プロフィール 利茶土ミルグリム

大学時代に日本の茶陶と出会い、来日して日本の窯元を巡る。 その後、京都、萩焼(山口県)、備前焼(岡山県)、美濃焼(岐阜県)の窯元で陶芸を修業する。
1985年、京都府日吉町にて築窯。当時15代裏千家御家元千宗室氏(現大宗匠)により「利茶土窯」と命名される。 以後、日本をはじめ、世界中で展覧会を開催。
2005年、ホームページを開設。 2007年、講談社より「茶陶家 利茶土ミルグリム 作品集」を刊行。
2014〜2015年、利茶土窯三十周年記念展を三回に分けて開催する。

My first encounter with ceramics began as a college freshman in the early 70's. The following year, after changing schools I was first introduced to Japan and it's pottery traditions. From that point on my life has been firmly focused on the unique culture of Japan and in particular "CHANOYU", known as The Way of Tea.
Since 1977 on my first arrival in Kyoto, I have been blessed with an unending flow of "deai" (encounters) that have almost been like stepping stones on the garden path, leading me into the innermost depths of the field of "Chatou" (tea ceramics).
Undoubtedly the most significant "deai" was meeting Dr. Sen Genshitsu (the former 15th generation Grand Master of the Urasenke Tea Tradition), in 1979. With his guidance and endorsement over the years, including the naming of my 2 studios in both Japan-RICHADO-GAMA, and America- KONKO-GAMA, Dr. Sen has been the primary catalyst in the development of my career over the past 35 years.
(below you can read his words, along with others, as well as an in-depth history of my career)


略歴

1955年 ニューヨーク・ホワイトプレインズに 生まれる
1977年 初来日1年に亙り全国の窯元を巡り日本語や建築、庭園の研修を行う
1979年 アンティアック大学を卒業、トーマス・J・ワトソン奨学金にて再度来日裏千家「みどり会」に入学と同時に京都の陶芸作家岩渕重哉氏に師事
1982年 山口県長門市湯本萩焼窯元十二代田原陶兵衛氏の元で修業
1982年 岡山県備前焼窯元藤原雄氏の元で修業
1983年 岐阜県美濃焼窯元加藤光右衛門氏の元で修業
1984年~
1985年
京都府日吉町に築窯
裏千家大宗匠 千宗室氏により「利茶土窯」と命名される
1986年 野村美術館で作陶展京都土橋画廊で利茶土窯初窯展
松江一畑百貨店で茶陶展
1987年 横浜高島屋での特別展「外国からの8人のアーティストたち」に出品
1989年 京都高島屋で茶陶展
1990年 横浜高島屋で個展
1991年 米子高島屋で茶陶展
岡山高島屋で個展
1992年 ニュージーランド・フレッチャーチャレンジ国際陶芸展に入選
淡交ビエンナーレ茶道美術公募展奨励賞
1993年 新工房完成
東京日本橋高島屋で個展
1994年 淡交ビエンナーレ入選
横浜高島屋で個展
信楽1250年陶芸展入選
1995年 ホノルル日米文化センターで個展
第13回日本陶芸展入選(1997、1999、2001、2003)
東京日本橋高島屋で個展
1996年 1996年淡交ビエンナーレ入選
京都高島屋で茶陶展
さっぽろ東急百貨店でグループ展
ニューヨーク大一アーツでグループ展
1997年 小倉玉屋で茶陶展
さっぽろ東急で茶陶展
1998年 東京日本橋高島屋で茶陶展
ニューヨーク大一アーツで個展
1998年淡交ビエンナーレ優秀賞
秋田市で個展
プリンストン大学でワークショップ及び講義
1999年 京都・横浜高島屋で作陶二十年記念展
2000年 アメリカのマサチューセッツ州コンコードに住居を移す(利茶土窯との往復はじまる)
ユタ州立大学でワークショップ及び講義
2001年 第1回韓国 KYONGGI 国際陶芸ビエンナーレに入選
東京日本橋三越本店で個展
2002年 京都高島屋で茶陶2002年展
2003年 アメリカのアラバマ州で個展
サンフランシスコで茶碗展
横浜高島屋で作陶30年記念展
2004年 東京日本橋三越本店で個展
2005年 第18回日本陶芸展入選
インターネットホームページ開設
http://www.teaceramics.com
鳥取大丸で茶陶展
京都高島屋で2005年知命記念展
サンフランシスコ東洋美術館 招待作家
2006年 5月 北カリフォルニア ジャパン協会で講演・展示
10月 札幌 丸井今井で作陶展
11月 横浜高島屋で茶陶展
2007年 講談社より作品集刊行される
11月 野村美術館・淡交センターカルムで日本に出合って三十年展
2008年 4月 日本橋三越で作品集出版記念茶陶展
6月 ニューヨークギャラリー「玄」で茶陶展
2009年 1月津松菱で茶陶展
10月松江で個展
2010年 4月 京都高島屋で利茶土窯25周年記念展
8月 カリフォルニア州メンダシーノで茶碗ワークショップ
2011年 ボストン パッカーギャラリーで個展
コンコード ラコステギャラリーで茶碗グループ展
ハーバードで茶碗ワークショップ
日本国際放送ドキュメンタリーに出演
シカゴ ダグラスドーソンギャラリーで個展
横浜高島屋で「利茶土の茶陶」展
2012年 4月 オレゴン州ポートランド日本庭園で千住博氏と二人展
9月 日本橋三越で新作展
2013年 9月 アメリカ今古窯を閉じる
10月 仙台藤﨑で茶陶展
12月 桐蔭席に於いて席主を務める
2014年 5月 大徳寺塔頭黄梅院で利茶土窯三十周年記念展 PART ONE
2015年 10月 利茶土窯30周年 記念展 −PART 2−
利茶土の茶陶 還暦展 日本橋三越本店 本館6階 美術特選画廊(東京)
11月 利茶土窯30周年 記念展 −PART 3−
利茶土の茶陶 “EAST MEETS WEST in KYOTO” 野村美術館(京都)

