Ceramicist Keiko Fukazawa fashions tranquil miniature tableaux of low-fired clay using tapering rice bowls and chunky drinking cups balanced on small rough stones. Around each cup are fragments of Japanese poetry written in a needle fine Oriental calligraphy that flows into patterns like the raked sand of a Zen garden. Some bowls tilt rakishly on their perches and are glazed to suggest clear water about to spill over the brim.
But in one particularly memorable untitled piece in the "Irowanioedo" series, the tilted cup is filled with cream. Rising like a volcanic island from the center of the glassy white liquid is a small stone mountain surrounded by floating lines of spidery black script taken from a poem. Like magical tides the words suggest intangible currents forever washing against the shore of hard reality.
The tentative nature of the poised cups with the occasional pebble resting on the rim is somewhat undermined by the stones' incisions, but the overt manipulation gives the work a strong sense of permanence.
After Fukazawa's quiet encounters with Oriental balance, Judith Salomon's colorful ceramic vessels are like a rip-roaring tour of the big city. Her tall and squat containers with multiple painted windows and thick, rounded feet recall cartoon skyscrapers on wheels or funky school buses engineered by set designers. Salomon plays down the craft history of ceramics by loosely throwing the chunky footed vases and boxes together from thin slabs of white clay that stand with the carefully balanced rightness of a house of cards. The glazed color is loud and the drawing is as direct as a preschooler's, yet Salomon's skill is apparent in the handling of deeply embossed exterior forms which seamlessly protrude into curving interiors. (Garth Clark Gallery, 170 La Brea Ave., to Sept. 28.)