Art Maker: Ron Baer, ceramic artist

  • An example of Ron Baer’s pottery, seen here in his studio in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Closeup of the heavy layers of glaze Ron Baer applies to some of his ceramic pieces. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ron Baer works on one of his porcelain paper clay pots in his studio in Westhampton. At right, a finished piece. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ron Baer works on one of his porcelain paper pots in his studio in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • An example of the layered glaze Ron Baer applies to his porcelain pieces. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ron Baer works on one of his porcelain paper pots in his studio in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ron Baer uses a small brush to apply glaze to one of his porcelain paper pots in his studio in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Published: 9/20/2018 4:02:53 PM

Ceramic artist Ron Baer of Westhampton has exhibited his porcelain vases, pots and other pieces in galleries in New York City, Boston, western Massachusetts and elsewhere, and he’s taught ceramics for over 20 years, including at Hampshire College. He also approaches much of his work from a spiritual perspective, as he says he tries to embody each of his pieces with “fluidity, boldness, balance, and mystery.”

And when asked about artists who have been key inspirations in his work, Baer cites ancient tribal art, which he says “has magic ... I am awestruck. Why? Maybe, my heart is awakened because it feels the reverence and the unselfconscious energy of its creation. The works of art appear to have simply emerged from the Great Mystery.”

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you're currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Ron Baer: Of late I’ve been working on some tall porcelain paper clay pots. Because of their size, I have a larger surface on which to paint glazes, creating a varied and subtle movement of many colors over the pot.

I start by making a paper slurry, which I mix with the clay to help bind the clay, allowing the creation of larger pieces. On the potter’s wheel, I gradually add more clay as I shape the form. Once that’s completed, dried, and initially fired, I paint the surface using glazes I have created, using small brushes to layer the glazes over each other to add color, texture and design to the surface. 

HL: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

RB: I draw my inspiration from the natural world, both visually and energetically. The medium I work with also is compelling — the earth itself. And “Eureka” moments can be part of my creative process, such as suddenly understanding what I have been striving to express, or instantly seeing how to complete a piece I have been unclear about. At those times, a “yes” resonates within. What was hidden or unseen becomes understood.  

HL: How do you know when your work is finished?

RB: My work is physically finished when it comes out of the kiln. It is hard to alter it afterward unless it gets smashed, or occasionally fired again. However, even though my work may be physically completed, I have an added sense of completion when I watch others looking at it. And I could also say that my work is never finished, for each work is connected to the next.

HL: Have you ever had a “mistake” — a project that seemed to be going south — turn into a wonderful discovery instead?

RB: Creating art is like the rest of my life: a work in process. Generally, if I am willing to hang in and not judge the time the work of creating takes, I can get to a place of inner resolution about the piece.  Sometimes, even with my best efforts, the best choice is to stop and move on. However, sometimes when I decide to abandon what I was trying to do and embrace what I’m feeling in the moment, something unexpected and wonderful can emerge.

HL: If you weren't an artist, what do you think you'd be?

RB: I think of artists as healers. If I were not creating art in this way, I would be focused on some other aspect of healing work.

HL: Dream dinner party — who would you invite?

RB: I would invite dancers, musicians, cooks, and we would play.

— Steve Pfarrer

Ron Baer will exhibit new work at the Westhampton Public Library, and at his home across the street at 2 North Road in Westhampton, on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 30 from 2-5 p.m. His website is ronbaer.com. 

 

 




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