Mission Clay Products began their art and industry program “officially” in 1979 at our Corona, California factory. Pittsburgh Pa. sculptor Jerry Caplan approached the company and asked if he could promote a “Clay Pipe Workshop” offering selected artists the opportunity to work with clay pipe extrusions. 15 ceramic artists spent a week in the summer of 79’ pounding, carving and building with the pipe extrusions, culminating with Mission firing all the work (over a 5 month period) and celebrating on a chosen weekend when all work was picked up at the factory. This event would be the beginning of a wonderful journey that continues to this day.
“Clay Pipe Workshops” moved their venue to Mission’s Fremont facility in Niles California in 1980 with artists from around the country reflecting their desires and skills to work on extruded forms, at times taller and heavier than the artist themselves. In 1985 the program evolved to introduce our “Clay Pipe Symposiums”, a three day weekend event that included guest artists, panel discussions, camping, food and live music in our 1907 wooden facility. Guest ceramists invited included Don Reitz, Tony Hepburn, Al Johnson, Judy Moonelis, Stephen DeStaebler, John Toki, Debra Horrell, Christine Federighi, Ron Nagle, Jerry Caplan, John and Susanne Stephenson and John Roloff, just to name a few. In 1992 Mission Clay invited Jun Kaneko to work on what is now known as the “Fremont Project”. Jun worked the better part of 2 ½ years finishing and firing six - 11’ foot dangos, eighteen – 8’ foot dangos and six – 6’ foot dangos. With the closing of the Fremont factory in 1994 the Mission Art and Industry program lay in dormancy until 2004 when Susannah Israel visited our Pittsburg Kansas facility to work and challenge the 10’ ceramic pipe extrusions available to her, with wonderful success. In 2005 Jun reappeared and completed his “Pittsburg Project” culminating with four – 13’ dangos and four -10’ foot ceramic “heads” that would end up on Park Avenue in New York. In 2007, with the support and encouragement of John Toki and Leslie's Ceramics, Missions Art and Industry morphed again to our Phoenix Arizona facility. There, Pat Siler embarked on a tremendous project using 21” x 7’ x 1200lbs ea. pipe extrusions. Other outstanding artists currently utilizing the Phoenix plant include Alan Chin, James Franco, Tom Franco, Joe Hawley, Cybele Rowe, John Toki, Agnese Udinotti, and many others.