The Mad Potterby Han Greenberg & Sandra Jordan (Authors)
Geroge E Ohr, Eccentric Genius
George E Ohr was a 19th century American potter. He was largely unknown until years after his death, in 1967, a treasure trove of his work was discovered. “The Mad Potter” is a chapter book, picture book, biography.
“The Mad Potter “opens with a full page picture of George standing on his head. The next page talks about how Jim Carpenter, an antiques dealer, stumbles upon a large collection of George E Ohr’s pottery, among them his unique “Mud Babies”. George would often proclaim that “his pots were worth their weight in gold”. And although in his lifetime, almost no one wanted them; almost 50 years after his death, his words seemed to come true.
What was genius about George E Ohr’s pottery? Why are his pieces unique and museum worthy? The authors tell a tale of George’s journey into the world of pottery and art. They describe him as being the “black sheep” of the family who much later in his life finds his true calling.. his vocation. In Geroge’s words “When I found the potter’s wheel I felt it all over like a duck in water”.
Soon after, George starts creating and churning out pots, pans, pitchers, kettles, vases, bowls, teapots and many, many different pieces of earthenware. His pieces are dazzling and colorful as he experiments techniques of mixing and molding. His pieces are creative and puzzling because he uses his imagination and frenzied creativity. His pieces are unique and contrary, just like his own persona. George loved to put on a show. He loved to entertain and self-promote. A lot of his own self can be seen in his work.
Despite all his showmanship, George simply wasn’t successful at selling his art. People would come to see his show and laugh and talk. But they always left empty handed.
This picture book non-fiction is a wonderful account of his life and work. Through photographs of George and photos of his pottery, this book showcases his genius. The authors present this fascinating biography of Geroge Ohr through colorful photos of the art coupled with vintage sepia toned photos of the artist himself.
Towards the end of the book are two notes. The “Ohr-O’Keefe Museuem” note details the construction of the museum and how it was built to capture the unique and quirky nature of the art within. But my favorite part was the “How to look at a Pot” note where the authors do a super job of explaining how sensory words such as color, texture, form, lines can be used to capture the essence of the piece.
A highly informative, engaging and certainly unique biography of Geroge E Ohr, “The Mad Potter”.