#1 The Beginning

Madison, Wisconsin and the U. of Wisconsin. Getting an assistantship, and more.
I packed up my Black Valiant Slant 6 Station Wagon, you know the Valiant with the shift buttons on the dash board, and set out for the U of Wisconsin in Madison. I had just finished my MFA in Ceramics at George Washington University in D.C. and was going to continue advanced studies in Ceramics with Don Reitz at the U. of Wisconsin. I had already established my clay creds with shows on Madison Ave. in N.Y. and works in the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in N.Y. and the topper being a two person show of clay along with my then wife at the Smithsonian Institution in D.C. Yes, the big one, not the Renwick. I'm proud to say that we were and are the only living Americans that had a one person show at the Smithsonian. It came about because we both won first place in a big Ceramic exhibition held in D.C. and in this case the winning prize was a show at the Smithsonian, the year was 1968.

In the fall of 68 I arrived in Madison and set out to find a room. I should add that my wife and I had separated and in the process of getting a divorce. So I was on my own. I eventually found a room that I shared with 3 other guys. I had very little money and all my possessions consisted of a bunch of vinyl records, my cloths and my clay tools. I had recently turned 30 and on my own. What to do?

Find a job. My thinking was that I had enough experience and a bit of notoriety in the clay world that perhaps I could get an assistantship and work with Don Reitz in the ceramic dept. or short of that somewhere in the Art Department. I was told that I had to go see Harvey Littleton as he was the head of the Art Dept. and held the keys to the kingdom. I knew Harvey as a potter and had no idea that he did anything else. I found my way to his office and introduced myself to him and inquired about getting an assistantship. My timing was perfect. Harvey interviewed me and to make a long story shorter he offered me an assistantship as his personal assistant at his personal studio and in the glass studio located on Monroe St. I told him I knew nothing about glass but did know how to build kilns and a bit about burners. He looked at me and said "you'll do, the program is fairly new and no one really knows all that much about glass anyway". Whoohoo, I was on my way, I had an assistantship that not only paid my room and board but also put gas in my car. Harvey had his own gas pump at his studio and a swimming pool. Life so far was good.

To be continued.

Here is a view of our show at the Smithsonian
.smithsonian show