Considered one of the most innovative artists working in the 20th-century enameling field, Fred Uhl Ball (1945 - 1985) was the son of the prominent ceramist F. Carlton Ball (1911 - 1992) and the designer, graphic artist, enamelist, and educator Kathryn Uhl Ball (1910 – 2000). After studying traditional enameling techniques with his mother, the precocious young artist exhibited his work and gave enameling demonstrations at the California State Fair in Sacramento in 1956 when he was only eleven. Two years later in 1958, in response to his mother’s urging to make something he’d never seen before, Ball began his lifelong commitment to experimentation.
Viewed as highly unorthodox at the time, his experimental techniques which include torch firing, metal collage, conscious exploration of fire scale, and use of liquid enamel materials, are admired today by many of the foremost leaders in the field. He is one of the artists credited with transforming enameling from its traditional association with small size and preciousness, to an epic scale consistent with Postwar painting and sculpture. His best known work The Way Home
is a four-part, 6 x 62 foot mural installation on the side of a parking garage in Sacramento. It is comprised of over 1,488 individual enamel tiles, each twelve by twelve inches. The Way Home
, produced between 1977 and 1980, is one of the largest murals ever created in enamel on copper.
Organized in conjunction with the biennial meeting of the Enamelist Society which takes place in Oakland August 7 – 9, 2009, Fred Ball Enamels
presents a focused selection of the artist’s most experimental works produced over a period of fifteen years between 1970 and 1985.
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