Manifestations in Paper & Clay, Works by George Roby (1936–2018) & Mindy Tousley

Ceramic by George Roby

Art is a conversation that transcends a specific time period. It is a continuum. The artworks of the past both predict and inform the artwork of the present. Each piece of the conversation is worthy of consideration and preservation. The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) is among the few organizations that does this effectively. AAWR Executive Director Mindy Tousley works tirelessly to this end, as an advocate of regional artists of our present time and of the past presenting artists on the cutting edge of our NEO art scene and exploring connections among living artists, as well as our relationships with the art and artists who have come before us.

The late archived artist George Roby, a graduate of Cranbrook, was a highly-respected Ohio potter, sculptor, and teacher who mainly produced both functional and sculptural works in clay. Many of his pieces in Manifestations are deeply personal sculptures chronicling his own unique emotional experience as a caregiver for his wife Sue, as they faced the daily realities of her Alzheimer’s diagnosis before her death in 2014. These pieces have been shown mainly as part of the Art Interprets Alzheimers exhibit, which has travelled to over twenty different venues since 2012 and is now part of the collection of the AAWR. Roby’s other works are predominantly altered vessels. They embrace the concept of imperfection—a simple stretching of volume from the inside which throws the symmetrical pot off balance, or a line drawn down through the clay on the outside while it is wet and malleable, fresh from the potters’ wheel. His actions accentuate and draw our attention to the nature of the clay, and the imperfections of the individual. As the sculptor and former president of the Cleveland Institute of Art David Deming said, “George has mastered the expressive use of ceramics through traditional and contemporary pottery. It is the expression of human relationships and interaction through abstraction that gives this exhibition’s sculptures a very special significance. George has created the works in this exhibition around the daily struggle towards understanding what it means to have a loved one slowly become entrapped by Alzheimer’s disease.”

Mindy Tousley

Aside from her role in the Archives, Tousley is also a committed and serious studio artist, giving her a view from the inside of both the individual voice and struggle, as well as the larger conversation about the art and artists. Her practice as an artist using paper is influenced by her own background as a ceramicist and is built around her appreciation for the beauty of the accidental mark or the random act. In this, her approach is very much like Roby’s approach to the clay. Her work is based on her observations of her everyday life, the natural world, and the urban environment, banality, absurdity and ugliness or beauty. She finds joy in creating order out of chaos, unbalancing and rebalancing and then finding the center. She views her job as an artist as that of the observer who notices what others miss, and brings that to the forefront of their consciousness.

Manifestations in Paper & Clay, explores the friendship between these two artists, the synchronicity of their work, and their shared use of abstraction to present their observations and experiences of the world through their art, exemplifying the larger conversation between artists across time.

George Roby

Archived in 2002, George Roby is a respected Ohio potter, sculptor, and teacher. His work includes large, expressive slab and coil-built sculptures that are suitable for indoor or outdoor exhibiting. He also produces functional stoneware using both hand-built and wheel-thrown techniques. George uses special oxides and glazing techniques that augment the characteristics of electric firing. This process results in striking surfaces and colors that coincide with his well-conceived forms. George Roby has become well known through juried exhibitions such as the Cleveland May Show, Butler Sculpture and Ceramics exhibit, Ohio Designer Craftsmen, along with many other regional and national exhibits. His works can also be found in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Everson Museum of Art, The Butler Institute of American Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, and numerous private collections. Awards include the following: The Ceramic National purchase prize given by Dansk Designs, Ohio Arts Council Award for Individual Artists, National Clay & Fiber Exhibition Best in Show, and a featured video interview as part of “Five Northeast Ohio Artists” in the Smithsonian Institutes Archives of American art. His works have been published in Ceramics Monthly, American Ceramics, and The Art of Contemporary Pottery.

Mindy Tousley

Mindy Tousley was born in Western New York and graduated from SUNY College at Buffalo in 1983 with a bachelor of science degree in design and a concentration in ceramics. She continues to work in a range of media from ceramics to monoprint to dimensional collage. Her award-winning work has been exhibited several times in The Albright-Knox Art Gallery and The Burchfield Penney Art Center. Since her move to Cleveland in 1994, Tousley has continued to exhibit in shows and galleries in the Northeast Ohio area. Her work was published in “the Pink Eye Book of Collage” in 2010 and “City Artists at Work” in 2009, and can be found in corporate collections including Buckingham Doolittle and Burroughs, The Dalad Collection, Tucker Ellis LLP, YWCA (downtown Cleveland branch), Cleveland State University, Brouse MacDowell, Glidden House, Nordson, and University Hospitals, as well as many private collections in New York, Ohio and Arizona.

Currently Tousley is the executive director for the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve and a member of the CMA Print Club, where she chairs the Publications Committee. She is the former director of Akron’s Harris Stanton Gallery, and a previous partner in Dead Horse Gallery of Lakewood, Ohio. She and co-director William Martin Jean coordinated City Artist at Work activities for over fifteen years. Tousley is also a former member of The Cleveland LGBT Center Art Committee and former secretary for the Northern Ohio Art Dealers Association.

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