Household furniture, photographs and over 130 ceramic objects come together to create an intimate feeling at Cal State Fullerton’s Nicholas & Lee Begovich Gallery, which features collections from well-renowned artists in the field.
Curator Rody N. Lopez developed this exhibit called Living with Clay: California Ceramics Collections to showcase the diverse ceramic pieces that notable collectors living throughout California have amassed throughout their lifetime.
Though curating the exhibit took over two years, Lopez said he’s been cultivating relationships with the collectors for over a decade. He then carefully searched through thousand of pieces, selecting ones for the installation by listening to the collectors talk about their belongings.
“Collectors talk about their art like they are talking about members of their family, and these are containers for memories and stories. So when I was listening to their stories, if something really touched me or it affected me, I was going to borrow that piece,” Lopez said.
Furniture and other personal items from each collector accompany the ceramic pieces in the gallery to create a comfortable atmosphere. Viewers feel as if they are in the homes and lives of the collector, giving the insight into their personalities through the art displays.
“It almost makes you feel like you’re not in a gallery but rather you’re in their space, this intimate space that you have with that collection. It not just white walls and pedestals but you really have a sense of being in their space,” said Jose Flores, a ceramic artist and graduate assistant at CSUF.
The exhibit is displayed in this manner to highlight how important the clay medium is to collectors and how it plays an integral part in their daily lives.
While walking through the different rooms of the gallery, viewers immediately get a sense of who the collectors are through the distinct colors and styles of each setup. In one display, there is even a bed donated by collector Richard Oelschlaeger, who agreed to sleep on his couch in the meantime, Lopez said.
Collectors in the exhibit include: Julie and David Armstrong, Judy and Richard Jacobs, Gloria and Sonny Kamm, MAW Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Richard Oelschlaeger, and Diane and Igal Silber.
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Each collector has a background involving ceramics but their professional backgrounds range from businessmen to retired educators to retired pediatric urologists, revealing not only the diversity of their daily lives but the unity in their passion for ceramic pieces.
“Everything in there is a basically a labor of love from all of them, to have amassed such incredible collections and to be so obsessed and in love with their collections is just extraordinary, and I share that same passion for ceramics,” Lopez said.
Over 60 respected artists are featured throughout the exhibit, each coming from a different part of the world with different backgrounds, making the gallery feel whole and complete.
There is a diverse mix of ceramic mediums within all of the featured collections starting from the 1960s clay revolution to modern innovations.
“With most exhibits here and everywhere else you see the way the curator wants you to see the art,” said Emily Riddell, a CSUF illustration student. “You see what they think is going to be interesting or maybe a statement, but you don’t really get to see how people live with art, how they set it in their homes and how they have their lives around it. So it’s a really nice different perspective than what you usually get in a gallery.”
The Living with Clay: California Ceramics Collections exhibit will be open to the public until November 17. The Nicholas & Lee Begovich Gallery is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturday noon to 2 p.m.