Exquisite Beauty is the first retrospective and publication to document the eye-dazzling ceramics created by Ralph Bacerra (1938–2008), a Los Angeles–based artist known for his innovative approach to surface embellishment. Curated by Jo Lauria, the exhibition features more than ninety of the artist’s finest pieces—dramatic, highly decorated vessels and sculptures that have never before been the focus of a major exhibition or publication. Bacerra’s career in ceramics spanned five decades, over the course of which his work moved stylistically from traditionalism to pattern and decoration to “post-baroque.” He was part of the group of second-generation post–World War II California artists who followed the boundary-expanding lead of Robert Arneson, Viola Frey, John Mason, Ken Price, and Peter Voulkos. These visionary artists sought to use clay in a way that responded to their time and place. Collectively they broadened the possibilities of the medium and brought recognition to the field. Like those before him, Bacerra regularly challenged ceramic conventions, resolutely experimenting with unfamiliar materials and techniques in his studio. His unique contribution was the creation of a new “grammar of ornament” through the complex layering of aggregated design motifs, achieved primarily through multiple applications of underglazes and overglazes combined with metallic lusters. The resultant interweave generated a language rich in cross-cultural inflection and design schemes fluent in optically inventive patterns that played with perception and teased the eye.
In addition to achieving artistic excellence in the studio, Bacerra was a passionate and effective teacher in the classroom. He served as the head of ceramics at Chouinard from 1964 through 1971, when the school was formally absorbed by the California Institute of the Arts and the ceramics major eliminated from the curriculum. The second phase of Bacerra’s teaching career began in 1982 at the invitation of Otis Art Institute. The first year he taught part-time, leading classes in Surface Design and Glaze Technology. The following year he was appointed chair of ceramics with oversight of all aspects of the ceramics studio. He held the position for thirteen years, teaching a new generation of students the skills to become successful studio artists and educators. All who spent time in his classroom benefited from his technical expertise and keen design sensibility. Many former students from both Chouinard and Otis have ascended to prominence in the ceramics field and have contributed to its vitality.
Ralph Bacerra: Exquisite Beauty was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Pasadena Art Alliance, The Boardman Family Foundation, Friends of Contemporary Ceramics, The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles, and by the generosity of many individuals.
Sat Sep 26, 4-6pm | Opening Reception | Ben Maltz Gallery | Free
Sun Sep 27, 2pm | Symposium: Centered on Clay | East Los Angeles College | Free
Symposium Speakers: Kathy Butterly, Yeonsoo Chee, Michael Sherrill, and Diego Romero. Held in conjunction with Vincent Price Art Museum, Otis College of Art and Design’s Ben Maltz Gallery, and East Los Angeles College’s Ceramics Program, Centered on Clay gathers contemporary artists and thinkers to present their work and voice their thoughts on the cultural importance of ceramics, highlighting the value of skilled execution. The program is funded in part by a grant from The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles.
Held in conjunction with Vincent Price Art Museum, Otis College of Art and Design’s Ben Maltz Gallery, and East Los Angeles College’s Ceramics Program. In conjunction with the exhibition Ralph Bacerra: Exquisite Beauty. The program is funded in part by a grant from The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles. - See more at: http://www.otis.edu/calendar/symposium-centered-clay#sthash.g6cXgKfo.dpufCentered on Clay gathers contemporary artists and thinkers to present their work and voice their thoughts on the cultural importance of ceramics, highlighting the value of skilled execution. Symposium Speakers: Kathy Butterly, Yeonsoo Chee, Michael Sherrill, and Diego Romero.
More about Ralph Bacerra
Visit the Ralph Bacerra Tribute Page to read more about Ralph and view the video Art is What I Do: The Life of Ralph Bacerra, a film by Jo Lauria, produced by The Boardman Family Foundation in cooperation with Otis.
Ralph Bacerra Through the Eyes of Otis Students
A new video produced by Otis Creative Action students is an aspirational story about the life of Ralph Bacerra, who inspired his students to live their dreams, become renowned artists, and pass their knowledge on to future generations.
The Nature of Personal Reality
June 27 – September 1, 2015 | Press Release
A group exhibition based on creating reality and the human need for connection and creation.
Artists in the exhibition: Ashton Allen (MFA ‘16), Tada Asatoorian (BFA ‘17), Amanda Benefiel (MFA ‘16), Jeanette Degollado (MFA-Public Practice ‘16), Margarethe Drexel (MFA-Public Practice ‘16), Gerry Fialka & Mark X Farina (MFA-Public Practice ‘16), Ivett Godoy (BFA ‘16), Dakota Raine Higgins (BFA ‘17), Zac Roach (MFA ‘16), Regine Rode (MFA ‘16), Gabriel Rojas (BFA ‘16), and Erin Watson (BFA ’16).
The essence of what it is to be human, the flesh and the body, and the wonder of existence is profound. Western philosophers followed the Cartesian dualistic approach to understanding reason by separating mind from body. Despite the influence of Eastern philosophies, the feminist revolution, and everything in between, this notion of rationalism heavily influences our culture. In today’s world, where we find ourselves laden with human affects and effects, with seemingly inescapable military industrialization, and both human and natural disasters, it is hard to tell if we, as a human race, are truly evolving. Our approach is often solely based on past events in a time and space that our conscious minds can recollect; a battle, a response, a fight, a reaction, and the science of the moment seems to be leaving the body altogether.
