Michael S. Ryan - Cedar Rapids, IA
Featuring stoneware ceramics by Mary Weisgram

A collection of oil paintings based on the poetry of Izumi Shikibu...

"Come quickly"as soon as
these blossoms open,
they fall.
This world exists
as a sheen of dew on flowers."

-- Izumi Shikibu

Iowa Artisans Gallery kicks off American Craft Week with an exhibit entitled The Shikibu Paintings, by local gallery artist Michael S. Ryan. Also on display are recent stoneware ceramics by Ames artist Mary Weisgram. The exhibit runs October 1 - November 8, 2010. The first-ever American Craft Week is being celebrated nationally October 1-10.

Master Japanese poet Izumi Shikibu reflected a trend during the golden age of the high court (7th-10th Century) when arts were particularly valued as a part of everyday life. During this era, poets developed poems in which every-day things were a metaphor for personal feelings. Choosing selected poems, Ryan interprets them in his own landscape paintings. In this exhibit, Ryan pairs the poem with its corresponding painting.

Michael S. Ryan is a Cedar Rapids artist has painted for over 40 years. His subjects often reflect the upper Mississippi River Valley. Ryan trained as an abstract painter at the University of Iowa, Old Dominion University and Drake University. Self-described as an expressionist with colorist tendencies, Ryan works in oil, acrylic, and pastel. "I am influenced by the methods and ideas found in such diverse groups as the West Coast "plein aire" movement, the 1960s Bay Area figurative painters, Wolf Kahn's colorist theories, as well as a number of my contemporaries. One thing all these groups and artists have in common is that the "hand of the artist" is always present in their work. This is important to me because the surfaces, color choices, design and composition are all the artist's personal calligraphy.

Mary Weisgram is a well-known Iowa ceramist whose well-conceived functional works are also sophisticated contemporary forms. Her pieces reflect her love of organic textures, fossils, stones and "the colors of the woodland floor"of southern Minnesota, where she was raised. Trained as a painter, Weisgram now uses her vessel forms layered with engobes, stains and glazes as a canvas for translating her ideas about the natural world.

Mary Weisgram comments, "while I work with vessel forms and with functional considerations, still a valid orientation in contemporary crafts, I relate most closely to natural forms and finishes than pure utilitarianism. My intention is for the work to be integrated in all aspects, not technique, form or decoration becoming the main emphasis of the work. I like repeat-throwing both for the natural rhythm of work style and for the way it enables me to unconsciously personalize the forms. For these same reasons, I work with a limited color palette and with relatively few forms at a time... One group of pots leads to another, changing subtly with mood and experience, exposing the richness of variety possible while working within a theme."
"Balltown" - Oil on Canvas - 30x30"
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"Spring Moon" - Oil on Canvas - 30x30
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"Summer's Eve" - Oil on Canvas - 30x30"
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"First Turning" - Oil on Canvas - 16x24"
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"Phedra's Trees" - Oil on Canvas - 30x30"
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"Winter's Silence" - Oil on Canvas - 30x40"
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