Lee Kitzman at Art in the Valley Gallery.

Lee in his studio, Sept 2019

Art in the Valley Gallery in Corvallis features one of its members every month. October’s featured artist is ceramicist/painter Lee Kitzman.

The co-op gallery is staffed by member artists and showcases a wide variety of work from fiber to photography. Kitzman has a love of Japanese culture which informs his work, both in ceramics and in his traditional Japanese ink paintings.

Kitzman enjoyed a long career teaching art; he enjoyed teaching his students, while learning along with them.

Kitzman speaks warmly of his daughter who lives and teaches in Japan. She teaches in the Japanese university system – no small feat, even for a Japanese national. A proud dad for sure, Kitzman has also spent time in Japan learning from master Japanese potters.

In Tochigi Prefecture, two and a half hours north of Tokyo by train you’ll find Mashiko. Mashiko is arguably one of the most famous ceramics centers in Japan, famous for the local pottery known as Mashiko-ware.

Similar work can also be found, this month, at Art in the Valley Gallery.

From the Artist:

I grew up in rural Colorado and realized at a young age that I was interested in art–not farming! Art classes were not readily available to me until I got to college where I majored in Art Education; which led to a career in teaching.

I was introduced to ceramics while teaching at a school in Taft, California where I discovered a kiln that had stood unused for several years. I quickly gravitated to it and developed the skills required to create and teach a ceramics program. During that time, I also explored Raku which was a new direction for pottery in the United States.

I thoroughly enjoyed a teaching career that spanned 45 years where I taught art to students from kindergarten through Community College. The majority of my career was spent teaching ceramics at Corvallis’ Children’s Farm Home, and at Corvallis High School where I taught art classes in a variety of media. Helping young people to develop their skills in art, especially ceramics, was a joy. My goal as a teacher was to make a difference in their lives.

Asian influence has been primary in my approach to both clay and painting. The opportunity to further my skills in pottery presented itself in l977 when I traveled to Mashiko, Japan to work with a master potter. Subsequent trips back to Japan have inspired me to study and incorporate classical Asian pottery, and Sumi brushwork in my painting and pottery decoration.

Exhibitions in Montana, California, and Oregon have been part of my history, and I was honored to be featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s show Oregon Art Beat in 2011.

I am a founding member of the annual event Philomath Open Studios and was a participating artist for 15 years.

Art in the Valley Gallery
Tuesday – Saturday
10:00 AM to 5:30 PM.
209 SW 2nd St.
Corvallis, OR 97333

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