Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dina Wilde-Ramsing

One of my all time favorite ceramic artists, Dina Wilde-Ramsing is participating in our "Circle of Eight" pottery show we have coming up in July and August.

She is one of the few artists I have multiple pieces of in my own collection, 7 pieces I think and I've taken a couple workshops with her.
So I'm really excited that we'll be representing Dina in New Bern.

Dina talks about herself and her work. "I have been a potter for 25 years, and my affection for clay is very strong. I take great pleasure in being tied to the long stretch of artistic tradition which clay represents.

Although my work is contemporary in design, it carries the influence of geology, history, archaeology.
I make many types of clay work, some of which are purely decorative. However, I consider the content of my serious work to be narrative, figurative, and personally symbolic. I would like for these symbols to establish an intimate connection between the viewer and myself. Animal and architectural imagery in my work refers to the search for sanctuary, support, and comfort, forces which shelter and transport us through life.


Dina Wilde-Ramsing, born in Asheville, NC, holds a BA in anthropology from UNC-CH and a BS from ECU. Her teaching experience includes workshops, public schools and 16 years as ceramic instructor at Cape Fear Community College.

She has been a professional artist since 1985 and currently maintains her studio Wilmington, NC. She exhibits regularly in galleries and institutions along the east coast.

We hope you'll stop in and see her work or purchase online.

Road Trip

I just back back from a trip picking up the pottery for our Circle of Eight pottery show. A friend and I drove to Wilmington to pick up pieces from Dina Wilde-Ramsing. She's doing great as usual and getting ready to teach a week long ceramic sculpture class at Odessy in Asheville.

I have 7 of her pieces in my own collection.

Then we went on to see Justine and pick up work from her. As always it was a treat to see her and Guy.

From there we went on to Charlotte. Unfortunately several of the sites I intended to take in (including the Mint) were closed on Monday (one reason Carolina Creations is open 7 days a week). It was disappointing but since we were downtown we walked around a little bit.

It didn't appear that Charlotte is suffering from the economy, there is a lot of building going on. We really enjoyed all the public art and are glad that the Arts Council in New Bern has taken on getting some public art placed here.

We picked up the rest of the pottery for the Circle of Eight show and then went to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. It's about 10 miles south of Charlotte and we were really impressed. The photos just don't do it justice. It is huge, very cleverly designed and well maintained.

What brought it to my attention is a new Orchid Conservatory. I've grown and painted orchids for years.

Then on the way home we stopped in Mt Olive to look for the pickle factory and to shoot this photo.

They have a very clever website you should look at and maybe take a trip over that way.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Think Global, Sell Local

I read this article about having a business in a downtown. We live downtown, our business is downtown, we shop downtown, we love downtown New Bern!

Demographic trends now favor downtown, even for, even for Internet businesses.
By Jonathan Weber

"Location, location, location" has been the mantra of the real estate industry for as long as anyone can remember. Still, as the national economy transforms in the wake of the economic crisis, the power of place will prove to be ever more important for a broad range of small businesses.

Most demographic and market indicators suggest that growth and development across the country are moving away from the suburban and exurban fringe and toward center-cities and close-in suburbs.

What's behind this shift? Empty-nesters don't need the big house and don't want to mow the big lawn. High gas prices are making long commutes less practical. The urban renaissance in big cities ranging from New York to Portland, Ore.—and the revival of charming, vibrant downtowns in small cities like Missoula, Mont (and Downtown New Bern!).—is making the bedroom suburb and the strip mall seem positively dull.

Retailers are the most obviously affected by these trends. For decades, locating a store in a mall on the fringe rather than downtown had a lot of obvious advantages: plenty of easy parking, tons of drive-by traffic from big-box neighbors, and newer buildings with better infrastructure.

These benefits won't disappear overnight. Over the long run, though, they will diminish in importance, especially if more big retail chains and shopping-mall operators go out of business. Downtown shopping districts, meanwhile, will benefit from increased investment and more proximate residents. If we assume, as many economists do, that the country is "over-retailed," some downtown development plans based on more shopping will stall, but the center will still prosper relative to the fringe—and more businesses might find the downtown storefront affordable.

