Ruby’s Clay Studio
Ruby’s Clay Studio is an exceptional place to explore one’s interaction with clay. I marveled at the community vitality and regional history apparent at each and every turn of the extensive and meandering studio. What an exceptional place for people at all levels to come and explore their creative direction, make acquaintances, and learn from others. Places like Ruby’s are special gems for the artisans who create there and for the neighboring community. This supportive environment provides rich opportunity for those who choose to frequently dwell in the many creative realms possible with clay.
As Juror for the Ruby’s Clay Studio exhibition, Migration, to be on view in the Vault Gallery at the American Museum of Ceramic Art, I contemplated the conviction of artistic direction coupled with confident makership. These two components were central to evaluating the varied ceramic works that were submitted. What struck me about the totality of work I viewed on site were the varied directions an artist displayed in their presented work. Some artists seemed unsure of their artistic strengths and diluted their ceramic voice by providing unrelated options for consideration. Others reached informed understanding regarding their ceramic practice and excelled in their focus. While it can be difficult to identify and pursue the elements of stylistic direction, thoughtful exploration and post-production assessment inform a maker regarding the forward path of their work.
Other important and harder-to-qualify considerations were experimentation and risk taking, both of which are necessary ingredients for creative advancement. Finding one’s artistic way through new ideas, techniques or processes can lead to breakthroughs, or oftentimes require an ongoing wrestling with ideas. Commitment to address unsatisfactory aspects of a piece is challenging, but ultimately constructive evolution of the work results for the dedicated ceramist. Noteworthy pieces in the show possessed aesthetic confidence and accomplished form, exuding a sense of vitality. Those successful pieces captured an enlivened essence, which made for a rewarding engagement with the piece.
I would like to thank Ruby’s Clay Studio, San Francisco and the American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona for the opportunity to view all of the entered work, and to be a part of the collaborative creative spirit shared between Northern and Southern California.
Nancy M. Servis
Curator, Writer, and Ceramic Historian
Catalog designed by: Emil Yanos, artist in Southern Migration
About Ruby’s Clay Studio
Ruby’s Clay Studio & Gallery is a dynamic community of 100 resident artists who create a broad array of functional tableware, decorative vessels, sculpture, wall and garden art using both traditional and innovative techniques in wheel-throwing and hand-building methods. In a supportive and collegial atmosphere, Ruby’s nurtures people new to ceramics, hobbyists, budding professionals, production potters and nationally recognized artists. People come from all over the Bay Area to learn and work
at Ruby’s. Some have been studio members for 40 years; others have waited for up to three years to join the community. Twenty-four hour access, the option of learning to fire kilns and test new glazes as well as to show and sell work are among the opportunities open to members.
The 5,000 square foot studio, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro District, was organized as a 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation in 1985 after operating by Ruby O’Burke for 18 years as a private workshop. Facilities include a communal work area with 11 wheels and four hand-building tables, three electric kilns and two gas kilns, slab roller, extruder, clay recycling, 25 glazes and glaze mixing supplies and a small ceramics library of classic books and current publications.
A welcoming gallery at the front of the studio is open year-round for rotating shows. The “Southern Migration” exhibit, selected by juror Nancy Servis, features the work of 31 studio members. Other group shows have been organized on themes such a single clay body (“Summit”), a specific glaze (“Oh So Shino”), vessels for plants (“Potted: Ceramic Art for Plants”), garden sculpture, Open Studios and an annual “Bowlicious” fundraising event with hundreds of bowls donated by Rubyites. Frequent solo shows by Ruby members and visiting artists feature current works in clay. More than 1,000 visitors come to the Gallery each year.
Programs at Ruby’s include beginning and intermediate classes for 240 students annually, specialty workshops, annual fundraising events and outreach projects with area schools and social service organizations. Ruby’s is a member-directed studio led by a volunteer board, active committees and a small management team.