Hanlon Center for the Arts

Artists were invited to submit works that address the subject of Ecology including the topic of climate change and environmental resilience.

Featuring work by ACGA artists Vicki Gunter and Emil Yanos

Vicki Gunter Sky Blues — Canary & Elephant Series – 2014

clay, glazes, antique bailing wire, steel plate, Magnets 

24 x 31 x 5 inches

Sky Blues represents the air all life breathes, and a few of the endangered animals that live in the California skies: the CA Condor, Bay Checkerspot, Smith Blue and Monarch butterfly with bejeweled chrysalis. I was in awe of the Monarch chrysalis as a child. How does it paint that gold on there?

The cautionary yellow Canary alerts us of the Elephants in the room: Loss of habitat, Roundup® = less milkweed = fewer monarchs.  A Lead bullet; Condors are dying from lead poisoning due to eating abandoned game, But, celebrate a bit! As of 2019, all ammunition must be 100% lead free in California.  It’s still a problem so, If you are a hunter beware of your ammunition please. 

Smoke stacks represent air pollution from numerous sources, causing asthma in our children, especially those of color and lower incomes.  

Yes, it’s a complicated puzzle.

Will we choose a profit-driven-system of over-consumption or the awe of the Monarch chrysalis?

Emil Yanos
13h x 13w x 4d inches
Stoneware, glazes, engobes

My work is an examination of texture.  Each piece plays with contrasting surfaces:  rough verses smooth; matte verses shiny; large-scale verses small-scale, adding visual depth and tactile interest.  Textures, drawn from the natural world—such as seed pods, barnacles, and rocky outcroppings.  They are an invitation to touch.  As you run your hands over, the sensation is a reminder of a place you once enjoyed.

Cling is reminiscent of the tide pools I was intrigued with growing up in Hawaii.  These depressions in the rocks captured creatures, and pebbles, and shells as the waves crashed over them.  We are now clinging to our land as the sea levels rise we as are caught between land to live and land to grow food.

By |2023-04-04T08:51:59-07:00April 4th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Art & Ecology Online Gallery Show

Open Studio

Jan Schachter will be hosting 5 artists for her open Studio on May 6-7 in her garden at 190 Golden Hills Drive, Portola Valley CA 94028 10am-5 pm

Sally Jackson, Jane Peterman, Lindsay Marx, Peggy Forman, and Nina Else.

We will also have a table of donated work that will be sold to benefit CERF+

By |2023-03-27T15:47:14-07:00March 27th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Open Studio

New Soda Kiln at Stanford

by Sally Jackson

One bright spot in February’s gray weather was the completion of a soda kiln in the courtyard of Stanford University’s Product Realization Lab (PRL). Spearheaded by Applied Physics professor and ceramic artist Hideo Mabuchi, and funded by the new cross-disciplinary initiative Making@Stanford (, the kiln will enable more students to work with clay and more Stanford faculty to incorporate ceramics into their classes. These new opportunities will be organized around courses, workshops, and maker/artist residencies. One of the main goals is to connect ceramics, with its traditions and material culture, with contemporary engineering and materials science as well as computer science, art practice, and the performing arts.

Construction was led by kiln-builder Ted Neal, who is also a faculty member in ceramics at Ball State University in Indiana. I was among several helpers who jumped on board to help. The project involved a lot of steel L-angle, many pallets of bricks, mortar, a MIG welding rig, and a couple of serious power saws. After Ted welded a low, table-like metal frame, we stacked hard and soft bricks to create the floor, walls, chimney, and ceiling arch. Ted then reinforced the kiln with a metal frame and added a hinged door. As final steps we insulated the top of the kiln chamber and mounted a metal roof overhead. Having never built a kiln before, I gained huge appreciation for the precision, expertise, and teamwork that such a project involves. And I truly enjoyed working with Ted, Hedeo, and helpers Christopher Watt and Nicholas Robles. Craig Milroy, Co-Director of the PRL, provided invaluable logistical support throughout the project.

