When Alexander Calder moved to Paris in 1926, he began to concoct Cirque Calder, or Calder’s Circus, which would become his most beloved work. A complete miniature Big Top, the circus was an elaborate troupe of animals, clowns, acrobats, nets, flags, carpets, lamps, phonographic records, noisemakers, and an orchestra of musical instruments, the entirety of which were constructed of easy-to-find household materials. Calder’s Parisian guests would sit indoors while the artist brought the kinetic sculptures to life in choreographed spectacles that could last for hours.
Over the course of the past year, Stanley Edmondson found himself considering Calder’s diminutive traveling circus, the life and joy it brought to tiny Parisian salons, and the current global circumstance in which experiencing things indoors with friends and loved ones is dangerous, if not impossible. He assembled and choreographed his own sort of circus: literally larger-than-life ceramic performers engaging with abstractions of trampolines and onomatopoeic visualizations of the tumbles and flips about to ensue. Stanley’s Circus would become a delightful, traveling ensemble as at home indoors as out.
Edmondson is the missing link between the Peter Voulkos generation of ceramicists and the current one in Los Angeles. He has been creating and firing his work in his magical home studio in Pasadena his entire life.
A lifelong printmaker and ceramicist, Edmondson’s late father, Leonard Edmondson, was the Chairman of the Design Department at Otis Art Institute during the clay revolution in sculpture, and imbued an eye for color, form, and process in his son at an early age. The younger Edmondson threw his first pot with Malcolm “Mac” McClain, and Voulkos was a constant presence in his early life. Throughout the years, Stanley Edmondson honed his skills with the likes of Michael Frimkess, Ynez Johnston, and John Mason.
Working predominantly in homemade clay, Edmondson embraces the Bauhaus practice of weaving craft with fine art and the technical challenges of fabrication: the materials, the time and sweat, the invention of tools for new developments, the constant threat and opportunity presented by technical failure. Crafted with Edmondson’s own clay and glaze recipes, his sculptures emphasize their innate raw materiality grounded in their connection to the earth. In recent years, Edmondson has aided in the practices of contemporary artists Roger Herman, Jasmine Little, Ruby Neri, and Kenny Scharf.
Stanley’s Circus, Edmondson’s first exhibition with Nicodim, is a synthesis of a solitary reaction to an unprecedented year of global upheaval, the artist’s unique place in Southern California and world art history, and the very earth Los Angeles and its surroundings are built upon. There is room for everyone under his Big Top, and his end goal is unbridled joy.
Recent exhibitions include Alchemy at Lefebvre et Fils, Paris (2018, solo); Clay for John Mason at South Willard, Los Angeles (2017, solo); Lifted Spirits at the Los Angeles Arboretum, Arcadia (2015), and Outdoor Exhibition at the Maloof Foundation, Rancho Cucamonga (2014).