Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Noyes Museum, 1985

New York Times April 7, 1985
CLAY THAT QUALIFIES AS SCULPTURE
By PATRICIA MALARCHER

02 1981Clay Container

 

OCEANVILLE

THE word ”sculptural” is being used in craft circles as an umbrella term for almost anything that is neither flat nor symmetrically round.

It might refer to a bent earring or a table with curving legs. Often, it is used as an alternative to ”functional”; occasionally, it seems to be an attempt to find merit in pots that do not hold water any way that you look at them.

It restores one’s sense of values to find a body of work in a craft-related material that is, without question, not only ”sculptural,” but also ”sculpture.”

Filling that description are works in clay by Phyllis Baker Hammond of Briarcliff, N.Y., that are being exhibited at the Noyes Musuem here through May 19.

Several years ago, Miss Hammond’s work was seen frequently in craft exhibitions in the New York metropolitan area. In the late 1970’s, her distinctive signature was a cylinder two or three feet tall with a window-like opening that revealed a portion of a face within it.

Now, using the architectural column, rather than the vessel, as a reference, Miss Hammond has transformed her original imagery by turning it outward and compounding it. The resulting works combine a contemporary attitude toward clay with a neo-classical spirit.

Dominant among Miss Hammond’s 10 pieces are several seven-foot monoliths built of stoneware slabs with ragged edges set on the vertical. The clay itself, sparsely glazed or dusted with a powdery substance, retains the look of its earthen origins. The cracks and fissures formed naturally during the construction and firing emphasize that character.

Around the tops, serving as the capitals on pillars, a variety of enigmatic faces appear to emerge and recede.

The artist’s stated intention is to convey the impression of excavated structures. In doing so successfully, she also reminds the viewer that clay has been viewed sometimes as a metaphor for the human body.

These works are stately, haunting presences that seem startlingly alive. They look completely at home on the landing of the museum’s wide corridor and in the court outside the window walls.

Perhaps their compelling quality lies in their multiple levels of ambiguity. The faces, male and female, appear to have been molded from both classical statues and actual people. They express serenity while seeming to exist in the tumult of creation. They seem timeless and also to be witnessing the passage of time.

In a series of wall pieces, the artist has extended her explorations into the format of relief.

One work that stands apart – entitled ”Gateway” and dated 1980 – seems more primitive than classical. Strangely, its lintel at the top is high enough to walk beneath, but the space between the posts is too narrow to enter.

Considering the evolution of Miss Hammond’s work, it is tempting to see in this piece a mark of personal transition, a passage of birth to a new dimension of artistic growth.

The Noyes Museum is on Lily Lake Road in this Atlantic County community and is accessible from Exit 48 of the Garden State Parkway. Hours are 11 A.M. to 4 P.M., Wednesday through Saturday, and noon to 4 P.M. on Sundays. Information: (609) 652- 8848.

Miss Hammond also is exhibiting a different set of works at the Pindar Gallery, 127 Greene Street, New York, through April 27.

April 22nd, 2015|Current Post|

Excavations

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This essay was written by my dear friend, William Barrett. He was a professor of philosophy at New York University,  an editor of Partisan Review, and later the literary critic of The Atlantic Monthly. The essay appeared in the catalog accompanying my solo exhibition of clay sculptures at Pindar Gallery, NYC, in 1983.

Excavations: Sculptures in Clay by Phyllis Hammond

When it comes to clay as a medium for serious art, we Americans tend to take an ambiguous attitude. We are willing to grant full honors to the craftsman, to the ceramicist and the potter, but we are likely to be far less open to the possibilities of clay for a freer and bolder kind of aesthetic expressions. Phyllis Hammond challenges this assumption, and that is one reason, among others, why she is a significant figure at the present time.

Not that she would, in any way, demean the art of the craftsman. On the contrary, her background and credentials here are impeccable; she is herself a ceramicist of taste and elegance, trained and disciplined in her craft. But the imagination is a driving force that sometimes acts in its own mysterious ways. A few years ago tiny faces and figures began to peep out of the vases and urns she was creating. They would not be suppressed, they insisted on being born. The procession of such figures has continued ever since getting ever freer, bolder and more expressive.

The evolution from craftsman to artist here has been one of the authentic developments in recent art. It is not a matter of contrivance, but comes from the depths of the artist’s imagination and unconscious. These figures forced their way forward; they would not be denied – they insisted upon being born. And perhaps this struggle to be born may be taken as the theme of her work.

