Beyond Function: Fiber, Wood and Clay, a multidimensional exhibition featuring the work of three local craftsmen, will premiere Saturday, September 21, 2019, at the Santa Paula Art Museum. In exhibiting their respective wares alongside each other, weaver Michael Rohde, woodworker Michael Adams, and potter Nate Pidduck will remind viewers of the beauty in even the simplest, most everyday objects and materials in our lives. Artworks in the exhibition will be available for purchase. The show will open with a premiere party on Saturday, September 21, 2019, from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Admission to the party is $10.00 for museum members and $15.00 for non-members.
Each of the three artists – Adams, Pidduck and Rohde – was inspired towards his craft by a single object. As a young man, Rohde saw someone wearing a handwoven shirt. Adams grew up experimenting with tools that belonged to his father, a machinist. Pidduck picked up a wheel-thrown coffee mug during a road trip after college. “I thought I was a little crazy for being so interested in a coffee mug,” Pidduck confesses, but he has since found community with many like-minded makers, Adams and Rohde included. And, of course, each of the three men has his favorite tool: for Adams it’s his high-powered Agazzani bandsaw that he bought from his late friend Paul; Rohde has used the same large-scale loom since the late 1970s; and Pidduck prefers his treadle (i.e. human-powered) potter’s wheel.
While the processes for creating tapestries, furniture and pottery are quite different, they have a few qualities in common. They are each time-consuming and physically demanding, which testifies to the true devotion that each of these three craftsmen has to his work. With each piece, Adams searches out a piece of wood with the appropriate character, draws his design, takes measurements, makes cuts, sands, assembles and lays finishes. Pidduck throws each and every pot on his wheel, fires it in a kiln for 16 hours, mixes and applies glazes, and fires the pot again. Rohde cleans and coils his wool yarn into “skeins,” mixes his own dyes and then colors his yarns in a makeshift, outdoor kitchen. (“I used to dye in the laundry room until I was accused of making stains on clothes,” he laughs. “It wasn’t true!”) Only then does he proceed with the act of weaving, which, for a large-scale tapestry, can take up to three months. “I like the pace. It forces me to slow down.”
What Adams, Pidduck and Rohde demonstrate most fully though is that the purpose they each find in their craft goes well beyond function. They love to create objects that will live in peoples’ homes and add beauty and joy to their lives. “Beyond Function: Fiber, Wood and Clay” will be on view at the Santa Paula Art Museum through January 12, 2020.