To quote the news anchor, Ron Burgundy, “Oh, Great Odin’s Raven!!” My thrill of being able to describe the pipes of Reiichi Kurusu’s Smokingpipes.com debut was a heady one, but short lived. If Ray had been a home team pitcher and I was the TV color man, the snappy patter would have amounted to “Kurusu closes out the top of the second inning with six up, six down, and now it’s time for a word from our sponsors!” Yep, six up, six down – and in roughly three hours. While just my opinion, two of those six (the first two to sell) featured one of Ray’s many strengths; the (quite) rare ability to masterfully incorporate medium size bamboo into a composition. There are a few, such as Kovalev and Maenz, who can totally rock Buddha Belly stalks, a few more still (Davidson, Satou, Gracik) who can work miracles with the more slender bamboo rhizome. When it comes to artists to can work with the medium variety (and not have it come off about as smooth as a Lee Harvey Oswald jail-transfer), we’re down to a very skinny list. Ray’s medium bamboo isn’t just smooth, it’s bloody perfect.
Even without the benefit of that perfect bamboo, this Reiichi Apple is the quiet embodiment of the Shinto aesthetic; nothing forced, everything a celebration of the beauty to be found in nature. The patterns which appear in the micro-troughs/peaks of the plateau amaze almost to the same degree as the straight grain which drapes the bowl. Though a small thing (not a bad thing, given that Shinto-nature also celebrates the small), everyone here was universally amazed to discover that the slender ring at the terminus of the mount is also a spinning “worry bead”. Yes, seriously; a meditative device set within an instrument of contemplation. Is it just me, or is that as cool as all get-out?!
--R. ‘Bear’ Graves