Get Fired Up About Adam Silverman’s New Pottery Book at S.F. and L.A. Shows

Scanning a table crowded with 50 of his colorful ceramic pots in all different shapes and sizes, Adam Silverman spotted something he didn’t like.

He snatched up a blue crackle-glazed pot and rubbed at a tiny bubble on the surface. Unsatisfied, still, he pulled a small tool out of his pocket and buffed the bubble, blew on it and ground some more -- revealing a glossy little indent of black clay gleaming through the dark blue glaze.

One thing about Silverman is he’s not precious -- even though he works with such delicate material. And this is the crux of his work: his pots are full of contradictions. As he said, “They’re ugly,” but they’re also exquisite. They conjure the essence of the age-old natural world but are distinctly modern -- drawing from artists like Joan Miró and Marcel Duchamp. They’re also full of imperfections, like asymmetrical patterns, bubbles, and drips, yet Silverman creates each vessel to a point of perfection.

Photo by Stefano Massei

Now, anyone can study Silverman’s paradoxical work in his new book Adam Silverman Ceramics, which went on sale this week. In conjunction with the launch of the book, galleries and museums around the world will be hosting exhibits of his stunning pottery. Kicking it all off is a book release party and a “50 New Pots” exhibit at Heath Ceramics in San Francisco on September 27 (with a similar event at Heath Ceramics in Los Angeles on September 28).

Not only can viewers see the tiny buffed bubble in the blue crackle-glazed pot - 49 other vessels will also be on view. The show includes an array of Silverman’s work, from his older black clay pots with layers of green, beige, and mauve crackled glazes, to his newer work in red clay. As Silverman said, “We’re doing a little bit of the greatest hits.”

Each one of Silverman’s pots could be studied for hours, so having the book is helpful. More than just showcasing his work, the book is a collaboration between Silverman, photographers Stefano Massei and Katrina Dickson, and designer Tamotsu Yagi. Each pot was re-shot in color by Massei from several angles and at varying distances, which gives a distinct feel and texture. Dickson created an engaging black-and-white photo essay on Silverman at work in his studio, throwing clay, layering glaze, and firing in the kiln.

“The goal of the book is to have a beautiful object to stand on its own,” Silverman said.

Photo by Stefano Massei

The Heath Ceramics San Francisco show opens on Friday, September 27 and runs through October 27. The book release party is on September 27 from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. Heath Ceramics Los Angeles is also having a book release party and exhibit on Saturday, September 28 from 5pm to 8pm.

If you happen to be in Laguna at the end of October, be sure to catch Silverman’s massive four-gallery show at the Laguna Art Museum. This exhibit will feature tons of Silverman’s work, along with a new series of pots he fired on Laguna Beach using natural elements from the area, such as seaweed, ocean salt, and clay from the nearby canyon.                                                                                                             

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