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Much more than pots

In a new show at Walnut Creek’s Bedford Gallery, an Orinda artist is among a select group of studio potters displaying how divinely beautiful a teacup, vase, or plate can be.



Courtesy of Nicholas Bivins

Nicholas Bivins, a 1997 graduate of Miramonte High School, makes art that you can use—to drink out of or to eat off of. He makes ceramics, but with an artist’s passion for precision, perfection and individual expression.

His works will be among those on display in the show, Objects of Virtue: A National Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Pottery, which continues through January 31 at the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts.

This exhibition pays homage to clay pots as “objects of virtue”—serving the desire of both form and function. The concept of pots as “objects of virtue” comes from the late master potter Byron Temple, who championed the idea of potters as artists. Bivins and the other artists participating in this exhibit share the idea that something as humble as a pot can have the same beauty, mystery, and artistic significance as a fine painting or sculpture.

“I make utilitarian pottery using a precise, clean, and efficient geometric language as I maintain an obsessive interest in looking for a personal definition of the perfectly handmade,” Bivins says in his artist’s statement.

Bivins grew up in Orinda and received bachelor’s degrees in ceramics and Inter-disciplinary Visual Art from the University of Washington, and an MFA from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He currently is an Artist-in-Residence at the Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana.To participate in this national juried show, Bivins had to submit his work to be considered by nationally renowned artist Julia Galloway, chair of the School of Art at the University of Montana.

Like Bivins, the artists in this show are innovators in many ways. They apply sculptural and painterly techniques to the clay they are working with to create pots and other vessels and decorative objects that are richly varied and distinctive.

The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, 12–5 p.m.; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 6–8 p.m.; and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays, 6–8 p.m. when there are events at the Lesher Center. For information call (925) 295-1417 or visit bedfordgallery.org.