When you stop by Peter Shire's studio he and his wife Donna will be there, maybe they’ll offer you figs, possibly watermelon. Then, over espresso, you’ll with them rap about how the neighborhood has changed, or maybe things will get deeper as you wind your way through the bright, warehouse sized space, listening to a casual contemplation on the state of ceramics and sculpture and what the "kids" are doing these days...and how it's likely been done before. Peter has a lot to say about a lot of things and the friendly band of brightly painted pipes, sculpted metal forms and bicycles which inhabit the studio, put you in the mood to stay a while and to listen up.
Born and raised in Echo Park, Los Angeles, Peter Shire was the only American member of the short lived but iconic, Milan-based, Memphis group (you know the stuff!). The work that came out of this movement was distinct, and basically the go to visual of any millennial's idea about the "80's." Despite the impact, the movement was pretty quickly marginalized and many designers moved on aesthetically. In recent years there has been a revitalized interest in the wild and contrasting colors, abstract shapes and dizzying graphics that in part defined the Memphis style. Peter has continued to make and show work in the vein of the Memphis style and his studio is a treasure trove for interested parties new and old.
Echo Park Pottery is a functional piece of the Peter Shire pie and it's a tasty access point into his world. Here is how he describes it's inception:
“Echo Park Pottery, is a simulacrum of an art pottery, started sometime after October 2nd 1972. When it came into being, a some sort of organic mystery which melded in some time with the sculptural work of tea pots. There's a good chance it was when there were 10 or 20 mugs that had been done in a slab construction hand rolled style that I learned from Adrian Saxe. I didn't know what to do with glaze and I had a bunch of pots of liquid color and I thought it would be very funny to spatter them like Sam Francis paintings. The high and the low."
Chouinard Art School for many decades had a pottery sale which was part of our ceramic curriculum. That experience of an event, of a chance for people to have beautiful hand made ceramics and to celebrate the human spirit infused into objects, continues to drive this simulacrum in a time when you can buy Glad containers that are disposable, and pasta dishes from Ikea, which perhaps makes Echo Park Pottery, post-pottery."
(Quoted from the EXP Website)
Once a year (around the winter holidays) the Peter Shire Studio opens up to the public for a pottery sale - an event worth braving! In the meantime you can find his splatter painted and dipped glaze joys at Gravel & Gold!
Please enjoy these photos from our most recent visit to the Peter Shire studio.