Archive for April, 2014

What’s happening at the ASU Art Museum this week: April 14 – 20, 2014

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the ASU Art Museum Brickyard Grand Opening reception last Friday! The Ceramics Research Center is thrilled to be in its new home, and we’re thankful for all of your support through this exciting and transitional time.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014:

Noon – 1 p.m. in the Kresge Gallery at the ASU Art Museum — Marilyn Zeitlin, a well-known contemporary art curator and Latin American art specialist, returns to the ASU Art Museum to give a gallery talk on Rhythm and History. For more info: https://asuevents.asu.edu/gallery-talk-stories-we-tell-ourselves-survive-marilyn-zeitlin

Friday, April 18, 2014:

Noon – 1 p.m. at the ASU Art Museum — curator Julio Cesar Morales discusses artist Eduardo Sarabia’s influences and the making of Moctezuma’s Revenge. For more info: https://asuevents.asu.edu/brown-bag-lunch-series-julio-cesar-morales-moctezumas-revenge

As always, museum admission (at any location) is always free! For questions on hours, directions or programming, call 480.965.2787 or visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu.

Image credits, clockwise from left:

Los Carpinteros, Vecinos (Neighbors), 2005. Fiberglass, polyester resin, stainless steel, silicon, PVC, water pump, water filter, lighting and water. 42 1/8 x 60 1/4 x 60 1/4 in. Gift of Diane and Bruce Halle from the Thomarie Foundation. From Rhythm and History (2014).

Eduardo Sarabia, Happy, 2011. Oil on canvas. 55.9 x 78.34 inches. Courtesy the I-20/Judelson Collection, New York. From Moctezuma’s Revenge (2014).

Image courtesy of Marilyn Zeitlin.

Sandra Ramos, from the series Migrations II [Swimming under the Stars], 1994. Oil on suitcase. Overall: 19 1/2 x 25 x 17 in. Gift of the ASU Art Museum Advisory Board 100% Cuban Campaign. From Rhythm and History (2014).

April 14, 2014 at 5:27 pm 1 comment

What’s happening at the ASU Art Museum this week: April 7 – 13, 2014

Have you seen Moctezuma’s Revenge yet? If not, hurry — this amazing solo exhibition by artist Eduardo Sarabia closes in just three weeks. See the show that the Phoenix New Times calls “a punch you don’t see coming, one that lingers for a very long time,” before it closes on April 26.

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And, get your ceramics fix with two great events this week:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014:

6:30 p.m., in the Top Gallery at the ASU Art Museum — Curator of ceramics Peter Held leads a gallery tour of the wild and colorful world of MUCK. For more info: https://asuevents.asu.edu/gallery-tour-curator-peter-held-muck

Friday, April 11, 2014:

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., (members and alumni preview from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.) at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard  — We’re celebrating the grand opening of our third location in the Phoenix –metro area, the ASU Art Museum Brickyard located at Mill Avenue and 7th Street in downtown Tempe. The Brickyard is the new home for the Ceramics Research Center, and we hope you’ll join us for this occasion! For more info: https://asuevents.asu.edu/asu-art-museum-brickyard-grand-opening

As always, museum admission (at any location) is always free! For questions on hours, directions or programming, call 480.965.2787 or visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu.

Image credits, clockwise from left: 

Muck: Accumulations, Accretions and Aggregations (2014). Image by Craig Smith.
Eduardo Sarabia. CODEX 2: Popocatepetl, 2013. Acrylic, india ink on paper, 22 in. x 30 in. Courtesy of the artist and Charpenel Collection. From Moctezuma’s Revenge (2014).
Marilyn Levine (1935-2006), Satchel, 1964. Ceramic, stained.
Rendering of potential signage at new ASU Art Museum Brickyard location on 7th Street and Mill Avenue in Tempe. Image courtesy of the ASU Art Museum.

April 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

The Fearless Nature of Being: The Legacy of Don Reitz

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Peter Held, curator of ceramics at the Arizona State University Art Museum Ceramics Research Center. 

The ASU Art Museum and Ceramics Research Center were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend Don Reitz, an iconic ceramic artist and educator, on March 19.  He was 84 years old.  As a memorial tribute, the museum will unveil a selection of his work in the permanent collection at its new Brickyard facility for the location’s grand opening on April 11.

Reitz was a modern-day folk legend and larger than life.  As a master ceramicist, he produced new and exciting work with his innovative and adaptable practice, inspiring several generations of ceramic practitioners.  Despite advanced age, Reitz continued to push his artistic vision, inspiring a new generation of ceramic practitioners.

