Every year the Art Spirit Gallery holds their Clay Invitational, this year celebrating their 10th anniversary. This exhibition showcases a broad swath of regional artists whose excellence in ceramic arts is as varied as the pieces on display. While one may emphasize glazing, firing or finishing techniques, another demonstrates unique construction, while another uses clay to explore content in an unusual way.  The standouts this year for me are:

Marilyn Lysohir, based out of Moscow, Idaho, who invests personal narrative into her figurative works. There is a stoic wistfulness to her most recent figurines, which stand sentinel-like, white porcelain dolls with a girdle of applique flowers beneath a sheer, fabric A-line skirt. 

Alex and Sandy Anderson also exhibit figurative works, suggested by the form in a way that reminds of Mary Frank's early draped clay works. These have a rich, graphite patina and harken to historical and geographic journeys with titles like "Lady of the Floating World II," "Elder," and "Kabuki II."

A majority of the work tends towards functional ware, varied in size and shape and finish. To me that's a testament to the need for more conservative works in a depressed economy, yet the boon is that humble vases, bowls and plates get to be front and center stage for awhile. That's when the clean aesthetic of Paddy McNeely's willow and porcelain basket or the integration of precious metals in Ken Turner's plates really get to shine.