Monday, September 22, 2008

Frank Ozereko

Face Bowls, Frank Ozereko, 2008

Face Bowl detail, Frank Ozereko, 2008

Last Spring, Nancy and I were preparing for the Craft Boston show. Rather than show up and feel our way around blind, we figured we could call a few of the potters who regularly do the show. First on our list was Francine Ozereko. Mind you, I hadn't talked to Francine in well over 10 years. It was as though it were yesterday. We talked for nearly an hour. When I finally hung up, I felt like the show would be cake, everything would work out just fine.

On the final day of Craft Boston we had a visit from Frank who was there to help Fran tear down her booth. In our all too brief chat, the subject of teaching was brought up again. It was like being back in the studio with him for Independent Study again. His tone changed. He started thinking about how to toss that bone out there so I would look at all the different paths before me. Nancy calls this flexible intelligence. Thinking around anything. I pride myself on being a flexible thinker... Frank is outta this world.

Trying to talk about Frank Ozereko has always been somewhat difficult for me.

He isn't a flash-in-the-pan, potter-of-the-month coverboy, nor is his work dull or obscure. He actively shows his work and consistently makes interesting clay work.

So why is it difficult for me to discuss Frank's impact?

Probably because of Frank's raw intelligence. That would be my first guess. He has a phenominal scope of interest and the depth of his reading, research and study is just amazing. Having Frank as my undergrad prof in clay really changed how I looked at the field of art.

Everytime we would meet for our Independent Study class at UMASS, I would have some pot I would want to show off or some new glaze. He would say just the right thing to let me know I was on the right track, then he would toss a bone my way... something to lead me down a slightly different path. Always opening up my options. I dont think I realized until probably 15 years after leaving UMASS how instrumental this time was for me. I am STILL going back and revisiting some of those crits.

When he asked if we could trade pots I was more than surprised. Honored, but something more. He chose a beautiful oval vase. One of these forms that I love making. I would like to think it shows. About a week later, these two awesome face bowls showed up in the afternoon mail delivery. They spoke volumes. In someways they embody everything I love about clay and yet never make in my own work. They have gesture, humor, seriousness, color, texture. Everyone I know who has seen these in our collection, IMMEDIATELY wants to hold them and turn them around. Potters and non-potters alike are curious about who made them, what other work do they make...

I guess the best thing I can say is Thank You Frank. You're awesome. These bowls are the coolest ! Congrats on getting into Akar Gallery!! Now if only we could get a website together for a nice retrospective. That would be fun.

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