Beckelman to open exhibit of new artwork at Iowa Ceramics Center

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
(319) 399-8605 or

2017-03-22 14:03:53 - General

Special from the Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio


6" x 10" x 4"
Fired Ceramics, concrete, mixed media

The Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio will present an exhibition of new artwork by Cedar Rapids artist and Coe College Professor Emeritus of Art John Beckelman, titled "The Impermanent Nature of Things': New Work in Clay and Mixed Media." On Thursday, April 6 from 6 to 8 p.m., the public is invited to an opening reception for the exhibition at the gallery located at 329 10th Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids.

The exhibit will be held April 6 through May 6, with gallery hours at Monday 3 to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Since retiring from the Coe College faculty in 2015, Beckelman has maintained a studio at the Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio, located in the historic Cherry Building in NewBo. While his work has been included in recent regional and national exhibitions, this exhibition is his first one-person exhibition since leaving Coe.

The exhibition is comprised of two very different, yet related, bodies of work. One group consists of objects created from shards of previously fired ceramics and glass, along with miscellaneous other materials that have been embedded in concrete. Their forms suggest containers - bowls and bottles. The second body of work is a series of paintings that are composed of unfired clay - which has been stabilized with oil or acrylic binders - and a variety of other materials that have been applied to paper. In these pieces, images are slowly built up using clay and other materials, such as oil and acrylic paints, enamels, graphite, powdered pigments, wax and gold leaf.

Beckelman's vessels can be seen as reconstructed artifacts, giving new form to broken fragments of things past. For Beckelman, the work explores the curious intersection between the enduring, seemingly timeless, character of stone and fired clay and the fleeting impermanence of phenomena in the world in which we live. The paintings attempt to evoke qualities similar to the vessels, while at the same time trying to gently entice the viewer into the inner landscapes and interior spaces of our imagination and memory.

In reflecting on his work, Beckelman says that "while I often use a number of different materials in my work, clay is the material that most informs the things that I make. Having worked with clay, in a variety of forms and formats and in all its varied physical states for close to 40 years now, I find that the elemental character and expressive potential of clay continues to intrigue me. There seems to be a vital, persistent, almost universal, appeal to clay, which is like no other material."

The Ceramics Center and Glass Studio includes space for classroom instruction, as well as open workspace and private studios for clay and glass artists. Classes and workshops in clay and warm glass as well as a full slate of children’s summer camps comprise the majority of the center’s activities. Partnerships with area organizations and schools and the center’s mobile clay lab extend the center’s activities further into the community. The center’s gallery shows the work of local, regional and nationally recognized ceramics and glass artists.

"Floating Merit"

"Floating Merit"
Clay, collage and mixed media on paper
22" x 30" (paper size)