Art site of Gary Molitor: Bay Area Art History, California Sculpture, Art Ceramics, Art Cups, Drawings, Sci-Fi 3D Computer Art, Personal Life Stories, Sci-Fi Adventure Stories and of Art Links.


Art Cups

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click for larger view “Camardoune Cup #5,” 1984, 5" x 6h".
Cone 6 cast porcelain with underglaze colors and clear over glaze.
In 1980 I moved from Bernal Heights in San Francisco to a three bedroom Mediterranean house in the Oakland hills. In the basement laundry room, I set up a small work space with the intention of doing some work related to the drawings I had been working on for the past eight years. Nothing really happened until 1984. In 1983 I went in to a 30 day treatment center for depression. Once again I had slipped into a deep depression and started self medication with cocaine. Not a good idea. That same year the marriage to my third wife ended.
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click to view larger image “Camardoune Cup #7,” 1984, 5" x 6h".
Cone 6 cast porcelain with underglaze colors and clear over glaze.
It was obvious my life had really hit bottom. It was time to take charge do something different. I quit my job at the Mushet Company. I really had gone as far as I could there. I learned a lot about kiln construction and electrical engineering and made some friends, among them Ken Titus, the father of Chris Titus; yea, it's all true, about his father, that is.
I took a year off, living on my saving and some part time work repairing kilns and annealing ovens, while I tried up put together a nonprofit organization that was suppose to support and promote international folk art. It was at this time I started the work based on my unfinished novel, “Tasux T Bazode.”
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“Camardoune Cup #6,” 1984, 5" x 5h".
Cone 6 cast porcelain with underglaze colors and clear over glaze.
From 1974 to 1984 I didn't touch a lump of clay. I was doing a lot photography and drawing plus researching the mysteries of psychotropic drugs. I have drawers of slides; thousands, of which, maybe a had full were worth showing. You can decided for your self (see photos).  In 1984 I returned to what I knew best, that which made me feel good; I started pushing clay around – wheel thrown clay. Wedging. Centering. Pulling. Nothing was saved. I went back to my drawing books for inspiration. I love porcelain. It's white - pure - hard and filled with the mysteries of the far east. Traditional pottery is like meditation; so soothing and peaceful. But for me my life has never been about peace. Where I could, whether or not I wanted to, I created tension, contrast and pushed the limits. The cup to the left was the first exploration of new ideas from the past.
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“Ichthyic 1,” 1974, 7" x 4".
Cone 6 cast porcelain with underglaze colors and clear over glaze.
This series was completed while I was living in Mill Valley. I had the boat and I was under a doctors care. I felt better about my self so I started doing some clay work.   I saw my friends and contemporaries getting the good teaching jobs, get shows and press recognition. I applied at San Francisco State for a sculpture position, they accepted portfolio but “lost” it. On one of my visits to the campus, I still had friends in the Art Department, I asked one of them what was going on. He told me that no white male was going to be hired there. Any new position would be going to either a woman or an African American. Yea, I know, sour grapes. I understood and supported the idea that minorities (may) have been overlooked in hiring. I also asked about employment at Sonoma State, but was confidently told I would never get rehired there because I created a problem for the Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. Apparently the "C" I gave a student that never attended class or never completed assignments made a federal case out of it and the Dean wanted me to "Make It Go Away". Which I didn't do. Lesson learned, play the game and don't create waves.
I think it was about this time I gave up thinking ever teaching art again. Better to mush along at the Mushet Company. At least I had a job.
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click for larger view “Rock Cup,” 1974, 7" x 4".
Cone 6 cast porcelain with underglaze colors and clear over glaze.
As I struggled to deal with lost love, a job I hated and the inability to focus my life I was spending a lot of time down on the funky North Sausalito water front with my ceramic friend Joe Hawley, A warm and friendly beer drinking artist that taught ceramics at SF State. I sailed around the bay with him on his Chinese Junk called the Haung Ho later to be owned by Michael Cookinham. As we sailed, he would point out different types of boats.  I bought a sail boat in the month (7) of my birth in 1974. This little boat (an all Philippine Mahogany Danish "Debutante", similar to a Folkboat) saved my life. I had it anchored next to the Hyoka, a converted WW2 maintenance barge where my ex-art-student, Jeff (never in the middle) Mann (now with ILM) lived with his wife and son. Close by was Annie Hallatt's (of Masked Arrayed and "Phantom of the Opera" mask fame) live aboard boat. I refinished my boat from top to bottom. It sparkled like a gem. I renamed it the J.J. Eye (July Jewel Eye).
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“Amonos 1,” 1973, 7" x 4".
Cone 6 cast porcelain with underglaze colors and clear over glaze.
I did show this cup and others in this series at the "Meyer, Breier and Weiss gallery when it was down on Fillmore. Not one sold. It was at this time I was diagnosed with what my doctor called "clinical depression." I knew there was some thing wrong with me but I just wasn't sure. Most of the time I could hardly get out of bed. My life seemed to be an endless string of failures. All I wanted to do was sleep. Morning after morning I would wake with an over powering feeling of doom ... pending disaster. There were many mornings I could not get out of bed. Some times I would lay there and create elaborate suicide fantasies. In the winter it was worse. Back then, depression was just starting to be recognized as a chemical not psychological disease. I now know both my mother and father suffered from it. As a child I remember how I hated to get up in the morning. I was very good at convincing my mother I was sick and not able to go to school.