Ceramics are popular with Stanford students, but studio space is limited. The Making@Stanford initiative will connect a wider community of makers and mentors throughout campus. Hideo, for example, co-teaches a class called Japanese Functional Objects, which combines woodworking, ceramics, readings, and lectures to introduce students to the tools and traditions associated with the Japanese tea ceremony. He looks forward to firing work in the soda kiln for this course and many others.  For more photos of the construction, visit

By |2023-03-15T18:45:12-07:00March 13th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on New Soda Kiln at Stanford

Cracked Pot, Memoir by Vince Montague: Highlights of Book Tour

Cracked Pot by Vince Montague

When Vince Montague’s wife perishes in a tragic car accident, he is plunged into a world of grief. After weeks of loneliness and despair, he begins to explore his wife’s pottery studio in the wild hills of Northern California, teaching himself to mix clay, throw a pot, fire a kiln, trim and glaze. Just as his grief is ebbing and his future in clay is looking bright, a wildfire advances upon his studio and threatens to destroy everything he has created.

Cracked Pot is a singular book: a story of love lost and the labyrinthine path through grief, a meditation on the craft of pottery and its power to inspire and restore; a rumination on the life of a writer and the refuge of words; an examination of how generational family trauma can shape an artist. Montague’s haunting memoir is a kaleidoscopic and redemptive reading experience, one that serves to remind its readers about the cracks and the light.

Praise for Cracked Pot

Cracked Pot is a soul-baring memoir of love, creativity, loss, grief, and creativity again. Sentence by beautifully wrought, thoughtful sentence, Vince Montague narrates the premature death of his wife, Julia, and how he was able to rebuild his life by way of the clay and kilns and inspiration she left behind for him.” — Benjamen Dreyer, New York Times bestselling author of Dreyer’s English

“Vince Montague’s Cracked Pot is a wondrous memoir of personal reinvention and the transformative power of art….This volume, like finely wrought ceramics, is something beautiful you can hold in hand and treasure always.” — Roy Parvin, author of In the Show Forest and The Lonelist Road in America

Cracked Pot resonates with its multiple meanings and meditates on love and death from title to the last word. This is raw life, raw materials, raw feelings, salvaged by the silken slip of clay, the discovery of thinking with your hands.” — Maw Shein Win, author of Storage Unit for the Spirit House

Event Schedule

03/23  Books Inc, Berkeley, 1491 Shattuck at 6pm. I’ll be in conversation with Nancy Servis.
03/25  Red Brick Ceramics, 2111 Mission Street, 3rd Floor, 5pm.  I’ll be in conversation with poet Maw Shein Win
04/06  Sonoma Readers’ Bookstore, 130 E Napa Street, Sonoma, CA  I”ll be in conversation with Kala Stein
2 Artist Demonstrations
03/25  Red Brick Ceramics 2111 Mission Street, 3rd Floor, 12-2pm.
04/06  Sonoma Community Center, 276 E Napa Street, Sonoma, CA. (time TBA)
By |2023-03-11T15:01:33-08:00March 11th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Cracked Pot, Memoir by Vince Montague: Highlights of Book Tour

Terra Linda Ceramic Artists presents ARTICULATION-The art of playing with form

The Terra Linda Ceramic Artists present it Member’s show, ARTICULATION- The art of playing with form, which includes ACGA members, Jo Clarke, Geraldine GaNun, Susan Hontalas, Nadia Tarzi-Saccardi and Melissa Woodburn.  The exhibit is hosted by Falkirk Cultural Center, 1408 Mission Ave., San Rafael from March 10th-April 21, 2023 with an opening reception/art walk on March 10th from 5-8pm.   For additional information and hours at Falkirk Cultural Center, contact them at or

By |2023-03-11T15:03:30-08:00March 11th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Terra Linda Ceramic Artists presents ARTICULATION-The art of playing with form

MoonDoBang California Tour Has Folks Fired Up

Instagram sensation, MoonDoBang creator Mr. Moon, Byung Sik, will make his first visit to the US with a tour of California and a stopover in Helena, Montana.

At the age of 16, Moon Byung Sik fell in love with clay. He had passion, but the skills didn’t come easily. It took him 10 times longer to finish a pot than some of his peers, but with perseverance and practice, he began to win skills competitions.

Post college, at 26, Moon started a studio practice inside his father’s barn with the idea that he would make pots he likes to make and—he reasoned—people would buy them. He soon discovered that what he wanted to make was not what customers wanted to buy. Competing for buyers with other potters who had 20, 30, or 40 years of experience was challenging.

