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Biography

Relevant information about things that have been major influences in my art.1968- 1974

1961 - 1964, Alberta College of Art, major Sculpture.

1968 - 1974, Spent traveling by motorcycle and living in Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal,

San Francisco and Los Angeles

1969 - Started my first crafts business making candles and doing leather work that was sold across

Canada.

1972 - Pottery course with Les Manning at the Allied Arts Center in Calgary.

1972 - 1973, I took over full time teaching obligations for Les Manning’s pottery courses.

1973 - I had my first pottery business and commercial studio in the Eauclair district of Calgary.

1975 - 1978, I moved my studio to an old saw mill, on a lake in Bragg Creek,

1978 - Connie Westrom joined Pike Studios and we set up a studio In an old general store in Lavoy

Alberta

1983 - 1989 We had a studio in Bragg Creek Alberta

1989 - 1993 We moved our studio to Sherwood Park Alberta.

1993 to present day we have our studio, with gallery, in High River Alberta.

Severe environmental health problems have been an ongoing problem for the past twenty five

years, delaying some of my artistic aspirations. During this time I’ve worked at what I found possible

and spent a lot of time developing ceramic technology and building machinery relevant to ceramics,

including ‘extruding’ and ‘jiggering technology.

I have designed and built four natural gas kilns, including one of one hundred fifty cubic foot

capacity. I have also designed and built a stainless steel, twin barrel industrial style clay extruder and

have developed new and unique directions using this process. It was due to the developments I

made, that I was asked to do a section on extruder die making, and was published in ‘The Extruder

Book’ by Daryl Baird, printed by the American Ceramics Society. There was a special thank you in the

introduction to the book.

I was using a ‘Life Breath’, hazardous breathing system with a hood and hose dragging around

my studio for 5 years, before finally throwing in the towel on a 30 year career with clay.

I have been working with steel for the past 6 years and have finally found a direction I feel

satisfied will carry me on to discoveries relevant to the art I see and that I want to pursue.

Bob Pike

Bob Pike

1303 - 10 Ave SE

High River AB

403 6525255

bob@pikestudios.com


Selected Exhibitions

‘Hitched” Alberta Craft council. 2009

Retrospective ‘Pike Studios - 80 years of making‘ Okotoks Art Gallery. 2012

‘Pike studios- New work‘ Blue Rock Gallery 2012

Publications

Articles

Alberta Report Magazine, Routes Magazine.

Published works

A section on making extrusion dies in the ‘Extruder Book’ by Daryl Baird.

Published by the American Ceramics Society.

Education

2.5 years at the Alberta College of Art and design majoring in sculpture.

Teaching

One year full time teaching pottery classes at the Allied Arts Center in Calgary

How to make a living as a Studio Potter, Red Deer Summer Series Program

How to set up a functional Pottery Studio, Calgary Ceramics Seminars.

Relevant information

Due to severe environmental health problems, I’ve had to change my career numerous times,

switching from one media to another. After many years of frustration working with clay using an

external air breathing apparatus, (to deal with my allergy to the mold in clay), six years ago I decided

to go back to my sculptural roots and work with metals

Bob’s Show at Ft McMurrayFtMcMurrayShow.html
Bob’s Show at Bluerock Gallery,
NantonBluerock_2012Gallery_Show.html
Bob’s Show at the Station,
OkotoksOkotoksShow.html
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                             What is Art?

                              by Bob Pike


    This essay was written and sent to the ‘Clay Art Forum’ on the internet about 2003, 

as a comment on  the discussion of  pottery being or not being Art.  This is a new revised version.

                                                                       

Definition:  "Art is the individual, creative expression of everyday life.”

I believe Miles Davis said that, but don't quote me.


My definition of Art. 'Art is the voice through which we sing the songs of our humanity'

(I think the first definition was meant to be a definition of 'Fine Art' and I think people generally believe you're always talking about 'Fine Art' whenever the word Art is mentioned). It's a very simple definition as all really great definitions are. Some people, usually artists, would have you believe Art is not definable. Rather than Art being very simple,' it makes Art very mysterious and artists get a lot of mileage out of that. The things we choose to do in our lives are just decisions and desires we make and have, based on everyday experiences that make up who we are. When we make a decision to pick up our guitars or write a poem or create a sculpture, write a symphony or make some pots, it’s simply a choice we make to fulfill ourselves and give meaning to our lives, or even to pay the rent. It connects us to humanity. It gives us a chance to say how we feel about things. There’s nothing mysterious here. You just express the ideas you have inside, through the vehicle you choose and at the level of creative spirit you're able to muster. Lots of contractors build houses, but when Frank Lloyd Wright built houses, he created works of Art.