personal history

1955 Born October, White Plains, N.Y., U.S.A.
1977 Traveled one year in Japan researching ceramics and Japanese culture
1978 Worked as research intern at Fogg Museum, Harvard University
1979 Graduated from Antioch College (Ohio) with B.A. in Fine Arts and Japanese Studies; Began studying "Chanoyu" (Tea Ceremony) and worked at Japan House Gallery in NYC for Chanoyu Exhibition; First met with Dr. Sen Genshitsu (Urasenke 15th Generation Grand Master); Returned to Japan as recipient of Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and began apprenticeship with Iwabuchi Shigeya, Master Potter in Kyoto; participated in one-month live-in seminar at O-moto School of Traditional Japanese Arts, Kameoka City, Kyoto Prefecture; Entered Midorikai program to study Chanoyu at Urasenke for one year.
1981 Held first one-man exhibition in Kyoto at Monzen Gallery at conclusion of apprenticeship with Iwabuchi Sensei
1982-84 Apprenticed with following Master Potters:
 Tahara To-bei (Hagi)
 Fujiwara Yu (Bizen)
 Kato Ko-emon (Mino)
1983 Exhibited Hagi and Bizen Works in Kyoto (Tsuchihashi Gallery) and Tokyo (Mune Kogei Gallery)
1984 to
1985
Established independent kiln "Richado-Gama" (named by Dr. Sen) in Northern Kyoto Prefecture, Hiyoshi-cho, Yotsuya.
Began exhibiting in solo and group shows throughout Japan
1986 to
2012
One-man exhibitions at Takashimaya Dept. Store Galleries in Kyoto, Tokyo, Yokohama, Yonago, Okayama, and elsewhere
1992 Fletcher Challenge International Exhibition selection (New Zealand); 1992 Tanko Biennale "Tea Arts for the 21st Century," (Kyoto), awarded Honorable Mention
1993 Completed new studio and gallery at Richado-Gama
1994 Tanko Biennale Competition selection
1995 One-man exhibition Honolulu, Hawaii; Selected for Japan National Ceramic Art Biennale Exhibition (1997, 1999, 2001, 2003)
1996 Tanko Biennale Competition selection
1997 One-man exhibitions at Kokura Tamaya and at Sapporo Tokyu (both are department store galleries)
1998 Tanko Biennale Competition, awarded First Prize; One-man exhibition at Tokyo Nihonbashi Takashimaya Dept. Store Gallery; One-man exhibition at Gallery Dai-ichi Arts in New York City; One-man exhibition in Akita City; Workshop- Lecture at Princeton University
1999 20th Anniversary exhibitions held at Takashimaya Dept. Store Galleries in Kyoto and in Yokohama
2000 Established residence in Concord, Massachusetts; Workshop/Lecture at Utah State University
2001 Selected for 1st Ceramic Biennale International Competition, Kyonggi, Korea; One-man exhibition at Tokyo Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Dept. Store Art Gallery
2002 One-man exhibition at Kyoto Takashimaya Art Gallery
2003 Exhibition / Lecture at Eastern Shore Art Center, Fairhope, Alabama; Tea Bowl Exhibition at the Japonesque Gallery in San Francisco, CA.; One-man exhibition at Yokohama Takashimaya Art Gallery
2004 One-man exhibition at Tokyo Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Dept. Store Art Gallery. Received the name KONKO-GAMA 今古窯 from Dr. Sen Genshitsu for his studio in Concord MA.
2005 One-man Exhibition at Tottori Daimaru Department Store Gallery, 6th One-man Exhibition at Kyoto Takashimaya Dept. Store Art Gallery; 6th Nihon Tougei-Ten selection; Launched Internet Homepage, www.teaceramics.com. ; 2 Week Visiting Guest Artist-in-Residence at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum
2006 Lecture and exhibit for the Northern Californa Branch of the Japan Society & S.F. Consulate General; Tea Ceramics Exhibition at Marui Imai Dept. Store Gallery, Sapporo, Japan; 5th One-man Exhibition at Yokohama Takashimaya Dept. Store Gallery
2007 Publication of Retrospective book, Tea Ceramics Artist, Richard Milgrim, by Kodansha; Commemorative Exhibitions (simultaneously), 30 Years, My Life in Japan (Nomura Museum and Tanko Center Calme, Kyoto)
2008 Book Publication Commemorative Tea Ceramics Exhibition at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Dept. Store Gallery, Tokyo; N.Y. SOFA EXHIBITION; ORIBE- Group Exhibition, Gallery GEN, N.Y.C., N.Y. ; Gallery talk at S.F. Asian Art Museum in conjunction with exhibition of new tea bowls at Japonesque Gallery, S.F.
2009 One-man Exhibition at Tsu Matsubishi Dept. Store Gallery, Mie Prefecture; Solo show in Matsue (Shimane Prefecture)
2010 25th Anniversary Exhibition of Richado-Gama at Kyoto Takashimaya; taught Tea Bowl Workshop at Mendocino Art Center, N. California
2011 Solo Exhibition at Pucker Gallery, Boston; The Elusive Tea Bowl Symposium @ Lacoste Gallery, Concord, Ma., Boston Museum of Fine Arts & Demonstration Workshop @ Harvard Univ. Ceramic Studio; Filmed (English) Documentary "An Encounter with Green Tea" for Japan National Broadcasting Corp.; Solo Exhibition at Douglas Dawson Gallery, Chicago; Exhibition of Tea Ceramics at Yokohama Takashimaya Dept. Store
2012 Tea Ceramics Exhibition with special guest Senju Hiroshi at Portland Japanese Garden (Oregon); Exhibition of new works at Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Dept. Store
2013 Closed Konko-Gama studio in Concord (Sept.); Solo exhibiiton at Sendai Fujisaki Dept. Store; Hosted Toin-Kai monthly tea ceremony for December
Hosted Toin-Kai monthly tea ceremony at Toin tea house, Kyoto, (first ever non-Japanese host) December
2014 Established Showroom in Kyoto City near Daitoku-ji Zen Monastery; Private solo exhibition and tea ceremony celebrating 30th anniversary (Part 1) of the establishment of Richado-Gama held at Daitoku-ji sub-temple Ōbai-in, Kyoto
Hosted bi-annual tea ceremony for International Tea Culture Association at Shou-un-ji, Hiroo, Tokyo October
2015 30th Anniversary Exhibition of Richado-Gama- Part 2 - Tea Ceramics 2015, Kanreki Exhibition-, at NIHONBASHI MITSUKOSHI Dept. Store, Tokyo, October,
followed by Part 3, -Richado's Tea Ceramics- East Meets West in Kyoto, at Nomura Museum, November

Message from Sen Genshitsu 15th Generation Grand Master of the Urasenke Tea Tradition 利休居士第15代 前御家元 鵬雲斎 千 玄室

リチャード君と初めて出会った時、勿論彼は茶道を稽古したいと意欲をもっていたのだが、私が「茶道を勉強することは貴方にとって何のプラスになるのか」と尋ねてみた。

彼は目を輝かせながら「茶陶をもって私の一生としたいので」という。私は思わず「よろしい」といってリチャード君をお世話することにした。私の眼には狂いがなかった。彼はどこにあったのかと思われるような、芸術的才能を茶陶を通じて現し出したのには驚きであった。茶の心を、主と客の一体感を、彼は彼の茶によって陶芸の世界に、精神的な高まりを展開していったのである。自分の才に溺れず何時も素直に自然と接し、自分の思いと心を手先から土に活かしていける特別のものをもっている。

二十年間のひたむきな努力と精進と真面目さがひとつとなって、彼独特の陶芸を生み出したそれを是非ご覧になっていただきたい。そして素晴らしい作品を味わい、御自分のものにしてください。リチャード君の今後、円熟されていくであろう「無の世界」がどのようになるか、私はそれを楽しみにしている。

新しい茶陶にその心が生まれる
それは窯変のように炎の力で
どのようにでも動き廻る未知の世界

才と未来あるリチャード君の為に、皆さま方の御支援を御願いいたします。

(1999年、利茶土展カタログに寄せられたメッセージより)

When I first met Richard 20 years ago, he already had a strong desire to study the practice of tea (Chanoyu). But interested in how he would respond to my question, I asked him, "What do you expect to gain from studying the Way of Tea?" Richard's eyes lit up as he replied, "I want to devote my life to making ceramics for the tea ceremony."

"Then come with me!" I said without hesitation -- and this is how I took Richard under my wing. My judgment proved to be correct. Richard began to manifest such an amazing artistic ability in making tea ceramics that one wonders where it could have come from. The heart of the tea ceremony is the union of host and guest. What Richard did in his practice of tea was to give material form to this spirit through the medium of ceramics. There is something very special in the way he can shape the clay with his hands and give substance to what is in his mind and heart. And this he does with humility and a constant openness to Nature. Some 20 years of single-minded purpose have combined with discipline and hard work to result in the creation of a ceramic art that is uniquely his own. I urge you to view these works and as you enjoy their wonderful artistry, please allow them to become a part of you. I look forward with great anticipation to see how Richard's "World of Nothingness" -- where there is no permanence, no barrier, no attachment to one thing -- will grow to maturity in the future.

