Neat: The Art of the Whiskey Vessel

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© 2013 Lillstreet Art Center 4401 N. Ravenswood Ave. Chicago, IL 60640 Artwork © the artists. Text © Doug Jeppesen and Tracey Morrison. Photographs by Joe Tighe. Design by Jess Mott Wickstrom. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, or by any electronic or mechanical means, without permission in writing from Lillstreet Art Center. Cover: Josh Stover, Skunk Jug, 2012

Doug Jeppesen Bourbon Bottle, 2012 B-mix: Wood-fired 10 x 6 x 3 inches


“Neat: The Art of the Whiskey Vessel” features a selection of contemporary artists who utilize this truly wonderful American beverage as a vehicle for artistic exploration. In a world where we demand immediacy, whether it is through electronic communication or a fast food order, we seem to not be able to get things quickly enough. “Neat” explores the time-honored traditions of the art and craft of creating artistic objects to deliver and experience this enticing libation. Cheers, Doug Jeppesen

Doug Jeppesen is a potter and Associate Professor of Art and Ceramics at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Illinois.


by Tracey Morrison

Though it is sipped slowly and enjoyed

to America by Scotch-Irish immigrants,

recreationally, whiskey has rustic and

whiskey began its American presence in

controversial roots. Contradictory to

western Pennsylvania. After debt from

its history of taxation, rebellion, and

the Revolutionary War brought a tax on

prohibition, whiskey is generally thought

domestic spirits, a violent uprising ensued,

of as a centerpiece for relaxation and

known today as the Whiskey Rebellion

communal gathering. Reflecting on this

of 1791 to 1794. This sparked a move

mix of turbulence and tradition, sixteen

westward towards the Mississippi River,

artists explore the vessels that facilitate

into the regions of Kentucky, Tennessee,

whiskey consumption in “Neat: The Art

and the Midwest where fertile land for

of the Whiskey Vessel”. Curated by Doug

grain was abundant. The invention of

Jeppesen, the show displays a wide array

corn-based whiskey in Kentucky, now

of ceramic jugs, bottles, flasks, and cups

called bourbon, branded a new type

that explore the rural, ritualistic, and

of American spirit for whiskey drinkers

sometimes humorous nature of this richly

and thus began whiskey’s popularity as a

historic and commonly revered spirit.

rugged, potent, and truly domestic drink for the common man or woman.

Made from fermented grain and aged in wooden barrels, whiskey evokes a

Jeremy Randall’s series of colorful flasks

sense of pastoral simplicity. Brought

explores this rural Americana theme.

Using texture reminiscent of tin roofs,

Stover are examples of this intermediary

wooden panels, and folk-inspired patterns,

storage vessel. Before glass became a

Randall’s vessels take the form of more

popular choice for whiskey containment

architectural sculpture than functional

in the late 1800’s, ceramic vessels were

flask. With broad bases and short, narrow

used for this task. Often decorated with

necks for the opening, these flasks are a

advertisements for a distiller or tavern,

blended image of the barns and silos that

these vessels were glazed to impress in

line the American farmland. Randall’s

hopes of enticing customers to return.

pastel color palette is aged with the illusion of a rusted surface and the

Josh Stover’s Skunk Jug harkens back to

addition of actual steel tacks, conveying

the idea of these utilitarian yet alluring

the antique and forgotten relics of a

ceramic jugs. Stover’s attention to surface

pastoral past.

detail and humorous imagery encourages the viewer to step around the vessel

In the 18th and 19th centuries, whiskey

and observe the story displayed across

was sold to stores and taverns by the

its exterior. His narrative illustration is

barrel or keg, so customers would retrieve

inspired by rural scenery and displays an

their home supply in jugs and bottles.

entertaining view of whiskey’s backwoods,

Pieces by Ben Bates, Matthew Hyleck,

illegal trade through the eyes of cartoon-

Dan Murphy, Brad Schwieger, and Josh

style animal characters.

