Lacoste/Keane Gallery announces its upcoming exhibition for the national ceramic conference NCECA: Kindred Spirits: Warren MacKenzie + John Reeve at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts in Wayzata MN, outside of Minneapolis. The exhibition highlights two great proponents of the Mingei aesthetic: lifelong friends, Warren MacKenzie (1924-2018), the American studio pottery legend and John Reeve (1929–2012), itinerant beat potter whose work this exhibition brings to light. These post WWII ceramic leaders apprenticed with Bernard Leach. MacKenzie was the first American (1949-52) and Reeve, the first Canadian (1958-61). They had similar philosophies of making pots, each holding the conviction that “pots should be made easily and quickly; they should not be elaborate things.” The show compares and contrasts their history and legacies with a focus on their shared times making pots together in Minnesota.
Reeve and MacKenzie first met in Minnesota during the summer of 1961. Leach believed his two most promising students would get along well. Indeed, the friendship lasted over fifty years. As Reeve puts it, “one of the last pieces of advice Leach gave me was to visit MacKenzie…I’ve returned whenever I could on my peregrinations between England and North America. Sometimes I stay for a day, sometimes for three months…we talk and laugh a lot, make pots, and often do all three together” (Reeve, Craft Horizons 1976).
In MacKenzie’s words: “John was the best pottery friend I ever had and the only person I was really comfortable working with in the same studio…We didn't have to explain ourselves to one another…He was my best double” (Vaillant, 2012 interview).
After apprenticing with Leach in St. Ives, where he met Lucie Rie, Hans Coper and Shoji Hamada, Warren MacKenzie and his first wife, Alix, returned to Stillwater, MN where MacKenzie built his studio, where he lived for the rest of his life. He became professor of ceramics at the University of Minnesota teaching legions of students and making Minnesota a clay state, retiring in 1990 as Regents Professor.
Following his training at the Leach Pottery, John Reeve taught and made pots in the United States, Canada and England. His talent and charisma inspired potters from the University of Minnesota to the Kansas City Art Institute, and from Vancouver, BC to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Reeve’s quest to develop a translucent porcelain clay body suitable for use by studio potters began with MacKenzie in England at his Longlands Pottery. In the late 1980s Reeve moved to New Mexico where he created the studio-based program at Santa Fe Clay before settling in the rural town of Abiquiu.
This historic exhibition curated by Lucy Lacoste, LaiSun Keane and Nora Vaillant features archival and recent material
demonstrating the artists’ friendship, shared philosophies and inspiration of each other. The exhibition, over a year in the making runs from March 11 -- April 4 at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts, Wayzata MN as a juried show for NCECA, the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. There are two receptions: the NCECA Reception: Thursday March 28, 6:00 – 9:30 pm and the Meet and Greet with Tamsyn MacKenzie + Curators’ Informal Discussion Saturday March 30, 2:00 TO 4:30 PM. All events are free and open to the public