Montana is where my heart lies

In that pre-vacation phase…making lists, sending e-mails, setting up pet care, arranging for the mail to be brought in. Every once in a while my eyes glaze over… And I’m thinking, “What can I cook that will be simple tonight?” so I have enough brain power for other things. Library books returned? Check. Oil change? Check. Travel insurance? Hmmm, better check… After becoming a bit fragged out, I settled myself down with my Qi Gong exercises, then thought of Montana. This is a good summer to be going to Montana. There are many special events on because it’s the 60th Anniversary of the Archie Bray Foundation. Excellent timing! I am wondering how much I can fit in… Montana has figured in my history for a long time. Montana is like a homing beacon. My mother’s people are from there and we stayed with my grandparents in Missoula before we moved to Germany, when I was five. We also lived with them when I was in 5th grade, when my father was overseas. After my father retired, when I was a teenager, we visited relatives in Missoula often. Much later, I went to grad school there; there is a famous Journalism School at the University of Montana. Mark’s family has roots in Montana, too, and he lived in Missoula as a child, too. Like many Canadians, his family has recreational property in Montana, which is where we are heading this coming weekend. Before grad school there, my academic and artistic life became interwoven with other Montana connections. My ceramics teacher, Korean-born, Japanese potter John Takehara, had been connected to the Montana scene since the 1960s. The Northwest became his life and he established himself in the U.S. when he taught ceramics at Walla Walla College and Montana State University. Later, he moved to Boise, Idaho, to teach at Boise State University, which is where I met him. I was very influenced by Mr. Takehara’s teaching. It felt like I lived at the studio and I pretty much did, along with a handful of other like-minded ceramics students. He was a wonderful teacher and a firm taskmaster. I am thrilled to learn that Mr. Takehara’s works are part of an exhibition in Great Falls that runs through September 10th. The exhibition is a multi-person show of stellar figures in the U.S. ceramics scene. I hope to go to it even if I have to sneak away by myself and make a special trip. It is time for me to see my beloved teacher’s work again. “The Northwest is important in contemporary ceramics because of the artists at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. John Takehara was a key figure in the Northwest, and he invited a lot of those people to BSU,” says Sandy Harthorn, curator of art at the Boise Art Museum. “Everybody who’s anybody went through there,” adds Moosman, Takehara’s former studio assistant. “Takehara set up workshops and brought in people like Daniel Rhodes and Warren MacKenzie…Takehara was real sparkplug kind of a guy. He was completely dedicated to his work. ”

Centered: Early Work by Peter Voulkos from the Wells Fargo Bank Collection

Centered: Ceramic Selections from The C.M. Russell Museum

Shalene Valenzuela: No Place Like Home

June 21–September 10, 2011

Rudy Autio, Chanson Ching, Caroline Danforth, Ken Edwards, Laurie Halberg Henry Watkins Lyman Jr, John McCuistion, Frances Senska, David Shaner, John Takehara, Shalene Valenzuela and Peter Voulkos

Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art

1400 First Ave North

Great Falls, MT 59401



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3 Responses to Montana is where my heart lies

  1. Pauline

    The two works, ‘Tea’ and ‘Sabi’ are absolutely gorgeous. You are so lucky to have worked with such a master!

  2. Jan

    I’ll show you an exhibition catalog, Pauline. He made enormous, porcelain globes with brilliantly colored glazes, too. He did suffer from bursitis in his shoulder…occupational hazard from throwing…. I miss him very much.

  3. Paula Dee

    Hi. My mother had two small figures by Caroline Donahue. I’m trying to assess their value since we are clearing this home out in preparation to sell it. I know she was well respected but I cannot find any images of her “people pots”…the two figures are a man and a woman, seated, in almost a “sewer tile” brown earthenware. Can you help in any way? Thanks in advance if so! Paula Dee

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