This is a big deal, the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, or NCECA, 53rd annual conference, “Claytopia,” will take place March 27 through March 30 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
The last time NCECA was in Minnesota was in 1996. According to me, “This is a once-in-an-every-two-decade opportunity. And we are really excited to bring a part of it to Hutchinson and the southwest (Minnesota) region. This is the clay Super Bowl, an opportunity to showcase all the amazing clay art in Minnesota and to tell Hutchinson and the Minnesota Pottery Festival’s clay story.”
I attended NCECA in Portland and Pittsburgh, and there is a lot, I mean a lot, to take in. There’s a session the opening day to give pointers and recommendations to first timers. But in case you can’t attend that, I thought I’d share some of my recommendations.
First up, I know it sounds silly, but pack comfortable clothing, layers, and shoes for walking. Conference centers are notoriously hard to heat and cool. Add in a few thousand attendees and the unpredictable Spring in Minnesota, and believe me, you’ll be glad you have layers to take off, or add.
Second, the Exhibits are amazing. All over Minnesota, there are tons of clay exhibits that (most are open to the public for free). Some are ongoing for weeks, but others are only on during the NCECA conference. Also, most have a reception that you can attend, where you can meet the artists, and network. Last year, I was having a hard time navigating Pittsburgh, so I made myself a map. It was quick and dirty, but it did the job.
This year, I decided to do it again. Important caveats: (1) I made this by copy and pasting from the NCECA exhibits program, (2) any errors or omissions are an accident, (3) I dropped the pins on the map where Google told me to, so if they are off a little, blame Google; (4) I color coded it and built the whole thing for my personal use … Purple is Tuesday a reception, Blue are Thursday receptions, Green are Friday, Orange are Saturday, and Yellow do not have receptions.
Last year, I ended up seeing more exhibits because it was easy to move from place to place with the map. I went to one, then when I was done, I zoomed in on the map and looked for other exhibits near by and checked their hours. So I’m sharing this map with you. I hope it will help you move smoothly from exhibit to exhibit. And ideally, you’ll come out to the Clay Coyote Gallery in Hutchinson to see our special two-week MN Pottery Festival Through the Years, our NCECA concurrent exhibit.
And, while I’m looking forward to going to many, there are a few at the top of my list:
- Dock 6’s Legacy Ware
- Gallery 1639’s Variations of Shino
- Minnetonka Center for the Arts’ two exhibits Lost & Found: Reitz + Gustin Collaborations AND Warren MacKenzie + John Reeve: Kindred Spirits
- Westminster Presbyterian Church’s The Saint John’s Pottery 40 Years
- Homewood Studios’ Voices from Elsewhere – Latecomers to Clay
- MoJo Coffee’s MUGSHOT 2 (MUGSHOT 1 was great!)
Third, while there are a ton of amazing demos, lectures, and panels listed on the schedule, there’s also a ton of programming in the Resource Hall. Read all the ads in the program, to find some of the demos. For example, on the Amaco Brent website and page 4 of the program, you can see they’ve got a whole line up of demos in their booth #317:
Wednesday, March 27th
10:00am – Noon: Thaddeus Erdahl & Marty Fielding
1:30 – 3:30pm: Didem Mert & Malcolm Mobutu Smith
Thursday, March 28th
10:00am – Noon: En Iwamura & Kira Kalondy
1:30 – 3:30pm: Didem Mert & Thaddeus Erdahl
Friday, March 29th
10:00am – Noon: Malcolm Mobutu Smith & Kira Kalondy
1:30 – 3:30pm: En Iwamura & Marty Fielding
This is just one example, there are many really awesome demos in the Resource Hall every day. I find that walking through on the first day and snapping pictures of their posted demo lines ups is the easiest way to get the info, but it also means that you’ve got to be pretty flexible and build your schedule when you get there. And anyone who knows me (the Morganizer), can tell flexibility is not one of my strengths. But for these demos, it’s worth it. Here’s the line up of the vendors in the Resource Hall (I don’t know why it’s 21 pages, its the link I grabbed from the NCECA site, it’s really just 2 pages).
Forth, the Cup Show is a great fundraiser for NCECA. Don’t miss it on two levels, (1) donate to a cup and (2) be sure to save some money for Friday when you can buy them. I’m not a big “wait in lines” person, so I normally head over after the initial rush is over. But if you are so compelled and you want to be the first person in line (you’ll have to get their way before dawn), you get a few minutes alone in the room and you can choose the cups that are most desirable to you. Here is a post with some of the cups I loved in Pittsburgh.
And finally, have fun, be inspired, and make new friends.