Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - 12:27pm

We announce the recent death of the internationally known functional potter Warren MacKenzie at his home in Grant, Minnesota outside the Twin Cities on December 31, 2018. He was 94. This world-renowned ceramic artist was revered as one of the leading studio potters in the US. He influenced multiple generations of ceramic artists by serving on the faculty of the University of Minnesota from 1953 until 1990 and also by teaching workshops around the world. MacKenzie was known for wanting collectors to live with and use his pots instead of treating them as untouchable works of art.

MacKenzie was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1924, and grew up in Wilmette, Illinois. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago after the end of World War II. After unsuccessfully trying to sign up for painting classes, which were full, MacKenzie took ceramics instead. He quickly fell in love with the medium and set forth making pottery for more than 70 years. Following graduation, he taught at the St. Paul Gallery and School of Art before departing for England. There, MacKenzie studied with Bernard Leach, one of the 20th century’s most important studio potters, for over two years before returning to Minnesota. Upon his return, he purchased property in Grant where he continued to live and maintain a studio for the rest of his life, working in his studio until just a few months before his death.

MacKenzie’s years of teaching continuously brought him into contact with young students who were committed to working in clay. He was so influential that many artists purchased properties near his and established the area around Stillwater, Minnesota, in particular, and the St. Croix Valley, in general, as a center for ceramic activity.

His work is included in the collections of the: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Smithsonian’s National American Art Museum, Washington, DC; National Folk Art Museum, Tokyo; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and RAM, which holds seven examples of his work. MacKenzie was a member of the American Craft Council’s College of Fellows and received the ACC’s prestigious Gold Medal for consummate craftsmanship in 1998.

For more information about this artist:
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - 11:56am

We sadly acknowledge the death of the Wisconsin artist Lee Weiss who died at the age of 90 at her Madison-area home on November 26. She was a much-respected member of Wisconsin’s visual arts community and known internationally for her large-scale watercolor paintings.

Weiss was known for her ability to capture the spiritual qualities of nature—often portraying a grand subject by looking at a smaller detail of the landscape—to communicate her responses to the place she depicted. She found inspiration in world-wide travels and also on walks through local parks and was one of the nation’s leading proponents of having watercolor viewed as an acceptable medium—alongside acrylic and oil—for the creation of paintings. In advocating this through her work, Weiss helped move watercolor from a medium that artists historically used to make preparatory studies for finished oil paintings into a material to be used for the creation of formal works.

She had a long career exhibiting in major watercolor competitions from the 1960s through 2010, including the first Watercolor Wisconsin competition at Wustum Museum in 1966. Weiss is also remembered for her role as a mentor for many younger women artists in this state and across the US in the watercolor field as she helped break barriers for women artists.

Weiss was a Dolphin Fellow of the American Watercolor Society and earned the Watercolor USA Honor Society Lifetime Award in 2009 and the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. Her paintings are in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Phillips Collection, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, and RAM, which holds eight examples of her work.

To learn more:

Capitol Times, Madison

Obituary for Lee Weiss