Indeed, the advantages of a good downtown location extend to many businesses that are not dependent on walk-in traffic. At NewWest.Net, our alley storefront with a prominent sign is probably one of our best bits of marketing. Every month, we host an art show as part of the downtown "First Friday" art walk, which brings a lot of people into the office and gives us a chance to chat them up about NewWest.Net. Most meetings don't require getting into a car. Our very effective Downtown Association offers kinship (which can lead to deals) with neighboring businesses.

Locating downtown is sometimes associated with the "buy local" movement—the idea that the community benefits if businesses and consumers spend their money with independent, locally owned businesses. But you don't have to buy into this ideologically to position yourself as the friendly, local alternative to the big national chain, and part of the way to do that is to locate in a cool space—in a historic building, say—rather than a sterile strip mall or office park.

All of this might seem counterintuitive, as the Internet revolution was supposed to render place less important, even irrelevant. If we can all telecommute from our bedrooms, buy our supplies online, and serve our customers over the Internet, why does that pesky and expensive office or retail store even matter?

The answer is simple: Humans are social beings, and all the time we spend at our computers makes us, if anything, even hungrier for real-world interactions. The Internet, paradoxically, is making place even more important. Marrying great online services with appealing real-world presence will be the secret to success for many a company. So pay attention to where you are and to where your community is going.

Jonathan Weber is the founder, publisher, and CEO of New West, a media company covering life and business in the Rocky Mountain West.

  • Original published on SLATE Website

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fabulous Tiles and Pots by Vicki Grant

We're thrilled to welcome the work of Vicki Grant to our gallery!

Read all about her -

From the World Ceramic News:

As an architect, Vicki Grant worked to fit together pieces of a puzzle. Although she recently retired from her professional career, Grant, 53, puts in full days on her artwork. To create her striking ceramic and wood sculptural vessels and wall hangings, she's still thinking like an architect.

"I'm concerned with how the pieces fold into each other and how they're intertwined," Grant said. "I look at pattern, color, materials. My brain is working the same way as it did with architecture, but it's a little bit easier with this because it's hands on. You can pick something up and lay it next to something and say, 'Oh, God, that's all wrong,' or 'That's exactly it.'"

Apparently Grant has come up with a large number of "exactly its." Her work flew off the walls during a summer show at the prestigious Blue Spiral 1 gallery in Asheville.

Vicki talks about how it began: "My mother was one who gave the family an appreciation of art," Grant said of Frances Walker. "She was a ceramicist and ceramic sculptor, and now she does fiber and paper collage. She had her own gallery in Maryland and has a book of poetry." Meanwhile, her scientific leanings come from her father, Ronald, who holds a doctorate in physics and became a fine-art woodworker in his retirement.

Clay and wood: Grant's fondness for science and math, coupled with art and design, found a home in architecture, which she did for 30 years. For an artistic outlet, she sketched and did stained glass. Then about a decade ago, Grant got the ceramics bug.

"I took my kids to a summer pottery class and it looked like too much fun, so I signed up for an adult class," she said. "It was addictive. "

Changes of scenery: Meanwhile, in 1999 Grant and her husband, Ronald, left the Washington area for a less-urban life in Raleigh. She became heavily involved in the Festival of the Arts program at Wakefield High School, where their three daughters, now 19, 20, and 22, went to school. For the last several years, Grant worked as an architect at Little Diversified Architectural Consulting in Durham.

She is now curator for a series of public art exhibits at the firm's office on the American Tobacco campus. This year, the Grants moved to their longtime second home on Lake Gaston and the artist has set up shop in a large studio over the garage.

Series of work: Grant works in series, and her latest two are called "Architectural Landscapes" and "Windows to Earth," with the former being whimsical and bright and the other weighty in feeling and size. Both boast clean lines and angles; the darker work has an Asian feel. Grant's urge to produce large pieces is part of what led her to add wooden elements. "I had a midsized electric kiln and these allowed me to make my work more complex. If you put something on a wooden stand, it can be twice as tall."

Family project: In Grant's studio one day in August, porcelain vessels and wall pieces in various stages of progress were laid out on long counters. Grant sketches out every piece.

Last summer she has an apprentice, her niece Amanda Walker, who came from Alaska to study theater set design at N.C. School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. Her husband, too, helps out by transporting her pieces and doing administrative work.