Another view here.
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“Orchido Cup,” 1973, 7" x 4".
Cone 6 cast porcelain with underglaze colors and clear over glaze.
Just before leaving for Las Vegas, I started this series and the Amonos series. I was very much aware of what two other bay area ceramic artists were doing. Both Ron Nagle, Richard Shaw and my self had come out of the same tradition. We were working in the same medium; cast porcelain and under glazing. Both of them had very will established reputations. After I got back from Vegas, I showed this work to several galleries in San Francisco. I was told that it was to derivative of others in the Bay Area. Right or wrong I had stiff competition. I wasn't going to give up, but yes, art cups are too much like pottery. My work had to mature.
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“Yellow Goblet”, 1970, 7" x 3".
Cone 06 white ware, underglaze clear gloss over glazed with China paint and luster color.
When ever I change working location, associates and focus, my work takes on a different look. In 1970 I moved to a rural area of Marin County (Novato), got into organic farming, Kundalini Yoga with Yogi Bhajan, sewing my own clothes and teaching at Sonoma State. Oh yes, those were the days; long hair, homemade shoes, zipping up to Cotati/Rohnert Park in my restored '59 Morris Minor "woody". Life looked pretty good. Then everything changed. I didn't get rehired at SSU, Joan and I split up, my father died. But I was on my way to U of Nevada at Las Vegas for my third ceramic teaching gig in 5 years. Maybe this would lead to something better – NOT! Disaster. Never get involved with a married person. Regardless of how right you think your are at the time, you are wrong – maybe dead wrong. I was lucky to get out with my life and in one piece. At that point my soaring art career went Mach 10 into the toilet. It wasn't until 1985 did I really get back into making art seriously.
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Commuting with Mr. Shaw", 1967, 5" x 3".
Cone 06 white ware, underglaze painted landscape, clear gloss over glazed with maroon luster.
From 1964 to 1966 I did all I could to break the stigma clay had as a craft material. I painted my first pot in 1963 and then I discovered lusters and china paints. In 1967 I started teaching at UC Davis with Robert Arneson. For a while, Richard Shaw and I commuted twice a week from San Francisco to Davis. I hadn't done much clay because I was doing a lot of plastic sculpture. But working with Bob changed my attitude toward pots. This clay cup was the first clay I did and I think the delicate nature is influenced by Ron Nagle's work.
A cup is one of the most personal objects I can think of – more so than underwear. You hold it in your hand. It holds sustenance. It caresses your lips. It fills you with warmth or coolness. A cup in my hand always reminds me of my mother. Cups are very feminine.
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“untitled”, 1963, each cup at 7" x 3".
Stoneware, cone 10 glazes, wheel thrown forms, hand manipulated and carved.
This was the last set of cups I did before entering the graduate program at SF State. Traditional pottery never held any interest for me. I could see forms in the clay that were beyond, functional bowls, plates and cups. Please understand, I don't have anything against pottery. I have a lot of respect for the tradition of pottery. It is a very demanding craft and the objects that are produced under that discipline can be just as valuable (beautiful) as ceramic sculpture.
For many years there has been this debate about ceramics, was it art or was it craft. Amongst the Classicists, only non functional work made from stone, metal and some times wood can be called art. ....................................
Ah, screw-it. I don't want to talk about this. Art has nothing to do with Beauty and as a matter of fact art has nothing to do with ART. Here, read what this person has to say (Joseph A. Goguen) and get back to me later.
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“Cup with Handle and a Half”, 1963, 6" x 6".
Stoneware, cone 10 glazes with lead inlay. Wheel thrown forms hand manipulated and carved.
Charles P. (Bud) McKee was a dynamic instructor. He was one of those really strong personality types that one either really likes or hates. I liked him and still do. At my young 21 years of age, every thing was exciting and the things he said were challenging; he made me think. The preconceived was always questioned. Could a pot transcend craft and become art. Was it possible for a clay object to ever be seen as fine art (the answer is still out on that one). Where did influence stop and plagiarism begin. Was it ever possible not to be influenced and did "TRUE" creativity come out nothingness. The one thing I learned; It's good to think about things but better to make art.
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“Bridge Road Sextet”, 1963, each cup at 7" x 3".
Stoneware, cone 10 glazes with cone 06 bright over glaze. Wheel thrown forms, hand manipulated and carved.
I started my art career as a student at San Francisco State University Art Dept. with the intention of becoming an architect like my friend Ernest Valardi, but being young and trying to be true to myself, I was more interested in the process than the end. After a disastrous first year in science (I thought I might become an oceanologist or endocrinologist), the new idea was to get in a year of art and transfer to Cal Berkeley and follow my friends lead in to architecture. I loved to make things. My first really cool class was with Mel Henderson were I had a clay critique by Stephen De Staebler. Life began to change for me, I saw some pots done in the ceramics department. I wanted to do that! Then came McKee.

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Art site of Gary Molitor: Bay Area Art History, California
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