Bay Area Clay: A Legacy of Social Consciousness, one of a series of special events put on by Arts Benicia as the organization celebrates its 30th year, opens October 14. This most recent exhibition features works by internationally recognized artists, curated by Lisa Reinertson, nationally known for her life-size figurative ceramic sculptures, and large-scale public sculptures cast in bronze. In addition to its gallery exhibitions and annual Art Auction, Arts Benicia kicked off a slate of “cultural collaborations” with other Benicia nonprofits such as the Benicia Unified School District, Benicia Historical Museum, City of Benicia and others.

The exhibition is supported in part by a $10,000 Art Works Grant to Arts Benicia from the National Endowment for the Arts. “Arts Benicia is grateful for NEA’s support of this exceptional exhibition,” said Executive Director Celeste Smeland. “The award is testimony to the importance of these artists and recognition of Arts Benicia’s leadership in bringing nationally recognized art to the community. We are pleased to have the opportunity to highlight the influential work of these clay artists.” The exhibit features works by Robert Arneson, Stephen de Staebler, Viola Frey, Arthur Gonzalez, Michelle Gregor, Marc Lancet, Mark Messenger, Richard Notkin, Lisa Reinertson, Richard Shaw, Ehren Tool, Monica Van Den Dool, Stan Welsh, and Wanxin Zhang. The selected artworks will be on view in the Arts Benicia gallery from October 14 through November 19.

Art © Artists’ Legacy Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York

Viola Frey, Deer, Endangered Animal Series, 1972-74

According to Mary Shaw, Arts Benicia’s exhibitions and programs manager, early Bay Area clay sculptors were addressing themes of the human condition reflected in the social and political issues of the times. By working in the medium of clay, which was outside of the “fine art establishment,” ceramic artists felt a great freedom of expression to respond to social issues such as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and the Women’s Rights movement. Many of these artists were also teachers of a clay community that was blossoming in the Bay Area during this period. The exhibition focuses on how these pioneers of the Bay Area Ceramic Movement influenced several generations of West Coast clay sculptors, and how contemporary clay artists continue to bring their commentary on our current social, political, and environmental issues.

Activities in conjunction with this exhibition, free, open to the public:
Opening Reception, Sat. Oct. 14, 6-8pm

Family Art Day: Sun., Oct. 22, l-3pm

*Arts Benicia is wheelchair accessible from Jackson Street

Bay Area Clay: A Legacy of Social Consciousness
Lisa Reinertson, Curator
Oct. 14—Nov. 19, 2017

Arts Benicia
991 Tyler Street #114
Benicia, CA 94510
Wed.-Sun., 12–5pm

Funding for Bay Area Clay – a Legacy of Social Consciousness is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.