Whimsical Exhibit Fits Potter to a Tea : Arts: In his first solo show, Brian Peshek offers ceramic and other off-beat interpretations of a familiar vessel.


It's teatime in the Twilight Zone.

Artist Brian Peshek has plucked globes and cones and rings from the atmosphere and enlisted them for odd service. These "Whimsical Teapots" form the glazed landscape of a new show at Vortex gallery in Reseda.

"Ceramics is a really mystical medium," Peshek says, "and many times unpredictable."

Witness his work.

Of the two dozen or so teapots he has fashioned, some are perfectly and playfully geometrical. The spouts have sharp edges. The lids are conical. Tumbling triangles form a strange handle.

Other vessels take shape in softly rounded, lopsided curves. These wheel-thrown conglomerations are colored in muted grays and browns and greens.

The concept holds water as a light-hearted foray, an afternoon's respite. The artist says he didn't care to challenge viewers or pose socially vital questions, or even delve into the human psyche. He simply wanted to toy with teapots.

"I made one and it enticed me," he recalls. "I like to take a form and try to change people's ideas."

Peshek is relatively new to the process of creation. Three years ago, he was a business administration major--studying numbers and trends--at Cal State Northridge. Then, by chance, he sat down at a potter's wheel.

"I got addicted," he says.

Now, at 22, he majors in art and has his first solo show.

In practical terms, Peshek has started off with a tricky ceramic task. Teapots include several components--namely the pot, spout and handle--that must be made separately at the wheel and later joined.

It takes three days to form the wet shapes and three days for them to dry. An initial firing requires two days, glazing another two. A second firing lasts three days. And that's if everything goes right.

But several of Peshek's pieces stray from ceramics. One pot is made of squiggly silver rod. Another is of chicken wire painted pink, and another of scrap metal. Alas, there are precious few cups among the exhibit.

The work fills the back half of Vortex, a storefront space along Sherman Way, which was formerly the eclectic and beloved Bebop Records and Fine Art. New owner Melody Cooper invited Peshek to show because she was drawn to the symmetry and geometry of his teapots.

"I think all humans can relate to those forms," says Cooper, herself a potter. "Each part is very simple, but when all that is put together it's complex."

The show fits perfectly in this place. It stands in dim lighting beside a pair of working wheels. Yo-Yo Ma plays over the stereo as a Peshek fountain, with its teapot spouting an eternal brown stream into an adjacent bowl, gurgles softly.

Says the exhibit invitation: "There is a concept. Reminiscent of something. I will not conform."

Says the young artist: "I want to base my whole life on the whimsical."

Vortex is at 18433 Sherman Way, Reseda. Admission is free. Hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays are by appointment only. There will be a closing party at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 29. Information: (818) 881-1654.

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