"Life is not a dress rehearsal; you only have one shot at it." — Don Reitz, August 20, 2011 Photo by Daniel Swadener.

“Life is not a dress rehearsal; you only have one shot at it.” — Don Reitz, August 20, 2011
Photo by Daniel Swadener.

Born at the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929, Reitz was affected by the harsh economic realities during his childhood.  Growing up during this difficult time in history, Reitz drew upon this wellspring of strength to make the most of any circumstance. Dyslexia and the disillusionment of academia, marital strife, and a near fatal accident made for, at times, a tumultuous life, but Reitz remained an eternal optimist, plowing through the fields of life with vim and vigor, undeterred by roadblocks.  “I’m a warrior, not a foot soldier,” he said in a recent interview.

Trained at Alfred University, the preeminent institution for advanced ceramic training, Reitz’s early work is marked by the design imperatives of the day: clean, simple pots with a solid grounding in technical knowledge and craftsmanship.  Following the lead of his teachers Robert Turner and Val Cushing, and fellow Alfred alumni Karen Karnes, Ken Ferguson and David Shaner, Reitz’s formative utilitarian pieces are marked by simplicity, symmetry and prevailing European modernist influences. While all four artists shared similar training, each found their own voices early in their distinguished careers.

Photo by Daniel Swadener.

Photo by Daniel Swadener.

At Alfred, Reitz began experimenting with salt-glaze, a technique largely neglected by the post World War II ceramic studio movement.  Readily embracing this firing technique, Reitz quickly realized that it allowed the clay to keep its natural character, and its malleability did not obscure the creator’s hand.  In a decade’s time, he was dubbed “Mr. Salt” by his peers.  Baroque pots with ornamental embellishments from this era of Reitz’s career are iconic within the field.

In Reitz’s career, he experienced his fair share of life’s unexpected twists and turns.  In 1982, he was hospitalized for several months due to multiple injuries suffered from an auto accident.  This experience was not only physically challenging, but also kept the artist from creating in his studio. Mentally and spiritually debilitated, the knowledge of his five-year-old niece Sara’s bout with cancer added to his misfortunes. Drawing as a means of rehabilitation, Sara and Reitz bolstered each other’s spirits. Inspired by the little girl’s freedom of form, line, and color, Reitz took to paint and paper in hand as a cathartic healing process, eventually returning to the studio to unleash a torrent of new work.  His “Sara Series,” is the result, a collection of covered jars and plates comprised of chalky pastels and vivid hues of red, yellow and blues, gouged with autobiographical drawings and noticeably divorced from his previous body of work.

In the mid-1980s, Reitz devoted more time to the wood firing process, due in part to his long association and friendship with Don Bendel, ceramics teacher at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.  Bendel invited the Japanese master kiln builder Yukio Yamamoto to build a Noborigama and Anagama kiln that continues to be part of the core program at the university. In successive years, Reitz worked through a number of visual forms through ceramics: Shields, Tea Stacks, Bag Forms, Punch-outs, Kachinas and Table Tops.

After his life-threatening heart surgery in 2007, the realities of his diminished physical stamina required new modes of working.  Reitz relied on studio assistants to make cylindrical shapes, which he then alters.  It provided a sense of freedom Reitz had never experienced until this moment in his long career. Reitz also wood fired in kilns around the country, and collaborated with a multitude of other artists.  Artist Chris Gustin writes of his friend that working together has been a gift that keeps giving: “We’ve spent countless hours at the wood kiln, firing, talking, eating, laughing and reminiscing. What drives it all is the work, the pots that we’re firing and the ones that have yet to be made. It’s a wonderful thing to be reminded of how lucky we are to work in clay.  Don’s generosity and spirit are contagious, and his energy is an incredible thing to be a part of,” he says.

Photo by Peter Held.

Photo by Peter Held.

It’s hard to imagine a more noteworthy artist who has been a mainstay in ceramics for the last six decades, retaining the defining attributes of a formidable artist: exceptional talent and skill, a highly disciplined work ethic, and unbridled enthusiasm with a world composed of subtle nuances and catastrophic events.  The trajectory of Reitz’s artistic career is inexplicitly woven into his personal life’s tidal movements, both tragic and joyous.  His recent work was a testament to the fearless nature of being Don Reitz, and this through constant reinvention and originality; he extended the definition and potential of the ceramic arts.  He will be sorely missed by legions of artists from around the United States and abroad.

Reitz’s obituary appeared in the New York Times on March 29:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/arts/design/don-reitz-who-made-dirt-and-salt-into-art-dies-at-84.html

 

 

April 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm Leave a comment


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