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John Takehara (aka John Shigeru Takehara)


circa 1982

14 x 15.875 x 15.875 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

John Takehara’s Bottle is a utilitarian object that nonetheless displays the decorative qualities of contemporary ceramic art as well as the simple, refined features of historical Japanese and English pottery. This large, wheel-thrown stoneware vessel has a rotund form, as though inflated by an immense breath of air, with a tiny opening at the top that barely interrupts the overall shape. The piece has been dipped in a copper glaze and fired through a process that produces a variegated surface, with saturated areas of a deep blood-red hue.

It was John Takehara’s philosophy that “home is the most important center of society, the place where the appreciation of art first begins.” Takehara was born in 1929, in Sowan, South Korea, but spent his childhood in his family’s ancestral home of Jikamuro, Japan. After World War Two, he moved to the United States to live with relatives in Hawaii, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education. Later he received his master’s degree in graphic design from the University of California, Los Angeles. Fatefully, while Takehara was teaching two-dimensional design at Montana State University, Bozeman, his colleague, Frances Senska, fostered his interest in clay and encouraged him to apply for a residency at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. That experience had a profound impact on the direction of his artistic endeavors, leading him to pursue ceramics as a medium and build the ceramics program during his tenure at Boise State University, Idaho. Takehara died in 2009, but his legacy remains strong through his contributions to the development of ceramics in the Pacific Northwest.

Ayla Murray

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