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March 11, 2000

Internationally Recognized Artists to Display

By Rachel Weddig
UW-RF News Bureau

They are simple items that you see displayed in many art museums. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors.

They are clay pots, and for two internationally recognized local artists these simple clay pots are part of their enjoyment in life.

UW-River Falls art Professor Randy Johnston has studied pottery in Japan and Norway and was the first potter to receive a prestigious Bush Fellowship to advance his studies. In Japan the media described him as an "art God." He has been a guest artist at more than 70 universities, including the Chicago Art Institute, the Bariff School of Fine Arts, and the Oslo School of Art in Norway.

His works will be on display with those of Warren MacKenzie of Stillwater, Minn., at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson from March 18-May 17.

MacKenzie's works have been displayed in over 200 fine arts museums including the Gallery Shun, Tokyo; Babcock Gallery, New York; Craftsman's Potters Gallery, London; and the Carnegie Art Museum, Pittsburgh. The title of their exhibition, "83 Years of Pots," seemed to fit nicely for Johnston and MacKenzie since combined they have been studying pottery for 83 years. There will be approximately 200 pieces for visitors to view.

Johnston is looking forward to this exhibit for a very special reason. "This exhibition means a lot to me because I will be showing my works with my long-time friend and mentor, Warren MacKenzie."

Something unique on display will be retrospective pieces that Johnston has been working on for a little more than a year.

"These pieces show history in the making," Johnston said. "They date back to the 1970s."

Johnston also offered his own perspective on pottery.

"Our pots are related through a sense of the touch of the clay, in a generous gestural touch that reveals the naturalness of the act balanced with the intellect brought to the work," Johnston said.

Johnston hopes people will leave the exhibition feeling satisfied with what they see. "I hope people will see good pots and fall in love with them," Johnston said. "I want people to want to take them home, and use them in their everyday lives."

The opening reception is on March 18 from 4-6:30 p.m. Sales will be limited to one of Mackenzie's works per household during the opening reception. Additional works may be purchased after March 18 but will remain on display until the close of the exhibition.

For more information regarding the exhibition, contact the Phipps Center for the Arts at 715/386-2305.

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