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“Mystical absurdism, amazing, astounding phenomena on a human scale and what is funny about the way we love and hate industrial things…is what interests me.”
-Peter Shire

Since the 1970’s, Peter Shire (b. 1947) has been working at an intersection. Where craft, fine art, and industrial design collide, he has built his career, drawing freely from each area without taking any of it too seriously. He has had forays into architecture, furniture, and fashion, but he keeps returning to ceramics. Like his home and studio in the Los Angeles suburb of Echo Park, clay is one medium he knows he will never leave.

In 1974 Shire made the two pieces he considers to be the first mature work of his career in clay. Auffen Gile and Gile Kilns were Shire’s sculptural, geometric interpretation of the traditional teapot, complete with sun-bleached pastel glazes, uncanny angles, and a jumbled collage of parts. Influenced by Bauhaus aesthetics, the revolutionary work of Southern California ceramic artists like Peter Voulkos and Ken Price, and his own upbringing in Los Angeles, Shire sought to make a piece that meshed all this together. In his first teapots, he rolled these elements into one and found a form that he has continued to reinvent throughout his career.

Shire’s early teapots were also significant because they attracted the eye of Ettore Sottsass, one of the founders of Memphis, an international design movement that came out of Italy during the 1980’s. Sottsass found Shire’s teapots “fresh, witty, and full of information for the future”, and the members of Memphis agreed. The group, which sought to revitalize design by rejecting conventional standards in favor of a bold, colorful, novel approach to product design, invited Shire to Milan to work with them. This lead to a series of projects that toyed with the intersections of industrial design and fine art, and gave Shire the opportunity to work in glass, metal and other new mediums.

Since the Memphis years, Shire’s work has continued to expand. Drawing inspiration from his neighborhood in Echo Park and the ever-changing city of Los Angeles, he continues to construct his teapots while also branching out into large scale sculpture, works on paper, and even painting (of course on clay). Shire’s paintings, a unique part of his work that he has been producing since the 1970’s, are done on slabs of clay in ceramic glazes. Almost all in portrait format, they focus exclusively on his life in Echo Park, reflecting the many faces that make up his neighborhood. Shire has now made over 500 of these painted tiles, which have become a personalized record of the history of Echo Park. In addition to this work, Shire has done various commissions for public places and private buildings throughout Los Angeles.The colorful tile murals and large scale sculpture he creates, which playfully reflect on the good and bad of life in a modern city, allow him to add his own point of view to the streets and buildings of the city he knows so well.


1970     Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, B.F.A.