Where heart & mind are born in an implement of tea made new,
Changed by the power of fire, as in the transforming kiln,
Moving freely in whatever direction it takes
The world of the unknown

I ask you all to lend your support and encouragement to this talented man, who holds so much promise.

Written in 1999 for Milgrim's exhibition catalog celebrating
Richard's first 20 years working in Japan


永青文庫 館長 竹内順一 Takeuchi Jun’ichi Director Eisei Bunko Museum

リチャードさんのことども

リチャードさんとの邂逅は、1979年の春だった。ちょうど私は、ジャパン・ハウス(ジャパン・ソサイアティー)が主催して全米3つの美術館を巡回する特別展「茶の湯」の随行学芸員として、ニューヨークに滞在していたときだった。彼はたしかギャラリー部門での展示作業や普及講座を担当していた。だから友人としての行き来は、かれこれ20年になろうとしている。

率直にいえば、私は最初、彼の陶芸家としての仕事を危惧した。なぜなら、自由な造形を目指す現代陶芸ではなく、茶の湯の陶器−「茶陶」をやってみたいというからである。その頃の、つまりアメリカでの作品を少し見せてもらった。素直な轆轤成形の、白釉に花の施文のある器が印象に残っている。茶の湯に「使える」かも知れぬが、しかし、これは「茶陶」ではない。自分の自由な創作と、「茶陶」としての作品の間には、越えねばならない大きな「溝」があることを、果たして彼は知ってのことだろうか。私はこの「溝」について語り、幾度となく彼を質した。その後、彼は日本各地で本格的な修行をはじめた。その足どりは別掲のプロフィールのとおりである。そして、節目節目に個展を開き、世に自分の「茶陶」を問うた。

今から振り返れば、彼の仕事は、京都の船井の山中に窯を築いてから開花したというのではなく、はじめから「花」があった。それを手で確かめ、追認したのが、彼の仕事ぶりではなかったか。そう思わざるを得ないのが彼の「茶陶」である。「溝」のひとつに、「創造」と「伝統」の相克がある。一言でいえば「茶陶」には様々な「あるべき内実」があり、それに頭を下げなければ、何事も始まらない。かといって、それは勿論茶の湯との上面の狎昵ではなく、妥協が過ぎれば「創造」が失せる。「茶陶」作家が常に等しく抱える課題である。彼はその種の妥協も決してしない。

ひとつ苦言を呈したいことがある。それは「器用」過ぎることである。彼の手に掛かれば、萩も備前も美濃もたちどころに自家薬籠中のものにある。あの「紙のように薄い」茶入の水挽きも難なくやってしまう。欲を言えば、もっと朴訥な、ぎらぎらした「生な茶陶」も見せてほしいとも思う。 今回の個展では、彼の新しい「花」がどんな風に変わったかを確かめたい。私たち見る側も、すべての「溝」を取り払って彼の作品に真摯に対峙したい。

Some Thoughts on Richard Milgrim

It was in the spring of 1979 that I first met Richard Milgrim. I was in New York at the time as an advisor for the exhibition “Chanoyu”, organized by The Japan House Gallery located inside The Japan Society, which was touring three art museums in the United States. Richard was working at the time in the gallery division of the Japan House, involved in the display of exhibitions and speaking to the public about the works being shown.
Twenty odd years have thus now passed since we became acquainted.
To be quite frank, I was initially somewhat apprehensive when Richard talked of his desire to create tea ceremony ceramics (chatou), rather than contemporary work in a free style. I had already seen a certain amount of his work in the United States. I recall in particular pieces simply formed on the wheel, with floral patterns and white glaze.
Such pieces could perhaps have been used in the tea ceremony but they most certainly could not have been labeled as tea ceremony wares in their own right. I wondered if he was really aware of the enormous gap which existed between his own freely inspired creations and chatou, a gap he would have to traverse if he were to create authentic tea ceremony ware. I discussed this gap with him on several occasions.
Shortly afterwards he embarked on a period of serious training in Japan. Following this he presented his own exhibitions annually around Japan and submitted his tea ceramics for public appraisal.

Looking back over his career, it now seems clear that Richard Milgrim’s work was inspired from the outset and that it was not simply after he had built his own studio and kiln in the countryside northwest of Kyoto that it blossomed. His experiences living there enabled him to confirm and solidify something already present in his work. Such is the impression one receives from his tea ceremony ceramics. The gap to which I referred involves a conflict between original creation and tradition. Put simply, there are various conventions involved in the creation of chatou, and failure to observe them inevitably invalidates any work which aspires to the world of the tea ceremony. At the same time, excessive accommodation to the surface trappings of the tea ceremony is likely to result in the loss of any trace of spontaneous creativity. This is a problem which any potter involved in the creation of chatou has constantly to confront. But Richard is not one to compromise.

If I have any complaint to make it is that Richard is almost too dexterous. With the briefest period of training, he managed to attain a complete mastery of Hagi, Bizen and Mino ware. With apparent effortlessness, he soon mastered the difficult technique of throwing wafer-thin chaire (tea caddies) on the wheel. Personally, I would like to see him produce less sophisticated tea ceremony ware in a style of greater simplicity and volume.

This exhibition gives us the chance to see how his new style has been evolving. I hope that we viewers will be able to approach Richard Milgrim’s work in a spirit of true sincerity, having ridden ourselves of all the gaps and prejudices in our own minds.

(This essay was written on the occasion of one of Richard’s exhibitions shortly after 2000)


利茶土 ミルグリムの旅路

序章
THE BEGINNING

リチャードが最初に陶芸に興味を持ったのは、エマーストのマサチューセッツ州立大学1年生の時(1974年)のことである。74年春と秋、陶芸の基礎クラスに大方の時間を費やし その結果、もっと個人的な教育を受けるべく、より小規模な大学へ転校した。

1975年の夏、オハイオ州イエロースプリングスのアンティアック大学に通い始めた事がその後の彼の人生に大きく影響を与えた。この時の変化は、リチャードが日本と茶陶の世界を見い出すことへと直接繋がる事となった。

その夏の間、指導下さった先生達キャレン シャーリーと、マイケル ジョウンズが、世界中のいろいろな焼き物を紹介してくれ、特に二人が愛する日本の陶器を、リチャードは初めて知ることになる。この二人が若い頃、まだ西洋人がまれだった1960年代はじめの京都に実際に住んだことがあって、その日本での経験は、彼ら自身の生活や美意識に深い影響を持たらした。リチャードはそんな二人の先生が収集した日本の焼き物に触れ、日本の作陶技術を教えられ、様々な日本の話を聞き夢中になった。

ほぼ時を同じくして、ハロルド ライト教授がアンティアック大学で教鞭をとられていた。ハロルド教授も朝鮮戦争の頃日本に居着き、日本との長いつながりを持っておられ、戦後彼はハワイ大学で2学位を取得、日本文化、中でも文学の学者になり、それに続いて、当時コロンビア大学で高名なドナルド キーン博士の元で研究生活を送った経緯を持っている。彼は自身の詩も書き、万葉集の和歌や、谷川俊太郎の現代詩の翻訳なども手掛けている。

リチャードはこれらの先生達や、同じように日本の魅力のとりこになっていた先輩達の影響下で、自分の肌で日本を体験したいと思うようになった。

アンティアック大学には、AEA(ANTIOCH EDUCATION ABROAD)というユニークなカリキュラムの選択があり、1年間の海外での体験がそのまま単位になるというものだった。彼は自由にプログラムを組んで、日本で1年間過ごすことを決め、まず初め、ホームステイしながら京都に近い枚方にある関西大学の日本語集中講座をとり、日本語の基礎の勉強に2ヶ月間を費やす手はずを整えた。その後の10ヶ月間は現代日本における伝統的な陶芸を研究することにした。