Because it is made from such simple

prominent size, shape, and material

ingredients, it was common practice to

than the common metal hip flask.

make homemade, unregulated whiskey.

Representative of whiskey’s controversial

Generally known in America as moonshine

past and boastful of its proud tradition,

and made from a mash of corn, sugar, and

flasks by Matt Long, Doug Jeppesen,

yeast, this illegal liquor grew in popularity

Jeremy Randall, and Erik Zohn all present

during political unrest surrounding the

proud and delicate vessels that turn the

legality of alcohol. Activist groups

flask from a secretive source of libations

encouraging anti-alcohol sentiment

into an expressive vessel for sharing.

had been increasingly prominent since the mid-1800’s, but it wasn’t until 1919

Sharing whiskey can be a ceremonious

that prohibition of alcohol became a

event. Slowing time and creating an

federal law. During the Prohibition era as

environment for the formation of

underground liquor trade and speakeasies

friendships, whiskey was often served in

flourished, so did the popularity of the hip

taverns from the barrel into a decanter

flask. These concealed containers were

and whiskey cup. Liquor sets by Jason

originally signs of wealth and the upper

Hess, Jayson Lawfer, and Charity Davis-

class, but since Prohibition they have come

Woodard feature a more intimate set

to represent a more secretive and daring

for two, while Josh DeWeese’s Liquor Set

side to liquor’s legacy.

is complete with an ewer, tray, and five cups. Meant to serve a group, DeWeese

More ornamental than functional, many

triumphs the ritual that occurs when

flasks displayed in “Neat” are of a more

sharing the experience of communal

drinking. Directional lines on the ewer and

great American tradition. “Neat: The Art

cups and freeform brushwork on the tray

of the Whiskey Vessel” is full of ceramic

display gesture, movement, and the mark

works that, whether used to consume

of the human hand within the making of

whiskey or displayed as a symbol of the

the piece. This encourages handling and

tradition, are reminders of the necessity

use, evoking a celebration of gathering.

to slow down, take a sip, and savor the drinking experience.

With or without a set, the whiskey cup is necessary for sharing. Work by Jack Troy, Kenyon Hansen, and Lorna Meaden display the importance of shape, size, and weight of the liquor cup. Lorna Meaden’s various

Tracey Morrison holds a BFA in Ceramics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and is Gallery Assistant at Lillstreet Art Center.

porcelain cups explore different forms for the enjoyment of whiskey. From the small shot glass to the open-mouthed cocktail cup and the short tumbler, each provides a shape suited to serve whiskey in its various forms: neat, on the rocks, with a splash of water, or in a cocktail. Whether bourbon, malt, rye, or even moonshine, whiskey has overcome a history of hardships in order to provide a

Sources: Dowd, William M. Barrels and Drams: The History of Whisk(e)y in Jiggers and Shots. New York: Sterling Epicure, 2011. Print. Getz, Oscar. Whiskey: An American Pictorial History. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1978. Print.

W O R K S A R E P I C T U R E D in alphabetical order by artist name. See back of catalogue for biographies. To inquire about availability or to purchase, please email

Ben Bates Bottle, 2012 Stoneware: Wood-fired, Reduction cooled 12 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches

Ben Bates Bottle, 2012 Stoneware: Wood-fired, Reduction cooled 11 x 4 x 4 inches

Ben Bates Rocks Cups, 2012 Stoneware: Wood-fired, Reduction cooled 4.5 x 3.5 inches

Ben Bates Whiskey Cups, 2012 Porcelain: Wood-fired 4 x 3.5 inches

Ben Bates Whiskey Flask, 2012 Porcelain: Wood-fired 10 x 5 x 2.5 inches

Ben Bates Whiskey Bottle, 2012 Porcelain: Reduction-fired 15 x 5 x 5 inches

Charity Davis-Woodard Rocks Cup, 2012 Porcelain: Wood-fired 3 x 3.5 inches

Charity Davis-Woodard Liquor Set, 2010 Porcelain: Wood-fired 8 x 5 x 5 inches (bottle)

