Fred and Mary Buskirk’s friendship with Toshiko Takaezu began in Cleveland. Fred completed his Ph.D. in physics at Case Western Reserve University and Mary Balzer moved to Cleveland in 1956 after finishing her masters in weaving at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Mary and Toshiko became acquainted at Cranbrook, but grew much closer after Mary took a position teaching weaving at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where Toshiko was already a member of the ceramics faculty. The two women wound up living in apartments across the street from one another and, after Fred took a room nearby, all three were part of a group of friends who frequently dined together in each other’s homes. Much of Fred and Mary’s collection was purchased at that time, but at least one or two bowls arrived bearing food and never left. Others were formal presents (both then and later), and Mary’s artistic records list weavings that she in turn gave to Toshiko.
According to family lore, Toshiko joined Mary and Fred for part of one cross-country road trip (when they were returning from a 1959 physics post-doc in Boulder, Colorado). They were able to make just enough room in the car for a third person, so when Toshiko came across a Native American pot at Charlie Eagle Plume’s Trading Post that she couldn’t pass up, she had to carry it during the rest of the trip east in the only space remaining: her lap.
Although Fred and Mary moved to California in 1960, they kept in frequent touch with Toshiko and visited back and forth on multiple occasions. During one trip to Monterey in the 1970s, Toshiko designated the arrangement for a group of square plates Mary and Fred had acquired earlier, which were mounted under her supervision on a support fabricated by Fred. The family connection continued with Mary and Fred’s younger daughter, Janet, herself a potter in Portland, OR, who spent time with Toshiko in conjunction with annual workshops Toshiko conducted at Lewis and Clark College over a number of years during the 1980s and 90s.
—Martha Buskirk, Fred and Mary's daughter
Rago is honored to present works fresh to the secondary market from the Buskirk's collection. Mary Balzer Buskirk was an accomplished weaver and some of her works can be seen at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.