旅路
THE PILGRIMAGE

1977年1月から12月までの1年間、最初の日本での暮らしが始まった。寒い冬の2ヶ月は、想像していた日本の生活とは、まるでかけはなれた郊外で暮らしながら、形式的な日本語の初歩を学ぶ事から始めた。

日本語短期集中講座を終え、クラスでの親友マーク スタンレーと、韓国に旅行に行く機会があった。幸いマークは、ソウルに何年も住んだことがあり言葉が堪能だったので、韓国の本当の文化や歴史が窺える田舎も不自由なく旅することが出来、彼らは、500年も前から日本に陶器を送り込んでいるような窯元を含む昔からの窯場を見て回った。リチャードは日本に戻り次第窯場巡りをしたいという思いを募らせた。

日本に戻り、古い都であり日本文化の中心である京都の町中に移り住んだ。その後の数ヶ月は京都近辺の窯場をあちらこちら訪ね、古都を隈無く歩き回り、こうした日々は、日本語を覚え日常の生活習慣や暮らしを理解し、特に京都文化を知る上で計り知れないほど役立った。様々な寺院・神社・美術館・庭園・歴史ある店々等から限りないインスピレーションを受け、毎日の新発見はこの上ない喜びだった。また、若い陶芸家の卵にとって、日本の中でも最も高い文化水準と世界から認められている京都の工芸と伝統美術に触れ目を肥やす好機でもあった。

京都暮らしも落ち着き、日本語にも多少の自信が持てるようになり、日本全国旅行に出ることを決め、梅雨を避けるために北海道に向けてスタートすることになった。6月中旬に日本全国の窯元とその簡単な紹介のガイドブックをナップサックに入れ、まず高名な濱田庄司(1894〜1978)やその高弟島岡達三(1919〜2007)が、民芸の町として有名にした益子までヒッチハイクで辿り着いた。日本政府から人間国宝に最初に指定された工芸家の一人として、濱田庄司は西洋では伝統的な日本の民芸作家の最高峰と見なされていた。彼は河井寛次郎(1890〜1966)・バーナード リーチ(1887〜1979)・柳 宗悦(1889〜1961)と共に1926年民芸会を設立した1人だった。

濱田や島岡に関する簡略な知識を持って益子を訪れたが、まさかこの巨匠と共にお茶を飲み、静かに英語で語り合うという夢のような機会を得るとは思いもよらず、この益子訪問は最初の日本滞在のハイライトのひとつとなった。

後でわかったことは、島岡は濱田の高弟であったばかりではなく、彼の隣人でもあったということだ。驚いたことに、益子を訪ねた当時島岡の弟子としてアンティアックの卒業生ディヴィッド ヴィタレリが働いていた。彼らはすぐ友達になり、意外にも島岡先生は数週間滞在して先生が築いた4室からなる薪と塩の窯の窯焚きに参加していくよう勧めてくれたのだった。

益子の工房に3週間留まった後、旅を続けることを決めていたのだが、心の中ではまたここに戻りたい思いだった。リチャードは益子に戻ることがあれば島岡先生の弟子にとお願いし、先生から許可を頂く事もできた。

数々の大きな希望を持って、日本全国(本州・北海道・九州・四国)の新旧の窯場を見て回る旅を、1人ヒッチハイクで敢行をしたおかげで、日本語が瞬く間に上達した事がひとつの成果だった。また、旅路のあちらこちらで出会った日本人の寛大さ・親切心に絶えず感激し通しだった。

5ヶ月間で沖縄県以外のすべての県を訪れ、100人以上の陶芸家と会う事が出来ました。この旅の間に九州に二人、京都に一人弟子になりたいと真剣に考える陶工達を見つけ、益子を含め4人の先生から将来弟子として迎えることを承諾して頂いた。

日本にそのまま滞在し、すぐにでも修業を始めたい思いだったが、翌春アンティアックを卒業し人生の次のステップを踏むべく、1977年12月一旦アメリカに帰る決意をした。

アメリカに戻って -- 転機
Back in America -- The Turning Point

アンティアックに戻った後、予想外の事が次々に起こり、再び日本に戻るのは79年の夏まで延びる事になった。しかし振り返って見れば、その1年半は次に日本に帰った時の良い準備期間になったのです。結局、京都の陶芸家岩渕重哉(1925~1993)の元で修業しながら裏千家で「茶道」を学ぶためにトーマスJワトソン奨学金に1978年の秋申し込みをした。リチャードは濱田に魅せられこよなく民芸を愛していたが、日本全国の各美術館で見てきた16・17世紀の茶陶により興味を引かれている自分に気が付いたのだった。彼は茶道具を作ってみたいと強く望んでいたが、その背景も機能もまったく知らなかったので、奨学金の申し込みの時に「"茶の湯"の勉強」を加えた。幸い京都の裏千家には、茶道を学びたい外国人の為の学校があり、1970年以来外国からの真摯な学生を訓練するコースで「みどり会」と呼ばれていた。

弟子入りを決めた岩渕先生は素晴らしい芸術家であり工芸家でもあって、二人の人間国宝富本憲吉(1886~1963)・近藤悠三(1902~1985)の元で修業をした人だった。77年の秋、京都の醍醐にある工房をたびたび訪れ、先生から日本に戻った際には弟子として受け入れるという許可をもらっていたので、奨学金の申し込みには、週三日間の弟子修業、あとの三日間は裏千家の学生にとお願いした。

1978年から79年にかけての冬、ワトソン基金からの返事を待つ間ボストンの家に帰り、そこで長年京都で茶の湯を勉強してきたアラン パーマーという良い先生を紹介頂き、千家の祖・千 利休の388回忌に当たる79年2月28日に茶の湯の道に入門した。正式に「茶道」を勉強しはじめて2週間もたたないうちにワトソン奨学金が授与されるという知らせが届いた。また同時にニューヨークのジャパンハウスギャラリーのディレクターであるランド キャスティール氏に紹介されるという事が起る。ギャラリーでは"茶の湯"と題して、日本から100点余の傑作を披露する大展覧会の幕を開けようとしていた。それは特に"茶の湯"の芸術に焦点を絞ったアメリカでは初の大展覧会だった。リチャードは前年の夏、ハーバード大学のフォグ美術館で、日本美術の権威ジョン ローゼンフィールド教授のもとで、インターンとして仕事をしたことがあった。教授は彼の茶道と日本陶芸への興味や日本語の能力を挙げて、その展覧会に関わる仕事をキャスティール氏に推薦してくれたのだった。

このことは、日本の代表的文化人で、当時裏千家15代御家元千宗室氏との予期せぬ運命的な出会いへとリチャードを導き、人生の次の段階へ進む道が開かれることになるのだった。千氏は茶の湯展の後援者であったのはもちろんのこと、当時の茶の湯の世界ではもっとも影響力のある人物だった。

