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Artist’s Gilbert studio on the map for ceramics tour |

Artist’s Gilbert studio on the map for ceramics tour

For a ceramic artist, Beth Shook’s studio is surprisingly filled with paper. That’s because of her unusual style of art, a mixture of drawing and clay.

“I use clay as a canvas,” said the artist, who is hosting the Gilbert stop in the 2018 ASU Ceramic Studio Tour, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24-25.


Her unusual style starts off with sketches – she’s a talented drawer, too – and progresses to drawings on clay. She has submitted to exhibitions of various types.

Some ceramics exhibitions reject her, saying her art is more about drawing, and some art exhibitions won’t take her because they say she’s more ceramics.

“Is it craft, is it fine art?” she asks. “They don’t know what to do with me.”

But the public knows what to do: Enjoy her unique style.

That style, along those of artists Sarah Brodie, Sam Hodges and Genie Swanstrom, will be featured at her studio, 1410 W. Guadalupe Road, Building 1, Suite 103, Gilbert, behind Hope Medical Center.

Of the tour’s 15 stops, three are in Tempe (including at Arizona State University), one is in Gilbert, and the rest in Phoenix and Scottsdale. Details are at asuartmuseum.asu.edu/studiotour.

“We are not always the only stop in the East Valley,” Shook said, adding that a Mesa gallery is taking a break from showing this year. “But for a long time, I’ve been a mainstay on the tour. This studio has been in the tour since inception.”

This event showcases professional ceramic artists in the Valley. The public will get the opportunity to view working spaces of 42 participating artists and view demonstrations of wheel-throwing, hand-building and glazing techniques. The artists have a wide range of both functional and sculptural artwork on exhibit and for sale.

“We’ll have some demonstrations, very much hands-on,” Shook said. “I’ll show you what I’m doing now, and the public will ask a thousand questions.

“People are encouraged to take notes, take pictures. We’re open to that.”

Shook said high schools and colleges are invited to the tour. Students and hobbyists usually outnumber the general public.

“High schools will come in groups. Dobson High in Mesa in particular is great,” she said.

“We get a lot of hobbyists, some more serious than others. And some people that just love ceramics.”

Shook was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in El Paso, Texas, earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso. She earned an MFA from ASU. She taught at Mesa Community College for 18 years and Chandler-Gilbert CC for nine years, and she did “a little stint” at Mesa Art Center.

Her earliest work grew out of her early training as a production potter. She paid for a lot of her undergraduate tuition designing and producing dinnerware and other functional art. She still makes plates, dishes and tableware.

“I have a love of dinnerware,” she said.

Shook said another artist told her in a class that the best place to start with dinnerware is to design the salt and pepper shakers. If a design works there, it can translate to all the other pieces.

“We just thought she was nuts,” Shook said. “And she was right.”

She then transitioned to her current drawn pieces.

“I dedicated myself to drawing. I just started building and drawing on slabs, drawing bigger and bigger,” she said.

Shook’s sketches, studies for her wall pieces, are drawn on leftover circuit paper – her husband, Steve, is an engineer. The papers themselves make up a display in the center of her studio.

“I can’t just throw these away,” she said. “But they’re not archival-quality paper, so I have to do something to save them.”

She’s also running out of paper. Shook says even her husband doesn’t really use paper in his work anymore, relying more on computers.

“I’m down to a few papers now,” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do!”

The papers are key for her pieces.

“I spent so much time in studies,” Shook said, “because I can’t erase on clay. A few of the sketches have been exhibited next to the pieces.”

Shook’s drawn clay pieces are framed in recycled wood claimed from discarded furniture. Those pieces along with her practical art, such as dishes and mugs, are on sale at Bergie’s Coffee Roast House in Gilbert.

Shook said she draws on her Christian faith for her art.

“My drawings are all about telling a story. The motivation for that story is my faith and where it intersects life,” she said. She and her husband attend Foothills Baptist Church in Ahwatukee.

“It has always been about how I see the world through my faith, through my eyes. I can defend that.”

Information: bethshookart.com.

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