Best of Phoenix

Vintage Phoenix Q&A: Halldor Hjalmarson

Halldor Hjalmarson is that rarest of things: A fine artist who stayed in town, worked hard at his art, and made a name for himself here. His signature style -- three-dimensional, "sprigged" clay vessels depicting Sonoran plants and wildlife, glazed in earth tones and brilliant blues -- is recognizable from 30 feet, and beloved by many. (So, too, are his business cards: small, bright ceramic tokens based on a rather naughty old currency.)

Hjalmarson, long an arts advocate and mover-and-shaker, also promoted downtown's historic preservation well before it was fashionable. For years he's made the tea bowls for the local Japanese gardens, and has, along with wife Gail, maintained the Hjalmarson Pottery Studio in the Roosevelt Historic District for 40 years now. He recently set down his slip long enough to chat about bordello tokens, the best way to freak out the gas company, and the art world, then and now.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela