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Revered Californiansculptor Stan Bittersis crazy about clay –and not just for pots.
“Teacups don’t interest me,” says Fresno-basedsculptor and designer Stan Bitters.
While to most o us, ceramics mean cups, bowls and vases, householdobjects are not really Stan’s thing. “I need bigness. I likethe large scale o things.” Drawn to clay while study-ing sculpture at UCLA in the late 1950s (it was cheaperthan metal), it wasn’t long until Stan was a completeconvert. “I started to do huge wall clay murals, makingthem on the oor in one piece and then cutting theminto tiles, painting and fring them and then installingthem.”Stan’s large textural murals grace the walls o Caliornian banks, hotels and homes, while smallerworks include clay ountains, birdhouses, andunglazed earthenware ceramics and screens. His book
even makes a case or incor-porating clay into architecture, not just as decorationbut as a structural medium.“There is only one way to discover clay,” says Stan.“Get a ton or two and leap into it. In working with clayas a medium o expression, you must do it with youreet, with your hands, with your heart and mind. Jumpinto the middle and ail around. Take all the money youcan get hold o, buy tons o clay, and wallow in it. Workyour way out. Get involved in it. Start at one end andcome out the other.”On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I was lucky enoughto visit the modernist home o Stan’s gallerist, Scott Nadeau, which is the perect showcase or Stan’swork. Intrigued, I asked Stan to explain more about hisunique style.
How did you learn your crat?Were you inuenced by any particular cerami-cist’s work early on?
Having wandered through the educationsystem as a painting major, I was blown away by myencounter with the legendary sculptor, ceramist PeteVoulkos. Exiting San Diego State College ater threeyears, and bored with having consumed so muchsuperuous education, I elt it was time to move on. It was coincidental that a riend, artist John Baldessari,was applying or entrance to Otis Art Institute andwhen I asked to go along, we both ended up on scholar-ships. It was my conrontation with the energy o thepottery department and specifcally Pete Voulkos that changed my lie.
You call yoursel an environmental ceramicist.Do you know o many other ceramists workingin this way?
I think because o what I did and the time period it wasdone in, my work has created interest in environmentalconcerns such as landscape and building applications