Archive for the ‘Shows and Sales’ Category

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Busy November Wrapping Up


ChenowethARTS Mug - It takes a villageNovember has been a month for making changes around the studio and for exploring new sales opportunities.  ChenowethARTS exhibited with 22 other Tennessee Craft members at Nashville’s Gordon Community Center for the entire month.  Roughly 80 bowls were made and contributed to the Chili Bowl sale at Belmont University’s Art Department.  Most importantly, after several months of agonizing and preparing, there is a new ChenowethARTS shop on Etsy that will feature functional wares and gift ideas…there are still more artistic creations that are intended for gallery display, but barring a change of heart to do craft fairs, Etsy may be the route I pursue for functional pieces.

There is a new slab roller in the studio that can definitely put the hurt on a fingertip (that’s a whole different story).  A whole new world of surface treatments has opened up using my own silk-screened designs to add depth to my usual repertoire of glazing techniques…and I’m having fun with that!  Several new under-glaze colors are making their appearances on test pieces and I am discovering that airbrushing of under-glazes can be addictive  🙂

Gearing up for a hectic holiday season…my best to you and yours!

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Connecting the Dots


Paul Chenoweth - York & Friends AnniversaryThere is quite a space between the first time that I ever showed work publicly  in a Birmingham Art Show back in 1971 and the event pictured here.  Art and architecture have been part of me for just about as long as I can remember, but I don’t recall it  feeling this personal.  There is quite a difference between working for someone on a project with a clear expectation of a contractual payday and creating work that you really enjoy doing,  in the hope that someone will share that enthusiasm and seek out your work…and pay you for it.  I know that concept isn’t new.  It is, oddly enough, something that takes a bit of getting used to.  I know of other artists who work hard, create excellent work, and yet struggle to make the connection with clients who equally appreciates the creation.  One might think that this is a simple step in the artistic  process that begins with an inspiration and ultimately ends with a happy, paying customer.

Some artists are able to do it all: plan, create, produce, market, sell.  Others find folks in the middle who help with pieces of the puzzle that are distasteful/uncomfortable and then trust them to be a part of the process of connecting all of the dots.  I am grateful that there are people who can do the heavy lifting of marketing and sales so that I may focus my energies on  a body of work, a better studio space, and a healthier lifestyle.  There is a little letting go involved.  There are clear benefits to realizing that you don’t have to do everything yourself and that letting go is the right direction. It just takes some people a little longer to figure that out.

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2012 Alumni Art Exhibit


2012 Alumni Art Exhibit - Belmont UniversityThe Belmont University Alumni Art Exhibit runs for one more week.  Visitors can stop by the Leu Center for the Visual Arts to see the work of seven Belmont alumni who have work in the show.  This was my fourth year to curate the show and my second year to have ceramic pieces exhibited. There is an article in Belmont News that covers the show well and I understand that another article is coming soon in The Contributor.

The pieces shown in this image are the finished product that I wrote about at the end of last year as I was preparing for this exhibit. It does feel good to hear the positive feedback from friends, faculty, and fellow artists.   In the next few weeks, I hope to have an announcement about representation for my sculptural bottles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

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Ceramic Musical Instruments in First Art Exhibit


Clay/Ceramic OcarinasBelmont University’s Third Annual Alumni Art Exhibit includes several of my latest efforts at producing ceramic musical instruments.   Two separate areas of the exhibit display Escape Series percussion instruments and ocarinas.  Eight Belmont alumni are showing works that range from traditional oil paintings to a personally published/printed children’ s book to pen/ink graphic sketches. The show is located in Gallery 121 in Belmont University’s Leu Center for the Visual Arts and will run through March 3, 2011.

Thursday afternoon, I was invited to talk to students and visiting alumni about the instruments in a brief gallery talk.  Many in the group seemed surprised that the ocarinas actually play full scales and other seemed fascinated by the goat skin drum heads.  Although neither a drummer or a flautist, I was able to demonstrate the traditional Udu’s, the experimental Doumbeks, and several of the ocarinas.  It may be time to expand my flute repertoire beyond a feeble version of  This Old Man that I learned in a third grade song flute class.

Ceramic Udus and DoumbeksMy general nervousness of showing ceramic work for the first time in an exhibit was erased early by compliments from other instructors.  Belmont is such a supportive place for creative endeavors… I should have anticipated the encouraging words.  Many thanks to Belmont’s Office of Alumni Relations for their faith in me for pulling together the alumni exhibit!

The body of work continues to grow.  In the next two months, I anticipate production of a new series of instruments with a heavy historical context, elements of sculpture, more experimentation in functions, and perhaps a nod to the traditional face jugs of Appalachia.

Here are a few images from the exhibit.

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Experimental Ceramic Drums


Experimental UduI would love to give someone else credit for the inspiration of this piece.  I looked at so many images of UdusDoumbeks, and Directional Conga drums.  Somehow, this assembled mixture of parts is the result of numerous sketches and several great ideas from other artists.

First of all, the stoneware drum is assembled from 6 wheel-thrown parts.  The upper-most portion is designed to accept a stretched, goat skin head that will be secured just below the lower lip of the top opening.  A ring-hole that references the side hole of traditional Udu drums is one of two outlet holes that come into play when the drum head is played…it could also be played, using this hole, like a Udu.

