Dynamic Duo

Two shows focus on the kith and kiln of Colorado ceramics.

And Jim's approach was never far from the jar he did for the Everson. More expressive than Nan, he continued to do thick, robust stoneware at Loretto Heights. A good example is in a case toward the end of the show. It is a lidded jar with a pair of ridiculously oversized slab-built handles. There's a ceremonial quality to this piece, enhanced by the subtle decorations in panels on the body. It looks like a parody of an ancient Chinese jar.

In another case, just to the right, is an abstract-expressionist centerpiece in white glazed raku, also by Jim. This is a type of bowl that he calls a "tramp pot" because he "tramps" on the clay with his feet to create its surface.

Finally, there are a great many pots produced in the last few years, some major examples of which were done in 1999. Neurological problems forced Jim into retirement a couple of years ago, but Nan is still working. In one showcase are a few of her latest accomplishments -- monumental vessels in copper red, some with floral decorations.

Porcelain bowl with translucent patterns, by Nan McKinnell.
Porcelain bowl with translucent patterns, by Nan McKinnell.
Lidded jar with slab handles, by Jim McKinnell.
Lidded jar with slab handles, by Jim McKinnell.

Most of the pieces in the show sold on opening night during a collecting frenzy, but there are plenty more available from the McKinnells' longtime dealer, Meryl Howell, a potter who runs the Evergreen Gallery in Evergreen.

Assistant curator Sagara hopes that Tandem will give the McKinnells the recognition they deserve; the NCECA conference is just the vehicle to accomplish that. But even more so, it gives those of us who live here a chance to see the work of a couple of great ones who have been quietly working in Colorado for decades.

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