The value of criticism

by Susannah Israel

“CAA artists form critique group.”

Tonight the las cadre critique group met at Red Brick Studio (1)  in San Francisco’s Mission District, to review new work by Tom Michelson (2).  In attendance were CAA artists Jennifer Brazelton (3), Susannah Israel (4), Juan Santiago (5) and Tiffany Schmierer (6).  Not attending were Michelle Gregor (7) and Tomoko Nakazato (8).

The las cadre critique group was formed in 2006 and has continued to meet monthly for the past six years.  This ongoing discussion forum provides an invaluable tool for artistic development, and the continuity of the conversation makes  for both depth and extensive knowledge of each other’s process and practice. The group has inspired many others to form, such as the Clay Babes of Grass Valley (9), by clearly demonstrating the importance of commitment to support, rigorous inquiry and dynamic exchange among working artists.

Although the heart of the group is work review, past exhibitions include “21st-Century Groove” (10) at the Pacific Grove Art Center, “Pequenitos” at Ruby’s Clay Studio Gallery, San Francisco, and showing with Stephen de Staebler at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond.

Criticism  (11) is traditionally defined as: “The act of criticizing, especially adversely; a critical comment or judgment” and  ”The practice of analyzing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating artistic works.”

It is significant that the second definition contains no pejorative terms.  We have long suffered under the idea that all valid criticism must find fault.  Yet, to review work is to “see again,”  a process of learning to perceive without preconceptions and rigid expectations.  It is a great pleasure to engage in lively discussion that seeks to analyze, interpret and respond to the art work.  The gift to both audience and artist is the fresh understanding which results from such exchange. Michelson’s critique this evening was just such an event.

by Susannah Israel


1. Red Brick Studio

2. Tom Michelson

3.  Jennifer Brazelton

4. Susannah Israel

5. Juan Santiago

6. Tiffany Schmierer

7. Michelle Gregor

8. Tomoko Nakazato

9.  The Clay Babes

10. curated by Sterling Israel.

11.  Houghton Mifflin Company American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition


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