John Reeve: Some Hidden Magic

Emily Galusha Gallery

John Reeve (1929 – 2012) strove to capture what he called “the soul of the pot,” the charged air contained by a three-dimensional whirling orb. His pots reveal a masterful understanding of form and volume while possessing a fresh and often playful attitude. They resonate with an energy emanating from voluptuous interior spaces. Sometimes quirky, sometimes cutting edge, they reflect an unorthodox stance best described by Reeve when he said, “I’m not really interested in committing novelty upon the world, but only in making objects which have some hidden magic to them.”

Reeve’s talent and charisma inspired makers from Big Creek, California, to Castle Clay in Denver, to the Kansas City Art Institute, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and England’s Farnham School of Art. In 1962, he began regular visits to Minnesota where he made pots at the home of his lifelong friend Warren MacKenzie; both men were students of Bernard Leach. While in Minnesota, Reeve taught periodically at the university, and sold his work. Many pots in this exhibition come from local collections and include pieces on loan from the Weisman Museum. 

Curated by Nora Vaillant, this exhibition presents highlights—from his work in stoneware, porcelain, and earthenware—accomplished over the course of his fifty-year career. Trained as an anthropologist, Nora Vaillant is a teacher, writer, and potter who has worked in clay for over 20 years. She curated High Fire Culture for the University of British Columbia’s Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and has contributed to Studio Potter magazine and Thrown: British Columbia’s Apprentices of Bernard Leach and Their Contemporaries.

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Related Resources

John Reeve: The Unknown Craftsman, a periodical article on the life and artwork of John Reeve, provided by EBSCO Host.
Connections: Canadian and British Studio Ceramics, a webpage highlighting the work and accomplishments of John Reeve and other Canadian potters.

“John Reeve in His Own Words,” An interview with Nora Vaillant in Studio Potter magazine. Studio Potter, 41:1, Winter/Spring 2012 – 2013: 74 – 79.