More Than Just Kiln Time
Ishmael Soto passes the torch to a younger generation
By Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Feb. 23, 2007
Ishmael Soto's fine works of pottery and larger sculpture aren't the only vessels he's inspired. In his five decades of craft work are many years of instructing others in the clay-based arts, others whom the master ceramicist has trained and encouraged to establish glaze-bright careers of their own in Texas and beyond.
Alejandra Almuelle is a longtime Austinite who enlivens the surfaces of her diverse and often anthroform creations with airbrush and graffito designs informed by her childhood in Peru. Among her works perennial favorites at the Gallery Lombardi Christmas shows is a gorgeous, locomotive-themed platter inspired by the Salvage Vanguard Theater production of Caridad Svich's Fugitive Pieces back in 2002.
Finn Alban, who runs her own studio in Fredericksburg, is also the summertime manager of the Blue Heron Gallery way up in Maine. Her Japanese- and Mexican-influenced ceramic style, fired in wood these days, was honed during an earlier apprenticeship with Soto.
Austin Community College instructor Mike Grafa, a studio artist whose colorful pieces brighten the posh shelves at Clarksville Pottery, works almost exclusively in porcelain, which he finishes with painterly high-fire glazes.
The potter Meredy Crisman of Cone 10 Studio studied with Soto in the mid-Nineties. Her background in cultural anthropology, as well as her love of animals and the ways in which humans interact with them, can be inferred from her pieces' designs and the dual-mold technique she uses to create unique tiles and vessels.
Select works from the oeuvre of these artists and from other former Soto students (Julie Isaacson, Linda Genet, Robert Farmer. Carol Hirsh, Gary Huntoon, Stan Irvin, Julie Rodriguez, Paige Adkins Shelton, Sharon Smith, Paulina Van Bavel Kearney, and the maestro's son, Ishmael H. Soto Jr.) can be seen as a concurrent, supplementary exhibition, "From the Studio: Artists Who Have Studied With Ishmael Soto," March 5-April 1 in Mexic-Arte's back gallery.