Boise Art Museum Announces John S. Takehara Memorial

BOISE, ID.- The life and contributions of John S. Takehara, an internationally recognized ceramic artist and Professor Emeritus of Art, Boise State University, will be celebrated Sunday, May 17, in the New Grand Ballroom of the University’s Student Union Building at 2:00 p.m. Professor Takehara died of natural causes on April 1, 2009.

John Takehara lived and breathed clay, and he dedicated his life to the world of ceramic art. He not only made pots and taught about making pots, but he also promoted ceramic art as a sublime medium. He professed the material connected the maker with heaven and earth. He found an essence that “…resembles the creation of man by our Creator.”

This Sunday, friends, colleagues, patrons, and former students are invited to help remember John Takehara. Boise Art Museum, Boise State, and the Cloverdale Seventh Day Adventist Church will join in sharing a collage of stories to create a portrait of this quiet man’s extraordinary life. A community wants to remember a man like John Takehara, because of what we have become as a result of his efforts.

While Takehara is known for his magnificent clay vessels, he created opportunity as well. As an educator, Takehara’s regular and extensive travels were elemental for his teaching as well as his own learning. He did not stand alone and profess; rather, he amassed the voices and experiences of people in the field who practiced excellence – Bernard Leach, Lucy Rie, Shoji Hamada – and brought the aesthetics they represented to his classroom. He collected art from every venture for the purpose of exposing students to creative diversity and inspiring them with the distinctions of fine craft.

Always in the pursuit of excellence, Takehara invited diverse artistic thinkers to expand and round out his own teaching. He expanded BSU students’ learning opportunities through the visiting artist series he initiated early in his tenure at Boise State. He hosted such ceramic icons as Paul Soldner, Peter Lane, David Shaner, and Frank Boyden, to name a few. He recognized the power of women in the field of clay art, too, and the list of visiting artists also includes Ruth Duckworth, Dora Delarious, and Ulla Viotti, among others.

The solution to the ever-present challenge of funding in the arts was simple to Takehara, who proposed to his students that if they created quality work and produced a market venue, this would generate the resources for the visiting artist workshops. Takehara initiated BSU’s annual Ceramic Sale & Student Show. The sale continues today and still provides the prospect for students to sell their fledgling art while contributing to the fund that enhances their own development.

Throughout his career, Takehara collected ceramics through purchases and trades of his works of art, building a collection of museum quality. Takehara maintained friendships with ceramists worldwide and often traveled to foreign countries to visit studios where he acquired many of the works in his collection. In 1994, Takehara donated his collection of fine contemporary ceramics by internationally recognized artists to the Boise Art Museum (BAM). His donation of 165 ceramics has generated numerous purchases and donations to support and further BAM’s ceramics collection.

A relentless perfectionist, Mr. Takehara’s inspiring, large-scale porcelain works helped to define clay as ceramic art in the Pacific Northwest during the latter half of the twentieth century and are widely cherished by devoted collectors. His pieces have an iconic power, calling the viewer to a place of contemplation; a place to recall the sublime.

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