1944 - 2013
Cottage Grove potter Gil Harrison followed his heartbeat to the great Marimba Dance in the sky on Jan. 20, 2013. He was 68. Gil never missed a beat, but the rest of us are left to figure out the dance of life without him.
Gil was well-known for his earthy, futuristic pottery glazed in deep hues of black with contrasting jewel-tone highlights. One of his ethereal vases was featured on the set of "Star Trek: Voyager" in 1997. His distinctive claywork was juried into numerous fine art festivals and exhibits from coast to coast. He was active in the Oregon Potters Association.
Gilbert Lloyd Harrison was born in New York City on July 15, 1944, to Charles and Gertrude (Zvaris) Harrison. Gil grew up in New York, but always felt like a country boy in the city. While attending Cornell University, he worked one summer on a fire supression crew in the Umpqua National Forest. That experience hooked him on Oregon. He graduated from Cornell in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in wildlife conservation and promptly moved to Eugene. He settled into his home in the countryside outside Cottage Grove in 1970.
Right away, Gil took ceramics classes at Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene and discovered an infatuation with clay. He connected with many like-minded friends, becoming a founding member of the Eugene Craft Guild in 1969 and of the Saturday Market in 1970. He participated in every Oregon Country Fair, selling his pottery there for more than four decades. A key participant in the Fair's early years, Gil volunteered for the first Info Crew and served on the Fair Board in the 1970s and early 1980s. He also was the Fair's first Quartermaster at Main Camp.
He loved having fun at parties, and often showed up wearing wild, sequined "formal" attire in crazy colors. At art fairs, he wore bright jackets and shirts handmade by fellow Saturday Market and Fair crafters. His favorite hats said "Slightly Imperfect" and "I Make Stuff Up."
Gil played rugby and helped co-found Eugene's first rugby club. When he learned to play marimba, he became one of the original members of Shumba. He volunteered as a DJ for KLCC in the 1970s, hosting a jazz program at night.
Gil Harrison succeeded in living an artful life on his own terms - rich with friendships, fun, dancing, music and art. He is survived by his younger brother, Hugh, of Somerset, N.Y., and a legion of very good friends.
A Celebration of Gil's Life will be held March 9. For details, please rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org. Memorial contributions may be made to Oregon Potters Association, noting for the Gil Harrison scholarship fund. Funds will benefit the Association's Clay in Education programs for grades K-12. Mail to OPA, 4614 SE Salmon St., Portland, Oregon 97215.
Please sign the guest book at www.registerguard.com/legacy
Published in Eugene Register-Guard on Feb. 10, 2013