Bruce Murray, An Elegant Life of Clay
A Trip Down the Interstate to White River Junction, VT on November 3
His quiet demeanor, wavy dark hair with some grey streaks, soft-spoken voice, and powerful hands that look like they can wield an axe, a spear, or a lightening quick strike with frightening speed don't all add up. But once you learn Bruce Murray is a potter of some acclaim, you'll understand his hands are put to far more subtle and artistic uses, spanning the utilitarian to imaginative beauty, as they've been doing for more than 25 years.
Bruce in the big kiln with a batch of functional work ranging from cups and bowls to decanters and pots. Bruce is coming to White River Junction for an opening of his work at Long River Gallery & Gifts on First Friday night, November 3 from 5:30 - 7:30 PM.
Best known for his functional pieces from mugs and bowls to trays, lamps, dishes, and stoneware cups, Bruce also pursues the highly artistic with wall reliefs he coins "stoneware paintings" and figurative sculpture pieces that are simultaneously whimsical and full of the vigor of life that infuses Bruce and all his work. His Barnabas figure plays a prominent role on wall plaques and vases as well.
Barnabas Vase. Who is this Barnabas? I've often wondered. Perhaps we can ask Bruce when we see him on November 3rd in White River Junction at his next opening! (More info about the opening is below and can also be viewed by Clicking Here.
I first met Bruce climbing the slate steps in his backyard to reach his pottery studio, a great, big, barn of a thing, rafters and all holding clay wall reliefs of his well-regarded Barnabas images, to nudes, to pots and cups, bowls, and some striking vases and lamps that he's been turning out on his wheel for as long as most people around here can recall. He knew I was coming and stood at the top step with hand outstretched and a great big welcome of a smile to greet me. I don't recall if he had his apron on, but I imagine he did, looking like the craftsman and artist he truly has become.
Figure Sculpture of clay and paint.
A trip around the back through beautiful summer gardens revealed two rows of open air teaching studios with several spaces for students to sit and create in each long structure. Nearby is a massive kiln that has its trays on wheels atop rails to slide into the kiln. Standing above my height, it's a sight to behold, and makes me wonder how an artist like Bruce could have ended up in this unlikely destination of Bradford, VT.
Butterscotch vase with overlapped glaze and blue interior.
Bruce's trip to Vermont was intentional. He started out his hand-building career in Berkeley, CA as a student of the famous Bauhaus potter, Marguerite Wildenhain. He was struck by one of her student's work and, so, as one truly passionate about an artistic medium will do, he sought out Marguerite and became her student. When ready, he decided to begin a pottery studio in Vermont with two other potters. He landed in Bradford, prior to the Interstate and paved roads, settling upon an 18th century timber frame barn renovated as a studio where, today, Bruce makes and sells his unique and authentic work.
Lady in Cafe with Tree. Stoneware painting wall relief.
All of Bruce's pieces are made by his own hand, on his own wheel, and fired in his kilns. He continues to experiment with glazes and colors, always turning his inner creative eye toward something new and exciting. His stoneware, like his VT French Butterdish, or his mugs and bowls, are a joy to handle, with textures and patterns striving to please the hand and eye.
Apple Tree — a tray for the season!
Many artists have influenced Bruce including Modigliani and Matisse. From economy of line to use of color, it's clear everything Bruce makes has been refined to his own very high standards then made new even if it has the feel of an old friendly mug right out of the kiln. The students he's taught over the years have also benefitted greatly, and he revels in sharing his knowledge of pottery and art (and life, the universe, and so very many things) with other budding potters.
Functional ware by Bruce. His VT French Butterdishes above.
Quillwork on mugs and butterdishes,
Bruce will offer a showing of his work from November 3 through December 31 at Long River Gallery & Gifts in White River Junction, VT. The opening takes place on White River Junction's First Friday of the month celebration, November 3, from 5:30 - 7:30 PM. This will be one show you won't want to miss!
Dave Celone writes whenever he can about whatever is fascinating in this world. Hope you enjoy his missives. Click Here if you'd like to Follow him each time he posts. And Click Here to read his previous article about the Great Goose Egg Auction in White River Junction VT to benefit Open Fields School in Thetford, VT.