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Commonwheel highlights clay and ceramic works

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It began on the riverbanks in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, when something in the rich, grey clay caught the attention of Coreen Abbott. By high school, she was throwing pots, and by 1976, when she moved to Manitou Springs, Abbott was deep into the process of perfecting her own ceramic technique.

"Ceramics became an integral part of my being," Abbott says.

When she first met Sharon Cupit at Manitou's Commonwheel Artists Co-op, they were both using a high-firing technique, and their work conformed to the times' norm of earthy, muted color schemes. Cupit was sculpting animal figurines and Abbott was throwing pots. After mastering high-fire, Cupit and Abbott went their separate ways to explore new ceramic techniques and further develop their personal styles.

Now, more than 20 years later, Abbott and Cupit have found each other at the same artistic crossroads. Both have switched to the less common low-firing, which has made their work more colorful, vibrant and, as Abbott says, "whimsical."

While Cupit's sculptures of everything from giraffes to mermaids express playfulness through bright colors and curious shapes, Abbott's vases, plates, bowls and pots act as three-dimensional canvases for her nature-themed illustrations and glazes. Her work imagines the last battle of the universe as a confrontation between plants and humans.

"The plants are going to win," she says. "The natural force is really more powerful than humankind."

At Commonwheel's new exhibition, most of the 30-plus works from Abbott and Cupit will be for sale. capsule

Clay, Color and Creative

Curiosities

Commonwheel Artists Co-op, 102 Cañon Ave.,

Manitou Springs

Opening reception, Friday, July 21, 5-8 p.m.; exhibition runs through Aug. 21.

Open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m; call 685-1008 for more

information.

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