In all of this she has, nevertheless, remained true to clay as her chosen medium. She has not gone over to other materials for her sculpture. Her work reminds us what powerful medium clay can still be, if we would but take it seriously and passionately. After all, the discovery of the potter and his wheel stands at the awesome beginnings of our civilization, and that is enough to shake the imagination.

However, Hammond soars, she does not leave the clay. The procession of haunting enigmatic figures that emerge in her work are struggling either to be born of the primordial earth, or are in the process of sinking back into it. They are figures either from a vanished civilization, or from one that has not yet been born – perhaps, both at once. And because we are all engaged, in one way or another, in our own personal struggles to be born, they are images that engage us all. Certainly, they are almost the more haunting and powerful figures given us by a recent art, and Hammond has already established herself as an artist of rare originality and force.

William Barrett

April 22nd, 2015|Current Post|

Recent Aluminum Sculptures

 

 

8.Red Swing

UnfurlingBlkgreen Black with Ball RED Magic _gjm7842 _gjm7846 2wall yellow 3 In The Spirit 2014

Circle Series Buttercup        2012

Circle Series Buttercup 2012

Birds23inH space 4 wheel 005 019 028HOW THE SCULPTURES ARE MADE:

REDEFINING FORMS –This series is based on the free flow of experimental pencil drawings.  The work is spontaneously started by freely doodling.  Then I redraw the forms in more detail, and scan them into the computer to  prepare them for a laser or waterjet machine. After the forms are cut out, shapes are refined with a hammer and anvil.  Aluminum is soft enough to make this process possible.  The next step is bending, folding, twisting and turning, sometimes welding and combining sections of additional metal. At this stage I create interactive moving parts. Sometimes the movement is in response to wind, and sometimes the forms are balanced to turn with a slight push.

Next the sculptures are welded and polished, or powder coated in bright colors.

 

Yellow and Blue play

yellow

Green5

Orange Blossom

Flame Red Aluminum 2010 27H x22W x 2ftD

21.Black Form of Magic

28.Fly Away 2ftH x 16 in  W

2yellow leaf

2011Jul30_0821

 

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April 22nd, 2015|Current Sculptures, The Studio|

Press Release: Show opening 5/23/2015

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PRESS RELEASE

 

Memorial Day Weekend:   The Chase Edwards Gallery, located at 2162 Main St., Bridgehampton, NY, will host a special exhibition entitled, “Everlasting Color” featuring sculptor Phyllis Baker Hammond (b1930), and pop-art painter Athos Zacharias (b. 1927), living masters of the Hamptons, as they continue to follow the tradition of what the abstract expressionists cultivated during an explosive movement here in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Zacharias and Hammond where among a fertile circle of colleagues and friends such as Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning, and the plethora of contemporary artists who continue to live and work on the East End of Long Island.  This exhibition explores a history in movement through playful light and color of two artist who have lived and worked in the region, contributing to its course through their creativity and aesthetic understanding within.  The opening will be May 23, from 6-9:00pm.

April 22nd, 2015|Current Post, Current Sculptures, The Studio|

Haystack Artist’s Colony

Haystack has been tremendously important to me, a refuge and source of inspiration, a safe place to recharge creatively. I have been a resident there four times. My  first visit to Haystack (full name: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts) was shortly after I graduated from college. It was  like bursting out of a box. Part of it was being released from the mundane responsibilities of daily life- shopping, cooking, etc. All those things were taken care of, freeing the residents to devote themselves to creative productivity.

It’s on Deer Island, Maine, disconnected from the mainland, a world in itself. On my first visit there were about 60 attendees. The teachers brought their significant others, and many of those significant others turned out to be luminaries in their own fields, giants in humanities, dance, music. They would put on spontaneous performances combining several disciplines. I remember one that featured a John Cage recording randomly interspersed with readings of unrelated text. It was a disconnect of art and music, but at the end it strangely made sense- all this disorder, somehow making order, a great lesson of not being afraid of nonsense.

Textile designer Jack Larsen was one of the instructors, and head of the weaving department. He was hysterically funny, and would periodically  wake everyone up in the middle of the night, leading a parade through the compound, singing and making music on pots and pans.

The combination of creative freedom and isolation from the outside world was too much for some attendees. There were nervous breakdowns, especially among  younger fragile participants, and Haystack eventually raised the age requirement to 21.

April 1st, 2015|Current Post|