As he reflects on his path today, starting at a young age was his best decision. He made mistakes and had failures due to his lack of experience, but he says that he was able to put aside his failures more easily and continue moving forward because he had less to lose.

17 years after he first sat at a pottery wheel, Moon operates a professional workshop where he produces his porcelain products and sells them from his gallery and shop in Yeoju, South Korea. He ships worldwide from his website Follow him on Instagram @moondobang

MoonDoBang : US Tour : How it all started

In November 2022, I had a chance to take a virtual pottery class with the Korean artist, Moon Byung Sik of MoonDoBang, hosted by Kala Stein. I casually mentioned that I would like to host a workshop for him in San Francisco.

Start: November 2022

Kala Stein and Joanne Lee, host and translator for Moon for the virtual workshop, set up a meeting to explore the possibility of Moon visiting the US, more specifically San Francisco and the Bay Area. He agreed to 10 days, which grew to 14 days. Then we decided to visit his friend, Adam Field in Helena, Montana,… who mentioned that he had contacts in LA and that if we were to extend and expand the tour, wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Plan : MoonDoBang US Tour: 2023

By mid December, I had commitments from 11 venues and most days were filled, with workshops scheduled from Petaluma down to San Diego, and Helena, Montana. Round-trip air from Seoul, Korea was purchased.

By the second week in January, scheduling was completed for Moon on his first visit to the US with a 24-day, 14-venue, 13-city, 2-state, west coast tour that includes demos, workshops, and an Instagram live feed.

In February, the last venue committed and a brainstorm led to the Virtual Demo with Moon and Adam Field from Helena, Montana, to be hosted by Kala Stein.

Show Time : MoonDoBang US Tour : 2023 

Moon lands in 6 days. 10 boxes of MoonDoBang porcelain pots have arrived. 150 Posters have been printed. 100 T-shirts have been ordered. His room is made.

Most venues have sold out all the seats, some within 5 minutes of opening registration publicly—some selling out only to members. Success can be attributed to Moon’s 97K Instagram followers, help from Adam Field with his 117K followers and mailing list, and the Instagram following of the 15 participating venues. Yes, the power of social media can be measured.

If you haven’t reserved seats yet, try Laney College:

Additional information is on the tour page on my website, mikisr.com,

Registration for the Virtual Demo with Adam Field is open. Registration can be found at

When asked about what he would like to see and do while on his first visit to the US, he said, “eat a hot dog, see the Golden Gate Bridge, and go to a baseball game.” We have tickets to the Oakland A’s opener on March 30th, where Shohei Ohtani will be starting for the Angels. Kala is hosting a dinner and hot dogs are on the menu. And I’m sure we will cross the Golden Gate Bridge at least once.

Follow me on Instagram for more stories. @mikisr_ceramics

By |2023-03-11T15:11:08-08:00March 11th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on MoonDoBang California Tour Has Folks Fired Up

Visiting Artist : MoonDoBang

I had a chance to take a virtual pottery class with the Korean artist, Moon Byung Sik of MoonDoBang, hosted by Kala Stein, last Fall. I casually mentioned that I would like to host a workshop for him in San Francisco.

Fast forward to March 2023. I am hosting Mr. Moon on his first visit to US with a 24 day, 15 venue, 13 city, west coast tour that includes demos workshops, instagram live  and virtual demo with Adam Field from Helena Montana

Most venues have sold out, but you might be able to get a demo seat at Laney College and AOMCA in Pomona. Additional information is on the tour page on my website:

By |2023-03-11T15:12:30-08:00March 10th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Visiting Artist : MoonDoBang

Grand Opening and Reception . NY2CA New Gallery . Vicki Gunter 1st invited artist

Exciting News:

There is a new Gallery in Benicia!

and I am the 1st artist invited to collaborate with them!

You are invited too!
Grand Opening Reception

🌱 Earth Day 🌱
I will be collaborating with Greenpeace 🌱

Saturday April 22, 2023 . 3-6pm

🌱 Meet Co-owners Twigg and Vickie & me, the other Vicki!

show dates: April 20-June 4, 2023
Gallery hours: Thursday – Sunday 11-6
617 1st St, Benicia CA 94510

By |2023-03-13T17:06:35-07:00March 9th, 2023|ACGA News|Comments Off on Grand Opening and Reception . NY2CA New Gallery . Vicki Gunter 1st invited artist
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