Peter Callas, Maquette: Pirate Ship, 1996. Wood-Fired Stoneware, 12 x 17 x 8 inches. Collection of Julianne & David Armstrong.
Peter Callas, Hot Pocket: 26, 2006. Wood-Fired Stoneware, 14 x 14 x 7 inches. Collection of Doug Freed.
Exhibition On View:February 12–July 24, 2022
Reception:February 12, 2022, 3-5pm

An Enduring Legacy presents a comprehensive overview of the illustrious career of ceramic sculptor Peter Callas. The exhibition and accompanying catalog chronicle Callas’ dramatic calligraphic gesture in wood-fired clay. The exhibition features 50 expressive works ranging from large-scale sculptures to intimate tea bowls, selected works on paper, and a film on the artist.

Peter Callas (b.1951) began researching the art of wood-fired ceramics in 1974 during a trip to Japan’s ancient kiln sites. While exploring the historic village of Shigaraki, Callas had the opportunity to participate in the building of a traditional Anagama wood kiln. The artist learned about early Japanese cultural concepts and developed a reverence for their ancient wood-firing techniques with an emphasis on natural ash glazing and container forms as found in the
Iga-style produced during the Momoyama period. Wood-firing offered a vocabulary and platform that resonated deeply with Callas’ perception of beauty.

Energized by his experiences in Japan, Callas returned home and built the first Anagama kiln in North America in 1976. Callas persuaded Peter Voulkos in 1979 to try this firing method, which led to a twenty-three-year collaboration of Callas firing Voulkos’ work in his Anagama kiln. According to the New York Times art critic Roberta Smith, “… The resulting works – (Voulkos) large stack pieces and plaque-like plates that he treated as paintings – were his roughest and most exuberant and, in the eyes of many, his best.”

Maintaining a studio in Belvidere, New Jersey for over thirty years, Callas fires his work in the Anagama kiln that he built in 1987. He has become a recognized expert, acknowledged for his studied interpretation and mastery of the Anagama kiln and wood-firing process, and has gained invaluable insights into the nuances of this arcane art form through a lifetime of perseverance and diligence. His career has focused on perfecting sculpture and abstracted container shapes that function as visual records of the transformative forces of fire. A skilled strategist, Callas creates captivating imagery through intuitive control and mastery of his medium.

Callas has exhibited internationally for decades, and his work is included in museum collections throughout the United States, Asia, Europe, Australia, and South America. In 2018 and 2021, Callas was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant. A comprehensive catalogue and museum exhibition will explore the breadth of his career, featuring 50 ceramic works and complemented by selected works on paper.
Exhibition curated by Jo Lauria. Artist website.

This exhibition is funded in part by The Windgate Foundation and The LA County Department of Arts & Culture.

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