The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts presents the exhibition, “Lincoln County Clay,” from November 6 to December 23 in the Runyan Gallery and the Upstairs Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center. The exhibition will include 13 of Lincoln County’s leading ceramic artists, in a facility-wide celebration of ceramics in conjunction with the redesign and reopening of the VAC’s clay studio. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, November 6, noon to 4pm, with available artists speaking at 2pm.
“Lincoln County Clay”’ should prove to be a significant and contemporary survey of the many talented clay artists working in Lincoln County,” says OCCA VAC Director Tom Webb. “The show will include numerous masters in the field as well artists who have come to ceramics somewhat later in life.” Participating artists include Jacob Accurso, Frank Boyden, Chasse Davidson, Steve Dennis, Taunette Dixon, Liz Fox, Julie Fiedler, Erica Leach, Alice Martin, Liisa Rahkonen, Christy Steenkolk, Martha Wallace and Pam Young. (see artist bios below)
“Lincoln County is so rich with ceramic activity, I am honored to be a part of bringing together a collection of that talent to be showcased under one roof. It has been a personal goal to help expand the local clay community in this area,” says Chasse Davidson, a senior curator for “Lincoln County Clay” and a member of the VAC’s clay advisory group. “As a ceramic artist I love to create, but I’ve always thought that we are better together. I think this collection of artists will display the vast array of possibilities within clay creation.” Other VAC clay advisory group members include Liz Fox, Kristy Lombard and Sara Siggelkow.
OCCA’s focus on ceramics this fall comes as the VAC is set to reopen its clay studio in late-November. The clay studio will feature all new equipment, furnishings and supplies and will be managed to serve youth and adult learners in an intimate setting. The Clay Studio Project has received support from the Oregon Community Foundation, the City of Newport, the Coastal Arts Guild and individual patrons. Trial classes will run in December, with more formal offerings beginning in January.
The Newport Visual Arts Center adheres to all health and safety protocols provided by the Governor’s Office as well as the City of Newport. All visitors to the VAC are required to wear proper masks.
The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts manages the Newport Visual Arts Center and the Newport Performing Arts Center, and serves as the regional arts council for Oregon’s seven coastal counties.
Jacob Accurso found pottery while serving as a novice monk at the Mount Angel Abbey. Today, Accurso stays connected to his roots by producing pieces like those in the monastery– attractive to the eye, comfortable in the hands, and practical for everyday use. Working in his woodland studio, he lives by the labor of his hands.
Frank Boyden has worked with clay for 53 years. He is trained as a painter, printmaker, art historian and anthropologist. The wondrous properties of clay and the ability to draw in the round seduced him in 1968. Having no training in the field, he worked with native clays in raku and terra sigillata applications until 1982. In 1984 Tom Coleman, Nils Lou, and Boyden built the sixth anagama in North America, and he has been wood firing since that time. Since 1993 he has worked only in porcelain. Frank says his greatest pleasure is drawing and incising—figuring out how to unite three-dimensional objects by lineal means. He says he has been blessed to be invited to lecture and do workshops all over the world, meeting thousands of clay workers and studying the great historic collections of clay. Boyden’s work is included in over 100 museums and he has received a major NEA grant, the Janet Mansfield Fellowship award as well as the NCECA Outstanding Achievement award with his wife Jane for founding Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in 1970.
Chasse Davidson received her Bachelor of Science in Studio Art in from Western Oregon University in 2005. From 2015 to 2020, she owned and managed Toledo Clay Works, and from 2014 to 1016, she served as president of the Toledo Arts Guild. She currently sells dishware and raku at Oceanic Arts in Newport and at Land and Sea in Florence. She is collaborating with Ram Papish on a series incorporating his wildlife imagery on her thrown forms.
Steve Dennis has been a full-time studio artist for the past 45 years and is the owner and curator of Earthworks Gallery in Yachats. He is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Recipient and spent two years at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. He received his MFA from the University of Minnesota and his BA from Eastern Washington University.
Taunette Dixon is fairly new to ceramics. After catching the pottery bug, she dove in head first, taking every class and private lesson available. Falling in love with every aspect of ceramics, she has had her hand in clay most days over the last five years. She has her own private studio and is selling her work at Wind Drift Gallery and Newport Bay Candle Company.
Liz Fox has lived on the Oregon coast for most of her life and has had a myriad of careers since graduating with a Soil Science degree from Oregon State University in 1980. Retiring as a high school librarian in 2020, she has been a full-time potter ever since, pursuing an interest she dabbled in for over 40 years. She first took ceramics classes in the 1970s and went on to take dozens of community workshops. Fox lives with her husband, two amazing children, three unruly dogs, and one old goat on a swamp between Newport and Toledo.
After showing an affinity for drawing, Julie Fiedler enrolled in Lee Chucci’s School of Art in Kent, Washington, at age 10, and began oil painting at age 11. In college at the University of Puget Sound, she was required to take a 3-D art course to complete her art history degree and she worked in clay for eight weeks. That ignited an interest in hand-building clay sculptures, which she developed through the ceramics program with Billy Mayer at Hope College, in Holland, Michigan, where she worked as an English writing and literature instructor. She exhibited her sculptures in galleries and art shows, and spent many Friday afternoons at the home of Joy Huttar, a long-time china painter, learning the craft. A project reviving a neglected 1904 home led to china painting on tile for the kitchen. That blossomed into a custom tile-painting business that she continues to operate to this day.
Erica Leach is the woman behind Erica Rose Pottery, an online ceramic outlet. While she always had a passion for drawing and painting, she wasn’t satisfied to just hang something on the wall–she wanted to make functional pieces. That’s when she took an introductory class at a local clay studio and then began to teach herself everything she could. Leach started Erica Rose Pottery three years ago and has been selling her pots exclusively online.
Alice Martin is a former Alaskan whose work in clay has been exhibited in over 24 gallery shows, 12 local and national invitational exhibitions, and 17 regional and national juried exhibitions. She has won major awards in five of those exhibitions and purchase awards in two. Her work is included in three museum collections and three corporate and Alaska state office branches. Martin has been the recipient of four grants and commissions from the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Before leaving Alaska, Martin was teaching ceramics at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Martin left Alaska (and the world of clay) over 25 years ago in pursuit of other creative outlets, including a form of performance art that took place in the world of hot rods. She has happily returned to the world of visual art and is one of eleven artist owners of For ArtSake Gallery in Newport, where she shows her works in clay as well as photography.
Liisa Rahkonen is a sculptor, painter and mixed-media artist whose work has been shown nationally and internationally. She was invited by the U.S. State Department to participate in the Art in the Embassies Program and had her artwork in the U.S Embassy, Sal Salvador El Salvador. Her work has been included in shows juried by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission, among many other exhibits and recognition. In 2019, her paintings and sculpture were exhibited in a two-person exhibit with Sandra Roumagoux, “Source 2,” in the Chessman Gallery at the Lincoln City Cultural Center.
Christy Steenkolk is a lifelong Oregon coast local. Originally a glass blower, she blended her love of creating artistic forms with functionality to create her pottery. Steenfolk has been honing her skills on the pottery wheel since 2019. She loves to create from the heart and finds inspiration from mother nature.
Martha Wallace has been doing ceramic art for about thirty years. She retired to the Oregon Coast in 2013, after working 25 years in manufacturing management, and 20 years as an Episcopal priest. Since 2013, She has been working to refine her skills on the wheel and about five years ago, began teaching pottery.
Clay has entertained Pam Young for over 45 years. For the last 9 years, it’s taken over her life, with farmer’s markets, shows and galleries. She likes whimsy, humor, color and texture.