Gary's Third Pottery Blog

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Gary's third pottery blog

WRITE TO ME! Come see me! Open studio HERE! November 25-26 (11-4 each day); Aurora Art and Design, daily until 12/24; Cooperstown Art Assoc. daily until 12/24; Ellis Hollow Community Fair, 12/10; December 10, Little Red Wagon at the Space at Greenstar. All material on this blog unless stated otherwise is copyright Gary Edward Rith 2016

Friday, March 29, 2013


I realized something this week.  I work in 2 entirely different directions.  I needed to write a description of my background and work, and in doing so said blahblahblah I like to make experimental and inventive and fun items with characters on them BUT I also like to make items inspired by my original training in classical Japanese and east Asian forms and designs.

So, from my post title, what does Baroque mean?  I think:  fancy, decorated, full of flourishes and fun, STUFF ADDED ON:
The Baroque (US /bəˈrk/ or UK /bəˈrɒk/) is a period of artistic style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance and music. The style began around 1600 in RomeItaly and spread to most of Europe.[1]

And what do I mean by ZEN then? To me it means integrated, whole, simple, cohesive:
There is a Japanese idea of Wabi-sabi related to Zen and design and wiki tells us:

simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

So, keep that in mind as you follow my thinking here:
I was reading a book this week by Somerset Maugham called UP AT THE VILLA (wonderful:  buy it and read it and read it again then plan to get the movie when you can) which has THIS Baroque Italian garden (painted by Maxfield Parrish) on the cover.

I LOVE this sort of thing, the statues all over, little doodads here and there....esp. embodied in a Baroque ceramic item like below...which is WAY over the top, but makes my point, doesn't it? The painted scenery, the dog on top of the knob, the curlicues

SO, when you see my work, elephant on a pedestal or a sugar bowl with a doggy and little curlicues, You can SEE how much I love ADDING decorative details and going this:
(pottery by Gary Rith)

But then I was thinking how sometimes in buildings or other designs you see all these added bits, and sometimes it fails to hold together as a single piece.  I have to be careful of that myself, not add all this crap to something so that it is ruined or looks stupid.  If you ADD decorative items, you want them to suit the design as a whole.

Which brings me to a whole different side of myself, as I say, the part that comes from my original training in Japanese styles.  In that case, you may be thinking of how the item is simple and natural, gentle and swooping curves and surface, what you might call PLEASING TO THE EYE.

Which of course I hope you see in my work here.

(pottery by Gary Rith)
SO, as I explained in my personal description of my own work, I get up in the morning and let my imagination take me where it wants to go.  I have a very restless imagination and work style, and have a very hard time with repetition and feel lucky to be able to indulge my different creative moods :)
(looking at the list for today, btw, looks like a dose of Japanese such as these for the morning followed by a helping of Baroque after lunch...I am not kidding:  I plan the day, but also constantly feel fresh and very interested in the possibilities clay holds!)


Lori Buff said...

When I look at your work "Baroque" is not the first word that comes to mind, mostly because it has a very contemporary look and feel (to me). But now that you mention it, yes, I see that. Baroque robots and cars, pulling the past into the present.

Unknown said...

Well-thought-out explanation of your style. Yes, contemporary with classic grace and quirky, cute decorations. :-)

Barbara Rogers said...

I'm pretty sure painters will start painting in the Gary Rith style soon. Your roots may include some ancient influence, but your work is great being your own styles.

smartcat said...

I think that pull and tension adds something to both sides of your work. Just keep doing!

Enjoy the week end ;)

smalltownme said...

What Cheri said. Ooh, "Up at the Villa" is on Netflix instant watch!

Hilary said...

It's interesting to read about what draws you to the different styles... how both are such a part of you. Clearly, that's working well for you. And you know what they say... if it ain't baroque, don't fix it. ;)

Anonymous said...

Totally cool how you blend opposites and have two different styles in your work.
I'm drawn more to your "zen" but they both have appeal.

Michèle Hastings said...

I hadn't thought of baroque until you pointed it out with the photos. When looking at baroque pots, you have to look closely and then you see the decoration, handle or knob is an animal or figure. Your's are more obvious... therefore you have taken from the baroque period and made it your own.

I can definitely see the Asian influence in your less decorated pots. Influence, but not making Asian pots... definitely contemporary.

cookingwithgas said...

The process and creativity of clay allows us a freedom that not all artist have. The idea that a person can get up and make something out of clay that is,fun,fancy,simple,crazy,and gives you a satisfaction is truly amazing. What I enjoy about your work is how much you enjoy making it. You own what you do and it comes across in your cooking and how much you love your family as well.
You are a lucky man.

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I am a full-time studio potter, sculptor, and dog walker, married to superhawt Missus Tastycake.