River Oaks debuts National Ceramics Competition and ExhibitInaugural Dirty South Mug Call & Competition comes to Downtown Arts CenterTo most of us, mugs are utilitarian objects – they exist as vessels to hold anything from our morning coffee to hot cocoa on a cold night. Contrary to this common view, the Inaugural Dirty South Mug Competition and Show, held in April at River Oaks Square Arts Center, looks at mugs as true art. Over 125 entries were submitted via an online adjudication process and 89 mugs from 22 states were selected – the furthest entry comes from artist Hesheng Chen in Seattle, while the closest entry came from River Oaks very own Carole Steele.Guest Juror for the competition will be nationally renowned potter Tom Coleman, who will also conduct a two day demo session as part of the River Oaks Education Series sponsored by GAEDA. Demonstrations on throwing techniques, glazing, firing and alternative decorative processes will take place April 22 & 23. from 10 am - 4 pm at a cost of $40 per person/day.Considered by many potters as one of the best in the Nation, Tom has been featured in numerous galleries, and has both written and been the subject of much published review in his fifty years of ceramics. Tom prefers to work with porcelain and stoneware and has been part of the NCECA national clay conference for years as a lecturer and featured demonstrator.“We have been able to secure an additional subset for the exhibition that will feature Friends of the Juror with over 40 regional artists,” says Rachael Dauzat, Executive Director for River Oaks. “The final exhibit will feature well over 100 mugs. While mug forms were the criteria for this inaugural event, we will be calling for tea bowls along with mugs in 2016, as this is will be an annual event. We have already gained national recognition from other art centers across the U.S and broadened our artist base which was our ultimate goal. River Oaks has jumped on the national stage and made a huge impact and we could not be more proud.”Fish and Pots with Brodnax and Epstein will take place in conjunction with the opening reception for the Mug Show on Friday April 24th from 2-8 pm. Visitors can watch both Brodnax and Epstein in wheel throwing demos as these two characters collectively demonstrate over 60 years of ceramics experience. Brodnax currently lives in Louisiana and teaches classes at River Oaks, while Epstein is from Dallas, TX and also maintains a studio space in Colorado. Tom Coleman will also be on hand for a Guest Juror Talk at 6:30pm.In conjunction with the Dirty South Mug Show and the Friends of the Juror Exhibits, the Manna House Project will be on display in the Atrium Gallery – this public art project, created by Janet and Carl Ahrens, was commissioned by River Oaks for Manna House and funded by the Coughlin-Saunders Foundation. Exhibit Dates are April 7 – May 23. An opening reception is scheduled for Friday April 24th from 5-8 pm and sponsored by GAEDA. The exhibit reception is free and open to the public.