  

   So, what about the many different kinds of Art. It's strange how people seem to think the word 'art' means 'Fine Art'. When people refer to paintings or sculptures etc., they always assume we're talking about 'Fine Art'. The two words, Art and Fine Art, are not interchangeable.  There’s theatrical Art, children's Art, commercial Art, naive Art, Renaissance Art, Eastern Art, early Egyptian Art, late Italian Art, West Coast Indian Art, popular art, Zen and the Art of kinds of art, the art of cooking etc. and on and on into more classifications than we can name. You may find Fine Art in any of those categories. When ancient hunters put one of their images on a wall, were they a ‘Fine Artist’? Were they a ‘professional Artist’?  Were they hunters doing a religious ritual to help the family put food on the table? There are things that are Fine Art and millions of things that are art but not Fine Art. Calling anything you make ‘Fine Art’ may mean different things to different people, depending on their level of understanding of the word ‘Art’. If you were to ask an average person to explain what Art is to them, they will most likely talk about oil paintings, or maybe a sculpture. If you were to ask the same question to someone with a wider knowledge of Art, they will have a much broader view and will easily add things like ballet, jazz, literature or fine crafts to be forms of Art. Some race car drivers even take driving to the level of an art.

  

      Maybe anyone can take anything to the level of Art if their endeavour is creative enough. Creativity is the key word here. Creativity is a leap into the unknown. It’s a fresh, new way of seeing things. If you’re creative enough or innovative enough about how you do something, it can be some kind of Art. This doesn’t mean when you create anything, it is Art. You must inject your own creative vision into it to make it Art. A copy of something someone else did, just isn't art. Using someone else's design isn't art. The conceptualization and design  must be your own. Painting a perfect picture of something you see may be very technically skilful, but may not be very creative. If there’s no creativity there is no Art. Fine Crafts are definitely an art form but are they Fine Art?  Fine Art is not only creative but must have some kind of intellectual component to it. There are always more layers to find beneath the top layer of creativity in a piece of Fine Art. I'm sure there are ceramic works out there that would be classified as Fine Art in our culture and many that wouldn't. I think Peter Volkous created wonderful Fine Art pieces. Maybe in Japan or Korea, Fine Crafts are considered Fine Art. In our western society we do not necessarily define things the same way.


       If we can get to the point where we've decided that all creative endeavour is Art, but at different levels or in different categories, how do we know whether this Art is of any value?  In some discussions I'd heard, opinions expressed that Picasso's work is garbage, even-though he’s accepted as one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. So, even being acclaimed to be a great artist doesn't mean people will agree with you or appreciate your work. This leads to the statement, there is no 'good' Art or 'bad' Art, just all kinds of Art done by an assortment of creative individuals. At any given time there will be critics of the day expounding on one artist or another depending on what is or is not accepted by THEM at that time. Art criticism is totally subjective and will change depending on who does the critique, and why, and by what criteria, and so on and so on. ( Critics are the ones who go around after a battle, shooting the wounded, Tyne Daley) Marshall McLuhan made the statement, "Art is anything you can get away with." (and many artists try). We may be able to define what categories different kinds of Art fit into but I don't think it's possible to define what good or great Art is. Each person will bring their own aesthetic to the table to decide that. When the National Gallery of Canada, spends millions of dollars on a piece of Fine Art the public complains about and doesn't understand, it's really a problem of the public not knowing the difference between 'popular Art', 'commercial Art', or 'Fine Art', and they don't understand, the purpose, mandate and responsibility of the National Gallery. On the whole, there is no general understanding of the art's anymore, let alone Fine Art, and that's only if there ever was any understanding in the first place. Most artists don't even know the difference between the Arts and Fine Arts. On top of all this, arts are generally thought of as frivolous and of little value.( read--Walmart, value---Arts, no value or get a real job) Subsequently the Arts are being eradicated from our schools.

    

    So,in the end, all you can really do is give your work to the world using your most creative ideas and insights and do it for the satisfaction of knowing it’s the best you have to give. Living an Artist's life is it's own reward. Pass on your visions and your thoughts to the world and hope your voice will be heard. Strive to have something of value to add to the mystery and story of who we are.



     If you want to say your pots are Fine Art-----go ahead. If you want to know if your pots are Fine Art-----who can say. Maybe the more important question is, "What will happen if I tell people (who don't understand what you're talking about), my pots are Fine Art"?



Bob Pike.    Always wishing I had more time to do my Art.


Bob Pike    Studied sculpture at the Alberta College of Art.

                  Travelled across Canada and the Western U.S.A. by

                   Motorcycle.

                   Has been a studio Ceramist from 1973 to present but is now working mainly in metal.

                   Shares a studio with Connie Pike in High River Alberta.

--

Bob and Connie Pike     Pike Studios Ltd.

