Plates, Platters and Nothing Else Matters: National Competition at the LBI Foundation of the Arts and Sciences

Aug 01, 2018
Photo by: Pat Johnson Ceramics studio manager Jeff Ruemeli knows what he likes. The whale platter by Anja Bartels is a favorite, also ‘Shino Fish Platter’ (left) by Colette Smith.

Utilitarian dinnerware that has surpassed its “usefulness” and can stand alone as art objects is the premise for the “Plates, Platters and Nothing Else Matters: National Juried Competition 2018 Exhibition” at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences through Aug. 12. Artist and activist Roberto Lugo served as juror, and LBIF ceramic studio manager Jeff Ruemeli hung the show. Luckily, Ruemeli was available to give a tour of the show before it opened to the public and gave his take on some of the standout pieces.

Three pieces by Matthew Patton of Seattle started Ruemeli’s discourse. “These really speak to me as a glass blower,” he said, explaining that most pottery glazes are melted glass. “I can see the experimentation that went into them; the artist is exploring surface.” On a green and white plate that mimics sea foam, the artist’s glaze had bubbled up to create texture. Another plate works as an abstract painting, and the third has an interesting crackle slip. “You can see the depth of the glazes; you can see the movement and the fluidity of glass.”

Ruemeli rolled his eyes at a few of the obvious “statement pieces,” one mocking Trump as a poop emoji. But local ceramics artist Sandra Kosinski’s plate urging people of all colors to vote served up the right political tone.

“Last year’s winner, Mimi Logothetis, is back in triplicate,” Ruemeli noted. Her three large plates are covered in digital transfers of drawings. Two are cracked but were mended with gold leaf, a process the Japanese used in ancient times to preserve precious vessels and to signify that, unlike nature, all of man’s work is ultimately flawed.

Two plates covered in lush woodland drawings including fanciful toads by C.J. Niehaus were created with pencil underglazes. They are whimsical like children’s book illustrations, and a bit too cute for Ruemeli’s tastes. He preferred a “Crow” plate by Marina Smelik. “It’s a short narrative, but not overloaded with imagery.”

Ruemeli liked the more-abstract design of the next plate, by Rebecca Zweibel. “It has the gesture line that is ‘in the moment’ and something I like. There’s a little more going on, nothing overly thought out. She’s letting the muse take her through the process of creation.”

But he was taken by Anja Bartels’ “Whale” platter. It was done using the sgraffito method of scratching through layers of colored slip. “I like its whimsical nature and how the design fits the platter,” he said. “Also, it reminds me of a video game that uses the same imagery of the whale.”

Colette Smith’s “Shino Fish Platter” caught his eye. “She’s a resident potter here, a working professional artist for over 40 years from the Baltimore Clay Studio. She’s wildly talented,” said Ruemeli.

Two platters by Sharon Bartmann used “site specific” art to inspire her. Taking photos of “trashed” environs, a strip mall parking lot or an urban vacant field, she also included maps or clues to their whereabouts and added her picked-trash items from the site as handles.

“Overall the show is interesting,” Ruemeli said. “There isn’t a general theme besides showcasing the wide breadth of the ceramic field as picked by Roberto (Lugo); he’s the juror, and it’s a good representation of that breadth.”

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