CONCORD, MASS.- Lacoste Gallery
announces Don Reitz: The Expressive Genius, February 25 March 25 featuring major and historic works by this legendary ceramic artist who never stopped making art until his passing in 2014.
Don Reitz is one of the great geniuses of contemporary ceramics and was devoted to clay, color and expression throughout his career. This exhibition presents works from his three great periods: the Sara series--in which he used color to narrate stories on earthenware clay; his wood-fire period using fire and ash for expression; and his color with wood-fire and salt which was a summation of the many elements in his life works.
There are also connector pieces that led from one period to the next such as the colorful plates that preceded the use of color in the Sara series and earthenware with expressive brushwork that came at the end of his life. In addition an oil painting by the artist when he was in grad school at Alfred is on show.
The driving force in Dons life was to be an artist and communicate through his art. As a youth with dyslexia, he found making marks in dirt to be expressive. He took this into his ceramics throughout his career with markings on clay being his personal language. His marks, symbols and signature were always important to him whether in his salt-fire work, where the salt melted in firing to become a revealing skin; or in the Sara period where everything was a mark or symbolic imagery done with a colorful palette; or wood-fire where the marks were revealed through the ash. The artist has always approached his work intuitively and expressively.
Among the pieces in the show is a wonderful wall plaque I Go Without Fear, 1984, earthenware, low-fire salt with engobes, 2 x 25 x 20 from his Sara series. Reitzs Sara Series was born of adversity: while he recovered from a serious car accident and his young niece from cancer, the two exchanged drawings in what amounted to a healing partnership. A childlike sensibility with color and form in abundant informs Reitzs work from this period. This is an endearing yet powerful work showing a stick figure cautiously and optimistically moving out into the world.
Reitzs Natural Ash Table Top from 2007 is a breakthrough work, coming from the artists realization that due to illness, he could not always make large sculptural pieces. Working with cut cylindrical forms in this series, Reitz moves away from his grounding in the vessel and playfully manipulates this basic shape, creating a dynamic with diagonal additives, scribed lines and stacked planks on its base. The repetitive spatial arching unifies the complexity of its form.
Jammin, 2013 is a powerful triptych being shown for the first time from the private collection of his family. This piece stands out for its bold, dynamic color and free calligraphic painting. It is one of the strongest and largest of his series of triptych showing the artist at his most painterly.