Last Saturday, I went with friends and family to visit BAMPFA, UC Berkeley's new Art Museum (http://bampfa.org/). They have a wonderful inaugural exhibit, entitled "The Architecture of Life." This is not a show featuring art objects that are necessarily well known, or even that are normally considered art at all. Instead, it is a very thoughtful theme-based study of the way that life - from the molecular level to the cosmic - is represented in visual imagery. Unifying this theme is the idea of architecture, or inherent structure, that is present in everything from buildings to baskets. This wide-ranging show included pieces from Native American Pomo baskets to fiber and shell navigational charts from the Marshall Islands to Ruth Asawa's hanging crocheted wire sculptures (http://www.ruthasawa.com/crochetwire.html). What I found of particular interest were the clay vessels made by George Ohr, the ceramicist. Ohr, according to Wikipedia, "was an American ceramic artist and the self-proclaimed "Mad Potter of Biloxi" in the state of Mississippi. In recognition of his innovative experimentation with modern clay forms from 1880–1910, some consider him a precursor to the American Abstract-Expressionism movement" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_E._Ohr). The only parallels that I have encountered that even resemble his work are Japanese, and occasionally Korean, ceramics. This is hardly what I would expect from a 19th Century craftsman living in the American South. Their level of delicacy, and the originality of form and execution, is stunning, and a personal inspiration. They, alone, are worth a visit to this thoroughly engaging inaugural exhibit. This is a show that should not be missed. It closes on May 29th.
George Ohr "Bisque Pitcher" BAMPFA, 2016
I am a San Francisco artist who enjoys making art and visiting art exhibits.