Josh DeWeese Liquor Pot, 2012 Stoneware: Wood-fired 6 x 6 x 5 inches

Josh DeWeese Whiskey Cups, 2012 Stoneware: Wood-fired 3 x 3 inches

Josh DeWeese Whiskey Cups, 2012 Stoneware: Soda-fired 3 x 3 inches

Josh DeWeese Whiskey Cups, 2012 Stoneware: Salt-fired 3 x 3 inches

Josh DeWeese Liquor Set, 2012 Stoneware: Salt/soda-fired 12 x 7 x 6 inches

Kenyon Hansen Hot Toddy Pitcher, 2012 Porcelain: Soda-fired/Reduction 10 x 7 x 5 inches

Kenyon Hansen Cups, 2012 Porcelain: Soda-fired/Reduction 4 x 3 inches

Hot Toddy Pitcher (detail)

Jason Hess Whiskey Set, 2012 Porcelain: Wood/Soda-fired 7 x 4 inches (bottle); 2 x 2.75 inches (cups)

Jason Hess Whiskey Set, 2012 Porcelain: Wood/Soda-fired 10 x 3.5 inches (bottle); 2.5 x 2.25 inches (cups)

Mirror Drawings, 2012 Graphite and Water Color on Board 6 x 6 inches

Jason Hess Whiskey Set, 2012 Porcelain: Wood/Soda-fired 9 x 4 inches (bottle); 2.25 x 2.75 inches (cups)

Matthew Hyleck Bourbon Bottle and Tumbler, 2012 Stoneware, Shino, Ash: Cone 10 reduction 9 x 5 x 4 inches (bottle) ; 4 x 3 inches (cup)

Doug Jeppesen Whiskey Cup, 2012 B-mix: Wood-fired 3.5 x 3 inches

Doug Jeppesen Bourbon Bottle, 2011 B-mix: Wood-fired 11 x 4.5 x 2 inches

Doug Jeppesen Three Flasks, 2013 B-mix: Wood-fired 6 x 4 x 4 inches (each)

Jayson Lawfer Whiskey Sets, 2012 Porcelain with Silica Sand: Soda-fired 8 x 5 x 5 inches (bottle)

Jayson Lawfer Whiskey Bottle (detail)

Jayson Lawfer Whiskey Cups (detail)

Jayson Lawfer Whiskey Cups, 2012 Stoneware, Shino Glaze: Soda-fired Various sizes

Jayson Lawfer Whiskey Cups, 2012 Porcelain with Silica Sand: Soda-fired Various sizes

Matt Long Whiskey Flask, 2012 Porcelain: Soda-Fired 6 x 4 x 1 inches

Matt Long Sipper Cup and Dimple Cup, 2012 Porcelain: Soda-Fired 3 x 3 inches (Sipper) 3.5 x 4 inches (Dimple)

Dimple Cup (detail)

Dan Murphy Whiskey Bottle, 2012 Porcelainous Stoneware: Wood-fired 14 x 10.5 x 3 inches

Dan Murphy Cup & Saucer (detial)

Dan Murphy Cups, 2012 Iron rich clay: Wood-fired 3 x 3 inches

Cup & Saucer, 2012 Iron rich clay: Wood-fired 4 x 3 inches

Dan Murphy Bottle Iron rich clay: Wood-fired 18 x 12 x 34 inches

Lorna Meaden Whiskey Bucket, 2012 Porcelain: Soda-fired 10 x 5 x 4.5 inches

Lorna Meaden Shot Glasses, 2012 Porcelain: Soda-fired 2.25 x 2 inches

Cups, 2012 Porcelain: Soda-fired 3 x 4.25 inches

Lorna Meaden Whiskey Bucket, 2012 Porcelain: Soda-fired 11.5 x 5.5 x 4.5 inches

Lorna Meaden Flask, 2012 Porcelain: Soda-fired 6 x 3 x 1 inches

Jeremy Randall Yellow & Blue Flask, 2012 Earthenware: Oxidation-fired 8 x 6.5 x 3 inches

