Westmont Magazine Celebrating a Creative Ceramicist
The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art honors the legacy of Don Reitz, one of the most experimental and ingenious ceramic artists of the last century, with a touring retrospective exhibition of his imaginative work, “Spontaneous Response: The Innovative Ceramics of Don Reitz.” The show ran through November 9 at the museum.
“Don Reitz was a visionary who revolutionized the forms, structures and techniques of clay,” says organizer Chris Rupp ’00, curator and collections manager for the museum and a ceramic artist. “He came from what I would call the greatest generation of about a dozen ceramic artists who are all legendary, groundbreaking and transformative. These potters challenged the norm and revolutionized the way we think about ceramic art today.”
The exhibition features 78 rarely seen, avant-garde works on loan from the Reitz estate and other major collectors. Rupp produced a fully illustrated color catalog with essays by Peter Held, Glenn Adamson and Brent Reitz, Don’s son. Rupp met Brent and his wife, Jennifer, in 2018 at their Santa Barbara home. “What distinguishes this exhibition of Don’s work is the personal involvement of his family in this project,” Rupp says.
Don Reitz, born a week after Black Tuesday at the start of the 1929 Great Depression, inspired a reemergence of salt glaze pottery in the United States, which involves pouring salt into a pottery kiln during the firing stage. He graduated with a degree in art education from Kutztown State Teachers College, where he discovered his passion for working on the potter’s wheel. He earned an MFA from Alfred University’s New York State College of Ceramics and taught ceramic art at the University of Wiscon- sin-Madison from 1962 to 1988. He died in 2013.