1 Oral history interview with Peter Shire, Sept. 18–19, 2007, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
2 Since his commission for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Shire has completed more than two dozen public art commissions in the Greater Los Angeles area, Phoenix, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Hokkaido, Japan. For locations of selected public artworks by Shire in Los Angeles, see the map featured in this brochure.
3 Craft has also been distinguished from art on the basis of material (e.g., clay, wood, and fiber); application (craft is associated with surface decoration); and modality (i.e., craft’s appeal to the haptic versus fine art’s optic or cognitive appeals). Going by other names—the primitive, ornament, the grotesque—these criteria have also served as alibi for the art-institutionalization of racist and sexist values.
4 Jo Lauria, “Flash-Points in the Life and Career of Artist Peter Shire,” in L.A. to LA: Peter Shire at LSU, January 21–April 14, 2013 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2013), 6.
5 See Patricia Leigh Brown, “Currents; Teapots as Meditations on Free-Form Freeways,” The New York Times (Aug. 4, 1988), accessed Feb. 10, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/04/garden/currents-teapots-as-meditations-on-free-form-freeways.html.
6 This is Mary Davis MacNaughton’s considered argument in “Unexpected Connections: Clay Sculpture in LA and the Avant-Garde,” in Clay’s Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price, Peter Voulkos, 1956–1968, exh. cat., ed. MacNaughton (Claremont, CA: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, with J. Paul Getty Museum, 2012).
7 Shire’s Brentwood Chair (2017) was specially commissioned by MOCA for Peter Shire: Naked Is the Best Disguise.
8 Shire as quoted in David A. Keeps, “Power of the Palette,” Los Angeles Times (Nov. 8, 2007), accessed Feb. 10, 2017, http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/08/home/hm-shire8.
9 In a remarkable 1991 essay, Norman M. Klein imagines Shire’s teapots as “invaded artworks, standing in for the invasion of private life.” In Klein’s telling, markets are like armies, fighting for recognition on the surface of a ceramic object, and the battle takes place in “the private world of the consumer—the home, household objects, knickknacks, crossover art/design items.” See Klein, “Tempest in a Teapot: The Social History of Peter Shire’s Ceramics,” in Tempest in a Teapot: The Ceramic Art of Peter Shire (New York: Rizzoli, 1991), 32.
10 Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, trans. Richard Nice (1979; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984).
11 Ibid., 6.
12 Conversation with the author, October 2016.