It has been nearly three years since the Bellevue Arts Museum decided to focus on the display of craft-based art. The current show of Arizona potter Kurt Weiser highlights the strengths of BAM’s specialized approach, showcasing the work of a major artist whose work would not be an easy fit at other area museums. Here to discuss this impressive exhibit is KUOW art critic, Gary Faigin.
I have no doubt that the early, pre-doodle Weiser work in the exhibit represents a potter at the top of his craft. The various plates, teapots, and vessels on display have striking, nature-derived patterns and intriguing shapes (especially a two headed Toucan jar from 1981), but it’s the sort of thing I’ve spent years not noticing. For me, the business of high-fire versus low-fire, hand-thrown versus slip cast, functional versus decorative is someone else’s conversation. I’m personally most drawn to work where the craft is in service of an idea, not the main impulse behind a piece. Pottery folks can get excited about the quality of a glaze, its depth, purity, and color; I want the glaze to depict something.