Schlappal is an internationally-acclaimed ceramics artist whose decorative bowls, porcelain vessels and mixed media wall forms have been singled out by untold patrons, including such American authors as Maya Angelou and Tom Wolfe. Featured in more than 100 national and international exhibits, Schlappal’s work has been honored on more than 50 occasions.

The artist’s unmistakable style integrates patterns of intricate symbols, worth of their own language, and spectacular color.

“I’ve been at this virtually every day,” he said of his work with ceramics, which has spanned the past 35 years. “You need to have a burning passion to want to create. Passion fuels your determination to create.”

Born in 1951 and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Schlappal was a high school star athlete and an All American Football Scholarship recipient. Accepted by Miami University of Ohio to play football and study political science, Schlappal’s love of drawing led him to change his major to commercial art. He immediately excelled in his studies. Three years later, another epiphany awaited him in the last months of his senior year when he was introduced to ceramics.

“I had an immediate dialogue with the process,” enthralled by the medium’s three-dimensionality, range of form, coloration, and finish.

Following his graduation from Miami University in 1972, he secured work as a commercial illustrator for an advertising agency. By day he created artwork for marketing campaigns and at night, embarked upon ceramic studies at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Growing further accomplished in the medium, he left his job in 1976 and enrolled in Kent State University’s MFA’s program where he majored in ceramics and minored in glass. Upon graduation, he began teaching high school art in public school, investing the balance of his day at the wheel. His passion and talent was immediately recognized by others. As early as 1975, his work garnered top prized in state and regional exhibitions. He continued teaching and producing until 1993, when he and his family moved to Maryland where he pursued his craft full time. Commercially successful from the start, his clients are largely based in the Washington, DC area and in Asheville, NC, where he is represented by the Blue Spiral 1 gallery.

Schlappal considers his art to be an external presentation of himself in the moment and of “being alive.” Admittedly having control issues, Schlappal loves the sense of arrangement involved in his work. “I orchestrate color, line and form and decide what role I want them to play,” he said in a press release. “I dig deep into myself when creating and strive to offer range in my work.”

The range he refers to goes beyond color, line and form but includes the emotions aroused by the viewer. “I want my work to evoke beauty be also fear.” He believes there are similarities between “he weird sensation of making art” and religion. “Both art and religion are understood on a higher cerebral level. The same part of the mind that embraces God also embraces the humanities.”



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GARY SCHLAPPAL