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James Lovera



Stoneware and aluminum
9 x 10 x 10 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

James Lovera is known for exquisite forms with equally exquisite glazing. He established a place in midcentury and contemporary ceramics with his thin, flared bowls and highly textured volcanic-crater glazes that mimic plant life, lichen, and moss. Lovera preferred to work with a porcelaneous stoneware clay mixture and used a high-fire bisque technique to strengthen his pieces for the glaze firings. A black or brown slip was then applied to form a foundation for the glaze. Prior to the actual glazing, the pots were heated in an oven; the glazes were then sprayed on in thin repeated layers. Lava glazes are produced by off-gassing during the firing.

Lovera grew up in Hayward, California, where he took a number of high school art courses, then continued his studies at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. He participated in the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, where he watched throwing demonstrations by Gertrud and Otto Natzler, Carlton Ball, and Marguerite Wildenhain. After his graduation in 1942, Lovera began creating pottery in his home studio while he studied with Wildenhain and Antonio Prieto (see Wildenhain’s 1950s Jar and Prieto’s Pitcher, Bowl, and Bottle). He was offered a faculty position at San Jose State in 1948, took a sabbatical year in Japan in 1976, and retired as professor emeritus after thirty-eight years of teaching color, design, and ceramics. Lovera’s textures and hues exemplify the midcentury modern aesthetic for their clarity of form and experimental glazing.

Billie Sessions, PhD.

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