|Serious Fun: Brent Bennett’s 50 Years in Clay
There’s an expression in the antiques business: “Knowing what you’re looking for is important, but knowing what you’re looking at is even more important.” Of course, it helps to have inside information. That’s how Carey Bennett, daughter of potter Brent Bennett, spotted one of her father’s stoneware vases in 2004 at NoHo Modern, a gallery of vintage furnishings then located in North Hollywood, California. Surprised to see the piece attributed to David Cressey, a well known contemporary of her father’s, she set the record straight. Jeremy Petty, co-owner of NoHo Modern, was immediately intrigued. “I said, ‘Well, who’s your father? I want to meet him! When can I meet him?’” After getting to know Bennett and seeing more of his work, Petty and co-owner Thomas Hayes were inspired. “Both of us really thought his work deserved to be seen,” recalls Petty. What began as a chance encounter set in motion a series of events that led to the largest show ever of Bennett’s work, and the end of his retirement.
Bennett’s stoneware has an unapologetic, earthy quality. It is less austere than the geometric forms long associated with postwar design in southern California, but no less modern. “I’m the generation after Architectural Pottery,” says Bennett, referring to the firm whose iconic planters have become inextricably linked with southern California modernism. “It’s clean modern design, but with more detail.”