i went, today, to the foundry arts centre in saint charles to see and review two shows. first being the quilt national show, which i could not view as it cost $6 to enter, and i did not have $6. secondly to further see don draper's show in the smaller gallery, named the ameristar gallery after ameristar casino donated funding to the arts center in a bid to clean up the name of ameristar as being one of the most evil places in missouri. no politics in this post though.
don's show, called every day ware, is a wonderful example of the true craftsman. don, a student at lindenwood university, has been an artist of some sort for years. he instructs students in the photography department and the clay department of lindenwood, is a full time member of the clay co-op at the foundry, a member of the w.a.c. and a free lance wedding photographer. the man is busy.
every day ware consists of items that one would use in their homes as a functional tool, plates, tea bowls, vases. they make no bold statement at first view. no commentary on the struggles of humanity. at first view. however, if you consider what the artist has done, as far as pricing, use of space, and sacrifice of time, there is a great statement, a proclamation in fact, to the art world , to get over yourself. don has chosen to pull in the reigns on conceptual work, and create useful products at a price that most can afford. he is returning to the roots of earthenware. the functional purpose of pottery, while still managing to show a great deal of artistic flare in his execution. pieces with names like plate 1 and plate 2, bottle neck vase, and tea bowls, leave no room for pompous interjection. they are called what they are. however, when looking into the subtleties of bottle neck vase, and moving your eye across the pocked, cracked skin, into the color changes of glazes, i found myself moved. here i am looking at an unassuming vase, and my mind is racing through my personal history. looking deeper into the cracked veneer of this clay pot, i was humbled. the subtle brushstrokes that show in dark amber vase, another piece in the show, beg your eyes for further inspection. the quirkiness of square orange vase, the prejudiced imperfections of the sake bottles, relating themselves to scars and age, the kanji-esque glaze on plates 1 and 2, allowing for a familiarity, even though i do not speak japanese, all elements that made me wish i didn't see a thousand red dots on every wall. i did not count the number of pieces sold, but i know it was greater than the number that didn't sell.
don draper has succeeded. he has created a product that is infinitely more compelling than most standard dishware, and less self aware than most "artistic" pottery. he has returned to his lineage of potters for purpose, not for profit. he has truly succeeded.
as soon as i get my hands on a camera, i will be posting pics of all of these pieces, but in the meantime, if you live in missouri, you have until the 26th of october to get to the foundry arts centre, in saint charles, to see this show. do it.