Peter Voulkos (January 29, 1924–2002), a name shortened from Panagiotis Voulkos, is an abstract expressionist artist whose revolutionary ceramic work forever influenced the genre. He is known for crossing the boundaries between craft and fine art. He has taught at Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina, founded the art ceramics department at the Otis College of Art and Design (then called the Los Angeles County Art Institute), and University of California, Berkeley from 1959 until 1985. He is noted for his large ceramic and metal work and wild character.
My influence has been drawn from an unusual source. Upon moving into my live work ZUGHAUS Gallery, I found out that it is the old studio of Peter Voulkos. He primarily used the space as his family home and metal casting forge. It seems an appropriate site as we are surrounded by the Berkeley Steel Mill on the south, west and north sides, and the Union Pacific railroad to our east.
The stories about Peter Voulkos' character are remarkable. Stories of wild parties and Cocaine abound. I have heard numerous accounts of Voulkos avoiding trouble with the law by pulling quickly out of their sight by turning into our well hidden driveway along the railroad tracks; the perfect atelier for a renegade artist. Also, it is reported that in the front loft, Voulkos had cut a hole in the floor to raise large scale 2D artwork to the second floor. My favorite of the Peter Voulkos legends is the confirmed rumor that he housed crocodiles here in ZUGHAUS, in the downstairs room with a trapdoor in the ceiling to the living room. It seems feasible seeing as how there is a plastic covered window through the floor into the space, no doubt for watching these exotic pets. Also, the room features an unexplainable working faucet still in the room, yet no drain plumbing or a basin. Its hard to imagine a crocodile or two living in our loft, but it had been confirmed by the previous tenants, the owners of Trax Gallery, which had previously occupied our space.
I like to imagine the images of him casting metal were shot in my home and workspace, ZUGHAUS Gallery. They probably were.