Mr. Yoshida, Ms. Hoshi, and Robert Lundeen, at the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, 1973. Yoshida was the curator at the museum, and Ms. Hoshi was his assistant. Lundeen had the good luck to meet these two individuals, and the foresight to use the opportunity to make important connections with highly recognized potters throughout Japan. Without their help and introductions, Lundeen would have not  been able to meet with Shoji Hamada, and the many others who opened their doors to expose the vast and diverse world of Japanese Ceramics.

Robert Lundeen at the workshop of Tatsuzo Shimaoka, Mashiko, Japan, in 1973.

Warming up by the stove, in the studio of Hiroshi Seto, Mashiko, 1973. First meeting in 1972, Seto and Lundeen became very good friends, and with Lundeen's help, Mr. Seto came to the USA in 1973. The first noborigama in Arizona was built by Seto with help from workshop participants, in Payson.

          Robert Lundeen      1925-2008

          It was in the fall of 1974, right out of high school, that I began my ceramics and art studies at Glendale Community College, in Glendale, Arizona. My timing could not have been better. The ceramics teacher at GCC, Robert Lundeen, had just returned from a 4 month sabbatical to Japan. A previous trip there brought Lundeen the very good fortune of meeting Kozo Yoshida, the curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, who wrote letters of introduction which allowed Lundeen to travel throughout Japan and meet with some of the top potters in the country. Many were living national treasures, including the Mashiko potter Shoji Hamada, who introduced Lundeen to Tatsuzo Shimaoka, one of Hamada’s first apprentices. Lundeen spent a period of time at Shimaoka’s in Mashiko in the winter of 1974, photographing and filming the studio operations, and serving as secretary to Mr. Shimaoka when Shimaoka needed letters written in English.

           Many stories of Bob Lundeen’s travels in Japan, and the experiences with the potters he met, were shared in the months and years after his return with the students in his classes. Film footage and slide shows brought the experience very much into the classroom, and his enthusiasm was contagious.

           About a year into my studies there, I became Mr. Lundeen’s student lab assistant, helping with the functional workings of the facility. One day in 1976, toward the end of my two years at GCC, Mr. Lundeen asked if I might like to go to Japan and apprentice with a Japanese potter. I was amazed that there could be such a possibility. With letters of recommendation from Mr. Lundeen, sent to some of the potters he had met there, and letters requesting sponsorship written by me, next was the wait for answers. Tatsuzo Shimaoka responded that he might have room for another student the following spring. The possibility of my journey to Japan became very real. Months went by making the arrangements, including a study visa. After a year’s passage since my initial decision to go to Japan to learn pottery as an apprentice, I was on my way (I spent that year continuing my art studies at Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, and took ceramics classes with Donald Bendel).

             Bob Lundeen became my lifelong friend and mentor in the years that followed my return from my apprenticeships in Japan. I learned much more than the history and techniques involved in the field of ceramics from this man. I also learned about carpentry, and how to work on old houses, which still occupies some of my time to this day. He is dearly missed.



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This Page Was Last Updated on December 02, 2016