In 1974 Jane Roberts wrote The Nature of Personal Reality: A Seth Book, in which the non-physical entity known as Seth states, “You make your own reality. There is no other rule. Knowing this is the secret of creativity.” The artists in this exhibition explore boundaries of reality, investigate new ways of understanding the domestic body, and express the need to feel something intimate and vital.
Erin Watson, Sausage, 2014, Inkjet print, 20 x 30 inches
Dusk to Dusk: Unsettled, Unraveled, Unreal
April 11 - July 25, 2015 | Press Release
Drawn from a single private European collection, the exhibition Dusk to Dusk presents thirty-two powerful and haunting works of painting, photography, sculpture, and video by twenty-eight renowned contemporary artists who examine issues of individual isolation, political repression, and collective ennui in the decline of the industrial age. Ruud van Empel and Hideaki Kawashima summon primal anxieties of the body double and removable skin, made more relevant by the rise of virtual, second lives. Gilbert & George, Erwin Wurm, Laura Ford, and Almagul Menlibayeva deploy psychological references to the individual in a society of global displacement, liminal sexualities, and political casualties. Edward Burtynsky and Aristarkh Chernyshev show technology misused, warped, and left in ruins, mocking our technocratic hubris. While others, such as Matt Calderwood, Huma Bhabha, Matthew Day Jackson, and Tony Cragg, among others, take a more abstract approach, expressing a need for balance and intimacy in the ever-expanding human experience. Together, these artists provide a glimpse into what it means to be an individual during the transition from the twentieth to the twenty-first century, allowing viewers to reflect on past mistakes while reveling in progressive poetics. Each work in this international selection of renowned contemporary artists rewards the viewer with a compelling encounter that will haunt them in the best way imaginable.
Artists in the exhibition: James Aldridge, Huma Bhabha, Louise Bourgeois, Edward Burtynsky, Matt Calderwood, Aristarkh Chernyshev, Tony Cragg, Salvador Dali, Desiree Dolron, Marcel Dzama, Laura Ford, Gilbert & George, Matthew Day Jackson, Hideaki Kawashima, Tianbing Li, Richard Long, Jie Luo, Jonathan Meese, Almagul Menlibayeva, Erwin Olaf, Hans Op de Beeck, Yang Shaobin, Anouk Steketee, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Ruud van Empel, Levi van Veluw, Anne Wenzel, Erwin Wurm.
Dusk to Dusk was organized by the Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University, curated by Richard Rinehart, Director of the Samek Art Museum, with works generously loaned from THE EKARD COLLECTION. The exhibition is toured by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California.
Opening Reception | Saturday, April 11, 4-6pm | Curator Walk thru at 4:30pm with Richard Rinehart | Free
Closing Event | Saturday July 25, 7pm | Free
Trials and Troubles: A Night of Songs and Stories with Tom Brosseau, Rachel Kushner, and Benjamin Weissman
Acclaimed authors Rachel Kushner (Telex from Cuba, The Flamethrowers) and Benjamin Weissman (Dear Dead Person, Headless) read from their new work, joined by North Dakota musician and storyteller Tom Brosseau (Grass Punks, Perfect Abandon) singing murder ballads and other folk tales.
Hideaki Kawashima, 130, 2004
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Fifth Avenue Theatre, Seattle, 1997
Anouk Steketee, Carin, 2009
Edward Burtynsky, Shipwreaking #1, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2004
Louise Bourgeois, Le Trani Episode, 1971
James Aldridge, The Gathering, 2010
Matt Calderwood, Dam 1, 2006
Marcel Dzama, Welcome to the land of the bat, 2008
Aristarkh Chernyshev, Knode, 2009
Salvador Dali, Spiderwoman
Ruud van Empel, Generation, 2010
Gilbert & George, Homey, 2008
Desiree Dolron, Cerca Villegas, 2002-2003
Jie Luo, Imprisoned-Falling, 2001
Erwin Olaf, Dusk - The Mother, 2009
Erwin Wurm, Hoody, 2010
Yang Shaobin, Untitled, 2001
Angie Bray: Shhhh
January 17 - March 22, 2015
Press Release | Exhibition Events
A solo exhibition of photographs, drawings, sculpture, and video of Los Angeles-based artist Angie Bray. Focusing on quieting the mind and the eye in order to observe and explore the subtleties of ourselves, Bray creates aesthetic situations for the individual to discover how one sees, perceives and reacts to what is presented. Shhhh offers an illuminating overview of Angie Bray’s work with the presentation of four major installations and a series of autonomous works from the last 30 years. A catalog is forthcoming with essays by curator Meg Linton, art historian Betty Ann Brown, and artist Suvan Geer.
Gallery Walk-thru with Angie Bray | Saturday, February 7, 1-2pm, Free
Bassoon Performance | Sunday, February 22, 2-4pm | Bassoonist John Steinmetz Performs in Gallery and Converses with Audience
Music Performance and Conversation | Sunday, March 8, 4-6pm, Free | Composer Kubilay Üner Performs in Gallery and Converses with Angie Bray
Closing Reception | Sunday, March 22, 2-4pm, Free | Celebrate last day to see the exhibition
Above: Angie Bray, (Walking Brush) Condensed Landscape #7, 2005, Sumi, Duralene, condensed from 6 x 96" to 6 x 21 x 6"
Top of page: Angie Bray, Looking Out.....going fast, 2010, Piezo pigment print, 20 x 73 x .5"