Alex Kurtz and Abby Salsbury are friends and have shared studios over the years. Now, they are collaborating on a special showing of their work. The showing’s title is “Staged Time: An Exhibition of Ceramic and Mixed Media Works by Alex Kurtz and Abby Salsbury.”
The show is set to open with a reception Friday (Oct. 6), 5-7 p.m., at the Stables Gallery of the Taos Center for the Arts, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Admission is free and the public is invited. The reception will include music and refreshments.
“Alex, working in clay and Abby, working in clay and mixed media, each have a different take on the meaning of Staged Time, while also sharing a common theme that focuses on the natural world; each with their own perspective,” a press release states.
In a prepared statement, it is said Kurtz has always been intrigued by the details of the natural world “and I think of my work as nature inspired snapshots. I studied ceramics at the Rhode Island School of Design in the [’90s] and have been making ceramic tiles pretty much ever since.”
Kurtz makes “one-of-a-kind” handmade tiles, but over the years, Kurtz has had to figure out how to streamline their production in order to make a living from the work. “Many, many times in my clay career, I have seen something that inspired me and sort of mentally put the idea for that new design ‘on the shelf’ in favor of using my studio time to make more of the production-type tiles that have established themselves as bill payers,” Kurtz said.
Nearly 20 years into his tile-making career, Kurtz said it was time to start paying more attention to “those little things that catch my eye from time to time.”
In August of 2016, Kurtz decided to take on a personal challenge to “spend a few minutes to slow down each day, to look around outside and see what bit of nature might grab my attention or my eye or my curiosity, to then record it and to make it manifest in clay, in the form of a tile. My commitment was to do this for an entire year.”
Now, each of the 365 tiles in this project is in the same format, 4 inches square, with the date stamped on the side. The tiles are formatted to hang as the days on a regular calendar would appear. They are all sculptural, they are all different and each one references a day in Kurtz’s life over the last year.
Kurtz said the show with Salsbury has been a long time in the making. “Staged Time” brings together work “that we have both been creating that involves similar themes of time and layers and the natural world from our personal perspectives,” Kurtz said.
For Salsbury, “Staged Time” has multiple meanings. “In hanging this show, I’m literally ‘staging’ the creative ideas I’ve made over a period of ‘time.’ The recurring theme in my work tends to focus on scenes in time, snapshots of characters (objects, plant life, insects) relating to each other in an environment and, quite often, these scenes take place within a three-dimensional stage, setting or box, bringing attention to and accentuating that moment – ‘Staged Time,’” she said.
“And, finally, to stage an exhibition with Alex is significant in celebrating our relationship as friends and makers with clay over the last 17 years.”
This month of October marks her 21st anniversary in Taos. And, with this, she said it seems fitting to show a retrospective of her work and the evolution of her process since arriving in 1996.
“When I arrived in Taos,” she said, “I had a developed line of tableware. My designs had been created for the East Coast wholesale shows and would now be the start of my business in my new home. In the next year, I simplified the line, renamed my business Butterpie Productions and began traveling to retail shows in the Southwest and on the West Coast. In the next six years, I made a lot of pots, all the while building our passive solar home and studio with my husband, artist Dean Pulver.”
In 2003, she said a lot of the creative part of making pottery had dissipated for her. “I was craving a new outlet, so I enrolled in the printmaking department at [University of New Mexico-Taos]. I took the class simply to take a break from my clay work, but now, 14 years later, the two are intertwined and each informs the other.”
The show will be on view through Oct. 15 and is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call (575) 770-8366.