Cleanup crew readies Gladding, McBean for exhibition

By: Leona Reber Special to The News Messenger
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Clouds of dust billowed into the air as nine volunteers dusted the massive architectural sculpture and urns that mutely bear witness to the skill of factory artists of a bygone era, and swept and sprayed the ancient wooden floors of the third floor of Gladding, McBean terra cotta factory March 29. The crew was preparing the site for Feats of Clay XXI, the international ceramic competition that is soon to turn the normally unused section of the factory into an art gallery. The space up here is open to the public only once a year, and it really gets dirty, said Michelle Renati, the Lincoln Arts and Culture Foundation secretary and volunteer, as she removed a dust mask and wiped sweat off her brow. She was taking a break from pushing a large broom across the floor and began setting out rolls and juice for the crew. Everyone has worked really hard up here today, she said. It was difficult to lure the crew away from their work, as they were nearly done for the day, but finally everyone gathered by the door. I think it is really going to be a fantastic show. I've been so impressed by the photos of the work, said Dick Ketelle. Ketelle and other workers will begin carefully moving some of the 80 pieces that make up the exhibition later in the week. Ketelle said that he felt that the show was a well-balanced collection of sculptural and functional work. I think it is one of the best we've seen in many years, he said. Juror Judith Schwartz sifted through more than 1,100 slides before finally deciding on the 80 pieces that art lovers will see for the first time on April 26, when those who have purchased tickets for the Grand Opening Gala Reception will view the show in its entirety. Half of the show will be set up in a retired beehive kiln on the first floor, and the remainder will be displayed, along with historical artifacts and photos, on the third floor, which is accessed by riding a large wooden freight elevator that is more than 100 years old. Tickets for the reception are still available. They can be purchased for $45 each. No tickets will be available at the door. Corporate tables, which accommodate 10 people, are also available for $400. The juror and many of the exhibiting artists will attend the event. A no-host bar stocked with locally brewed beer and wine will also be a part of the evening. Docent-led tours of the factory ($10 each) begin the following week, May 3, and will continue through May 25. Reservations are being taken now. For information about Feats XXI events or to purchase tickets for the reception or factory tours, call 645-9713.