Rex Alexander “A Potter’s Work”
By Jason Machulski
Lake Charles native Rex Alexander is a family man who works at a local plant. But he’s also a truly inspiring, prolific potter. But it took a while for the art of pottery to find him.
Alexander said that during his schooling and early part of his life he was lost, looking for that one craft that grabbed his passion. “Pottery found me, and it has been love ever since,” he said.
His studio is a unique site filled with pots, mugs, platters, etc. along with his handmade kiln. Alexander mixes his own glazes with dry chemicals not only to save money, but also to make each piece unique. He applies glazes in a whimsical way, often double or triple glazing to give a unique look to each piece. He is proud of the fact that no two pots are identical. Even when fired in the same load with the same glaze, each pot is different.
You just know it’s a Rex piece when you see it. His amazing passion for what he does has touched my heart, along with many others. Everyone he meets says they can feel the energy and love that comes from him and they can also see it expressed in his work.
His kitchen boasts a lot of of his favorites. Glass front cabinets are filled with plates, bowls, mugs and more. He enjoys creating platters more than anything else. One pot in particular struck my eye: a large bowl that had a unique mark around it from top to bottom. I asked how he made such an amazing piece.
“I took my wedding ring off and held it in my hand,” he explained. “As the bowl turned, it impressed my ring design into the side.” This pot sits atop their kitchen counter for all to see.
His art flows from his mind to his hands, making each piece special. Typically, when Alexander is commissioned to make a piece, he insists up front that he will make it his way. “If they like it in the end, that’s fantastic,” he says. “We’ll both be happy. If not, I’ll keep it or sell to someone who loves it.”
All of Alexander’s pottery pieces, are, in his words “functional,” that is, made to be used. Stellar Beans in downtown Lake Charles uses only Alexander’s pottery to serve their customers. The next time you are having a cup of Java there, ask to have it in a Rex mug. You’ll recognize his pottery by his signature stamp, TRX.
“The first day of my pottery class, a Cajun lady called me Ti. Ti Rex,” he laughs. “I made my stamp out of clay and have been using it ever since.”
The artist Alexander admires the most is George Ohr, “The Mad Potter of Biloxi.” Ohr (1857-1918) has been called the first art potter in the United States, and many say the finest. Look him up on the web; it will surely be a great read.
Alexander sells his art, but he also enjoys sharing his work. He makes pottery as gifts for family and friends. He has donated pots to charities and fundraising events, made 100 mugs for McNeese’s radio station, KBYS-FM and has contributed hundreds of his bowls to the Salvation Army’s annual fundraiser, the Empty Bowl. This is his way of giving back to the community that he loves.
His work has been shown at The Art Associates Gallery in Lake Charles and The George Ohr Museum in Biloxi. In addition, Alexander has also participated in numerous festivals, fairs, and workshops.
I asked him if he thought about giving up his job and doing this full time, but that’s not his goal. “I make pots for fun, not as a job. People lose something when they do art for a living,” he explains.
Alexander’s plan for the future is to have two studios: one in Lake Charles and the other in Tennessee. “Pottery will be a part of my life until the day I’m gone, and when that day comes, there will be unfinished pottery lining my studios,” he predicts.
Great energy lives around Rex Alexander. When you meet him, you’ll what I’m talking about. To find out more, visit him at www.trxtrxtrx.com or email him at [email protected] He also can be found on Facebook.