Summer School is proud to partner with Heath for Stand Bitter's first major show in 35 years – and the first time time he’s been showcased in San Francisco. True to Bitter's independent nature and his commitment to making art that’s engaged with the community, the show will be held at the Heath Ceramics’ Boiler Room, a unconventional emerging venue for creative events.
I would describe Stan's work as heroic and monumental, yet raw and earthy. A maverick sculptor and ceramist, he helped define modernist ceramics in California. What’s remarkable is how he shifted that form from a purely functional medium to an artistic one. His work is a testament to the importance of physicality to art, of deep engagement with material, and of the imperative to keep challenging the status quo, no matter where you are in your career. In his own words: “There is only one way to discover clay. Get a ton or two and leap into it. In working with clay as a medium of expression, you must do it with your feet, your hands, with your heart and mind. Jump into the middle and flail around.”
In many ways, Bitters has been one of Southern California’s best kept secrets. For most of his career, Bitters has been kept busy by clients and commissions in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Bitters was featured in the prestigious California Design series and at the Craft and Folk Art Museum as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945 – 1980. He worked extensively with the legendary and influential ceramist, Peter Voulkos while at the Otis Art Institute in LA. His work is also a staple among collectors of modernist art and his influence has helped define Southern California architecture since the 1960s. He continues to work closely with architects such as LA's renowned Commune Design. Stan is explicit about his works’ human component: “It’s one thing to sit in a studio being creative. It’s a whole new challenge to be involved with people in all the complexities of daily living.”
With this collaboration between SummerSchool and Heath, we aim to expand Stan's following with this show. It will feature a wide range of work, from his monumental murals and wall installations (interior and exterior) to sculptural ceramics such as medallions, pots, lanterns and birdhouses. My friend Cathy Bailey, Heath’s Design Director, shares my love for Stan’s work and what he’s done for ceramics, and what he continues to do. She feels that his work embodies so much of the California spirit and that there’s a deep kinship with the Heath legacy, with what they do now, and how they think about the intersection of art and creativity, and making and living.
Stan Bitters is thrilled to introduce his work to the Bay Area with its sophisticated yet adventurous spirit that seems to thrive on cultural and artistic experimentation. “It feels so natural to work with Heath with its own history and its commitment to pushing the medium and creating a vibrant community of people who care about what we can say through art and design”, Stan recently told me.
Renee Zellweger, April 2014