Catalog text by Ken Price
Ron Nagle is a sweetheart.
Ron Nagle is a sweetheart. I know this because we have been friends and comrades for fifty years. Back in the late ‘50’s Ron and I were like soul mates, both making strange little cups while the rest of the art world seemed to be making huge paintings that were tough & “important.” For about 10 years it seemed like the two of us owned the cup idiom. The idiom is a good vehicle for ideas, even though the cup is it’s own subject and doesn’t need to be about anything other than itself. Ron’s work isn’t only about ideas, it’s mostly about physical presence. He has a unique mentality - a splendidly perverse intelligence that includes odd things like rhyming, Charlie Chan, and the number two thirty. He has a quick wit, and manages to make humor in his forms, which is hard to do and impossible to explain.
Another thing that’s hard is making small pieces that have power. Little pieces invite you to check them out closer so you can see what they really are. It’s been my experience that some people won’t stop to look at a small object. But if you examine one of Ron’s, there’s a pay-off. The work rewards close viewing, being fully resolved formally and beautifully made. I think the standard of quality that Ron
aims for in his work comes from the strong but un-seen
influence of medieval Japanese pottery. Ron appreciates the
fact that Momoyama period Japanese Tea Ware is the
greatest pottery ever made, but he doesn’t wear the robes.
The stuff he makes comes from his own time and place.
Ron belongs in the first rank of clay artists in history. Being
grouped by material seems odd in our current times, but it’s
still in effect. So, he’s stuck in this category and he’s one of
the best. When he’s hot he makes magic.
(From exhibition catalog: Ron Nagle, 2008, p.5)