Cultured Magazine

Fall 2015

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STUDIO 134 CULTURED Clockwise from left: Peter Shire; Memphis- hued flat files; an installation view of the artist's recent exhibition at Derek Eller Gallery; studio tools; the artist's Ford pickup Peter Shire Los Angeles, CA: 90026 BY BRENT LEWIS The best time to visit Peter Shire's studio is in the late afternoon as the California sun begins to wind down behind the hills of Echo Park and the rich late-day light begins to warm the vibrant and pervasive colors. Vibrancy comes to mind, both from viewing the complex layers of the many old and new works the studio holds, but also from discussion with the brilliant and insightful artist. For many, the entry point to Shire's work is his ceramics; for others it was his involvement with the Memphis Group. Shire discussed these and gave greater insight into his practice. What does Post-Modern signify to you? Thirty years ago, Post-Modern was a grab word. Perhaps even a sales tool word for a modernized version of Neo- Classical architecture. As time has gone by, it has applied to so many things in the design, architecture and art world. For me, what that is, is an aspect of the information age as we've moved out of the industrial and post-industrial epochs. All images are available at once, hence referencing becomes direct and not simply a carry-through into the on- going trajectory of art. How do you define your connection to craft? Craft is a five-letter word. Somewhere along the way aspects of craftsmanship and quality became an odd mix of rusticated misdirection. We're not country folk. We're not naive outsider folk artists. We're urban people looking for ways to enhance, give meaning and increase quality and depth of life. As craftsmanship, a "workman-like job" is one of the things that contributes to the emotional and spiritual aspects of objects. You referred to your involvement with Memphis similar to a band's hit song. Do you feel it is fair to use your Memphis works as a touchstone for your broader career? It seems inevitable, no matter what I want. A touchstone is a conduit between things that explains them all—a bridge. In examining this question, the bridge for me is ceramics. But Memphis was an amazing moment and a wonderful time with a group of exciting, vibrant and inspiring people, and there's no doubt it's a totally high-end modifier. As it's so visible, there is a tendency for it to be like a hit song, in which people feel comfort and connection. And with a little luck, will lead them to the rest of the catalogue. Do you consider Ettore Sottsass to have been a mentor? Ettore is a mentor even now. There was many directs comments to me, many indirect comments to me. Even to this day, just the way he walks stays in my mind. There are two people I think of every day: Ettore and my father. During our visit, I saw many works which played with scale, such as tea cups of wildly varying sizes. What interests you in scaling a work up and down in this way? Maybe it's living in L.A. and being a baby boomer, having gone through the '60s and the '80s. Absurdity is the attitude that was—and is—most exciting. Absurdity is the start of a romance. What are you working on next? Besides absurdity? Exhibiting at Peres Projects in Berlin and two other exhibits I can't mention because they are still brewing! "As Memphis is so visible, there is a tendency for it to be like a hit song in which people feel comfort and connection." PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRENT LEWIS AND DEREK ELLER GALLERY

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