During an arts conference in Westchester five years ago, ceramics artist Cecily Garver, a former New Canaan resident, noticed she was missing something important in her work.
"It dawned on me that one piece of my ceramic life was missing," Garver said. "I lacked critique."
After some thought, Garver decided she was going to form a critique circle. To recruit members, she approached several clay artists whose work she admired -- she had met most of them at Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan.
It turns out that they "all were, without exception, enthusiastic," she said.
And that was when Clay Talk was born. The group, formed by eight local female artists, has been meeting once a month since to share and discuss their work.
New Canaan residents will have a rare chance to view and buy some of their pieces at a pop-up gallery at 106 Main St. from Dec. 19 to 24.
This is only the second time they're bringing the gallery to New Canaan and the third time they're selling their work in a gallery. In 2011, the group set up a pop-up store on Block Island and then on New Canaan's Elm Street the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Three of the members -- LoriAnne Dunn, Eva Levine and Connie Nichols -- live in New Canaan. Garver lived in New Canaan for 12 years before she moved to Germany in March. The other members are Pat Atkin, of Darien; Karen Capuciati, of Stamford; Mindy Horn, of Weston; and Mari Ogihara of White Plains, N.Y.
Most of the pieces in the gallery will be functional, according to Levine. They include napkin rings, vases, cups, mugs, bowls and platters.
"We bring art to daily living," Levine said.
The pop-up store will also feature small sculptures and large wall ceramic pieces. Prices will range from $15 to $600.
Levine said the show will be an alternative for New Canaan residents looking to buy their last-minute holiday gifts. She said the items are "more special" than electronic gadgets, clothing and other common holiday gift items.
"It's a unique gift for the holidays," she said. "It's more appealing to get a gift that's locally handcrafted."
Dunn said the work is different from each other, and described her own work as "unconventionally functional."
"Clay will be represented and interpreted by eight very different artists," Dunn said. "That kind of makes it neat."
Atkin, who is bringing at least 40 pieces to the gallery, said she really enjoys getting together with the Clay Talk group.
"It's really wonderful," Atkin said. "We spend all evening talking about pottery, sharing stories and helping each other with pottery problems."
Garver, who now owns a ceramics studio in Munich, said in an email that she will bring works with several different ceramic techniques, such as wheel throwing, hand building methods and slip-casting.
"To speak broadly, my working embodies traditional ceramics methods exploited in untraditional means," she said.
A reception with all eight artists will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19. The gallery will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 19, noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 20 and 23 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 21, 22 and 24.
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