Vista’s Ceramic Prowess on Display at the Gallery at 48 Natoma


Camille VandenBerge’s featured works as seen in “Kid in the Candy Store”

Emanuel Vargas, Copy Editor/ Staff writer

Advanced ceramics students at Vista del Lago High School had their art featured at the Gallery at 48 Natoma as part of their new exhibit, “Kid in the Candy Store,” from Sept. 8, 2017, until Nov. 2, according to the City of Folsom Parks & Recreation Department.

The chosen Vista students’ artwork was be held in a special feature accompanying pieces in the gallery’s main exhibit by former UC Davis and Sacramento State University professor Peter VandenBerge, who taught a two-week ceramic workshop at Vista in early September, according to Vista ceramics teacher Debbie Kile.

“Kid in the Candy Store” was a gallery showcase that carried a deep connection to Folsom’s history. This gallery took its theme from main exhibitor Camille VandenBerge’s memories as a child at The Candy Store Gallery in Folsom, a former candy store turned gallery founded and ran by Adeliza McHugh from 1962 to 1992.

“Bird Watcher” by Peter VandenBerge

Peter VandenBerge, one of the many artists who had their works exhibited in The Candy Store Gallery to later achieve critical fame, often took along his daughter with him to see his works displayed.

While this tribute gallery consists of mainly Camille’s pieces, works from other famous Northern California artists that began their claim to fame with The Candy Store Gallery, such as those from Maija Peeples-Bright, David Gilhooly, Robert Arneson, Gladys Nilsson, Clayton Bailey, and Peter VandenBerge himself, will also be exhibited at the gallery.

“We were doing frameworks,” Vista senior Chandler Burdick said about the workshop. “You would start with a square piece of clay about half an inch thick. You would want to make a sculpture building onto the square piece so you [can] put these hangers on them, put a nail in the wall and then hang it.”

Burdick continues about the techniques he learned from VandenBerge’s workshop: “Basically, we learned how to make our own pieces more ‘3D’. Off the square. [VandenBerge] was just showing us the techniques that we should do. [He] gave us a lot of freedom when we were working.”

Ceramics students were undoubtedly impressed by VandenBerge’s knowledge and ceramic prowess. “I learned a lot from him—very knowledgeable guy. [He] definitely knows what he’s doing; he’s been doing ceramics for a long time,” Burdick said.

“Prickly Sea Turtle” by Chandler Burdick

“[VandenBerge] would seem like he knew what he was doing; he seemed experienced and it was kind of scary. I was pretty intimidated at first but he seemed to be pretty cool,” senior Sam LaCara said.

“He came over to me one time,” LaCara said. “[VandenBerge] said, ‘Oh, wow, this is really cool. I like your idea. You’re really making it come to life.’ He gave me advice on my work. He showed me—I was going to do scales. I was going to make a flat piece of clay and cut them out individually and lay them on but then he showed me that if you take the tool and push it back it also looks like scales, so I used his technique in that way instead of mine.”

VandenBerge is known for his unique Funk Art ceramics style that uses the “coil method of clay construction with earth-toned underglazes and bright colorful finishes” to recreate the unique tribal feeling and elongated structure resembling what you would see on the stone heads found at Easter Island, as described by the exhibit. He has seen his artwork featured in galleries around the world such as the San Francisco M.O.M.A, New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian Institute, among others.

According to ceramics teacher Kile, the students’ theme was “something in nature.”

“Fey” by Samantha LaCara

“I created a turtle,” said senior Burdick, describing his piece. “I just had an idea with what I would do with the shell. I got a feel for it. It didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted it to, but I’m always making sea creatures and stuff because when it turns out exactly like you wanted it to it ends up looking cool.”

“My piece was a fish,” LaCara said. “There were bubbles and seaweed all around it. I thought that a fish would be appropriate, and plus, I like the colors that come with fish and I [thought] it could really look cool… [I thought] I could make it come alive with it swimming through the seaweed, that [it] would be a cool effect to hang on the wall and maybe people would notice it more.”

“Kid in the Candy Store” was displayed in 48 Natoma’s own gallery located near the Folsom Community Center. You may find other free exhibits there year-round, including their next exhibit, “Thirty Years Inside”, featuring paintings and prints from correctional art instructor Jim Carlson and various incarcerated artists at Folsom State Prison from Nov. 19.