Remembering: John Glick

Remembering: John Glick

Looking back on the life and work of a prolific potter, friend, and mentor to many in the ceramics field.

John Glick

John P. Glick in 1960 at a summer workshop in Farmington, Michigan.

It is with great sadness that we share news of the death of ceramist John Glick. A Fellow of the American Craft Council and friend to many in the craft community, Glick operated Plum Tree Pottery in Farmington Hills, Michigan, from 1964 to 2016. He was 78.

Glick was born in 1938 and raised in Detroit. He studied ceramics and metalsmithing in high school and college, receiving his BFA in 1960 from Wayne State University. He went on to study with renowned ceramist Maija Grotell at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he received his MFA in 1962. Following his studies at Cranbrook, Glick was drafted into the Army and sent to West Germany. According to an interview with Jody Clowes in American Craft magazine (June/July 1991), Glick's interaction with several small, traditional salt-glazing potteries in the town of Höhr-Grenzhausen reinforced his intent to pursue full-time studio work. When he returned to Michigan in 1964, Glick quickly established a studio and showroom under the name Plum Tree Pottery, a pursuit he would follow for the next 50 years.
 

John Glick stoneware tureen

John Glick, stoneware tureen (1971); wheel thrown, reduction fired, stoneware; 10 in. diameter

In addition to having a reputation as one of America's most respected studio potters, Glick was also widely recognized for mentoring up-and-coming ceramists through the assistantship program he ran at Plum Tree. He also shared his knowledge through workshops and writings. As Clowes explained in her article, "Glick's thoughtful articulation of what it means to work in clay, promulgated through regular demonstrations, lectures, and articles in publications such as Studio Potter and Ceramics Monthly, has had a defining impact on the field." Many of his students have gone on to establish successful ceramic careers of their own. For more on Glick's influence, read the personal narratives posted by several of his assistants on the Studio Potter website.
 

John Glick dinnerware place setting

John Glick, dinnerware place setting (1992); wheelthrown, multiple slips, glazes, reduction fired, stoneware; largest plate is 11 in. diameter

Glick was perhaps best known for his ever-evolving, innovative one-of-a-kind dinnerware designs, subdued in the Japanese style of pottery but embellished with abstract patterns and shapes and colorful multi-layered glazes, which he created through close collaboration with his assistants and clients.

In 1979, Glick was commissioned to produce a set of dinnerware for the Vice-Presidential mansion of Walter Mondale and his wife Joan. Learn more about this venture in a vintage article from the Washington Post. Over the course of his more than 50 year career, Glick's pottery was exhibited nationally and internationally. His work can be found in numerous museum collections, including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Arts and Design in New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Detroit Institute of Arts, to name a few. In addition to being named an ACC Fellow in 2001, Glick was twice awarded the prestigious Louis Comfort Tiffany Award (1961 and 1972), received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1977 and 1988), a Michigan Foundation for the Arts Governor’s Award (1977), and a Michigan Governor's Award for Arts and Culture (2001).
 

John Glick tray

John Glick, tray (1988); slab formed, multiple slips and glazes, wax resist, reduction fired, stoneware; 28 in. long by 16 in. wide

In 2016 Glick retired and sold the studio. He and his wife, Susie Symons, moved to California to be near family. That same year, a retrospective exhibition "John Glick: A Legacy in Clay" was held at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. A gallery of work that appeared in "A Legacy in Clay" can be viewed online here. Glick’s work is represented by the Schaller Gallery in St. Joseph, Michigan.


Upon joining the ACC College of Fellows, Glick had this to say about his career:

Since beginning in 1964 as a studio potter, I have greatly enjoyed the exploration of the rich world of functional pottery. And, it would seem that those who follow my work have become accustomed to the changing nature of my pottery over the years and have supported it with kindness and sympathetic generosity. Without this sense of harmony that flows between us, the survival of my pottery would be in question. But my inclination to be inquisitive is happily matched by an equally willing public response. I believe it is the kind of relationship that has nurtured enduring art activity in other times in many cultures.