Veterans of Clay, in the North Gallery at the Lakewood Cultural Center (470 South Allison Parkway, Lakewood, 303-987-7800), is a small show, but it's filled with work by artists with big reputations -- and that was the idea.

The exhibit takes an economical look at a small group of Colorado ceramists, all of whom have been working in their chosen medium for more than twenty years.

Well-known ceramics expert Tom Turnquist, who happens to live in Lakewood, put the show together almost effortlessly. He's so connected that he simply picked up the phone and called some of his many friends among the local wizards of clay.

Turnquist's first love is the vessel tradition, and he has included many vases in Veterans. Some -- including classic pots by Jim McKinnell, Loie Daily and Gene Lang -- are historical examples. Others are contemporary works, such as the marvelous trio of sculptural vessels by Victoria Hansen. Also noteworthy is the piece by the well-known Jim Lorio and the pair of raku-fired bottles by Pat Dietemann.

Despite Turnquist's being a real pothead, however, in an apparently evenhanded move, he also includes the traditional form's main rival: ceramic sculpture. Along one wall of the gallery sit pedestals on which three impressive sculptures are displayed.

First is Doug Fey's crazy "Teapot Stand," a technical tour de force. Particularly amazing is the "tea towel" element that looks soft but is actually as hard as stone -- or, more accurately, fired clay. Next to it is "Real Orange" (shown above), by Jim Foster, a remarkable bust made of unglazed porcelain. Finally, there's "Legs," by Martha Daniels, a pair of abstracted women's legs covered in a luscious flambé glaze.

This interesting selection of ceramics, ably chosen by Turnquist, will stay up through August 23.


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