Toshiko Takaezu is a humble master. From her home in Quakertown, NJ, where she carries out her holy trinity — working in clay, gardening and cooking — she continues to produce, well into her 80s. Another longstanding tradition she continues is holding an open studio to exhibit and help sell the work of her talented apprentices.
Recent graduates of the art program at Skidmore College, the apprentices do everything from driving Ms. Takaezu on errands to helping in the studio. In exchange, they get to use the studio for their own work, and learn from the master, who taught at Princeton University from 1967 to 1992. Back in 2004, one of her apprentices, Ben Eberle, assured me she always made sure the apprentices produced a body of work during the 13 months they spend with her, room and board included.
This year’s apprentice, Charles Talbot, arrived in time to help with the harvest in August. He helps with prep work in the kitchen, as well. “I’m the sous chef, she’s the executive,” he says. Ms. Takaezu will have a pottery and sculpture show and sale Nov. 30 and Dec. 7, 1-5 p.m., at 1177 Croton Road, Quakertown, along with regular associates John Mosler and Don Fletcher. Ms. Takaezu’s work can be seen and purchased at that time as well.
Mr. Talbot, 23, who started his apprenticeship in August, didn’t know much about Ms. Takaezu when she came to Skidmore to give a demo in the ceramics studio the summer before his senior year. “I was captivated by her presence and her pieces that came out of the kiln,” he says. He knew one of her past apprentices, and that connection helped him get selected. The selection process is very personal, Charlie says, as the apprentice provides companionship as well as assistance.
“With an artist, your work is tied so closely to who you are,” says Mr. Talbot. So while Ms. Takaezu’s feedback and guidance are helpful, “I learn from the way she lives her life at every moment. They way she knows her old friends, their personality and disposition. Every one of her closed forms has its own spirit and creation. She gives her full vision to evrything she does.”
Ms. Takaezu’s work can also be seen at Grounds For Sculpture.