Farewell to Ray Grimm, deft ceramic artist and community organizer

Ray Grimm, Lumpy Brown Vase, 1965; Ceramic; 6 x 4.75 inches diameter; Collection of Museum of Contemporary Craft, Gift of Jere and Ray Grimm, 1998.93.16. Photo: Dan Kvitka.

ArtsWatch was sad to hear that glass and ceramic artist Ray Grimm, longtime professor at Portland State University, died on Sunday. He was 87.

Grimm was born in 1924 and served in the Navy during World War II. He attended art at Washington University in St. Louis after the war, where he met his wife, artist Jere Grimm. On their honeymoon, they heard about a workshop in Carbondale, Illinois, that ceramic artist F.Carlton Ball was leading, and the five-week course led the newlyweds into lifelong careers in ceramics. In 1956, Grimm completed his Master’s degree in pottery at Southern Illinois University, and he was hired by Portland State University, where he taught pottery, jewelry-making and art education, until retiring in 1988.

During his time here, he was a central player in the beginning of Portland’s modern craft movement, playing an important role at the old Contemporary Crafts Gallery and Museum with Leroy Setziol, Ken Shores, Tom Hardy and others. His initial interest was in ceramics — he mastered Chinese glazing techniques, for example — but he also was an early proponent of glass art, taking glass-blowing workshops at the Toledo Art Museum, including one led by Harvey Littleton, the father of the modern glass art movement, in 1968, and started the Glass Shack workshop in Portland for glass artists.

Grimm’s work is in the permanent collection of the Oregon Museum of Contemporary Crafts and many other collections, and he won many public art commissions during his career.

He is survived by his wife, Jere, six children (Eric, Christa, Luke, Joan, Sarah and Carl) and eight grandchildren.

No memorial services have been announced.

Thanks to the Museum of Contemporary Craft for supplying notes for this post.



3 Responses.

  1. Gina Lindow says:

    What a great piece! What an inspiring family! I know Ray’s grand daughter, Autumn Higgins. She is also an amazing ceramicist. Check out her work @

  2. Mary Mayther-Slac says:

    Christa (shown here) has a daughter who is simply extraordinary in her ceramics talent. The legacy lives on with style, wit and humor that is Autumn Higgins. Ray and Jere were great examples of loving the life they created and sharing it generously with their family and the community at large.Family as a work of ART!Ray was part of the Linnton Potters Guild in the 60’s teaching young people the joy of ceramics and the rules of the road of creativity.He will be missed by his extended family as well.

  3. Michael Walsh says:

    Memorial Gathering on Sunday Feb 12 at 3:00 PM at Multnomah Arts Center.
    Join family and friends for a community rememberance of Ray and his life.
    MULTNOMAH ARTS CENTER • 7688 SW CAPITOL HWY • PORTLAND, OR 97219 • 503-823-2787

    Directions to MAC:

    Many wonderful memories and photos are shared here:

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