Nature's help: After sketching out designs, Grants carves them into the clay, adding textures and choosing colors. Instead of glaze, she applies "layers and layers and layers of pigment." She often adds and arranges other elements into the piece. "I look at shape, texture, size, color. I'm inspired by natural pieces, like wood and stone," she said. Works in progress were embellished with such items as nautilus shells, driftwood, metal, lichen, a sea urchin, and even a bit of rust. "A lot of people send me weird stuff," said Grant. "They figure, 'This is bizarre, it looks like something Vicki could use.' I have alligator teeth, porcupine shells." Two of her daughters, both environmental studies students, recently brought her a collection of pods from their trip to the Galapagos Islands.

New connections: Completing a piece of art instead of an architectural project "feels very different," Grant said. "Architecture is a big collaborative effort. That's a great feeling. But this is just me, and that's a great feeling too." Grant doesn't have a name yet for her next series, "but it's kind of interconnecting pieces, and focused on the connectors, like leather strapping, with pieces that fit together like puzzles." And again, an architect's intellect will be channeled into the hands of an artist.

To see some of the pieces we have to purchase at Carolina Creations click here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Vollis Simpson Revisited

We try to get up to see the windmills that Vollis Simpson has been working on once a year, and if we're lucky we get to see him too.

A couple weeks ago we took some friends to meet him.

He is an interesting fellow and of course we love his art. I have posted extensively about him in the past so I'll just link to that post if you'd like to read more about him, click here.

This current post will just be a few photos.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Art by the Harbor River Dunes Sat June 27 10-3

Next Saturday I'll be participating in the only art show I do outside of Carolina Creations and the only OUTDOOR Art Show I've done in over 10 years!

I participated last year and it was fun to do.

Here is a press release telling all about it.

BTW I'll be taking Michael's and my pottery, my calligraphy and some Sticks@ pieces.

Announcing the second annual Art by the Harbor at River Dunes on Saturday, June 27th .

River Dunes is located just outside of Oriental on the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound.

Around Grace Harbor, there will be a sidewalk art show featuring 25 local artists and craftsmen who will be showing and selling paintings, sculpture, wood-working, photography, hand-blown glass, batik paper, jewelry, fabric art and more.

Ben Casey, author and photographer, will be available to sign his books on the Neuse and Trent Rivers.

This event is free and open to the public. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

There will also be a mini boat show in the Harbor, featuring some new boats from Jarrett Bay.

The 10th Anniversary Coastal Living Idea House will be open that day for tours, benefitting Pamlico Co. Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Tickets to tour the house will be $10 per person.

A cookout Lunch will be available from 11-2.

Come by boat or by car and support our local arts community!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ron Philbeck Circle of Eight

As I said a few days ago I'll be posting information about the potters that are participating our our "Circle of Eight" show we have coming up starting the 1st of July and going through the end of August. Today I'm going to tell you about Ron Philbeck.

Well maybe I should say Ron will tell you about himself!

"I started making pots in 1992 after I returned to my home town of Shelby, NC. I had just left after four years of college at North Carolina State University. There I studied mathematics and horticulture. Ha. Unlikely combo right? My desire was always to go to ART school but I ended up at NCSU for four years and after that I figured it was too late to start all over.

Anyhow I got into pots after I came back from college and it’s a pretty long story, but maybe I’ll put it up here sometime soon. For the most part I had LOTS of help from other really great potters, I took workshops and attended weekend pottery conferences. I made lots of pots, really bad ones for quite some while, before I went full time in 1996.

I made salt glazed stoneware from 1996 till 2008. My strongest influences are potters from the Leach/Hamada lineage. I want my pots to be used, function is very important me.

In 2008 I switched to earthenware for a number of reasons. Propane costs were out the roof, my salt kiln was in need of repair and honestly I really wanted to try something totally different. So I made new pots, developed a few slips and glazes and bought an electric kiln.

The biggest move was that I started decorating. I had been drawing for years but it was a huge leap for me to actually put an image on a pot. I have a blast coming up with new characters and patterns for p0ts. It’s fun to see it develop and it’s also scary to be putting this side of me out there in the public forum. I do feel that these pots are a reflection of who I am and where I am at this point in my life. Folks love them too, which is a bonus."