正式なオープニングの前日、アンティアック時代の先生マイケル ジョウンズ氏を案内していた時の事です。突然着物を着た紳士に会場で何をしているのかと尋ねられ、本当に驚いたことに、リチャードはこの瞬間御家元とその奥様に直接対面したのだった。御家元と奥様も個人的に下見に来られていたそうで、千氏はまだ警備のしていない会場でこの二人は何をしているのかと訝り質問したのだった。まず、先生を紹介し次に会場での案内・通訳としての仕事を説明した。続いて御家元に、秋から京都に行きよりよく茶の湯を理解し知った上で茶陶を作るために「みどり会」に入学する旨をお話したところ御家元は、日本中にいる友人で有名な陶芸家達を紹介してあげるから、自分に会いに来るようにと名刺を下さった。このことがリチャードの将来にどれほど大きな役割を果たしたか、その時は知る術もなかった。

この偶然が、人生における最も大切な人間関係の始まりとなり、御家元御夫妻との間には魔法のようでしかもとても自然で温かな空気が流れていた。オープニング当日、御家元は各界の錚々たる人達に紹介下さり、様々なまたとない御縁を得て、行く手は大きく開かれているように見えたのだった。

再び日本へ
RETURNING TO JAPAN

1979年7月、ワトソン奨学生として京都に戻ったその時から、事がスムーズに流れ始めた。最初の1ヶ月間は、亀岡にあった大本伝統芸能学院に泊まり込みで参加しました。それは茶道・武道・能楽・書道・墨絵・陶芸などの集中プログラムから成るもので、1年半日本を離れていたリチャードにとって、また意識を日本に戻す良い機会となったのです。ここで彼は日本語を思い出し、心理的にも精神的にもこれからの弟子修業と茶道に専念する準備を整えて行った。

京都に帰って間もなく、彼は千 宗室御家元の自宅を訪ねて温かく迎えられ、御家元から頑張って良い作品を見せに来るようにと励まされた。しかし嬉しかったものの、日本の徒弟制度を知っているだけに、工房の中での新米に自分の作品を作るチャンスなどあるのだろうかと気が重くなっていた。

4ヶ月程して岩渕先生の最古参の弟子が独立され、80年1月ようやく仕事のできるスペースが確保出来た。3月までに1週間に3日だけ工房で仕事をするのでは不十分という思いが強くなっていた事もあり、「茶道」の基礎的なことも学べたので、そろそろ陶芸に専念する時期が来たと感じていた。御家元にお話しすると、陶芸に集中することに同意して下さった。

続く1年半程岩渕先生の元で修業し、時たま御家元に作品を見て頂いていたが、丁度1年が経った頃、茶碗を数椀持参し御家元が箱書するに足ると見なして下さり、これがリチャード作品の箱書・第1号となった。その後、岩渕先生の弟子修業を終えた1981年秋、御家元より伝統ある萩・備前・美濃の窯元達に紹介して頂いた。

1982年から84年の春まで、幸運にも茶陶の代表的な窯元、萩12代田原陶兵衛・備前藤原 雄・美濃加藤光右衛門の3作家の元で修業させて頂き、土・釉薬・テクニックそれに窯焚とそれぞれ特長ある焼物を学んだことは、独立して自分のスタイルを作る上で、計り知れない程素晴らしい土台が出来たのだった。

1984年春京都市北西の山村日吉町四ッ谷に土地と古い田舎家を見つけてから、婚約者皆川真理を連れてボストンに戻り、アメリカスタイルの結婚式を挙げた。7月末日吉町に帰り、冬が来る前に何とか住めるように家を直し、古い納屋を工房に改修した。翌春、同町に住んでいた友人のノルウェー人陶芸家ソーレン ウービシと共に、萩12代陶兵衛先生の窯と同じような重油と薪の倒炎式単窯を築き始めた。

窯の名前を付ける時になって、一般的な住んでいる村や町名をと考えたのだが、御家元に相談すると、彼の考えは違っていた。苗字のミルグリムは日本人は発音しにくいので、日本では常に名前のリチャードで呼ばれていたが、御家元はRICHARDを日本語で発音するように"利茶土窯"が良いと漢字まで選んで下さった。RIは千家の祖・千 利休から「利」を、CHAは「茶」、DOは「土」とまるで意識外の力が働いて運命が定まっていたかのように、本名とライフワークが一致したのだ。きっと御家元もそのように思われたのか、1985年光栄にも"利茶土窯"の扁額を頂いた。

その後利茶土は、アメリカ人の資質を持ちながら、歴史にも残る名品も常に頭に置き、独自の茶陶制作に情熱を注ぎ続け、日本各地のデパートの美術画廊・寺院・美術館・画廊等で個展を開催していった。幸運なことに作品は色々な国際陶芸展で選ばれ、日本では淡交ビエンナーレで受賞、日本陶芸展には1995年から2005年まで毎回入選を果たせている。

2000年、京都の工房はそのままに、ボストン近郊にも工房を構える決意をし、アメリカと日本との往復が始まった。マサチューセッツ州コンコードの自宅近くの地域芸術センターEMERSON UMBRELLAに工房を確保し、アメリカの土と釉薬での茶陶造りへ挑戦し出した。

2004年の秋、大宗匠はコンコードでの作品にも窯名を下さり"今古窯"となった。コンコードを日本語発音した場合に同音の「今古」を当てて下さったわけだが、「今」は新しい・現在・現代であり、「古」は古い・過去・もしくは伝統ということでもある。この場合コンコード作の利茶土の新作品は、今まで日本で作ってきた伝統的作品に対して新しいスタイル・新釉薬ということだろうか。350年続いている裏千家今日庵の「今」をいただいたことで、千家と利茶土との絆がさらに深まったように感じた。

2004年から2013年まで利茶土は日本とアメリカを行き来し、双方の釉薬や窯焚き方法等を融合させて制作し続けている。アメリカ各地で様々な展覧会・講演・ワークショップを行う一方で、日本の主だったデパートの美術画廊での個展も開催している。東京日本橋三越本店では2001年から定期的にひらいていることを特筆しておこう。

2007年には利茶土のここ30年の仕事の集大成として、日本の代表的な出版社の一つである講談社から作品集が刊行され、その出版記念展が京都野村美術館での2回目の展覧会として催された。

2011年の数々の足跡の皮切りはボストン パッカーギャラリーでのアメリカでは初めての個展であった。画廊の中では紹介の茶会も度々開くこととなる。
次の顕著な行事は“日本の茶碗”に焦点を当てたシンポジウムがボストンとその近郊で催されたことであった。利茶土はハーバード陶芸スタジオでのワークショップで4人の中心陶芸家(日本・アメリカから2人ずつ)の一人に選ばれ、それに伴う茶碗展にも参加した。

この春5月利茶土はNHK国際放送のドキュメンタリー「禁断の京都」シリーズ第3作“抹茶との出会い”への出演が決まる。世界160ヶ国で放映される45分間の番組は京都固有の文化・習慣・芸術等のテーマを掘り下げて紹介するものだった。この第3作は利茶土の視点から、“茶道”に最も影響力のある方々の手助けにより、700年の伝統ある芸術に現代の要素を加える道を模索する過程を見せている。この番組制作の途中でまったく予期せぬ新しい釉薬を生み出すという稀有な瞬間にも遭遇できる。

同年下半期はシカゴのダグラスドーソンギャラリーでの展覧会・茶会に始まり、秋には横浜髙島屋でも大きな個展を催している。

2012年にはオレゴン州ポートランド日本庭園での展覧会での展覧会という幸運に恵まれる。世界的に高名な千住 博画伯の友情出品は氏の絵画・掛軸と利茶土作品との不思議なほどの呼応が注目を集めることとなった。

パートタイムではあってもアメリカ滞在のお蔭でUS各地での展覧会の機会が出てきてはいたが、利茶土は二つの国に同時に生きていくことの難しさを感じるようになった。殊にお茶の世界での彼の立場が際立ったものだったから。

