Advertisement

Art Review:

The language of life interpreted

June 20, 2009|By Michael Bolger

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.

Advertisement

This is fantastically displayed in her piece, “Copper Luster Bottle # 33.” The glazing on this particular work can only be described as awesome. You would insist you were staring at a bottle that was in fact made entirely of copper, not clay.

Her other works, including “Zebra Jar # 89” display a construction and color scheme of pure beauty and warmth. The scale of her sculptures, vases and jars are all absolutely perfect in size. Her execution is stealth, not hopeful stabs at shape and form. She doesn’t leave it up to chance. She is specific and deliberate, down to every detail in stem, base, width and, of course, color.

Pene creates a comfort zone to the eye in her work, which explains why many of her pieces are in private collections throughout the United States and Europe.

Burbank Leader Articles Burbank Leader Articles
|
|
|