Mixing Light with Clay: Photographs from the Gladding, McBean Pottery

Exhibit Dates: 
Tuesday, Sep. 4 to Saturday, Oct. 6
Artist Reception: 
Friday, Sep. 7 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
2nd Saturday Opening: 
Saturday, Sep. 8 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm

The entry period for this very special exhibit is May 1 through July 29, 2018. The Exhibit will run from Sept. 4 through Oct. 6, 2018.

The Gladding, McBean & Co. factory, in the Placer County town of Lincoln, has operated continuously since 1875. Starting as a clay pipe manufacturer, “the pottery” soon expanded its product line and by the end of the 19th century was producing the architectural terra cotta that continues to ornament buildings in major cities in the U.S. and beyond. Gladding, McBean played a prominent role in the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake, leading Ernest Hopkins of the San Francisco Examiner to declare in 1928:  “From a hole in the ground, here in the lower end of Placer County, the modern city of San Francisco has come.” Many of the processes for producing architectural terra cotta at Gladding, McBean have changed very little over the years, making the factory a kind of living museum.

Photography played an important role in the history of Gladding, McBean. For the architectural terra cotta, pictures were made with a large-format camera and sent to clients for approval and/or changes. The collection of these negatives, numbering more than 10,000, is now safely stored at the California State Library in Sacramento, thanks in large part to the diligent efforts and caring curatorship of Sacramento photographer Mary Swisher. In addition, Swisher herself spent ten years photographing the pottery. Her body of work combines with the early glass-plate images to wonderfully document a century of industrial craftsmanship as practiced at Gladding, McBean.

From 1987 through 2011, the Lincoln Arts and Culture Foundation presented an annual ceramics exhibition within the Gladding, McBean factory.  Called Feats of Clay, this exhibition became a major regional arts event, and also introduced thousands of visitors to the unique environment that was the Gladding, McBean factory. As a docent for Feats of Clay, landscape photographer and Lincoln resident Gene Kennedy began by making a few publicity images of the factory and “the place grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.” In 1996, he began organizing and leading photography workshops within the factory. By the end of the Gladding McBean Photography Workshops workshops in 2011, nearly 300 enthusiastic photographers made it into the pottery, with many coming back time after time after time, and Gladding, McBean pictures had become a significant genre of photography in the Sacramento region.

This juried exhibit, curated by Gene Kennedy, celebrates the extraordinary opportunity that so many photographers had to explore, document, and interpret Gladding, McBean, a working factory as well as a unique icon of California’s industrial heritage. The juror is one of the masters of West Coast photography, Mark Citret, whose extensive résumé includes serving for ten years as an instructor at the Gladding, McBean photography workshops. In addition to the juried works, the exhibit includes highlights from the Gladding, McBean photographs of Kennedy and Citret.

See the Call for Entries for this exhibit.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Kenneth Meyers
Meyers Investment Group of Baird

Platinum Sponsor


Viewpoint Photographic Art Center is the proud recipient of a SMAC Cultural Arts Award grant.

Individual Sponsorships
(Luminance Level & Above)

Diane Tempest

J.B. Jones

Shop on Amazon? Use this link to support us while shopping!


Connect with us on Facebook!