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Santa Monica Museum of Art opens Peter Shire. Tea for Two Hundred

Santa Monica Museum of Art presents Peter Shire. Tea for Two Hundred, an exhibition of giant teapots, on view from January 19 through April 3, 2013.

Peter Shire, Cherry Blossom Pink, 2006, Earthenware, glazes, stainless Steel, 36 x 28 1/2 x 19 inches, Photo by Amy Stevenson

Tea for Two Hundred highlights eight large-scale teapots, ranging in height from two to six feet tall. These imaginative objects, made of clay, metal, wood, and found materials, are some of Shire’s most inventive works. They will be installed in a whimsical landscape – sparking the imagination with a playful dialog between the viewers’ bodies and the teapots.

The teapot, an iconic form in the artist’s work, characterizes Shire’s spirited aesthetic and distinctive style. Throughout his career, he has continually reinvented the object, using it as an armature to experiment with material, scale, and function. The exhibition’s curator and SMMoA’s executive director, Elsa Longhauser says of the work, “These eccentric giants are both unlikely and ingenious. They resist categorization and are charming, unwieldy, and fitful in their usefulness and uselessness. We are pleased to show Peter’s work. His singular style encompasses both international and local perspectives – with roots in the Milan-based Memphis group combined with the multitude of influences he has absorbed from living and working in Los Angeles.”

Shire was a friend and peer of Miriam Wosk, whose first museum survey, Abundance and Devotion, is on view concurrently in SMMoA’s Main Gallery. Shire’s work is in Wosk’s collection, and one of the extraordinary teapots she owned will be included in Tea for Two Hundred. The parallel presentation of the two artists’ work speaks to the inspiration and local community they shared working in the realms of art and design.

Born in 1947 and based in Echo Park, Los Angeles, Peter Shire is a fixture in the Los Angeles art community. He is a multi-talented artist who works at the intersection of fine art, craft, and industrial design. One of the original members of the Memphis group, Shire was also influenced by Southern California ceramicists Peter Voulkos and Ken Price. Shire’s work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Tea for Two Hundred is organized by Elsa Longhauser, executive director of the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

For further information about exhibitions and programs, call 310 586-6488 or visit

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