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Peter Shire at the Chouinard Gallery
Peter Shire "Peanut Thorax with Four Mystic Eyes," 1991, Steel and painted enamel, 50 3/4" x 30" x 32".
SOUTH PASADENA, CA.-Peter Shire Brings the Story of His Evolution from Simple Ceramist to Mad Scientist to the Chouinard Gallery. In his own words, artist and Chouinard graduate Peter Shire has “… had 75 solo exhibitions (some very good, and some better); completed 20 public sculptures; been collected by 20 public institutions.” He is also a respected furniture designer, having been an original member of the Memphis Group. And now, with an opening reception from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Sunday, September 18, 2005, Shire brings his unique vision as displayed through a whimsical and provocative collection of his work to the Chouinard Gallery in South Pasadena.

Curator Gary Wong makes this statement about Peter Shire’s show: “In the beginning there was clay, and Peter Shire has certainly left his mark in it. His well-known studio, which also houses Echo Park Pottery (E x P), is an extension of his life and lifestyle as a denizen of Echo Park and as an artist. Teapots, cups, saucers, bowls and vases have been thoroughly Shire-ized in his prolific and distinctive career as a ceramist. Beidermeired and Bauhaused, he deftly explored his medium’s design potential and the limitations therein. Just when he thought he’d done it all, he discovered the metal teapot. This was to be his latest device for massaging the gap between low and high art.

While some might not consider your everyday symbol of domesticity to be at all expressive of the high concept, Peter Shire is bound and determined to make it so…to the brink of his own madness. He has reconsidered materials, emphasized form over function and explored anti-design.

This show represents his ossisione di viaggio from utilitarian ceramics to nonfunctional sculpture, from actual to metaphysical, from everyday to all time. Has he bridged that gap? With a lot of ingenuity and humor, his work on the teapots becomes sculptural and it’s clear that the gap is narrowing. So it is no longer the lowbrow concept of reinventing the teapot, but neither is it quite highbrow in deconstructing the elements of sculpture. It’s sort of a unibrow effect; spanning the space in between…

But if you want the real highbrow, we have opportunity to explore the serious side of Peter Shire as it exists in his very personal drawings on paper and clay slabs. This is where Shire’s real story is told and its moral may well be: ashes to ashes, dust to dust and as from clay we came, to clay we must return."

Peter Shire’s show runs through October 22, 2005, at the Chouinard Gallery, 1020 Mission Street, South Pasadena, California 91030.

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