Porcelain served two ways in ‘Finding Place’ at Anderson Ranch | AspenTimes.com

Porcelain served two ways in ‘Finding Place’ at Anderson Ranch

In "Finding Place," Alleghany Meadows' porcelain bowls and plates stack precisely into sculptural forms on pedestals. While Sara Ransford's ceramic installations — also made, in part, of porcelain — hang on the walls and from the ceiling.

The joint exhibition by these two prominent local artists at Anderson Ranch Arts Center engages their work in thought-provoking conversation.

The precise symmetry of Meadows' pieces might suggest a daisy flower, with bowls serving as petals (the series is aptly titled "Flora"). Or, sitting beside Ransford's coral-like sculptures, they might remind a viewer of seashells.

The colors of Meadows' pieces also come from nature — there's a snowy white, a blue suggestive of water. This pairs well with the earthy tones of Ransford's work.

Meadows noted that the patterns in many of Ransford's sculptures, where different forms compress against one another like honeycomb, are remarkably similar to the shapes some of his pieces take on when plates are stacked against one another.

"They're completely different conceptual ideas in what she's after, but there's a wonderful relationship between them," Meadows said last week while hanging overhead lighting for the show.

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Both Ransford and Meadows are former artists in residence at the ranch. They initially met at an Anderson Ranch destination workshop with ceramicist Doug Casebeer in Nepal 20 years ago. In the years since, they've grown into two of Aspen's best-known and interesting working artists while maintaining ties to the ranch as workshop instructors. They've never previously done a dual exhibition.

Meadows has been exploring his combination of functional ceramics and sculpture for the past decade. His pieces can serve a purely aesthetic function, as they do in "Finding Place," or they could be in a kitchen and used to serve food, as they do in many collectors' homes. He isn't precious about the pieces being sullied with soup or cereal or hors d'oeuvres.

"I enjoy that it can experience its function," Meadows said, pulling a bowl from one of the pieces. "There's a ritual and appreciation to that."

He recalled the first time that he fired and glazed ceramics to fit together and form a larger sculpture, changing the course of his work.

"There was this epiphany moment of, 'Wow, this is actually going to fit,'" he recalled. "And my sensibility was very attracted to that structure when it happened. I knew immediately that this was something I was going to pursue."

One of the most recent works takes the form of a mandala, with 13 plates stacked in a circle and balanced on a donut ring, with 12 bowls inside of it stacked into a tight circle.

"There's a balance that I'm seeking in my work, and probably in my life — I feel like I'm the craziest person I know, with how busy and spread out I am — but this just seems balanced and graceful," he said.

Ransford, who has distinguished herself with such clay work over the years and whose sculptures here combine soda-fired porcelain with clay and paper, expands her practice into drawing in "Finding Place." Her "Exploring Balance" series — pen-and-ink drawings — continues her inquiry into the connections between nature and geometry, and complements her sculptural work in the exhibition.

Their joint show opens today in conjunction with Anderson Ranch's annual Holiday Open House.

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If You Go …

What: ‘Finding Place,’ by Alleghany Meadows and Sara Ransford

Where: Patton-Malott Gallery, Anderson Ranch Arts Center

When: Opening reception, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 5-7 p.m.; on view through Jan. 25

How much: Free

More information: http://www.andersonranch.org

Anderson Ranch Holiday Open House

Tuesday, Dec. 15

Kids’ Craft, 4:30 to 6 p.m., Schermer Meeting Hall, free

Open Artist Studios, 4:30 to 7 p.m., throughout campus, free

Sip, Shop & See, 5 to 7 p.m., ArtWorks Gift Store, free

Holiday Dinner, 7 p.m., Ranch Café, $20 (RSVP required)