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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Ceramics conference strikes Davis

The John Natsoulas Gallery presents the 27th annual CCACA and exhibitions

When you’re walking across the UC Davis campus, do you think about the possibilities that lie underneath the grass? The dormant layers of clay beneath our feet lay waiting to be formed into ceramic sculptures. The John Natsoulas Gallery does. Located on 521 First St. the John Natsoulas Gallery is hosting their 27th annual California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Art (CCACA) in concurrence with 45 exhibitions. CCACA takes place from 8 a.m. on May 1 through May 3 at 3 p.m. and requires registration. The 45 exhibitions are open during the same date and times as CCACA, but are open to the public.

John Natsoulas founded CCACA – with the intentionally witty acronym – in 1988.  He found help and inspiration from his mentor, Robert Arneson, an extremely influential and controversial American sculptor and former professor of ceramics in the UC Davis Art Department. Natsoulas explains how he was inspired to create this convention by the ceramic artists that came out of Davis, as well as the nature of clay itself.

“There is something very weird about clay,” Natsoulas said. “There is this sort of warmth. They–the artists–all collaborate together.”

The 45 exhibitions, which occur at the same time as CCACA, feature local art exhibitions as well as over 40 student art shows from various colleges. The local galleries include The Artery’s California Clay Competition, The Davis Arts Center and the Pence Gallery. The John Natsoulas Gallery’s annual 30 Ceramic Sculptors exhibit has been running since April 15 and will end on May 16. It is also part of the 45 open exhibitions offered on the first weekend of May.

As the largest and oldest ceramic convention in the nation, CCACA features lectures, hands-on demonstrations and personal interaction with locally and internationally recognized artists. These renowned artists include Beverly Mayeri, Shalene Valenzuela, Eusebio Lozano and many more.

During this upcoming CCACA, Shalene Valenzuela will be attending the conference as a presenter. For many years she has been an attendee, and this time she will be doing a demonstration on how she works with painting and ceramics. Valenzuela’s art pieces tend to be inspired by everyday objects and a style that dates back to the 1950s and 1960s. With this inspiration Valenzuela explores stereotypes, how people relate to one another and many other complex issues of the self and society.

“For me, a lot of it has to do with nostalgia,” Valenzuela said. “Creating nostalgia for a time you never lived in. It’s my message: don’t believe everything you see.”

Beverly Mayeri, a science-major-turned-artist who has presented at previous CCACA’s, will also be presenting a few out of her hundreds of art pieces at this year’s convention. Along with this presentation, Mayeri will have three of her ceramic faces hanging in the gallery. Mayeri’s art pieces focus on aspects of human nature, exploring the intimate as well as the political. Her current pieces tend to focus on the traumatic impacts humans have on the environment.

“I use personal themes that explore my take on human nature, looking into our yearnings and fears, the beauty and fragility of life,” Mayeri said. “Whatever is going on in my life pops up in my art.”

These annual events bring a diverse group of artists to the center of Davis with ceramic pieces that explore themes of all types. In the villages of Greece, the country of Natsoulas’ heritage, he explains how the sense of community is so strong that when a house needed to be built, the community would come together and build the house together.

“We’re missing that whole sense of working together as a community,” Natsoulas said.

But CCACA is a start. The 45 exhibits between Fifth Street and C Street are free. Register and pay to attend the Conference here: http://natsoulas.com/ccaca-2015/ccaca-2015-registration/. For more information regarding these events, visit http://natsoulas.com/ccaca-2015/.

Graphic by Jennifer Wu.


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