Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Art · Benjamin Maier Ceramics
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Benjamin Maier Ceramics

Robert Downes - July 5th, 2007
Peer beyond the elegant storefront windows of Benjamin Maier’s gallery in downtown Leland and you’ll find a contemporary landscape of swirling colors, captured in clay.
The gallery walls are filled with Maier’s creations, ranging from Oriental teapots to vases, cups, dishware and stoneware pots, all imbued with a dreamy sense of style and color. It’s clear at a glance that Maier, 29, has a singular vision that brings out the best of what clay has to offer, draped in a sublime range of glazes and colors.
Maier’s celebration of the earth happened by chance. After graduating from Traverse City Central High School in 1996, he attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, completing a degree in political science with a minor in economics.
But after graduation, a sense that something was missing in his life led him to take a class in ceramics with instructor Carl Spork at Northwestern Michigan College.
“I was at a different point in my life and ceramics was an outlet that helped me emerge from a difficult space,” he recalls. “It was very therapeutic working with clay, and after the therapy, it turned into a career.”
He attended another ceramics course at Michigan State University, and then spent three seasons at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado. “I was there three years in a row, going back and forth, creating work there and selling it back home,” he says.
Five years ago, Maier launched his first gallery, also in Leland’s. He opened his current gallery in the summer of 2004. The gallery features a handsome facade in dark tones that reflect the contemporary style of his ceramics.
As for his studio, that’s located at the top of Crain Hill in Leelanau County. Here, Maier creates soda-fired stoneware, using a technique called vapor firing.
Vapor firing involves spraying ceramics with a solution of soda ash and water while the work is being fired in a gas kiln. “Basically, you’re spraying salt water on the ceramics, which washes out the glazes,” Maier says. The result is a unique pattern on every piece of stoneware.
Maier also works with the Japanese woodfire method, which involves firing raw clay to give it a crusty, antique look that’s aesthetically pleasing. The method was developed 300-500 years ago, but produces a timeless quality that resonates from medieval Japan to the art lovers of today. “You’re not trying to be so tight and perfect with this method,” Maier says. “You’re telling the clay to breathe a little more.”
So, how’s business in Leland’s art-friendly community?
“Each summer it gets a little bit better,” Maier says. “I’m doing wedding and shower gifts along with commission work on things like dinner sets. People come in with ideas and we work on creating what they want.”
Maier also keeps prices down so that there’s something for every budget. A teacup, for instance, might run $10, with prices rising to a stoneware centerpiece going for $500. “I want someone to be able to walk in and find something they like for $9 or $12. I try to keep prices reasonable.”

Benjamin Maier Ceramics is located at 102 North Main, Leland, with hours from 11-5 Monday through Saturday, and 11-4 on Sunday. Ph: 231-590-1084.

 
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