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On the River through the Valley of Fire

On the River through the Valley of Fire

November 22nd – February 14th, 2009

Artist Reception, Saturday, December 13th, 6-9pm

The exhibition, On the River through the Valley of Fire, The Collaborative Ceramics of Frank Boyden & Tom Coleman, features two ceramic artists, Frank Boyden, recognized for his masterful line drawings in porcelain, and Tom Coleman, known for his throwing abilities and glaze formulations, who have come together to create a rare and beautiful collaborative body of work. While Boyden’s training as a painter promotes his interest in surface – images and firing manifestations, Coleman is all about the ideals of composition, balance, and asymmetry. Each artist’s individual vision, as well as their collective aesthetics, are merged to provide incredible visual and conceptual energy. Works created by the two artists, working in partnership in the mid 1980s, and a larger body of experimental work, created more recently, (2006-2007) are on view. The exhibition also includes works created individually by both Boyden and Coleman, some generated very recently along with a few representative pieces of early work.

Collaborative works, where two or more artists take credit, are rarely seen in the art world. This is due, in part, to the fact that honing a parallel vision can be very difficult, especially among artists who have been characterized as being ruled by their egos. The collaborative effort is a special process which requires, balance, trust, dialogue, generosity, and humbleness. Its success rests on a working atmosphere that encourages risk taking and experimentation. Cooperation requires new rules and new ways of thinking, perhaps even learning the other artist’s visual language in order to fully communicate.

Boyden and Coleman have conquered these issues and have applied wood-fired, gas-fired, and soda-fired techniques to both porcelain and stoneware clays with dramatic results, in addition to developing glaze formulations. Their collaborative works are in many corporate and private collections, including the 1986 work Turban Heron Vessel, which belongs to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. As individual artists, Boyden’s and Coleman’s works are held in many museum collections and have been included in numerous publications and exhibitions.

The collaborative works shown here are not merely pictorial, nor are they documentary. Instead they address local as well as global concerns through the exploration of concepts of paradise, life cycles, ecological issues, and sense of place for both man and wildlife. Many of the works embody paradoxes that challenge the viewer to reconsider commonly accepted truths. And, just as Boyden and Coleman had to reorder their beliefs in order to work together, the audience may find that the art created by these two men can become a tool for constructing new relationships with the natural world.

White Fish VaseSpawning Salmon VaseSalmon Tea BowlUntitled Platter