Jeremy Randall Red & Turquoise Flask, 2012 Earthenware: Oxidation-Fired 7 x 4.5 x 2.5 inches

Jeremy Randall Blue & Green Flask, 2012 Earthenware: Oxidation-Fired 6 x 5.5 x 2.5 inches

Jeremy Randall Styrofoam Sipping Cups, 2012 Earthenware: Slipcast, Oxidation-Fired 2 x 1.5 inches

Brad Schwieger Bourbon Bottle, 2012 Stoneware: Soda-fired 13 x 5 x 5 inches

Brad Schwieger Whiskey Cups, 2012 Stoneware: Soda-fired 4 x 4 inches

Brad Schwieger Bourbon Bottle, 2012 Stoneware: Soda-fired 10 x 7 x 3 inches

Skunk Jug (rear)

Josh Stover Skunk Jug, 2012 Earthenware, slip and underglaze: Lowfire 12 x 12 inches

Josh Stover “W.H.I.S.K.E.Y.” Flasks, 2013 Earthenware, slip and underglaze: Lowfire Various sizes

Jack Troy Shino Cups, 2012 Porcelain: Anagama-fired 3 x 2.5 inches

Erik Zohn Hip Flask, 2013 Stoneware, Underglaze, Lustre: Cone 10 Reduction, Enamel Firing 5 x 4 x 1.25 inches

Erik Zohn

Hip Flask, 2013 Stoneware, Underglaze, Lustre: Cone 10 Reduction, Enamel Firing 5 x 3.75 x 1.25 inches

Study in Line, 2010 Graphite on Vellum 12 x 18 inches

Erik Zohn Flask with Cups & Stand, 2013 Stoneware, Underglaze, Lustre: Cone 10 Reduction, Enamel Firing 5.75 x 10 x 3.5 inches

Erik Zohn Cityscape Whiskey Cups, 2013 Stoneware, Underglaze, Lustre: Cone 10 Reduction, Enamel Firing 3.5 x 3 inches each

Erik Zohn Flask with Ash Tray, 2013 Stoneware, Underglaze, Lustre: Cone 10 Reduction, Enamel Firing 6 x 10 x 3.5 inches


Ben Bates (Libertyville, IL) earned his

she focuses on wood-fired porcelain

BFA at Kansas City Art Institute and

pottery. A part-time community

his MFA at Southern Illinois University.

college instructor, Davis-Woodard has

After school, Bates served as the head

also taught workshops for clay guilds,

Resident Ceramic Artist at Crabtree

universities and craft schools such as

Farm, a living museum in Lake Bluff,

Anderson Ranch and Arrowmont School

Illinois. He was Personal Studio Assistant

of Arts and Crafts.

to Ken Ferguson (1993-1995) and to Ruth Duckworth (2004) and is currently a

Josh DeWeese (Bozeman, MT) is an

Studio Artist, Instructor and Studio

Assistant Professor of Art teaching

Technician at the College of Lake County

ceramics at Montana State University

in Grayslake, IL.

in Bozeman, and served as Resident Director of the Archie Bray Foundation

Charity Davis-Woodard (Edwardsville, IL) for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana established her home-based rural studio

from 1992-2006. DeWeese has exhibited

after earning her MFA from Southern

and taught workshops internationally

Illinois University, Edwardsville in 1997.

and his work is included in numerous

Drawing inspiration from both the

public and private collections.

decorative arts and the natural world,

Kenyon Hansen (Helena, MT) makes soda Matthew Hyleck (Baltimore, MD) is a and wood fired utilitarian ceramics in

resident artist of Baltimore Clayworks

Helena, Montana, where he is currently

whose functional pots have earned him

a long term resident at the Archie Bray

a Maryland State Arts Council Individual

Foundation for the Ceramic Arts. Hansen

Artist Fellowship Award in Craft both in

received his BFA from Finlandia University

2007 and 2005. Hyleck was identified

International School of Art and Design in

as an “emerging artist” in the May 2008

2002. Upon graduating he continued his

issue of Ceramics Monthly. He currently

studies as an apprentice to Simon Levin,

serves as the Director of Education at

as well as a studio assistant at Penland

Baltimore Clayworks, Mt. Washington

School of Crafts.


Jason Hess (Flagstaff, AZ) lives in Arizona

Jayson Lawfer (Chicago, IL) is a potter

and instructs at Northern Arizona

and director of The Nevica Project

University. As an “avid wood-firer”, his

art gallery. After graduating from

research for over 15 years has focused on

the University of Montana, Lawfer

the alchemy of the process. Hess’ work

completed artist residencies at

is either utilitarian or refers to utility in

Guldagergard in Denmark, The Archie

form while the presentation is more like

Bray Foundation, A.I.R. Vallauris in France

characters relating to one another. He

and Lillstreet Art Center. His talents have

holds an MFA degree from Utah State

granted him the opportunity to present


lectures and lead workshops in Mexico, Italy and the USA.

Matt Long (Oxford, MS) received his MFA

Lorna Meaden (Durango, CO) received

from Ohio University in 1997 and his

a BA from Fort Lewis College and an

BFA from The Kansas City Art Institute

MFA in ceramics from Ohio University.

in 1995. He is currently an Associate

She has recently been a resident artist

Professor and Head of Ceramics at The

at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena,

University of Mississippi. He has been a

Montana, and at the Anderson Ranch Arts

potter for 30 years, and currently resides

Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado.

in Oxford, Mississippi where he teaches

She was featured as a demonstrator

and has a home studio.

and lecturer at the National Council on Education in Ceramic Arts, as well as

Dan Murphy (Logan, UT) has 26 years

Utilitarian Clay V: Celebrate the Object.

experience firing wood-burning kilns

She is currently a studio potter in

and recently participated in the Wood

Durango, as well as Adjunct Professor of

Fire TAS 2011 international conference

Art at Fort Lewis College.

in Tasmania, Australia. He has also conducted visiting artist and wood-

Jeremy Randall (Tully, NY) received an

firing lectures and has been featured in

MFA in Ceramics from the University

exhibitions at universities and art centers

of Florida, and a BFA in Ceramics from

nationally and abroad, including Northern

Syracuse University. His work references

Arizona University, the Jingdezhen

rural American architecture and antique

Ceramic Institute in China, and the Hongik

rural implements layered with time,

University of Seoul, Korea.

function and history.

Brad Schwieger (Athens, OH) has been

Jack Troy (Huntingdon, PA) is a teacher,

teaching at Ohio University since 1990

potter, and writer retired from Juniata

and is presently a Professor of Art and

College in 2006, where he taught for 39

Ceramics Area Chairman. Prior to that he

years. He has led over 185 workshops

was an Associate Professor at Vincennes

at colleges and art centers in the U. S.

University in Indiana (1985-1990).

and abroad. His first book, Salt Glazed

Schwieger received his MFA from Utah

Ceramics, was published in 1977. In 1978

State University in 1983 and his BFA from

he built Pennsylvania’s first anagama-

the University of Iowa in 1981.

style kiln as well as personal anagamas at his home in 1987 and 2006. In 1995 he

Josh Stover (Minneapolis, MN) is

published Wood-fired Stoneware and

currently making work at Northern Clay


Center in Minneapolis, MN. He grew up in Florida and recently graduated with a

Erik Zohn (Chicago, IL) recently received

BFA in ceramics from the University of

a bachelors degree, focusing in ceramics,

Florida. His intention is to make useful

from Bowling Green State University. He is

pottery that injects some humor and

currently an Artist in Residence at Lillstreet

playfulness into the user’s everyday

Art Center in Chicago. Drawing aesthetic

routine. Cartoon imagery, animals and

inspiration from architecture and design

rural culture communicate a comforting

Erik aims to create functional objects that,

and laid-back feeling.

through their tactile and visual qualities, enhance the experience of use.