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Cream City Ceramics

Milwaukee will be site of a conference and exhibits

Mar. 17, 2014
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From March 19-22, Milwaukee has the honor of hosting the 48th Annual Conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. It’s only right, then, that this week’s art happenings all revolve around the medium.

A cheese and beer city, to be sure, Milwaukee is also a ceramics city. Its nickname, the Cream City, derives not from the dairy industry but rather the cream-colored bricks common in our local architecture. These pale ceramic blocks were forged from the lime- and sulfur-rich clay of the Menomonee River Valley. The beauty and durability of the bricks made them a desirable building material, which was exported worldwide.

Two new exhibitions at the Tory Folliard Gallery affirm Milwaukee’s sterling ceramic reputation. “The Figure In Clay” presents a diversity of contemporary takes on the ancient tradition of representing the human figure in clay. In “Concerning Nature: Chris Berti Recent Sculpture,” Berti whittles away at bricks from the 1890s to reveal stunning sculptures within. Removed from the anonymity of their usual use, Berti highlights the individuality of the bricks by utilizing the unique textures and markings of the found objects.

Both exhibitions run from March 15 to April 19. On Thursday, March 20, there will be an artists reception at the gallery (233 N. Milwaukee St.) from 5-8 p.m.


“Species and Specimens”

Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

2220 N. Terrace Ave.

“Species and Specimens” collects the work of 11 artists, all of whom are current or erstwhile alumni or faculty of UW-Milwaukee’s Ceramics Program. But the similarity ends there. Each has cultivated a unique artistic voice and uses it to comment on the theme of human interaction with the natural environment. The exhibition opens on March 19, and is on display until May 25. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 1-5 p.m. and general admission is $7.



Kenilworth Square East, third floor

1925 E. Kenilworth Place

“Interchange” (verb): the exchange of things between two or more people. “Interchange” (noun): an exhibition of ceramic art by visiting artists, alumni and current BFA students from the Peck School of Arts. On display are works with enticing titles such as Naive Science/Outsider Chemistry, Repetitive Play and How Horrifically, Terrifically, Inexplicably Specific. The fleeting show opens March 16, and hosts a reception on Thursday, March 20, from 6-8 p.m. before closing shop on the 28th.


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