Ron has just finished a class at Penland and he's cranked up!!

These are not the pots that will be in the show but this will give you an idea of the work Ron is currently producing. (update - we've just posted pieces from the show on our website - click here!). We're excited about the show!! Other Circle of Eight potters I've blogged about are Jennifer Mecca & there are more to come. See more pieces by Jennifer on our website.

Read a press release about the show by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Bern's 300th Anniversary

You can't live in New Bern and not know that we are getting ready for our 300th Anniversary coming up in 2010.

A website has been created where you can keep up with all the events. The link is http://www.newbern300.com/.

We've been planning this celebration for about 5 years and it has been the catalyst for getting many large projects done. Here is an abbreivated list (there are many more not listed here).

- The renovation of the Federal Building
- The Construction of our new Trent River Bridge
- Work on our River Walk
- Broad Street Makeover

and lots more!

At Carolina Creations we'll be having our 20th anniversary which we are going to celebrate for the entire year starting in October. You'll be hearing more about this as it gets closer. But some of the things we have planned are

- A show of Blown glass ornaments by 20 glassblowers
- An artist paints New Bern for 20 years (book)
- A month where we have a $20 gift section
- A drawing for 20 gifts
- A month with 20% off certain items
- Special exhibits will open every other month during ArtWalk in March, May, July, September, and November. To receive notification of these shows sign up for our newsletter which comes out every other month. To sign up go to our website, in the middle of the page you'll see a link to click on to sign up. www.carolinacreations.com.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flag Day - 2009

Today is Michael's 64th birthday, or as he's been saying all day, the beginning of his 65th circumnavigation of the sun! He's had some other things to say too that I won't mention here.

So we took the day off and drove down to Beaufort and had a leisurely lunch at Finz. It's not at all fancy but the crab dip is great, the food is basic but good, but the real reason we like it is because you sit over the water and watch the boats come through Beaufort inlet.

When my sister and brother in law were here a month ago we went down there too. I intended to post a couple photos then but never did. So here they are! One of my favorite drives in the world is the drive along Front Street. You're driving along the water with Carrot Island just a few hundred feet away.

When Betsey was here one of the things she said she wanted to do was to see some of the wild horses. I groaned because you could go there 100 times and not see any. They (the horses) live on Carrot Island (or as our friend John calls it Pony Poop Island because when you're hiking out there you need to watch your step!)

Well we saw no less than 24 horses that day!

What I love the most is the Live Oaks at the end of the street.

Happy Birthday Michael!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lisa Muller Tiles

We've just gotten in some new tiles from Lisa Muller! Being a tilemaker myself I am always attracted to tiles and hers are really special.

"My tile are primarily made from earthenware clay slip, cast in open face plaster molds. The first step is carving the original. I usually make a quick, very general sketch right on the wooden table top in my studio. There I start pushing clay together, carving, pressing and pinching it into place to form the basic
lines of the tile. In making the original I have no need to worry about it holding together or being built “properly” to withstand firing since it will be destroyed in the mold making process.

When the bulk of the shape is in place, I cut it off the table and move the tile-in-progress to a Formica casting surface, working the final image there. When the details are completed I set up the casting boards and pour the plaster. The finished mold is a negative image of my original and always needs work before it is ready for slip. I carve the remaining details of the image right into the mold (backwards, and with reverse dimensions of course).

The molds are dried out over low heat for two days before casting begins. Because the clay slip erodes the plaster, the first tile(s) cast in this original mold will be recast in plaster, thus leaving the original mold as a master so I can continue to cast an image as long as Is necessary. When the tiles first come out of the molds they are very damp and bendable, almost rubbery. At that time I can add hand made parts to them (that would not cast well), depending on the image. When dry they are bisque fired to 2045 degrees Fahrenheit in an electric kiln.

After bisquing, each tile is dipped in a red iron oxide wash, painted with underglazes, then glazed (using brushes) with multiple layers and colors. They are electric fired a second time to 1950 degrees Fahrenheit. The red iron oxide wash mostly b
urns away under the glaze, adding to its’ depth. It remains, appearing terracotta brown, on the unglazed parts of the tile. Glazed surfaces range from deep, translucent jewel tones to satin or “dry”, crusty areas.

