Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Joe O'Brien, Ceramic Artist

Joe O'Brien, one of our local ceramic artists, passed away last week at his home on Bainbridge Island.  Joe was a wonderful artist, man and friend to the Gallery and we will miss him so much.  He was always experimenting with his ceramics, creating tea bowls and other pieces that reflected nature's many hues and forms.  Clients particularly appreciated his summer bowls which reflected the vibrancy of blues and browns of southwestern landscapes.   As another human being, Joe was always so positive, and with a smiling twinkle; it was a pleasure seeing him walk through the Gallery door.

Educated at the University of Washington (BA) and Northern Illinois University (MA, MFA), Joe exhibited throughout the Midwest and Northwest and operated a custom ceramic tile business for many years. He collaborated with Jacob Lawrence in the designing and creation of a ceramic mosaic mural for the City of New York and designed a porcelain enamel mural for the Orlando International Airport.  Joe fired in a wood fire kiln on Bainbridge along with Dave Berfield and exhibited at the Gallery for a number of years.  

In his own words:

Clay and the art of creating are processes that I love.  They are present in most of my waking thoughts.  Having been trained in the classic Japanese tradition, I think about and look for form in everyday objects.

Quality is an overriding requirement for me.  Should the foot be wider or higher, does the bowl swell enough, is the lip smooth?  Visual weight and physical weight are important aspects of a pot.  Do the proportions of various parts of the pot relate to each other and do they all join together to make the statement that I want?

In the end I have this constant dance in my mind of form, balance and relationships.  Is the final form exactly the way I pictured it in my head?

Maybe next time it will be closer.

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