SoCal Museums bring everyone for annual Free-for-All

A museum visitor looks at a mural at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona on Sunday. The mural is part of AMOCA’s “Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay” exhibit that runs through March 12. / photo by Brandi Peters
A museum visitor looks at a mural at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona on Sunday. The mural is part of AMOCA’s “Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay” exhibit that runs through March 12. / photo by Brandi Peters

Rebecca Keeler
Staff Writer 

Art and cultural heritage are on exhibit at the American Museum of Ceramic Art, which was participating Sunday in the SoCal Museums’ annual “Free-for-All.”

The free initiative gave attendees the opportunity to celebrate the many varied and remarkable institutions in Southern California. 

AMOCA is a remarkable museum near the heart of downtown Pomona with its beautifully crafted and elegant pieces. It occupies a building once holding the Pomona First Federal Bank. The building’s south wall holds a prized Millard Sheets mural, a rendering that was once above the tellers’ heads when the bank was in full activity. Now it is part of the museum’s exhibits.

On view from Sept. 10, 2022 to March 12 is the exhibition, “Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay.” This exhibition takes museum goers on a chronological tour through 44 women artists’ creations. All have defined and redefined ceramics over the past 100 years. 

“The exhibit takes you on a journey from pioneers to contemporary women in ceramic art,” Elizabeth Redd, modmobile instructor at AMOCA, said. 

The exhibit suggests that throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, women have proven to be California’s most impactful ceramic artists. Yet, despite their hard work and beautiful creations, gender inequality stood in the way of women being recognized for their accomplishments and often omitted in favor of their male counterparts.

A museum visitor looks at an installation by artist Christina Erives at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona on Sunday. The installation is part of AMOCA’s “Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay” exhibit that runs through March 12. / photo by Brandi Peters
A museum visitor looks at an installation by artist Christina Erives at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona on Sunday. The installation is part of AMOCA’s “Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay” exhibit that runs through March 12. / photo by Brandi Peters

  

Of the many exhibits, Betty Davenport Ford stands out as a celebrated artist from Claremont. Her multiple unique animal sculptures captured attendees’ attention.

The exhibit abounds with creativity. Paul Knoly, docent of the exhibition, said symbolism is striking in the art. A life-size white dress, strong with minute detail, is at the center of interest. 

“The dancing woman with no head is the staple of the exhibition because it acts as a symbol that celebrates women who do not get the recognition they are so deserving of,” Knoly said.

The exhibit is so much more than pots, dishes and cups. It is fine art in the best sense of the word and depicts severe subjects in a very playful and inviting manner. The work of Beatrice Wood is a house-like structure with the title of “Good Morning America” on the front and naked women standing on the various balconies of the structure. 

Though the ceramic was full of vibrant blue, yellow and green colors, the overall piece message was quite dark due to bringing awareness to women in slavery.

“Ceramics is more than just a cup of coffee,” Knoly said. “Ceramics is a vessel in which memories travel in a stream of consciousness.”

Many attendees said they took advantage of the great free opportunity to explore the impactful pieces for the first time.

Terry Pequeño, University of La Verne business administration major and attendee, was viewing three whimsical ceramic shoes. 

“This sculpture by Marilyn Levine caught my eye because of how real it looks,” Pequeño said.

Though there were many eye-catching sculptures throughout the exhibition, those who work at AMOCA have favorite pieces for more sentimental reasons.

“My favorite piece in this exhibit would have to be the white gun with white roses on it because it was sculpted by my former professor,” Samuel Reguerra, an AMOCA instructor, and graduate of UC Berkeley with a B.A. in art, said. His professor Keiko Fukazawa is a Japanese ceramic artist based in Los Angeles.

Kate Truong, a frequent museumgoer, heard about the SoCal Free-for-All, and decided to come out to see what it was all about. “Five Dancing Figures,” a sculpture by Stefani Gruenberg, was her favorite. 

“I really enjoy the organic shape and detail of these dancing objects,” Truong said.

The American Museum of Ceramic Art is located at 399 N Garey Ave, Pomona. 

Rebecca Keeler can be reached at rebecca.keeler@laverne.edu.

A museum visitor looks at ceramic art at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona on Sunday. AMOCA’s “Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay” exhibit runs through March 12. / photo by Brandi Peters
A museum visitor looks at ceramic art at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona on Sunday. AMOCA’s “Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay” exhibit runs through March 12. / photo by Brandi Peters

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