You can see more (and even order) on our website click here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Painting Workshop with Sally Sutton - Paint like the impressionists

Our friend Sally Sutton is going to do a one day painting workshop "Paint like the impressionists - Fresh and Lively landscapes from photographs" at Michaels and my studio.

Work in oils or acrylics.

Saturday, July 25, 9-4, lunch included. $70.To register and for more information call Jan at 252-626-3376 or email
info@carolinacreations.com. Deadline for registering, July 15.

Loosen up and express yourself creating paintings from photographs that have the freshness of plein aire. Learn how to push color in your paintings and learn techniques on how to create a glow by using underpainting. See how to add figures, correct compositions, find unique light situations using photographs.

Sally Sutton has traveled and lived in Europe and Japan. She paints en plein aire and also does sketches and takes photos to develop in her studio. Join Sally in this fun and creative class where you will get lots of one on one attention. Watch her paint and develop a painting from start to finish and then apply her techniques to your own creation.

See more of Sally's paintings on our website by clicking here.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Meet the artist Jennifer Mecca

We're pleased to welcome back Jennifer Mecca to our gallery. We love her new pieces!

We've carried Jennifers pottery off and o
n for the past 10 years, we haven't had too much the past couple of years so we're thrilled with the new work we just got from her!

Jennifer put together our upcoming show "Circle of 8" which will run the months of July and August.

In the meantime stop in and see what she's sent us!

Here is a little more information about Jennifer.

Jennifer Mecca is a utilitaria n potter. She creates pots that are visually pleasing and unique in character, but also useful in everyday life. She enjoys making serving pieces and tableware that bring delight to the daily activity of eating, setting a table and enjoying a meal.

Jennifer was born in upstate New York, earned a BFA in Interior Design from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1989, returned to school at East Carolina University in 1995 to complete a BFA and MFA in Ceramics in 1999. She is currently a fulltime studio potter and teaches classes and workshops partt ime.

While growing up, Jennifer spent many weekends observing and participating in the traditions and rituals of her paternal Italian-American extended family. Among the most prevalent of these traditions were the preparation and presentation of elaborate meals. As a child, she observed how the tableware was as important as the planning, preparation and enjoyment. This served as the foundation for her interest in utilitarian pottery and love of creating elaborate surfaces and forms.
Jennifer has been a studio assistant for Silvie Granitelli at Penland School of Craft in Penland, North Carolina, and attended a weeklong workshop with Linda Christenson at Arrowmont School of Craft in Tennessee. She has attended workshops with Chris Staley and Donna Polseno at the Odyssey Center for Ceramic Craft, as well as workshops with Suze Lindsey, Gay Smith, Steven Hill, Brad Schwieger and many others.

Jennifer has participated in several nationally juried craft and pottery shows throughout the country. She has taught college level ceramic classes as well as children’s clay classes. In 2004 her work appeared in the publication in 500 Cups.

She lived in New Bern for a number of years and currently lives near Charlotte.

Watch in the coming weeks for information about the other potters in the show "Circle of 8", Greg Scott, Adrienne Dellinger, Ron Philbeck, Amy Sanders, Julie Wiggins, Michael Kline and Dina Wilde-Ramsing.

I'm going to go pick up the pieces and I'm really looking forward to the trip as well the show when we get it up.

We've got a few pieces on our website with more to come in the next few days.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Steve Fabrico Update

Our friend Steve Fabrico's sculpture “Extraterrestrial,” which was the Purchase Award winner in the 2007 Juried Sculpture Show at the Arts Council, has been installed on the water side of the Hilton (aka Sheraton) in Downtown New Bern.

We have been representing Steve for several years and have both his sculpture and functional clay in our gallery. We have a 7 foot totem in our gallery right now as part of our "Glorious Garden" show which runs through the end of June, as well as a smaller 30" tall one.

I went to a workshop at his studio a couple years ago and it has really inspired me to sculpt.

We've got several of Steve's pieces on our website click here to see them.

Also I posted more information about him in an earlier blog, to read more about Steve and to see his photo click here.