彼を日本に連れてきてくれた運命が、再び彼を日本に引き戻そうとする強い力が働いていた。
2013年夏、利茶土は日本に定住することを決意、今古窯を閉じることとなったのである。
この時点でそろそろ京都市内にも活動できる場を確保したいという思いが募り、時を同じくしてほぼ理想的な借家が見つかる。コンコードの家を手放したことがはからずも京都市内でのショールーム兼真理の稽古場になる場所に導いてくれたのだ。

コンコードを後にして、この年の秋には日本に落ち着き、まもなく2011年の大震災から復興途上の仙台市で初めての個展を開いた。

歳末12月、京都裏千家桐蔭席の席主を務めることとなる。当日は16代坐忘斎御家元がご子息、甥子様達を伴ってご臨席になり、150余名の名だたる茶人たちの出席で賑わうこととなる。この日は桐蔭会史上初の外国人席主掛釜という記録的な会となったのである。

2014年の春、利茶土は京都紫野大徳寺山内黄梅院ご住職 小林太玄和尚のご支援・お勧めにより利茶土窯30周年記念展のPART1の幕を開けることとなる。(黄梅院は茶の湯の祖千利休活躍の時代16世紀後半の建立) この黄梅院展覧会では利茶土窯と今古窯の広範囲に渡る作品を、数々の茶室・美しい庭園の中で展示することとなったのである。特筆すべきは、長年の知己で後援者古美術商戸田博氏のご協力で、桃山以降の時代作品と利茶土作品とのコラボレーションを間近で見、触れられるという茶人達にはまたとない機会となったのである。(この個展のビデオはYouTubeで見られる)
利茶土窯30周年記念展PART2と3は2015年秋に予定されている。PART2は2015年10月21~27日 東京日本橋三越に於いて、続いてPART3は京都野村美術館で11月17~23日に催される。

注:2002年裏千家15代御家元は千 玄室鵬雲斎大宗匠になられ、千 宗室坐忘斎御家元が16代を継承された。

Milgrim’s Journey into the World of Japanese Tea

THE EARLY YEARS

Richard Milgrim's interest in ceramics began in 1974 during his first year of college at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He became totally engaged in foundation level ceramics classes but in the summer of 1975 chose to transfer to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a very small school with a unique work-study liberal arts program that promised considerable freedom to design his own education.

This change of scenery was the beginning of Richard's discovery of Japan and the world of tea ceramics. During that summer Milgrim's two ceramics teachers, Karen Shirley and Michael Jones, introduced him to various ceramic traditions around the world, particularly those of Japan, a country for which they both had a special love for. During their young lives, both of them had actually studied in Kyoto in the early 1960s. Their experiences in Japan had a profound impact on their lives and aesthetics which were generously shared with Milgrim through stories, the teaching of techniques and the actual use of their collection of Japanese pottery.

About this same time, another teacher, Professor Harold Wright, came to Antioch. Harold also had a long history with Japan, dating back to his days as a soldier there during the Korean War where he fell in love with Japanese culture. After the war he became a scholar of Japanese literature, and did graduate research under renowned Professor Donald Keene at Columbia University. He translated several books of Japanese poetry as well as composing original poetry himself. Between the influence of these teachers as well as other Antioch students similarly captivated by the mystique of Japan, Richard was determined to go there and experience the country firsthand.

Due to the unique nature of curriculum options available to Antioch students, Richard was able to spend one year in Japan on the Antioch Education Abroad (A.E.A.) program where he was given the freedom to structure his time in Japan independently. He arranged to spend two months studying the language at Kansai University of Foreign Studies in Hirakata, near Kyoto, while living with a home-stay family. The remaining ten months were designated as "independent study,” to research the state of traditional ceramics in contemporary Japan.

THE PILGRIMAGE

The first two cold winter months of 1977 were spent trying to gain an elementary grasp of formal Japanese while living in a typical suburban community, feeling detached from the Japan he had hoped to find. Weekend trips around the Kansai area were his salvation.

Upon completing the intensive language program he took the opportunity to visit South Korea with his new friend from the (language) school, Mark Stanley. Fortunately, Mark had spent many years living in Seoul and spoke the language well, enabling them to travel throughout the countryside where Richard got a real taste of Korean culture and history. During these travels he had the opportunity to visit traditional Korean kiln sites which had had a major influence on Japanese tea ceramics over the centuries. It was an eye-opening adventure that further enhanced Milgrim's desire to get back to Japan and begin exploring on his own.

On his return Richard moved into the heart of Kyoto, the ancient capital and epicenter of Japanese culture. From there he spent the next few months taking short trips to pottery centers in the vicinity of Kyoto along with long days walking around the old capital. These solo excursions were invaluable in familiarizing Milgrim with not only the language but also the daily customs and lifestyles of Japan, and Kyoto culture in particular. The seemingly endless variety of temples, shrines, museums, gardens and old shops provided unlimited inspiration and the joy of new discoveries each day. At the same time the young potter-to-be was honing his eye by seeking out the finest quality arts and traditional crafts throughout the city — a place well-known throughout the world for offering the highest standards in all Japan.

Having established a base in Kyoto and beginning to gain some confidence in his Japanese, Milgrim decided to begin his full-time journey around Japan. Hoping to avoid the rainy season, he decided to go north towards Hokkaido. Leaving Kyoto in mid-June with only his backpack, a guide to Japanese kiln sites and a few introductions, he hitchhiked to Mashiko — a folk pottery town made famous as the home of HAMADA SHOJI (1894-1978) and his most famous disciple, SHIMAOKA TATSUZO (1919-2007). As one of the original artisans to be designated a NINGEN KOKUHOU (Living National Treasure) by the Japanese government, Hamada was thought of as the epitome of the traditional Japanese folk potter in the West. He was, along with KAWAI KANJIRO (1890-1966), BERNARD LEACH (1887-1979) and YANAGI SOETSU (1889-1961), one of the founding fathers of the MINGEI-KAI (Japanese Crafts Society) in 1926.

Endowed with an introduction to both Hamada and Shimaoka, visiting Mashiko proved to be one of the greatest highlights of Milgrim's year in Japan. Having the opportunity to quietly sip tea and talk (mostly in English) with the legendary Hamada, was like a dream to the young man who came to Japan idolizing this master potter.

As it turned out, Shimaoka Tatsuzo was not only Hamada's most famous apprentice from back in the 1940's, he was also his next door neighbor. When Richard arrived at Shimoaka’s home he was shocked to find that the foreign apprentice at the time was a former Antioch student, David Vitarelli, with whom he became fast friends. Shimaoka-Sensei (teacher) unexpectedly offered Richard the opportunity to spend a few weeks at his kiln to observe the complete firing cycle in his unique 4-chamber wood/salt kiln.

After three weeks around the kiln in Mashiko, Milgrim decided to continue on his journey, yet in his heart Richard knew that he wanted to return. Before leaving he received Shimaoka-Sensei's approval to come back to Mashiko at a "future date" — to do a full apprenticeship.

With that, he set off once again, seeking out potters and kiln sites, both old and new, throughout the four main islands of Japan. By traveling alone and hitchhiking his Japanese improved rapidly, and he was constantly overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of the Japanese people he encountered on his pilgrimage.

Over the next five months Milgrim visited over a hundred potters, traveling through every one of the Japanese prefectures, except the islands of Okinawa. During this touring he found three more potters with whom he was eager to study. All three agreed to his request for an apprenticeship in the future — two were in Kyushu and the other in Kyoto.

