The Aloft Art Gallery in Sonora is featuring two “Artists in the Window” for the months of July and August. Harry Nakamoto, ceramic artist and Tara Schendel, photographer present two very different arts that complement each other beautifully.
“At a time when I was attending San Jose State preparing for graduate studies in biochemistry as a second career, I filled an open period with beginning ceramic art,” Nakamoto explained of how he got into the field. “My teacher’s name was James Lovera. Many classes followed with Jim and he eventually convinced me to change my graduate objective to ceramic art.”
With few exceptions, Nakamoto added, his work is done on the potters’ wheel, mostly vessels and some sculptures.
“I use store-bought high and low fire clays, depending on the heat treatment the pieces will be exposed to. Glaze materials, too, are of commercial sources except when I am fortunate to find a natural source for experiments,” he said. “The next step is to either be wood fired; raku fired or burnished ware (simulated primitive finish). The fire-effect of a reduction kiln can produce dramatic decorations.”
He does wood firing in an ‘anagama’ cave kiln.
“The kiln loading consumes three days. The kiln is then closed, lit, and wood is continually stoked into the firebox, raising the temperature to 2450 degrees farenheit each of the three days needed to complete the firing,” said Nakamoto. “During the firing at the higher temperatures ash from the wood fuel drifts onto the pots and combines with the clay surfaces to create a natural glaze, multi-colored and with swirling patterns.”
Photographer Tara Schendel admitted, “I can’t draw or paint thus photography!”
As time has gone by, and since being in Aloft, Schendel said she has really been taken in by watercolor and pastel artists.
“I think that is reflected in my photography evolution. I am printing on Epson Velvet, which is thick and textured like watercolor paper. It takes a lot of ink, but the images are elegant and rich. And while they maintain a nice detail and contrast, they are not harsh,” she said. “My images are more intricate now than in the past, where I focused more on geographic forms and hard lines and shadow. No more. Now I love the messiness and complexity of the world. I love springtime stormy skies, where there is a gray, but out front is a bright green, orange, or yellow.”
Schendel said she also prints her own work most of the time.
“I believe photography is a craft. By doing this myself, I am offering my viewers my craftsmanship. There are sometimes flaws and imperfections in the prints, but that is part of the craft. And even if I am printing a duplicate, even on a digital printer, each one is individual, just like in darkroom days,” she added.
Visitors to downtown Sonora are encouraged to stop by and see the two artists’ work in the window and then step inside the Aloft Art Gallery to see all the artwork available. The gallery is at 167 S. Washington St., Sonora. Summer hours are 7 days a week 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit the gallery website at http://www.aloftartgallery.com.