The lower portion of the drum is a closed bowl resting on a permanent ring stand.  This is probably a no-no for the percussion community, but this piece is intended more for display than actual use and I wanted the vertical display to be the only option.

The bell-shaped piece connects to the upper drum-bowl and is a funcional outlet for sound, much like a directional Conga.  The sculpted face has been pushed/altered from the wheel thrown piece to imply a human element attempting to escape the bonds of the ceramic musical instrument.  That aspect may be emphasized at the glazing/staining stage to relate the bell-horn shape with the trapped face.

To provide interest on what might be a plain back to this instrument, two wheel-thrown rings are attached that might function as strap connectors… I am a bit shaky on that thought at the moment but will wait to get a feel of the overall weight and strength of the piece before determining if these rings will provide a function other than decoration.

Four other experimental clay drums are currently drying in hopes that some of these will be ready in time to be featured in the upcoming Alumni Art Exhibit at Belmont University’s Homecoming next month.

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Art Show Show Thoughts


I will be showing ceramic musical instruments in a public show next February and March and that is pretty exciting. Other than a few craft shows and private sales, this really qualifies as my first exhibit…and that makes me a little nervous.  There are several pieces that are show ready now, but I’d like to do something that specifically addresses the theme: Invention and Creativity.

Conceptually, here is where I’m going: Imagine a small ensemble, perhaps 3 or 4 musicians playing  what appears to be a family of instruments…and not necessarily the traditional families of woodwinds, brass, percussion, etc. The ‘family’ simply looks like they need to be played as an ensemble.  The key instrument would be an ocarina and key, in this definition, means that the ocarina would be the determining factor as to what musical key the ensemble plays. The second instrument would be a lamellophone, constructed from mixed media (clay and steel), and tunable to the fixed key of the ocarina. The remaining instruments would be more traditional, but whimsically formed, percussion instruments…probably drums and rattles, all constructed from clay. OK, so now the foundation for a display is set. What would make this more creative and inventive, but an original composition?

So here is the plan: design the instruments (probably a few variations of each), construct and fire the ceramics involved, complete the assemblies with whatever media is needed, determine the range of sounds (essentially the musical palette), compose some music to match the limits of the instruments, record music, master the music for a digital playback device, procure or build a display system that includes playback capabilities…and then wonder, sleeplessly for night-on-end before the show, if anyone would have a clue as to what was involved in the process I just described?  Ha!

The answers matter little at this point.  I have just enough time to pull this off and make a decision as to whether this would make the show or not… I just think it would be sufficiently unique, that it would bring smiles to faces and an element of fun for the Invention and Creativity theme. The pressure is off as long as I keep this a secret, right?   Oh. Wait!

Inspiration and image by Barry Hall and Burnt Earth Ensembles Terra Cotta album.

Craft Fair Observations


I meandered through all of the booths at the 40th American Artisans Festival yesterday in Nashville’s Centennial Park…kind of a Father’s Day escape and market research expedition combination. In spite of the unseasonably hot and humid temperatures, the show was well attended.  An occasional breeze disturbed the overhanging oak boughs, making stops in the shade almost sufficient to dry my sweaty t-shirt. Long lines at the lemonade stand where workers were racing through a huge tub of lemons meant that visitors needed the relief but also that they weren’t automatically running off to air conditioned cocoons.

The show was an eclectic mix of fine arts and hand-made crafts, not surprisingly heavy on the crafts. Although I appreciate the painters whose work dotted the booths, I did not linger there but spent the majority of my time chatting with some of the exhibitors whose work I considered either exceptional or genuinely pushing-the-envelop unique. In broad strokes, here are my observations of the show:

  • Exhibitors who included demonstrations drew crowds and made sales. One perennial raku artist seemed to make a sale with each reveal of a hot pot from the smoldering sawdust…and I cannot image how hot/uncomfortable he was.
  • Shoppers seemed to be purchasing more small items, shoebox-sized and smaller…and under $50.
  • One booth with superbly crafted pocket knives and other cutlery specifically mentioned that his set up was focused on ‘gifts for dad’…and that was working well.
  • Almost every booth included an engaging person who seemed to be interested in talking and and answering questions about their wares…and the majority of the time that person was the artist.  I found this refreshing, particularly for the last day of a show…and did I mention that it was h.o.t.?
  • I collected business cards and information sheets at 10 booths where I had a conversation. Of the 10: 10 included complete mailing addresses and phone numbers; 8 identified the URL for a website, 7 included email addresses, and only 1 included either a reference to Twitter or to a Facebook fan page.

As I walked away from the show, dreading the oven-like cockpit of my un-air-conditioned minivan, that last bullet point raised some interesting questions and concerns. Is there a generational-like difference between exhibitors who are hanging on to the craft fair approach and those who have ventured into cyberspace to broaden their nets for customers via social media? And, how much better would the craft fair experience be if exhibitors made a conscious effort to stay connected by engaging via social media? My thinking is that these two worlds need to meet/converge quickly if the craft fair era is to live on.  On the other hand, attendees of the fair looked to be more in the ‘over 40’ crowd than in the plugged-in, younger generations…perhaps the non-social-media approach is more appropriate/applicable, at least for now. Now, however, may be a fleeting period of time.