John Balistreri: By and Large
May 2, 2014 - August 16, 2014
at Belger Crane Yard Studios
By and Large includes John Balistreri's newest large-scale ceramic sculptures that were created over a 2½ year period at the Jun Kaneko studio in Omaha, NE. Totemic, monumental, fluid in form and color, his new body of work is an amalgamation of what he considers the most visually interesting characteristics of his previous work.
Today the phrase "by and large" means "generally speaking," or "on the whole." The origin of the phrase, however, is nautical and was communicated as an order to the man at the helm of a ship to sail the ship slightly off the wind. A similar command was "full and by" which meant to "sail as close to the wind as it can go." The risk of sailing too close to the wind was the danger of being "taken aback" (when the sails press against the mast and progress halts). To Balistreri, these phrases reflect his approach to life and his new work—sailing slightly off the wind in search of unexpected opportunity, while trying not to be "taken aback" too often. He creates work that challenges his understanding of the material as well as his own capabilities as a maker.
By and Large also includes works on paper and canvas. These paintings and drawings represent a wide aesthetic range and phases of the process Balistreri used to create the ceramic sculptures in the exhibition. He describes some of the drawings as the alter ego to his large clay work--expressive, energetic, and spontaneous in ways the large methodical and time consuming clay work, is not.