Mashiko pottery at Gallery of Art April 4-20

Mashiko, a small town 60 miles north of Tokyo, is known throughout Japan for its Mashiko-yaki, a distinctive country-style pottery.

Next month, the Gallery of Art will present a rare U.S. exhibition by husband-and-wife Mashiko potters Masayuki Miyajima and Darice Veri.

East and West — Two Mashiko Potters: Masayuki Miyajima and Darice Veri, opens today in the Gallery of Art’s Teaching Gallery and remains on view through April 20.

ExhibitionWho: Potters Masayuki Miyajima and Darice VeriWhat: East and West — Two Mashiko Potters: Masayuki Miyajima and Darice VeriWhere: Gallery of Art’s Teaching GalleryWhen: Opens today; runs through April 20For more information about the exhibition, call 935-4523. For more details about other events with Miyajima and Veri, call 935-8772In addition, Veri will lecture on “Meeting Mashiko: An Introduction to a Japanese Pottery Village” at 7 p.m. today in the Gallery of Art’s Steinberg Auditorium. A reception will immediately follow.

Other events include a talk by Veri on “An American Apprentice in a Japanese Potter World” at 6:30 p.m. April 9 in the Saint Louis Art Museum Auditorium.

On April 16, both artists will lead an all-day workshop on “The Traditions of Pottery” for the School of Art. The workshop will take place in the school’s ceramics studio, located in the Lewis Center, 721 Kingsland Ave. in University City.

Mashiko pottery exemplifies the simple, rustic charm of mingei, or folk art, in which craftsmen work without artistic aim or pretense to create functional objects of great beauty. Utilizing nearby mountain clay and red pine wood (for firing), Mashiko potters speak to both the spiritual and practical sides of life with such everyday items as plates, bowls and teacups.

Founded in 1853, Mashiko pottery was first brought to world attention by Shoji Hamada (1894-1978), a central figure in the folk art movement, who dedicated himself to preserving and passing on traditional pottery techniques. Hamada was designated a Living National Treasure by the Japanese government in 1955.

Other major practitioners include Tatsuzo Shimaoka, who apprenticed to Hamada for three years and was himself designated a Living National Treasure in 1996.

Miyajima, who in turn apprenticed with Shimaoka for five years, continues the mingei tradition. Veri, a native of Ohio, moved to Mashiko in 1982 to pursue her interest in Hamada’s pottery, and she and Miyajima later established their own kiln in the area.

The two artists continue to work closely together while maintaining their own styles, creating pottery that is a blend of modern and traditional.

The exhibition is co-sponsored by the University’s Visiting East Asian Professionals (VEAP) Program in Arts & Sciences in cooperation with the Gallery of Art, the School of Art and the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays; and noon-4:30 p.m. weekends. The gallery is closed Mondays.

All events are free and open to the public.