By this time it was December ('77) and despite his desire to stay in Japan and begin an apprenticeship he decided to return to Antioch so he could graduate the following spring before starting the next stage of his life.

BACK IN AMERICA - THE TURNING POINT

As it turned out, a series of unexpected events occurred after his return to Antioch that delayed his return to Japan until the summer of 1979. In retrospect, that year and a half provided Milgrim with an opportunity to put his experiences in Japan into perspective and to develop a clearer vision for his future options when he returned. This resulted in a grant proposal to the Thomas J. Watson Foundation in the fall of 1978 to return to Kyoto, Japan and study "Chado" (The Way of Tea) at the Urasenke School of Tea while doing an apprenticeship with master potter IWABUCHI SHIGEYA (1925-1993). Richard realized that despite his love for Hamada and folk-art pottery, he was more intrigued by the tea ceramics of the 16th and 17th centuries he had seen in museums throughout Japan. He was anxious to make tea utensils, yet he didn't know anything about the context of their function — hence his decision to study "Chanoyu" as part of his proposal. Fortunately, Urasenke had a school at their headquarters in Kyoto that provided the only full-time program for foreign students wishing to study "The Way of Tea" in depth. It was called the Midori-Kai.

The potter he chose to apprentice to, Iwabuchi Sensei, was a wonderful artist-craftsman who had worked long ago with two other Living National Treasures, TOMIMOTO KENKICHI (1886-1963) and KONDO YUZO (1902-1985). Richard had visited his studio southern Kyoto several times in the fall of 1977 and had received approval to return to study sometime in the future. In his proposal he requested permission to work for him three days a week, spending another three at Urasenke in the Midori-Kai program.

While awaiting word from the Watson Foundation in the winter of 1978-79, Milgrim returned to his home in Boston where he was introduced to the local Urasenke representative Allan Palmer, an accomplished teacher who had spent many years studying in Kyoto. On February 29th, 1979, the 388th anniversary of the death of SEN no RIKYU, the founder of the Sen Family Tea Tradition, Richard began his formal study of "Chado." Less than two weeks later the letter informing him that he'd been awarded the Watson Fellowship arrived. About this time he was introduced to the Director of the Japan House Gallery in New York, RAND CASTILE. The Gallery was about to open a ground-breaking show entitled "CHANOYU," featuring 100 masterpieces from Japan. It was the first major exhibition in the U.S. focusing exclusively on the arts of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. The previous summer Milgrim had worked as an intern in the Fogg Museum at Harvard University under the well known scholar of Japanese Art, Professor JOHN ROSENFIELD. The professor recommended him to Castile for a job during the exhibition that spring, citing his interest in Tea and Japanese ceramics as well as his Japanese language ability.

This proved to be the "simple twist of fate" that would lead Milgrim to the next stage of his destiny, an unexpected encounter with Dr. SEN GENSHITSU, a major cultural figure in Japan and the 15th generation Grand Master of the Urasenke Tea Tradition. Dr. Sen was undoubtedly the most influential personality in the world of Tea at that time, not to mention one of the primary sponsors (along with the Japanese Ministry of Culture) of the Chanoyu Exhibition.

The day before the formal opening, Milgrim was guiding his Antioch College teacher MICHAEL JONES through the exhibition. Suddenly he heard someone ask what he was doing in the gallery. To his complete surprise he found himself face to face with the Grand Master and his wife! They too had come to preview the show privately. Dr. Sen immediately began questioning Richard, curious to know what these two men were doing in this unguarded exhibition of priceless tea utensils. Richard introduced his teacher first, and then explained his job working as a liaison in the gallery. He went on to tell Dr. Sen that he would be coming to Kyoto that fall to study Chanoyu at Urasenke so he would be able to better understand how to make tea ceramics. The Grand Master then shocked Richard by giving him his personal card and insisting he come to see him, so he could introduce Milgrim to renowned potters throughout Japan. Little did Milgrim realize how much this encounter would affect his future.

This serendipitous moment in time began the single most important relationship in Milgrim's career. The chemistry between he and Dr. and Mrs. Sen was both magical, and yet natural at the same time. They immediately took him under their wing and introduced him to an assortment of Japanese dignitaries, curators, and art dealers in New York for the opening. It was as if he had been adopted by a godfather who had presented him with a key to the very world he was seeking to enter. With such a golden opportunity the future seemed preordained.

RETURNING TO JAPAN

From the moment Richard returned to Kyoto as a Watson Fellow in July of 1979, things began to flow. He spent the first month participating in live-in workshops held at the Omoto School of Traditional Arts in nearby Kameoka. It was an intensive program consisting of classes in Chadō, Budō (martial arts), Noh dance, Calligraphy, Sumi-e and Ceramics. The workshop was a perfect reorientation for Milgrim who'd been away from Japan for a year and a half. He had a chance to refresh his Japanese as well as prepare psychologically and spiritually for his apprenticeship and his upcoming immersion into the world of tea.

Shortly after returning to Kyoto he visited Dr. Sen who welcomed him to his home and encouraged Richard to study hard at the studio and show him his work. This was actually quite intimidating since he knew apprentices in Japan weren't usually given much of a chance to do their own work, especially as a novice! To compound the problem, he was the 4th man in a 3-man studio. His primary role was to learn by watching and wait patiently for the opportunity to help.

After 4 months in the shadows, Iwabuchi-Sensei's number one deshi (apprentice) decided to begin his own studio, opening up a workspace for Richard in January. By March of 1980 he was feeling the pressure of not fulfilling his full responsibilities due to only being able to work in the studio 3 days a week. He had learned a great deal about the Way of Tea since September and felt it was now time to begin apprenticing full-time. When he gave Dr. Sen the news that he would be leaving the Midori-Kai, the Grand Master agreed that it was probably time for him to concentrate full-time on his work and again encouraged him to make something special.

For the next year and a half, Milgrim continued to study with Iwabuchi-Sensei. Periodically he showed his best work to Dr. Sen. After about a year had passed he brought in some tea bowls, which the Grand Master felt were special enough that he offered to sign the boxes for them. This marked the beginning of Dr. Sen's literal endorsement of Milgrim's work. Upon completing his apprenticeship with Iwabuchi-Sensei in the fall of '81, with Dr. Sen’s help Richard held his first one-man exhibition in Kyoto at Gallery Monzen. It was time to move on. Dr. Sen continued his support by providing personal introductions for Richard to some of the finest master potters in the traditional ceramic centers of HAGI, BIZEN and MINO.

From 1982 through the spring of '84, Richard lived and studied at these three Meccas in the world of tea ceramics. He was privileged to work for TAHARA TOUBE, the 12th in Hagi, FUJIWARA YU in Bizen, and KATO KOUEMON in Mino. The distinctly unique characteristics of these three sites provided him with a tremendously varied foundation of clays, glazes, techniques and firing styles on which to draw when it came time for him to establish his own workshop.

After finding some land and an old country house northwest of Kyoto in the spring of 1984, he took his fiancee, MINAGAWA MARI, back to Boston for an American style wedding. By mid-summer they returned to Japan and began the process of creating a useable home and studio before winter. The following spring Richard and another "local" foreign potter, SOREN UBISCH from Norway, began building a single-chamber oil and wood-fired kiln similar to one that was used by his teacher in HAGI, TAHARA TOUBEI the 12th.

