What happens when three of the most talented ceramic artists in the Colorado Springs area get together?
Stuff blows up. As in, it gets big.
At Manitou Springs' Commonwheel Artists Co-op this month, full-time potters Casey Hankin, Lance Timco and Mark Wong will each display at least one pot standing between 2 and 6 feet high, and weighing somewhere between 10 and 40 pounds.
The show, Threemendous, is Timco's brainchild.
"I admire [Hankin and Wong's] work," Timco says, "but artists who make a living with their art tend to remain in their comfort zones. I wanted us to show extremely large-scale work so we could all push our limits."
Timco has been throwing pots for 31 years, and currently chairs the ceramics department at Pikes Peak Community College. As a student, he attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas before earning a master's in ceramics at the University of Dallas. Years ago, when he told his parents he would dedicate his life to ceramics, they were less than enthusiastic. "But it's all about making yourself happy ... I really enjoy what I do."
Hankin, on the other hand, started a "real" career before committing to his art. When he was studying education in grad school, he bought a kick-wheel and convinced the ceramics professors to let him take independent study classes. Once he and his wife moved to Colorado, he met up with Wong, already an established professional Raku potter. After sharing studio space with him, Hankin decided he would leave education to become a professional artist. He has no regrets.
"I've had days and weeks of work that have been very hard to get through," he says, "but I don't think I have ever dreaded a day of work in the eight years I've been doing this."
Wong began studying ceramics as a student at Fountain Valley High School. From there, he went to Pomona College, where he had an epiphany: "I was in Calc 3. I was looking around the room thinking, 'I really don't want to live the rest of my life around people like this.'"
Now, 19 years later, Wong is one of the most well-known potters around. Among many regional locations, his work is on display at the Denver Art Museum, in galleries in Taos and Santa Fe, N.M., and locally at the Business of Arts Center, the Blue Star and Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.
Each artist will display stupendous specimens crafted in a unique style. Timco plans to fire his pieces in multiple sections using an electric kiln and ash glazes. Hankin's largest will be at least 4 feet tall, and all will be animal themed. Wong's crown jewel is a hefty Raku teapot that will be suspended on a wire from the ceiling.
"Taking a supposedly ordinary object and bringing it to the level of the artistically sublime is what this piece attempts to achieve," Wong says. "It's a feat of engineering."