ArtBeat: Thaddeus Powers, Meg Oliver, Kyla Toomey and Stacey Esslinger @ Tom Myott Gallery

Thaddeus Powers: Pitcher
Thaddeus Powers: Pitcher
Thaddeus Powers, Meg Oliver, Kyla Toomey and Stacey Esslinger deliver a tasty feast of energetic new pottery at an exhibit at Tom Myott Gallery in Glens Falls. These four young artists, classmates while enrolled The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, have stayed in touch and in tune with much of the lively content within the field of utilitarian ceramics.

Thaddeus Powers, the initiator of this particular collaborative show, with a studio located on-site at the Glens Falls Shirt Factory, has circulated in the region for the last several years since graduating from Alfred in 2003. Apprenticing with Regis Brodie at Skidmore College, assisting with ceramic wheel-throwing classes in South Glens Falls and setting up shop in the renovated Shirt Factory facility, Powers has been developing a presence in the region. His finely crafted work has drawn attention from local potters, aficionados and consumers of handmade tableware.

For this exhibition Powers has called in some fine friends to deliver a welcome shot of vitality to the local scene. Each of them employ forms, color bursts and various layering strategies indicative of a strong background in historical ceramics and complimented by an eye for contemporary design.

Powers’ pieces are handsome and bold with variations of strict pattern and loose brushwork. These simple, generous forms act as strong palettes for extensively patterned surfaces of deep gold, russet orange and light blue. The fleur-de-lis motif repeats throughout much of the work and Powers states, “Pattern has the ability to transcend cultural and lingual barriers”. Power’s personal vision stands out most clearly in his fat-spouted teapot forms.

Stacey Esslinger: Tea Pot (slab built textured with embroidered fabric)
Stacey Esslinger: Tea Pot (slab built textured with embroidered fabric)
Stacey Esslinger earned her BFA in 2005. Studying ceramics in China in 2002 and participating in a post-graduation residency in Woodstock, NY at the historic Byrdcliffe Artist Colony in Woodstock, NY have added significant enrichment to her formal educational training. Esslinger’s approach to pottery-making is vastly different than her fellow exhibitors. She uses ‘a variety of fabrics, textiles, and molds of knitting; pressing the fabric into the clay. Using techniques similar to sewing, the seams and darts are joined together creating a three dimensional form’. The artist’s deft handling of this technique creates soft voluminous forms embossed with subtle patterned textures. The forms range from trays, butter dishes and espresso sets to mugs, spice jars and flower bricks.

Kyla Toomey's woven ceramic cups
Kyla Toomey's woven ceramic cups
Kyla Toomey, a current graduate student in the Ohio State University Department of Ceramics, stands as the most experimental of this group. Her two year residency at The Clay Center in Port Chester, NY and an assistantship with Ayumi Horie have placed her at the center of contemporary cutting edge studio pottery and tableware design. In one series of pots she uses cameos and colored clays to reinterpret classic Wedgewood Ceramics. Another series of pots plays with clearly referenced ‘candy dots’ pressed masterfully into soft porcelain pots. A third series finds her decorative floral shapes pressed into pots and springing onto the wall creating a dense ceramic ‘wallpaper’ pattern. It creates a fine visual shift from the three-dimensional object to a two dimensional image.

Meg Oliver, currently residing in Woodstock, NY, serves on the general staff of the Hudson Valley Pottery, Rhinebeck NY. Her interest in handmade pots stems from ‘their quiet revolutionary nature’. Water lilies and tiny, bright woodland flowers are called to mind in the best of Oliver’s work though much of it suffers from technical self-consciousness and lack of design cohesion. More time, experience and attention to details of craftsmanship can remedy these issues quickly.

Located in the Glens Falls Shirt Factory building, The Tom Myott Gallery is a beautifully designed and installed exhibition space. All aspects have been carefully conceived and finely executed on par with, though much smaller than, standard Chelsea galleries in NYC. The high-quality current show offers local audiences a sample of current, original work in contemporary studio pottery.

Take advantage of this fine pre-holiday exhibition while supporting a gem of a gallery today; you will be greeted by a warm, friendly local doing his part to keep Glens Falls thriving.

Tom Myott Gallery
Exhibit Dates / October 30th – Dec 23rd
Gallery Hours:
Thursdays thru Saturdays
12pm ~ 7pm or by appointment

Review by Liz Howe, a Saratoga Springs artist who was recently featured in Ceramics Monthly.

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