Fine Art Friday: NCECA 50th Annual Conference

My manager says I have to write a blog post about my NCECA trip before it is no longer relevant. (Three weeks is still relevant, right?) I don’t like writing, so I’ll show you the pictures I took and try to tell you about them instead.

Shh, don’t tell James I’m cheating!


Me and my sister, Maddi (and a Denver Cow?).

There were no flights that were decently priced on the day I needed them. I went early and took the time to visit my families. First, there was an 8-hour layover in Denver.

Naturally I asked my Mum and sister to drive 2 hours from Colorado Springs to hang out with me and explore the area.

We had ice cream.

Be jelly.

Me and my Mum, Vicki.

There is a building in Downtown Denver with a pencil for a smoke stack…

After Denver I flew into St. Louis and inconvenienced my (other) Mom by asking her to drive 3+ hours to get me and bring me to her place in Quincy (that’s a tiny city in Illinois) to stay for a week(ish).

Me and my Mom, Karen.

While there, we went to an event at the local community college and I tried my hand at Virtual Welding, which is a thing. Apparently, I'm not very good at that thing.

There was a St. Patty’s “pub crawl” and a picture scavenger hunt at Tilted Kilt. Is it a crawl when you're on a bus?

Did I mention my Mom’s got adorable pups?

Here’s Kirby and Ripley. They wear diapers.

Baxter did not want to stay with the others for a group picture. Or stay still for that matter.

Also, my Mom makes bomb-ass cakes. You should go check them out at:

The last night we ended with our ritual watching of the 1993 Disney Classic, The Three Musketeers.

Porthos: “Champagne?” Athos: “We're in the middle of a chase, Porthos.” Porthos: “You're right - something red.”


And then (after a bit of a rental car fiasco):


I checked in and started my first shift as a volunteer.

Notice the badge even says Zike Studios right on it!

My first volunteer shift was at the merchandise table (there were not a whole lot of people registering that day).

After my shift I met up with my good friend Liz and we went to check out the Expo floor. Apparently I have a thing for 18 Hands Gallery and Blair Clemo.

Even bought a freaking amazing bowl from CJ Niehaus.


The next few days were a blur of activity, going to informative lectures about glaze chemistry, kiln building, techniques and processes (some of which I assisted for my volunteer time), making new acquaintances, hanging out with old college chums (am I old enough to use that word?) and exploring Kansas City’s offerings.

Kansas City is full of amazing architecture.

And it was hosting REALLY GOOD ART.

Bon Mot Rain Harris, 2016, (porcelain, walnut, plastic tree, resin, decals). I love the color play with the distinct air of “fakeness” playing with the japanese bonsi motif. A Bon Mot is a witty remark.

Unrequited Beth Cavener, 2015 (resin-infused refractory material, paint, steel base). The feel she manages to capture in all of her work is enthralling. From the accusing stare to the sensual texture of the skin, this rabbit needs something that her viewer cannot give.

Detail of Unrequited

Detail of Unrequited

Penny Royal Rachel Ballard Bigley, 2015 (stoneware, micro-crystalline glaze, gold luster). At first glance she might be wearing a hat, but really, the flower is her head. It’s unsettling, absurd and enchanting. As though she needs to show you something, but can’t say what.

Back view of Penny Royal

Inflatable Triceratops by Brett Kern (slip cast ceramic, gold luster, commercial glazes). All of Brett’s inflatable dinosaurs are amazing and I want one.

The In-Between Molly Allen, 2015 (stoneware, acrylic paint, metal, plaster). This deer stands 54” tall. That’s 4½ feet. How she manages to make this piece stand on such spindly legs is beyond me. Aside from the construction, the work is ethereal, evoking the ephemeral nature of dreams just before waking.

Carved Goblet Drum Helen Moore, 2016 (Raku-fired stoneware, goat skin). Ah Ha! Drums as art, and raku no less. I’ll need to study how she attached the drum head.

Dazzle on Dry Land 002 Merrie Wright, 2012 (Ceramic). I was fortunate to meet this artist during the reception. She noted that all of the colors applied are glaze, not paint (very difficult, any ceramacist will attest) and that the work is exploring the use of camouflage in nature and life.

Ginger Lindsay Pichaske, 2016 (earthenware, chicken feathers, flocking, milk paint, steel, wood). The beauty of this work is in the details; The flocking around the eyes, and the addition of feathers at the ear tips create a convincing illusion of reality.

Detail of Ginger

Detail of Ginger

Some Days… Melissa Mencini, 2016 (porcelain, underglaze, decals). The daintiness of the color scheme on porcelain plates is undermined by the vulgarity of the phrase and the addition of tanks. I’m not certain if this is commentary on war, modern expectations of woman, or merely a clever juxtaposition of concepts, but I love it.

Not that KC didn’t already have some good stuff.

Did you know the Nelson Atkins Museum has one of Rodin’s Thinkers?

And some GIANT shuttlecocks by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen (Me for scale).

I brought home some art and swag to remind me of the trip, and keep me inspired.

Animal cookie inspired piece by Taya Beattie.

A little face pin by Kayla Alfonso of Ghost Cat Studios.

Little pot by Joel Cherrico.

Something tells me I need to make some tiny swag to hide around NCECA next year. It seemed to be a really popular thing to do, and who doesn't love free things? Especially when they're awesome!

Swag from the Resources Floor. Mostly fliers and brochures, but also some samples, posters, pens and ribs.

Cup Sale steals (these were marked down to $2 each at the end of the day… be jelly)

And last but not least: the best pun ever:

Do not use if seal is broken!

Please do not use if seal is broken! By: Jen Watson [This little guy makes me obscenely happy.]