Museum Collections

Archer M. Huntington Gallery, Austin, Texas
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York
Berkeley Museum, Berkeley, California
Colburn Center for the Performing Arts, Los Angeles, California
Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York
Fresno Museum of Art, Fresno, California
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
Judisches Museum, Frankfurt, Germany
Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, California
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
Lucille Salter Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford University, California
Matthew Center Art Collection, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Mint Museum of Craft and Design, Charlotte, North Carolina
Museum of Arts and Design, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Museum of Modern Art, Lodz, Poland
Newport Art Museum, Newport Beach, California
Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, California
Österreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna, Austria
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon
Sak’s Fifth Avenue Corporation, New York
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, California
Seattle Museum of Art, Seattle, Washington
Skirball Museum, Los Angeles, California
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Total Contemporary Art Museum, Seoul, Korea
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2013     Peter Shire: Tea for Two Hundred, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica,
            Peter Shire: A World of Geometrics, Louisiana State University Student Union Art
                   Gallery, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
            Serious Fun: Works by Peter Shire, Glassell Gallery, Louisiana State University
                   School of Art, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
            Practically Absurd: Art & Design by Peter Shire, Louisiana State University
                   Museum of Art, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2012     Cups 1974 - 2012, Lora Schlesinger Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2011     Hokkaido Story Revisited: Late Spring, La Luz de Jesus Gallery,
                   Los Angeles, California
            Historical City Hall Arts & Cultural Center, Lake Charles, Louisiana
2010     Hokkaido Story, Pete and Susan Barret Art Gallery, Santa Monica College
            Performing Arts Center, Santa Monica, California
            Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art, Midland, Michigan
            Farmers & Merchants Bank, Los Angeles, California
2007     Peter Shire: Chairs, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2006     Tobey Moss Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            Deuce Ex Machina, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Peter Shire: The Los Angeles Connection to Memphis,
                   Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
2005     Chouinard Gallery, South Pasadena, California
2004     Antonia Jannone Gallery, Milan, Italy
            Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery, San Jose University, San Jose, California
            Ceramics, Works on Paper, Sculpture, Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica,
            Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts, Palm Desert, California
2002     Rocking Tiki Paintings and Prints from the Moonrise over Venice Suite, 410 Boyd
                   Street, Los Angeles, California
            Los Jovenes Sunset Art Park, Los Angeles, California
2001     Winchester Gallery, Las Vegas, Nevada
            Bad Taste Takes a Holiday, SKS Josefsburg Studio, Portland, Oregon
2000     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Teapots and Drawings, Tobey C. Moss Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1999     Colburn Center for the Performing Arts, Los Angeles, California
1998     Palos Verdes Art Center, Palos Verdes, California
            LA Artcore Center, Los Angeles, California
            S.K. Josefsberg Gallery, Portland, Oregon
            20th Century Collage, Dallas, Texas
            Morgan Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
            Toomy-Turrel Gallery, San Francisco, California
1996     Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, Santa Monica, California
            Diane Nelson Fine Art, Laguna Beach, California
            Loyola University, New Orleans, Louisiana
            S.K. Josefsberg Gallery, Portland, Oregon
            University of Judaism, Platt Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            El Centro del Pueblo, Los Angeles, California
1995     Gallery Saito, Sapporo Hokkaido, Japan
1994     Lucy Berman Gallery, Palo Alto, California
1993     UCP Ueda Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
            Morgan Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
1992     Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
1991     Lucy Berman Gallery, Palo Alto, California
            Modernism, San Francisco, California
            Daniel Saxon Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            William Traver Gallery, Seattle, Washington
            David Lawrence Editions, Beverly Hills, California
1990     Hokin-Kaufman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
            William Traver Gallery, Seattle, Washington
1989     Art et Industrie, New York
            Clara Scremini Gallery, Paris, France
            Design Gallery Milano, Milan, Italy
            Modernism, San Francisco, California
            Saxon-Lee Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1988     Los Angeles Municipal Gallery, Barnsdall Park, Los Angeles, California
            Nevada Institute for Contemporary Art, Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery,
                   University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada
            Italian Trade Commission in cooperation with ATC, Hollywood, California
            Lucy Berman Gallery, Palo Alto, California
            Parallel Gallery, Del Mar, California
1987     Davis-McClain Gallery, Houston, Texas
            Saxon-Lee Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            Dixon Art Gallery, California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo,
            Hand and the Spirit Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
            Citrus in Cooperation with Saxon-Lee Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            Traver-Sutton Gallery, Seattle, Washington
1986     Hand and the Spirit Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
            Traver-Sutton Gallery, Seattle, Washington
            Onyx Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            Skirball Museum, in cooperation with Saxon-Lee Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            Installation of the Olympic Village Entertainment Center, California State
                  Polytechnic University in conjunction with the School of Architecture,
                  Pomona, California
1985     Modernism, San Francisco, California
            Museum of Contemporary Art, Temporary Contemporary, Los Angeles, California
1984     Hokin-Kaufman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
            Traver Sutton Gallery, Seattle, Washington
            Hand and the Spirit Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
            B.Z. Wagman Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri
1983     Traver Sutton Gallery, Seattle, Washington
            Janice Gallery, Santa Monica, California
1982     The Morgan Gallery, Shawnee Mission, Kansas, Missouri
            The Art Store, Los Angeles, California
            Janus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1981     Janus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            American Hand Gallery, Washington, D.C.
1980     Janus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            Modernism, San Francisco, California
            Studio Alchymia, Florence, Italy
            West Beach Café, Venice, California
1979     Janus Gallery, Venice, California
            Janus Gallery, Venice, California
1976     Janus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1975     Janus Gallery, Los Angeles, California
            The Hand and Eye, Honolulu, Hawaii
            Gallery 17848, Tustin, California