The consensus might be in a world of art snobs that very little can be found in small and pedestrian-fueled places, especially in a municipal gallery in Burbank, tucked away in a park. And how wrong would they be by passing on the current installation at the Creative Arts Center Gallery? Stunningly. Why? Two reasons: one gifted sculptress and one formidable modern painter.
Nancy Pene, a California native and potter for more than 30 years, does more than peddle in average stoneware. She is a passionate sculptor of the specific artist discipline, Raku pottery. This Japanese technique, dating back to the 16th century, was traditionally employed by hand-molding clay and firing the work at low temperatures within a specific time (for the technically inquisitive, the firing temperatures for Raku range between 1,600 and 1,800 degrees, often without pyrometer or ceramic cones for the piece).
This is what makes the process so specialized: The artist has to rely on her own experience, and substantial talent, to determine and succeed in the objective. In the modern western world, the glazed piece is removed from the fire, placed in a container holding various materials, and choked of oxygen, which allows the unique effects in the glaze. This can create an amazing spectrum of colors in the pottery, rarely matched in other firing processes. And creating stunning colors is something Pene does, hands down.