Beth Lo

Beth Lo is an award-winning ceramicist and professor of art. We are honored to have her co-curate the 2014 Simple Cup Show at KOBO.

Beth Lo Anagama Teabowls 2006
Anagama Teabowls, 2006

Along with Peter Olsen of Seward Park Clay Studio, Beth identified potters from across the country to invite to participate in this one-of-a-kind exhibition. Peter told us, “[KOBO co-owner and director] Binko and I choose co-curators each year to bring another voice to the choosing of artist’s work. This year’s co-curator, Beth Lo, has taught for many years and knows many people I don’t.”

Beth Lo More 2008
More, 2008

Beth had a cross cultural upbringing, born in Lafayette, Indiana, to parents who had recently immigrated from China. She writes, “My work in ceramics revolves primarily around issues of family and my Asian-American background. Cultural marginality and blending, tradition and Westernization, language and translation are key elements in my work.”

Beth Lo ceramics
Beth Lo

She studied art at the University of Montana under the distinguished ceramic artist Rudy Autio. Beth assumed his job as Professor of Ceramics when he retired in 1985, a position she holds to this day. She has exhibited her work internationally, and has received numerous honors, including a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Fellowship and an American Craft Museum Design Award.

Beth Lo Wedding Portrait 2005
Wedding Portrait, 2005

Beth was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about the Simple Cup Show:
The Simple Cup show has been called “a unique take on a common object”. Why cups?
Cups are intimate, useful, expressive and inexpensive ceramics. You hold a cup in one or both hands, and put it to your lips. Many ceramic artists find them relaxing to make, and find making cups a good format to try out ideas in their work. Potters often exchange them or have cup collections. I think that the high value that Japanese place on their traditional teabowls has influenced many potters as well.

Beth Lo Flood 2010
Flood, 2010

What do you look for when selecting artists?
I look for a unique touch or vision, good craftsmanship and warmth. As for my personal taste, I chose a lot of artists who use drawing skills and color in their work.

Beth Lo Flood detail
Flood (detail), 2010

I can imagine being a bit intimidated to use one of the beautiful cups on display. Do you have any thoughts about using handmade ceramics at home?
I think my favorite kind of ceramics to use in the home are cups. They are objects to contemplate as you drink your coffee, or water. Handmade cups slow you down!

8th Annual Simple Cup Show
KOBO Gallery (at Higo)
604 South Jackson Street  Seattle, WA  98104 (map)
November 1 – December 2014
Sale by lottery begins at opening, Sat Nov 1
Draw a lottery number as early as 6:30; sale begins at 7:00

8th Annual Simple Cup Show

Becky and Steve Lloyd 2013
Becky & Steve Lloyd, 2013 People’s Choice – Best of Show Award

This is the 8th year of a wonderful tradition at KOBO: the Simple Cup Show, also known as the Simple Cup Invitational. Each year ceramic artists are invited to contribute 2-4 cups to this celebration of the humble cup. This year’s exhibition is curated by Peter Olsen, Executive Director of Seward Park Clay Studio, and Beth Lo, professor of ceramics at the University of Montana.

Peter helped KOBO start what has become an anticipated yearly event and has co-curated the Simple Cup Show from the beginning. We had the chance to pick his brain about cups and more.

The Simple Cup show has been called “a unique take on a common object”. Why cups?
The cup is perhaps the most used ceramic vessel of any. We put it up to our lips, we carefully hold it, we look at it up close. Many potters love making cups because of these things. They may carefully think about how it feels to have lips closing around the rim of the cup. They consider balance and how to keep the user from burning themselves. Some potters use the cup as a tableau for decoration, since there is such close-up addressing of the pot.

After several thousand years of potters making cups, it is still possible to have an individual voice in crafting this most intimate object. Many times, one can immediately recognize a cup connected to a particular maker, just as one can recognize paintings or sculptures. They are that individual.

Ayumi-Horie-Kobo-bird-cup-1
Ayumi Horie

What do you and your co-curators look for when selecting artists?
[KOBO co-owner] Binko and I choose co-curators each year to bring another voice to the choosing of artist’s work. We look for people who make cups that compel us on a variety of levels: functionality, artistic expression, process, etc. Some years we choose more local potters to exhibit, some years a more nation-wide group. There is no hard and fast rule.

Stephen Mickey cup 2014
Stephen Mickey

I can imagine being a bit intimidated to use one of the beautiful cups on display. Who buys the cups, and for what purpose?
I hope no one will feel intimidated by the cups. They are not as inexpensive as Pottery Barn or something like that, but they are handmade objects and are priced accordingly. If one wanted to collect affordable objects that grace one’s home (or office or car!) handmade cups are a very accessible and reasonable thing to build a group of. Often when potters get together in each other’s homes we enjoy looking at each other’s collection of cups.

There will be something for everyone at this show. Some people go for the pots with paintings on them. Some are looking for the perfect wood-fired little cup for a splash of bourbon, some are tea practitioners that want a very particular type of bowl. Some people collect the work of a particular maker.

If one is mindful about addressing the cups that we use, we begin to see particular beauty in the object. I can’t tell you how many times people have called the studio, almost in tears, to say how they broke their favorite cup, and could I please help them find the potter who made it. The loss to them is very tangible and I think this speaks to how important the cup is for many people.

Cup Show Event 2013 a
Browsing the 2013 Simple Cup Show

This will be your 8th year co-curating this exhibition. What makes this show exciting for you?
I have enjoyed my collaboration with [owners] Binko and John at KOBO. I am excited to know many of the people who make the work. I have a large collection of cups myself and am continually surprised by new ideas, new processes and the amazing variety of approaches to the cup. I absolutely love seeing people at the opening. The excitement is great, and people are so happy to be able to collect the cups that they love. It is a joyful experience.

A Reintjes  IMG_2975
Alison Reintjes
8th Annual Simple Cup Show
KOBO Gallery (at Higo)
604 South Jackson Street  Seattle, WA  98104 (map)
November 1 – December 2014
Sale by lottery begins at opening, Sat Nov 1
Draw a lottery number as early as 6:30; sale starts at 7:00