“Homegrown” features only Chandler artists The Chandler Arizonan

“Homegrown” features only Chandler artists

“Homegrown” features only Chandler artists



The five artists featured in the Vision Gallery’s latest exhibit all have something in common: roots in Chandler. 

“Homegrown: Generations” presents the ceramic work of five artists who have lived in Chandler at one point or another and all graduated from Chandler High School. In fact, some were each other’s classmates. 

Kathleen Escobedo, who graduated from Chandler High in 1964, is showcasing some of her nature-themed ceramics in the new exhibit. She went to school alongside fellow artist Al Pace, who later became Escobedo’s instructor. 

Escobedo had mainly focused on two-dimensional art before taking a ceramics class taught by Pace at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

 She remembered him encouraging his students to never copy other artists and to find a style distinctly representing their own identity.

“Al taught us to look for our own voice in clay,” Escobedo said. “And all of our work is markedly different.”

Pace also ran Chandler High’s art department for several years where he taught the exhibits three other artists: Clay Martinez, Darrell Thomas Menlove, and Tom Budzak. 

Budzak is a notable member of the Valley’s art scene, having contributed ceramic art for other shows in Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Phoenix. 

His ceramic portfolio ranges from porcelain vases and to Batman-themed coffee mugs. 

The Vision Gallery regularly hosts artwork made by Chandler residents, but it’s not often a whole exhibit is represented by creators with connections to the city. 

Peter Bugg, the Vision Gallery’s coordinator, said he wanted the “Homegrown” exhibit to highlight the diverse talent originating out of Chandler.

“We want this exhibition to show citizens and visitors there are artists who live here, work here, and are from here, and they have a variety of styles, but are still united by their medium of choice,” Bugg said.

The ceramics made by each artist represent different themes, styles and perspectives. Some have elaborate textures and designs, while others present a mish-mash of different colors.

One of Escobedo’s ceramics almost appears to be in the shape of an egg with the top cracked off; a blue floral design is painted around the ceramic’s exterior.

Escobedo said most of her works have some sort of connection to the natural world. 

She’s constantly amazed the beautiful landscape surrounding her and often uses the Arizona desert as a source for artistic inspiration.

Though Escobedo prefers painting watercolors, she appreciates the painstaking labor required to make ceramics.

 The medium takes a long time to learn, she said, but can almost become addicting once the artist masters it.

“Once you get hooked on clay, it’s hard to leave. It was so very difficult to do and I do like a challenge.”

“Homegrown” will remain on display at the Vision Gallery, 10 East Chicago Street, until Feb. 14. Admission is free.

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