Monday, July 27, 2009

r.i.p. Otto Heino

A few years back, while visiting SoCal for a wedding, I decided to make a day trip out to Ojai in the hope I could visit Otto Heino at his studio. He could not have been more welcoming, or more inspiring - and what a character! He spoke proudly of his work and his success as he showed me the throwing area, his kilns, and some pots, and then we made a little detour into the garage, where lurked the tarp-covered shapes of (at least) six hulking vehicles. I remember a little wink in his eye when he lifted up the cover to show the beauteous Rolls; " all of 'em Rolls and Bentleys", he chirped; " I like a drive in the hills on Sundays". Uh-huh. Then he said something cute about there being plenty of doctors that could afford those rides, but precious few potters. There are lots of videos online worth checking out of Otto speaking about his life or demonstrating his working methods. He was one of the great craftsmen in clay of our time, and it is undeniable that he enjoyed his time here, and spent it well.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Crista Assad @ Greenwich House Pottery

The gallery space at Greenwich House Pottery features a group show of those artists who have come to teach in their Summer Masters Series of classes. Had I been able, I would have loved to enroll in Crista Assad's weekend workshop, and it is great that GHP provides a chance to see the actual works of the potters they bring for the summer. I do not consider myself a big afficionado of the teapot form, generally, but hers have a massiveness, and lots of great detail, and are really lively, although I suspect rather heavy when filled with water, owing to their size. The glazes are really fine and nuanced; the shapes and details are in good balance. I especially liked the combination of unglazed iron-red clay with the sulphur-y yellow glaze. The tall vase uses a glassy glaze on the upper part, and a very matte, thinly applied white glaze for the lower. The ridginess of it is quite nice : again, a really obsessive attention to the details. This creamer in poppy colors didn't quite succeed for me, but it is hard not to like the shapeliness of that handle.