By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
In the '80s, Al's palette became darker and his compositions more spare, as in the "Untitled" composition from 1984 in which three rows of vertical brushstrokes emerge from a dark-blue ground. In contrast is 1986's "Color Kings," with its return to bright colors and Picassoid approach, in which somewhat recognizable things are arranged like a still life across the picture plane.
Al's late work is difficult for me to discuss, because beginning in the early '90s, he began to partly repaint older pieces and date them to when the additions or paint-outs were done. These works are often quite beautiful, which may explain why the Kirkland Museum acquired some of them — even putting one on the cover of the catalogue — despite the problematic issues they raise.
If the arch of Al's career extends from the '50s to the '80s, his wife's is notably later, running from the '70s to just a few years ago. Lou was born in Iowa in 1930 and met her husband while in school at Wesleyan; the couple married in 1951. The next year, Lou received her BA, and within five years, the pair had three children. Though she'd been doing ceramics all along, Lou also worked in other mediums. In the early 1970s, however, she studied with legendary ceramics artists Nan and Jim McKinnell at the University of Colorado in Boulder and dedicated herself completely to clay. Though the potting pair is almost always mentioned together, Nan's style comes out of modernist industrial design, while Jim's is part of the Shoji Hamada-Bernard Leach school of Asian-influenced ceramics. Lou obviously melded the two, and her pieces sometimes reveal relationships to both or neither of her teachers.
Boulder in the '70s was a hotbed for advanced ceramics, with the likes of Betty Woodman, Gene Lang and Paul Soldner in town from time to time. Lou doesn't consider herself to be a student of Soldner's, but she did follow workshops he conducted, and his influence is easy to see in the torn and irregularly shaped flats she did, such as her platters from the 1980s.
Lou was adept at throwing on the potter's wheel, but she also liked to do slab building, and it's this method that led to some of her most unique pieces, such as her "Pyramidal Vase" and "Castle Vase," but, more significantly, her garden tables and benches. These slab-built structures are remarkably engineered and convey an architectonic crispness in their minimal details.
Al and Lou Wynne are cultural treasures and important figures in Colorado art history. Although I take issue with some of Felix's selections, which I think are too broad in scope, and in Grant's installation, there's a lot worth seeing in Wynne/Wynne, and Grant and Felix should be lauded for bringing Al and Lou back into the limelight.