Frederick Rhead initially began his experience with American art pottery upon his arrival in California in 1911. As with most artists, his inspiration came from his surroundings and it’s been said those earlier Arequipa Pottery pieces with their lovely outdoor elements such as various fruits and trees were inspired by what he saw growing along the west coast. Indeed, the Multicolor Squeezebag vase, circa 1912, offers a matte background that’s so deeply purple that it almost looks black. While the matte appearance certainly added the refined look of this vase, it’s the berries and oversized leaves along the vase opening that adds contrast and texture.
Another vase, shaped as a gourd vessel, includes a glossier finish, though this time, it looks as though sunflowers were the inspiration. The “squeezebag” decoration, which is symbolic of the Arequipa look, works well with the deep green, gold and navy blue color choices. It measures around 7 inches in height, making it one of the larger pieces you’ll find in the pottery line.
One of the more interesting bits of trivia about Frederick Rhead includes his wife, Agnes. The couple had gone to work at the Arequipa Sanatorium for Dr. Philip K. Brown, who was looking for someone to teach the patients various artistic techniques in an effort to raise their spirits. The plan worked as many of these young women were drawn to the possibilities this artistic avenue provided. Rhead and his wife were there for just one year, but their influence lived on with these patients.
This award wining line was the darling of the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition. It took both the gold and bronze medals, which for many companies would mean great exposure and increased interest – but for Arequipa, it meant the end of the new Arequipa Pottery pieces as it closed its doors that same year. What we’re left with is a valuable line of American art pottery that is considered quite valuable by any standards.