Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Island Gallery: Wonderful wood-fired pots
Last week Dee and I took the ferry from Seattle to nearby Bainbridge Island, in part to eat breakfast at the Big Star Diner (if you're ever on Bainbridge, you should go ... ) but also to drop in on the people at The Island Gallery there (theislandgallery.net). These people make a living selling fine crafts to Bainbridge islanders and visitors, but I go mostly to see good wood-fired pots.
It always seems to me an odd place to find crusty, ash-dripping anagama pots so prominently displayed. (Any place, I suppose, would seem odd that way; anagama pots are not easy to sell to Americans ... ) But there they are. And they are quite wonderful.
Talking with the people there, it's clear that they are suffering like the rest of us in this strangling economy. The gallery recently gave up an adjacent room and now is in a somewhat smaller space. But the smaller space concentrates the work - jewelry, furniture and clothing as well as pots - and the gallery remains a pleasant place to find excellent work. My only complaint might be that they ought to have more pottery by Eastern and Midwestern wood-firers. There are plenty of them. But that might change as the gallery's reputation spreads. They always seem open to hearing about other potters. Chris Gustin, Dan Finnegan, Willi Singleton, Steve Murphy ... there are a bunch of wood potters who would fit perfectly into their collection, and even add a new dimension in style.
I will attach a few photos I made at the gallery, including a stunning pot made by Japanese potter Nobuyuki Kusai, the round jar that appears at the top of this post. I'm told he delivered the Shigaraki clay-coated pot personally to the gallery.