Oral history interview with Peter Shire, 2007 September 18-19
Shire, Peter Anton, 1947-
Lauria, Jo, 1954-
Bennett, Garry Knox
Saxe, Adrian Anthony
Sheets, Millard Owen
Westermann, H. C. (Horace Clifford)
Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Los Angeles City College
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 77 pages.
Originally recorded as 13 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 8 min.
Access Note / Rights:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
An interview of Peter Shire conducted 2007 September 18-19, by Jo Lauria, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Shire's studio, in Los Angeles, California.
Shire speaks of being a native Californian; his childhood growing up in the Los Angeles community of Echo Park; his parents' socialist political ideas; memories of FBI surveillance of his home and parents; defining the term kitsch as "the substitution of spurious values for real ones," using plastic flowers as an example; the essence of the craft movement as the handmade, the real; attending Saturday classes at Chouinard Art Institute while in high school; clothing fashion in his neighborhood during the late 1960s; the influence of high school teacher Anthony Scaccia; attending Los Angeles City College for one semester; discovering Domus magazine in the school library; receiving his B.F.A. from Chouinard in 1970; teaching at InterPace; being inspired by H.C. Westermann's work; traveling to Milan, Italy and visiting Ettore Sottsass; his interest in a humanistic, personal expression in art; encountering resistance to his "art furniture"; his 2007 show at Frank Lloyd Gallery, "Peter Shire Chairs"; the desire to create a total spatial experience of his work by charging the everyday function of objects with an emotional impact; and his public art commissions. Shire also recalls Gonzalo Duran, Juanita Jiminez, Millard Sheets, Adrian Saxe, Wendy Maruyama, Gary Knox Bennett, Marco Zanini, Matteo Thun, Aldo Cibic, Robert Koshalek, and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Peter Shire, 2007 September 18-19. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Peter Shire (1947- ) is a sculptor from Los Angeles, California. Jo Lauria is a curator and arts writer also from Los Angeles, California.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001