Marta is privileged to host new works by master ceramicist George Sherman (b. 1945, San Diego). Presented in tandem with Stanley's Gallery as a progression of Sherman's inaugural and celebrated 'Clay Work' (Spring, 2021), 'FOX, BOBCAT, BEAR' is the ceramic artist's second-ever solo exhibition and the first composed entirely of works that renounce function in favor of materiality, diversion, gesture, and form. The exhibition showcases new wall-works (the monumental 'Clouds') alongside free-standing and multi-part sculptures that mine the artists fascination with the mechanisms and scenography of sea-faring (Sherman grew up a so-called 'Navy Brat') and their abstract relationship to that which is seen-versus-unseen in California's wilds.
Situated at the meeting point of the sub-urban built environment of residential Pasadena and the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Sherman's home studio and ceramics workshop occupies a designation the US Forest Service calls the Wildland-Urban Interface (or W.U.I) — the sort of quintessential chaparral in which one can often hear the animals that they cannot see, as in the aptly named ‘Coyote, Owl’ (2021), which is one of several boat-like forms that turn the idea of the ceramic ‘vessel’ on its head. Fittingly, Sherman’s nearby meter-high totem-like forms variously conjure up peri- and tele-scopes; chimneys and smokestacks.
A long-time studio technician and adjunct professor (ret. 2018) at institutions like California State University, University of Southern California, and Scripps College, Sherman is not only an educator himself but a product of his time with exemplars of the California Clay Movement, first at Pasadena City College with Philip Cornelius in the late 1960s, and later at UC Irvine with John Mason in the early 1970s.
Viewed through a lens that has seen art historical conversations around ceramics shift drastically over the past decade, Sherman's clay practice can be viewed simultaneously as a continuation of this regional or vernacular California tradition and a refreshing departure from it, with the artist treating the often-hallowed medium as a modest, almost happenstance means to a formal and narrative end.