Art meets Architecture

Friday, July 13, 2012
Ron Netten, together with the collection of John Loring Perkins, come together to show how art and architecture merge together. The exhibit runs through Aug. 4. (Photo by Kate Padilla)

Now through Aug. 4, Arts on Grand is hosting "Art and Architecture," an exhibit featuring the work of Ron Netten and the late John Loring Perkins.

Netten, a ceramic artist, works primarily in high-fire stoneware.

He began in high school, "dabbling," before becoming an art education major in college. He taught art in Storm Lake and Waukee for 38 years, but through all of this time he has been throwing pottery.

"I like to make things that are used in everyday life," Netten said. "It's very therapeutic and satisfying."

Netten calls what he does "serious play," and said that working with the clay is, at times, a spiritual exercise.

"I love taking something that's already here [the clay] and creating something from it," he said. "I'm not looking for perfect round-ness. I like seeing what comes from the clay and the wheel."

Alongside Netten's pottery are the paintings of John Loring Perkins, an architect from Sioux Falls, S.D., and southern California whose true passion was in watercolor painting.

"He would travel for four days at a time to the coast or the desert or the San Bernadino mountains," Nancy Parliman Schoenewe, Perkins' niece, said.

The paintings are now a family collection, as Perkins passed away in 1996. But, just as his love for painting and for architecture came from his father, he has passed them down to his family. Shoenewe enjoys watercolor paintings and has taken a number of classes.

"You see his joy in his surroundings," Shoenewe said. "You see the possibilities he saw in everyday things."

Her favorite is a piece called "Wine Country," which normally hangs in her kitchen so she can see it often.

Upon his death, Perkins donated approximately 200 paintings to the Washington Pavilion to be sold.

While he spent his life at times split between architect and artist, it's easy to see how one love of his merges into the other.

"It's interesting because you can still see the architect in him, even in his paintings," Shoenewe said.

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