Jen came to know Larry Halvorsen in a roundabout way. Having several friends with pieces of his collection in their homes was familiar with his ceramics long before an introduction was made. His iconic tribal and primitive ceramics were associated with homes of taste and style.
His daughter Lauren is one of B&H's amazing servers and dishes up a little insight below into their creative family. Lucky for us, Larry and his wife Liza are now a part of our extended B&H family and we recently had the opportunity to sit down with him to talk past, present, and future.
With several decades under his belt dedicated to his craft, it's no wonder this self-taught, humble, and local icon has his work displayed in galleries nationwide. Larry recalled the first time he sat at the wheel and feeling intrinsically comfortable and just able to throw. He soon realized this talent wasn't normal and that this natural ability would serve him well.
Larry's pieces are made using a combination of hand building techniques including coils, press, slump molds, and slab building. Most of his work is coated with a black glaze and then he carves through exposing the natural clay beneath. "I strive to endow each piece, from a simple mug to large sculpture, with a unique and recognizable presence and ultimately earn a place as a contemporary object maker, with respect and in the shadow of those who came before."
Lauren picks up the story:
My father has been a ceramic artist for 40 years. He got his start learning to throw pots while he was attending the University of Washington with my mother, Liza. It was my mother who was studying in the art department while my father was studying fisheries and pursued a brief career. He worked on Lopez Island and joined the Peace Corps with my mother taking them to El Salvador. Inspiration came from primitive patterns, forms, dwellings, and even weaponry.
From my point of view he was always a potter. Everyday he would go out to the clay studio in our backyard, or "The Salt Mines" as he referred to it. Trying to explain what my parents did for work to my friends was always interesting. When I told people that both of my parents were artists it almost felt like I was bragging and everyone was always impressed. It may not actually have been the glamorous life they were imagining, but I love talking about it. My parents both work with clay, have taught ceramic classes at local universities, colleges, and K12 schools.
When we traveled as a family we would go to every art museum, well known gallery and any related events we could possibly fit into the trip. I started going to art fairs and sales with my dad when I was in elementary school and loved being part of this while talking about something I knew so much about. I was also my dad's biggest fan and that hasn't changed. I have always been incredibly enthusiastic talking about his art. Some of my personal favorites include: Wall O'Balls, Viking Bowls (inspired by his own roots), or any of his different container or boxes.
My brother Liam started drawing as soon as he was able to hold a pen, and he was good. To avoid any kind of comparison I chose not to pursue visual art and tried out almost every other genre I could from music, to theater, to fashion. It has only been over the last year and a half, after encouragement from other people in my life, I began making visual art myself. I feel so lucky to have the knowledge and art background I have and will continue to create art.
When I found out that Brimmer & Heeltap had purchased an installation and invited my dad to show some work, I was very excited. It was wonderful that my love and appreciation for my dad's art could be enjoyed by my co-workers and guests.
My parents are now both retired from teaching, but still continue to produce art. They have new work on view at the Northwest Craftsman Show at the South Lake Union UW Medicine Campus, and "Soup's On" Soup Tureens at the Bellevue College Gallery.