In the 1970s, Texas-born ceramist Ruby O’Burke (1897-1983) was called “the wizard of glazes in Northern California,” and “the patron saint of ceramicists.” Her ceramics workshops in San Francisco created opportunities for children and adults to learn and explore in community with others. Her most enduring workshop, Ruby's Clay Studio & Gallery, remains vibrant today, nearly 40 years after her death.
Ruby's Legacy: A Community in Clay is simultaneously a catalog of two exhibitions by studio artists and the first deep look at O'Burke's colorful life. Photographs of individual artworks in the two exhibitions are paired with statements by the artists that illuminate their work and their history with the workshop.
The 80-page trade paperback, edited by Abby Wasserman and designed by Lesley Gasparetti, includes an essay by ceramic sculptor and exhibition juror John Toki. In a detailed chronology of Ruby O'Burke's life, the narrative is enlivened by historic photos, Ruby's own reminiscences, and quotes by others about her influence.
“With the force of her personality and breadth of her knowledge, Ruby dominated any space she was in. She ran her artists' workshops--first with children, then with adults--with confidence born of hard won experience, determination, and willingness to be involved in every aspect of her chosen field of ceramics. . . . Ruby built a community in San Francisco by running a tight ship, as did her contemporary Marguerite Wildenhain at Pond Farm 80 miles to the north. Both women insisted on best practices and gathered a community around them.
"The background of the two women couldn't have been more different. Wildenhain emigrated to the United States as a fully trained, fully mature artist. Ruby O'Burke, child of Texas ranchers, didn't begin working in clay until she was 43 years old. Wildenhain trained with master potters; Ruby worked full time in office jobs and learned her craft at night school and summer sessions. . . ."
– Abby Wasserman
"The Ruby catalog is truly a masterpiece thanks to your work and Lesley's graphic design. Just looking at the cover exudes Ruby's energy and spirit!”
– John Toki, Associate Director, author of the forthcoming sixth edition of Hands in Clay.
"A lovely tribute to an amazing and iconic artist and to our creative and inspiring community."
– Jacqueline Duncan, ceramist, member of Ruby's Clay Studio & Gallery
RUBY'S LEGACY: A COMMUNITY IN CLAY
Publication date: March 2022
Published and distributed by Ruby's Clay Studio & Gallery, 552A Noe Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
Editor: Abby Wasserman
Essays by Abby Wasserman and John Toki
Introduction and Chronology by Abby Wasserman
Design: Lesley Gasparetti
Photos: Clara Rice, Jeanne Friscia, Ed Buryn
5.5 by 8.5. in. trade paperback
80 pages76 Illustrations in full color and black-and-white