terry sullivan on sat 8 jun 02
Caveat: Up until recently I didn't much care for Peter Callas. Thought
he was an egotistical, arrogant, asshole. Ok, so's ya know I ain't no
Peter Callas apologist ( nor a Voulkos one for that matter).
In my past encounters with Mr. Callas at several NCECAs and for two
weeks at Anderson Ranch in 1996; I found him pretty much as I stated in
the caveat. But at the 2000 NCECA I noticed a distinct change in his
demeanor. More open, civil, and friendly. I was surprised ! Again at
the recent CCACA conference in Davis CA.this May. , where he was one of
the artist presenter/demonstrator/lecturers; he was a gentler nicer
Callas than I'd obsevered in the past. For sure, still a strong and self
assured personality but with humor, yes humor, and a little self
effacing along with the presentation of his work and process.
Now; onto the subject of Callas bashing ( and CM editorial bashing for
that matter ) on Clayart regarding his full page ad / testimonial /
memorial in the recent CM.
I tried to read this with an as unbiased view as I could. Not really
possible, but I tried.
Regarding the "Advertisement" notice at the top right of the page. An
interesting insertion by CM and not commonly used with other "paid
pages". Could it be that CM was saying "hey, we didn't do this and it
isn't necessarily our point of view". We really can't get after CM
about this page. We all have the right in this country to buy magazine
space and say what we want. One of the fundamentally great things about
a free press and democracy.
On the other hand it was CM that banned Paul Solners saucy, tongue in
cheek ads a few years back while our beloved mag, ClayTimes opted to run
them. Hmmm, so much for freedom of the press and editorial license.
I certainly agree that Peter Callas hasn't endeared himself to many in
the ceramics community so he sort of set himself up for attack even if
he has become a nicer fellow of late. Nonetheless; I can't see why
mentioning, even touting, ones association with various "masters"
should be condemned in his case when many of our own Clayart gurus, and
other famous ceramists, do it all the time. Especially when the
association / collaboration lasted for decades. It is a fact and one
that Peter Voulkos validated often.
I am certain that there was a deep long term friendship between these
two men that none of us will fully know. It would have not endured so
long if otherwise.
Perhaps there is something a little tactless in publishing a memorial to
an old departed friend and college while promoting ones career.
Additionally there is the unfortunate quote from the NY Times article
with the erroneous statement that Peter Callas's kiln was the first wood
fired kiln in the USA. Patently ridiculous and probably the authors
mistake but Peter C. should know better.
All that said and aside; can any of you think Peter Callas didn't love
and respect his close friend ?
Would you not weep at the death of someone you had worked with
intimately for decades ?
Give the guy a break ok. He is a master of wood firing. I've seen his
control and knowledge first hand.
Don't much care for his work, but maybe, given another few decades, he
might be one of our respected masters. Maybe not. Like many of those
ceramists we respect; he works full time and very hard doing primarily
Offered not to defend Callas, but to air a more compassionate and,
hopefully, broad view of this issue.
Yours, Terry Sullivan