Although they have produced distinctly different bodies of work, the artists Richard Shaw and Adrian Saxe do share something: they are both virtuosos with ceramic glazes. Shaw’s trompe l’oeil technique is the result of years of research into ways of simulating reality. He discovered (and developed) a method of making over-glaze transfer decals, which allows him to realize lifelike objects in his still life sculptures. It’s an adaptation of commercial printing, using a process that is very much related to silk-screen printing. He’s able to transfer images (made out of over-glazes) directly onto the mold-made objects, and fire the colors onto the surface.
Saxe, on the other hand, has spent decades working with glaze chemistry, and includes an astonishing array of glaze effects on the surface of his work. The sources are from ancient Chinese dynasties, or from luxurious lines of royal porcelains made for French kings—but also from the artist’s experimentation in his amazingly scientific laboratory (studio) in Highland Park. Saxe is able to tell a visitor the ways that a glaze will vary, according to the percentage of one mineral element, or with the slightest change in duration or temperature of the firing. He knows exactly how to position every pot in the kiln, and how to get, for instance, the copper to transfer into the kiln atmosphere at the final stages of a firing—producing a rosy red blush on an adjoining piece.
Both of these wizards of glaze effects will be talking about ceramics (and most likely lots of other things, like contemporary culture) at the gallery on the morning of February 9th at 10:30 a.m. This program, a continued effort to provide our clients and the community with free arts education, is sponsored by the gallery and open to the public. It’s a rare and amazing opportunity to hear two University of California professors of art in conversation—without having to pay a cent of tuition!