● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
For a kid who grew up creatively stacking his blocks and making sculptures out of exotic papers his father used at a printing company, an exploration of two-dimensional art in high school and college was predestined to be a little more than a lark.
By 1995, at the age of 48, Anton Nemeth was doing his best to keep up with painting, but his destiny as a three-dimensional artist had apparently waited long enough. He went to visit a friend – Victoria Friedman – who was running a clay studio workshop for a group of 8-12 year olds. She was stuck on the phone and asked Nemeth to join the kids while she finished her conversation. “Fortunately, she was on the phone for a long time,” Nemeth says. “When she came downstairs and saw my finished piece, her words were, ‘Wow, this is really good.’”
That first piece ultimately became part of a private collection in Ottowa and inspired Friedman to open her studio for Nemeth to use as much as he wanted. He eventually created a body of work that won the appreciation and support of the curator of ceramics at the Connecticut State Museum.
Almost a generation later, Nemeth’s works have been placed in galleries and private collections throughout the world, and he now calls a spot just outside of Rescue his home. Although he never had any formal training, he’s continued to work in clays and pursues what he calls a pathway of discovery in the medium that led to work with porcelain. “In centuries past, porcelain was worth more than gold, so it has a storied history of mystery, murder and intrigue,” Nemeth says. “It’s also particularly challenging to work with – it was once aptly described as [similar to] working with cream cheese.”
Looking at his pieces, it’s easy to understand how his approach to art from a position of “play with it, ask what if, and wonder if you can” has led to such wide appreciation of his work. It’s not traditional sculpture or ceramics in the sense that it’s not spun on a wheel or cut out of a block. Instead, he starts with a flat sheet and rolls or pinches it to create an arbitrary shape. From there, he often takes a subconscious step back and lets the clay tell him what it wants to do. “We’ve all had that experience in creating something where you find the process dictates itself and you can do little more than stand back and watch, amazed at what happens,” Nemeth says. “That’s what I try to let happen. I think we as humans were built to do that.”
As a local artist, Nemeth regularly participates in the Art Studio Tour produced by the El Dorado Hills Arts Association and is happy to welcome visitors to his studio by appointment.
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