By Reeve Washburn, Art Walk Coordinator
Loren Lukens believes in craft husbandry. A life-long ceramicist and founder of Brace Point Pottery, he grew up on a farm, close to the earth. As Loren says, “farming is one of the oldest duties of peoplehood,” and his people have been farmers from the beginning of time. Pottery making is equally as fundamental to humankind, as the synthesis of practicality and art. Loren’s attitude toward his art is similar to his father’s view of farming: that husbandry means taking care of something bigger than yourself, to provide for future generations, and using your natural resources wisely and creatively. It’s common human courtesy. He’s made West Seattle his home and workplace, and nurtures our artistic community with careful stewardship.
“I continue to draw inspiration from the long history humans have with clay.” Loren Lukens, Owner, Brace Point Pottery & Gallery
Beautiful Downtown Arbor Heights!
Brace Point Pottery is located in the old 1940’s Arbor Heights Pharmacy-plus-living quarters, a great spot for someone who wants to work where he lives, but not the most discoverable location for a gallery. Loren and wife Beth Kirchhoff, who has her musical coaching studio off the gallery, have been in West Seattle since 1997, after a decade in the Capitol Hill art scene and another decade on North Lake Union across from Chihuly’s Boathouse and Hot Shop. Loren is, and always has been, a thriving artist, shipping work regularly to a dozen galleries across the country and selling through his gallery. There remains, however, fundamental tension between his farming roots and artistic livelihood: while it had been a life goal to own his home and studio, it still feels “beyond his station in life.” Artists aren’t necessarily supposed to have money or be able to own property. His life dissonance comes with a healthy dose of daily gratitude and a lot of pay-it-forward to his creative community.
Geology in a Hurry
There is an alchemical quality to making pottery. Elemental clay is transformed by heat into durable, useful wares, like rock made from millennia of compressed earth. The glazes are made from minerals and ash, beautifying pieces with components of the natural environment. Basketry predated pottery, and the earliest clay bowls had imprints of basketweave on their outer faces, proving the sun-baked clay helped create a durable interior layer for a better basket. Loren is inspired by this challenge of joining form and surface. His forms are extensions of traditional pottery with contemporary variations. His pieces are strong, sleek and sculptural, with a bold painterly surface and rich glaze treatment. Their silhouettes are dynamic when viewed at a distance, and the details are intense up close.
“My best pots resolve the difficulty of painting in three dimension, while maintaining the integrity of the form.” Loren Lukens, Owner, Brace Point Pottery & Gallery
He notes a further connection of his craft to our own human evolution: how the shapes of pottery are named for shapes of the body, such as lip, foot, and shoulder, often in bilateral symmetry like humans’ features. His own belief in the infinite potential of pottery as art is bolstered by the fact that humans share the same theoretical formula for clay in our genome – Al2O3 Ÿ 2SiO2 Ÿ 2H2O.
Loren has been working hard to promote his artist peers since the Capitol Hill days, when he originated Seattle Sampling, an annual holiday studio tour and art sale, now in its 35th year. He is a founder of the West Side Artist Studio Tour, along with ceramicist Deb Schwartzkopf of Rat City Ceramics and painter Diane Culhane, most recently held in October 2019 at six locations around West Seattle and featuring the work of 28 artists. His latest partnership is right at home with Alki Arts‘ Diane Venti, long-time owner of the Alki Gallery, and now a curator of fine art and art sales. This reinvention of Brace Point Pottery brings artists from Diane’s portfolio to a new audience, as well as brings her dedicated clientele to see a new side of design at Brace Point Pottery. Recent events have included group shows of a variety of media, backed by instrumental performances, and of course, wine and nibbles.
“I have never experienced any place like West Seattle when it comes to the arts. This area is so full of incredibly talented artists and musicians, and equally full of supportive loyal art fans and customers! I am grateful that Loren has invited me to collaborate in his great neighborhood space!” Diane Venti, Owner, Alki Arts
The jewel of their wintertime crown is the Annual Holiday Studio Sale as part of Seattle Sampling, running from Friday, December 6, through Sunday December 8. Loren is a big proponent of shopping local, so come to Brace Point Pottery to avoid the malls and support the local creative scene. They are just one stop on the six-studio tour where you can meet locally- and nationally-recognized professional craftspeople in their own environments. Loren invites the community to come visit his studio any day, and certainly during the November 14 Art Walk and during Seattle Sampling. As he evolves his business and ponders his role as ceramicist vs. gallerist, visitors can come enjoy the process of organic growth.
Join Brace Point Pottery for the November 14 Art Walk! 5-8pm
- Lezlie Jane, paintings and sculpture
- Jed Johnson, turned “Ply Tree” bowls and vases
- Garrison Coverdale, clay hemis and orbs
- Linda Kleeman, jewelry
Brace Point Pottery & Gallery is located at 4208 SW 100th St, Seattle, WA, 98146. The gallery is open on Saturdays, 10am to 5pm, and irregularly during the week. Make an appointment by calling Loren Lukens at 206.935.6740 (and he is mostly in the studio!).
You can learn more about Brace Point Pottery & Gallery at their website.
Read more Business Spotlights on our West Seattle Art Walk blog: Inner Alchemy, The Office of Rebecca Mitsui, Northwest Art & Frame, Wild Rose’s, West Seattle Garden Tour + Capers Home, Canna West Seattle + Culture Shop, West Seattle Art Nest, John L. Scott West Seattle, The Building and Mural Alley Unveiling.