Mailing Address: 1303-10th Ave SE, High River, Alberta T1V 1L4

Phone 403-652-5255 Fax 403-652-5911

Studio Location  70-9th Ave SE, High River

http://www.pikestudios.com

  bob@pikestudios.com

      

#ABCraft: Bob Pike

Jun 16, 2016

Written by: Vivian Orr, SCC Communications and Publications Coordinator

 

#ABCraft is the current exhibition in the Feature Gallery at Alberta Craft Council (ACC), 10186 – 106 Street, Edmonton, AB – on until July 2, 2016.

#ABCraft looks at how digital technology is enhancing or impacting fine craft artists in Alberta. Social media, digital imaging and 3-D printing are becoming more common and an increasingly important career opportunity for fine craft artists. The exhibition features new and recent work by artists using digital technology in many ways including communications, marketing, research, image development, prototyping and production.

In April, I had the opportunity to drop into the ACC and see this diverse exhibition. As someone who is exploring digital technology in my own work, I found the comments and descriptions by the artists about their processes both interesting and timely. I approached the #ABCraft artists and asked them to answer a series of questions. We have featured their replies on the SCC Blog over the past few weeks. Read them all here. I hope you enjoy the #ABCraft artists thoughtful and insightful answers as much as I did.Bob Pike

info@pikestudios.com

www.pikestudios.com


Did you have a “fine craft crisis of conscience” moment when you initially contemplated integrating digital technology into your work?

No crisis of conscience.  I lost my profession as a potter of 25 years due to environmental health problems. At times I was too ill to work at anything in my studio, so I began my journey working at art with my computer.

I’ve never limited the description of myself to any one kind of output —potter, painter, graphic designer. I have always been a ‘creative’ person who is a maker. Digital tools are just another kind of pencil or brush.


Have you found viewers and purchasers of your work puzzled, conflicted, oblivious or completely comfortable with the digital aspects of your work?

I have found that most people have no idea of the processes that go into any art or craft. Most believe it to be a ’hobby’ anyway. Unless I explain it or show them very carefully (which I have spent years doing)  most don’t understand.



How does digital technology enhance your artistic or business practices?

Without digital technology. it would be nearly impossible to do the metal work that I do. Saying that — the biggest part of the digital technology I use is in the design process. I am much more an artist designer than a craftsperson. My CNC plasma cutter cuts out the parts I design but unless I explain that to customers, they are happy to think I find most of the pieces in a junk yard and just weld them together. They ask me two questions (when they see the price of one of my boxes) “How long did it take you to make that” and “What would I use that for”. My answer, (“45 years”, and“That’s where you keep your 45 automatic”) Artists and Craftspeople desperately need an educated public.

How difficult was it to incorporate digital technology into your work flow?

The digital technology defines my work flow and has always been part of it. There is an assumption in this question that digital technology really has no place in hand crafted objects, or that it is somehow the antithesis of hand crafted.


Where did you acquire the skills, software and hardware?

All the work I do comes from the basic ‘Learn what you need to know to do the things you need to do’. I teach myself through the internet, YouTube, or books or the manuals that come with the hardware or software. YouTube is invaluable.


What technological tool would you love to get your hands on in the future?

If only I could get my hands on a machine that would make me invisible. I could start working on some of the people in the world, I mean problems in the world that bother me and disrupt my art practice. Not a 3D printer. RUN, RUN, RUN.


Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with fine craft and digital technology?

The most important thing about working in the arts and crafts or theatre or movies or music  — or all the other arts,  is for people to find their own voice, to have something to say other than parroting what others are saying around them. I get very tired of seeing that everyone is now wood firing or everyone is now doing soda firing or everyone is now performing Japanese Tea Ceremonies. When you see a ‘trend’ happening run the other way as fast as you can. Be true to your own creative spirit and just remember the only rule in the arts is that there are no rules————EVER.   And when someone tells you it has all been done before, just remember again, that the statement is coming from someone who is not a very creative individual and is unable or too lazy to come up with anything that is unique on their own. Using any kind of technology or tool is just another way to develop and complete your vision. You will have to decide if you are the one driving your process or is it the technology. If you have a computer spitting out new designs and then 3D printing little objects, then you do not have an arts practice, you have a business.

I guess a last word might be what the intent of some people’s practice is. There are two very distinct kinds of crafts practice out there. One is to do things as they were always done with the highest hand craftsmanship possible as in digging you own clay and glaze materials, wedging all your clay by hand and using a kick wheel to throw pots and I guess you would also have to throw pots by candle light and have no electricity in your studio, then you might follow either the Japanese or English traditions. This is also true for most crafts. Many people like the idea of a craft tradition and I guess that’s their comfort zone.

The other way is to believe you were put on this planet to sing your own valuable song and to work very hard at finding out what that song is and to do it anyway that works for you. I’m sure some people would not be classified as fine Crafts People following these guidelines but you may just be a very creative artist doing this and you may even start a new tradition.

I’ve been making a living at art and craft full time since 1968. Hope some of these answers spark some interest and maybe some controversy.