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The Devotion of a Lifetime: Otani Pottery at the White Lotus Gallery

tetsuya hands.jpeg
By permission of the gallery
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“Good pots require the ardor of vocation and the devotion of a lifetime.” Tetsuya Otani at the potter's wheel

This is Sandy Brown Jensen, and you’re listening to Viz City, KLCC’s arts review program.

Today I’d like to take you by the hand and lead you into the Otani Pottery Collection at the White Lotus Gallery at 767 Willamette in Eugene. What do we as viewers need to bring to a fine exhibit like this in order to appreciate what we’re seeing? Our Western ears tend to translate the word “pottery” pretty loosely, so let’s focus down on one kind: porcelain.

tetsyua-and-momoko.jpeg
By permission of the gallery
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Tetsuya and Momoku Otani are showing masterworks of pottery at the White Lotus Gallery in Eugene

This exhibit is by a husband and wife team from Japan. His name is Tetsuya Otani, and when you walk into the gallery, you’ll immediately spot his graceful bowls and plates with their warm, white glaze. When you pick up a bowl, your fingers slide deliciously over satin surfaces and soft edges.

Otani Pottery 2.jpg
By permission of the gallery
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Otani Porcelain on display in the exhibit at the White Lotus Gallery

To me, each vessel has a soul quality that comes to live in passionately handmade objects, so listen and feel for that.

What is special about the porcelain arts is just how darn ancient it is. People were making porcelain in China 1600 years BC. It became and still is one of the most refined of the pottery arts. Rare and beautiful porcelain objects were traded along the Silk Road.

tetsuya at wheel.jpeg
By permission of the gallery
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Master porcelain maker Tetsuya Otani at his wheel at the Otani Pottery Studio in Japan

Historically, Chinese porcelain didn’t require a glaze to be liquid-proof, but glazes and colors made the pieces more artistic. Tetsuya Otani favors the pure white glaze that allows the eye to marvel at how high he has built the walls of the vessel, with what symmetry and grace, all marks of the master.

Otani Pottery Studio.jpeg
By permission of the gallery
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Original porcelain creations take the air at the Otani Pottery Studio in Japan

When you pick up one of these deceptively simple objects, you are holding thousands of years of history in your hands, as well as the singular artistry of one man working out of the Otani Pottery Studio in one of the six historic pottery sites in Japan.

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Peter Jensen
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Details of Tetsuya Otani's fine porcelain art

“Good pots require the ardor of vocation and the devotion of a lifetime.” Let your hands, eyes, and heart honor that devotion by finding a quiet moment to step into the welcoming doors of the White Lotus Gallery.

This is Sandy Brown Jensen for KLCC.

NOTES:

“Good pots require the ardor of vocation and the devotion of a lifetime.” —Bernard Leach, the father of British studio pottery

—The Art Medium Porcelain, art history.net

Sandy Brown Jensen has an MFA in Poetry and is a retired writing instructor from Lane Community College. She is an artist and a photographer with a lifetime interest in looking at and talking about art. Sandy hosts KLCC's long-running arts review program Viz City.