When it came time to name the new studio Milgrim felt he should consult with Dr. Sen. He had considered using the name of his village or even the local town, a typical option when choosing a name for a new kiln. The grand master felt otherwise. He insisted on naming the kiln RICHADO-GAMA(利茶土窯)using the characters he had chosen to write Richard's name in Japanese, followed by the character for kiln. Because the name "Milgrim" was so difficult for the Japanese to pronounce he had always been known by his first name, which they pronounced Richado. In 1984, Dr. Sen assigned characters to his name that worked phonetically. The ones he chose were RI (利) — taken from Sen no Rikyu, his own 15th generation ancestor and the originator of the Sen family, CHA(茶) — meaning tea, and DO (土) — meaning earth or clay. The coincidental nature of his characters being so perfectly aligned with his true name, as well as his life's work, was another sign to Richard that his destiny had been chosen for him by some other power totally beyond his control. Dr. Sen undoubtedly felt the same way when he chose to name the kiln after Richard — a very rare honor.

For the next 15 years Milgrim followed his passion to create tea wares that combined the best of the historical works with his own unique perspective. He exhibited throughout Japan at temples, museums, galleries and department stores, establishing a particularly strong relationship with the Takashimaya Department Store group and having an annual show at at least one of their branches. His work has been selected for various international exhibitions, and won a number of prizes in juried shows in Japan as well as being regularly selected for the JAPAN NATIONAL CERAMIC EXHIBITION (NIHON TOGEI-TEN) every two years (between 1993~2005).

In 2000, Richard decided to establish a second home and workshop near his home-base in the Boston area while also maintaining his studio in Japan — traveling back and forth between the two. He set up his studio in a community art center (the “EMERSON UMBRELLA”) near his new home in Concord, Ma. There he began experimenting with native American clays and glazes that he gradually began showing on a limited basis, both in the U.S. and Japan.

In the fall of 2004, Dr. Sen once again honored Milgrim by giving him the name KONKO-GAMA(今古窯), for the works created and fired at his studio in Concord. Once again he used characters which phonetically echo the sound of Concord (when it is spoken in Japanese) — not to mention having meanings which can be directly associated with Richard and his current situation: KON(今) — meaning new, current, the present or contemporary, and KO(古) — meaning old, the past or traditional, and KAMA or GAMA(窯) — meaning kiln,今古窯 — KONKO-GAMA. The primary reference in this case seems to be connecting Milgrim's new work made in Concord, which refers to the present or new styles and glazes, with his work done in Japan up to now, which represents the past or traditional styles of tea ceramics. Of further significance though, is the inclusion of the character KON(今) — which is the first character in KONNICHI-AN(今日庵) — the ancestral home of Dr. Sen's family for the past 350 years, further deepening the bond between Milgrim and the Sen Family.

From 2004 to 2013 Richard continued to alternate working at his studios in Japan and America while honing his glazing and firing techniques. He held a variety of exhibitions, lectures and workshops around the U.S. while also exhibiting throughout Japan, primarily at major department store galleries, most significantly the main store of the Mitsukoshi chain in Nihonbashi, Tokyo since 2001.

In 2007 his 2nd solo exhibition at the Nomura Museum in Kyoto was held in conjunction with the publication of a hardbound retrospective volume of Milgrim’s first 30 years in Japan working in clay, released by the prestigious Japanese publisher Kodansha.

2011 saw a number of milestones beginning with his 1st solo exhibition in Boston at the Pucker Gallery. It was enhanced by a series of special tea ceremonies held in the gallery. The next significant event was a symposium in the Boston area specifically focused on the Japanese Tea Bowl. Milgrim was one of 4 major ceramic artists (2 Japanese and 2 Americans) selected to demonstrate at the Harvard Ceramic Studio Workshop as well as participate in the associated exhibition.

In the spring of 2011 Milgrim was selected to be featured as the main character in a documentary produced by the Japanese National Broadcasting Company. The film was titled “An Encounter with Green Tea,” the 3rd in the “FORBIDDEN KYOTO” series (see YouTube.com). The 45 minute program, broadcast worldwide, offers a true insider look at some of Japan’s most unique cultural institutions. In this episode it is “The Way of Tea” (known as CHADO in Japan) that is seen from Milgrim’s perspective as he searches for new ways to add contemporary elements to this 700 year old art form at the heart of Japanese culture with the help of some of its most influential personalities. One can see that rare moment of creative inspiration that leads to the evolution of a new glaze.

The latter half of the year also saw exhibitions at the Douglas Dawson Gallery in Chicago and another major showing at the Yokohama Takashimaya Dept. Store Gallery back in Japan. In 2012 Richard was privileged to hold an important exhibition at the Portland (Oregon) Japanese Garden with a special guest-showing by the internationally recognized Japanese artist, Hiroshi Senju, whose paintings and prints reflected a remarkable synergy with Richard’s ceramics.

Despite these and other exhibition opportunities around the U.S., which surely happened due to his part-time presence in the country, Milgrim felt that trying to live simultaneously in both Japan and the U.S. was becoming too difficult on many levels, particularly because his position in the tea world in Japan was so visible. He felt convinced that the destiny which brought him to Japan was pulling him back. In the summer of 2013 he decided to close the Konko-Gama studio and return to Japan full-time.

At this point his intuition was telling him it was time to get a place in Kyoto proper. Coincidentally, a new encounter led to the discovery of a house for rent in Kyoto which had almost all the features he and Mari had been looking for. Letting go of the home in Concord created the opportunity for a new space that could provide a private showroom for Richard’s work as well as a tea room for Mari to begin teaching Chado again. After leaving Concord they began to settle in during the fall of 2013, just in time to prepare for another major show in the city that was so damaged by the 2011 tsunami — Sendai, in N.E. Japan — for the 1st time.

The Sendai show was followed by another milestone — Richard was asked to host the prestigious “TOINKAI” monthly tea gathering held under the auspices of the Urasenke Foundation in Kyoto. It was attended by the current 16th generation grand master Zabosai Oiemoto along with his son and nephews and 150 distinguished guests. This was the first time in the history of this event that it had been hosted by anyone other than a Japanese!

In the spring of 2014, with the support and encouragement of Kobayashi Taigen, the head priest of Ōbai-in, a sub-temple within the renowned DAITOKU-JI Zen Monastery in Kyoto, Milgrim was privileged to begin his celebration of 30 years since the establishment of his studio and kiln in 1984-5. (This temple dates back to the late 16th century and the time of Sen no Rikyu, the originator of the Urasenke lineage). The Ōbai-in exhibition was a unique opportunity not only to exhibit a wide variety of his works from both America and Japan but it also provided the chance to show his works alongside well-known classical tea wares in an exquisite setting, thanks to the generous cooperation of Toda Hiroshi, one of Japan’s oldest tea utensil purveyors. (A video of the exhibition can be seen on YouTube.com).

Parts 2 and 3 of the Richado-Gama 30th anniversary celebration will be held in the fall of 2015. Part 2 is from October 21-27th, 2015 at the Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Gallery in Tokyo and will be followed by Part 3 to be held at the Nomura Museum, Kyoto from November 17-23rd, 2015.

For more information and perspectives on Richard Milgrim and his career, please see other statements and articles:


利茶土窯・今古ギャラリー どうぞお越しいただき、その手で直接触れてご覧ください。要予約

利茶土窯ギャラリーと京都・紫野ギャラリーでは、直接手に取って利茶土窯の作品の数々をご覧いただきお買い求めいただけます。また、時間が合えば作家本人が作品について説明させていただきます。両ギャラリーとも予約制となっておりますので、フォームからご予約ください。

Both Richado-Gama and our new Murasakino Gallery are now open for viewing by appointment!Come see and hold the work in person and join us for a bowl of tea as either I, or my wife Mari will be there to discuss the works, which are also available for purchase.
Please use the form below to make an appointment.

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