PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lucy Lacoste
(978) 369-0278, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.lacostegallery.com
MACKENZIE + BRISCOE
Artists: Warren MacKenzie and Bob Briscoe
July 16 – August 6, 2016
Opening Reception with Artist: Saturday, July 16, 3:00 – 5:00 PM
Artist Talk: Sunday July 17, 2:00 PM
25 Main Street • Concord, MA 01742
978.369.0278 • www.lacostegallery.com
Lacoste Gallery is pleased to announce MacKenzie + Briscoe, July 16 – August 6, 2016, an exhibition featuring two highly celebrated studio potters, the 92 years old venerated artist Warren MacKenzie and
the minimalist Bob Briscoe, a generation younger and also of Minnesota.
Rarely do two different generations of studio potters converge in style and substance. We are fortunate to present these two talents at our gallery. Firmly rooted in function yet not decorative, both are minimalists using painterly techniques on pots.
Warren MacKenzie has been making pottery for over 70 years. MacKenzie is a ceramic icon, probably the foremost functional potter in the US and most likely the world. He went to the Chicago Art Institute to study painting, ended up in pottery after WWII when there were no spots left in the painting department. Warren then went to England for two years to apprentice under Bernard Leach and was also influenced by the great Japanese potter, Shoji Hamada. He has shown at Lacoste at least 10 times mostly in solo exhibitions. He taught at the University of Minnesota for over 50 years and was awarded an honorary Doctorate in 2015 for his lifelong dedication to art and education.
At 92, Warren MacKenzie leads a life admired by many--the ability to wake up every day and spend hours working at one’s passion. Classic MacKenzie forms are renewed and tweaked; new glaze combinations are explored. This year he had his kiln rebuilt. New work for this exhibition comes from this kiln. The forms are firmly rooted in function--yet the surface of the pot is often used as a canvas. He uses techniques of stamping with cardboard to make narrow lines; pouring glaze for compositional effect and using his fingers to wipe the glaze itself when wet.
The tall bottle is the hardest vessel for him to make, as it is two pieces thrown, joined and then whittled to reveal the fine bone structure of the form as in Tall Yellow Bottle shown here. In a piece like the Shino Platter, the finger wipes running through it are made with his fingers while the glaze is wet. One feels like he has the artist fingerprints. Shino Teabowl with Iron Brush shows his strong Japanese aesthetic and creatively uses applied wood ash to create a wood-fired effect. Mr. MacKenzie is always experimenting even at 92 years. In his latest body of work he has added blue to the venerable iron bearing Japanese glaze temmoku which creating an unusual blue-black. In a series of shino cups with thumbprints, one is painted with iron slip and added wood-ash to create a wood-firing effect; one has a silhouetted circle using wax resist and a third is heavy with applied ash and carbon trap.
Bob Briscoe is a studio potter of 40 years. He is a seasoned potter on the St. Croix Valley Tour, and is championed by MacKenzie who often gifts his works to Museum as a gesture of respect. Like MacKenzie, he creates functional pottery that can be widely available to everyone.
Briscoe’s approach to making pottery is straight forward--strong and functional. His deep understanding of the clay body and glazes allow him to make pottery that are deceptively simple in form and surface. Underlying this is a painter’s eye using layers of slips and glazes as well as texture to develop surfaces that draw the viewer’s interest. Recently he has been working with a black matte slip that imparts a modern quality. He layers the black over a white slip, which creates a crackle effect in the firing. See Black Vase with Crackling, 2016. He then uses wax resist to create an ‘enso’, a free hand-drawn minimalist circle in one or two brushstrokes. Briscoe also experiments with different layers of glazes, ash and textural techniques to achieve a painterly surface not unlike an Abstract Expressionist painting. See Faceted Bowl, 2016.
Briscoe on MacKenzie: Living in Minnesota, I feel I am extremely lucky to be living in the same spirit as Warren. The philosophy, the authenticity and the work and his life are a great inspiration. He lives clearly and directly and I would hope to do the same. Most importantly, I can call him a friend. I have always believed in pots the way he did. As an artist, Warren has never stopped searching; he looks for a new subtlety, a new way the fingers slide across the clay. Warren is one of the greats in the art world. He and his work will be recognized as a great voice of this era.
MacKenzie on Briscoe: Bob is an extremely strong potter. Generally his forms are so simple, yet there is a great variety of shapes within his body of work. His surfaces are incredibly good. There is depth in the brushstrokes as well as subtle tracks of process between the layers where something fades in and out.
Lucy Lacoste: It is a great honor to show these two simpatico artists whose work is functional rather than decorative. Warren seeks to reduce everything to its simplest which is brilliant. In Bob there is a glimpse of the invisible in his quiet pots which speak with loud voices.