HISTORIES: THE CALIFORNIA CONNECTION
Describes the impact of Bay Area artists on the Regina Clay scene, and the cultural exchange between California and Saskatchewan
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California ceramics were to provide an important catalyst for developments in Regina. In the 1960s, the West Coast funk aesthetic, with its affinity for surrealism, found object assemblage, personal narrative, and bad taste, offered an important alternative to New York style modernism.
Connections between Regina and California were strengthened by travel in both directions. In 1967, Victor Cicansky met Robert Arneson, a central figure among California funk ceramists. Arneson encouraged Cicansky to continue his studies at the University of California at Davis, a place where Cicansky would experience a “total freedom of materials, ideas, and attitudes.” Offbeat works such as his all clay picnic table, The Last Picnic, offer a foretaste of his later ceramic tableaux. In 1969, the Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery presented an exhibition of California Ceramics which exposed the community directly to the funk side of the California clay scene. The Hone-James studio, which was set up a year earlier by Beth Hone and Ann James, invited prominent Bay area artist James Melchert to give a workshop in conjunction with the exhibition. Marilyn Levine, in particular, benefited from the workshop. She produced for one of the assignments a meticulously fashioned clay shoe, an object which foreshadowed her later super-realist renderings of leather articles. Shortly thereafter, Levine started graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley. As Cicansky had in Davis, Levine discovered in Berkeley an environment which stimulated the evolution of her own distinctive approach.