Don Bendel

Legacy: Don Bendel will feature selected works of ceramic art by Dr. Don Bendel, a long-time Flagstaff artist, educator and leader. The exhibition in the Main Gallery at the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, Arizona, will open with a reception Friday, June 22, 2018, and remain open through August 25, 2018.

Dr. Bendel’s extensive impact on the ceramics community has reached from Australia to Japan, and his creative influence has created a ripple effect across the United States. His legacy is embodied by thousands of former students around the world. In an effort to illustrate this visually, Legacy: Don Bendel will be accompanied by a small invitational of art work by former Bendel students.

Dr. Donald V. Bendel is a familiar figure in ceramic arts around the world. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Art Education from Winona Minnesota State College in 1960 and 1963, a Master of Fine Art in Ceramics from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in 1967, and a Doctorate of Education in Art Education from Arizona State University in 1975. In Flagstaff, where he made his home for decades, he is revered as an artist, long-time educator, and mentor.

Dr. Bendel began teaching at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in 1970 where he built a strong ceramics program and became the interim Art Department Chair in 1982. He became a Regent’s Professor in 1997 and actively taught at NAU and Coconino Community College for over 30 years. Bendel-Burner, a system he invented for gas-fired kilns, received international attention in the late 1970’s, and was featured in publications by the Ceramic Arts Network. He hosted the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) at NAU in 1973, which resulted in international workshops, conferences, and exhibitions around the world.

In 1985, Dr. Bendel met the late Yukio Yamamoto, a master Japanese potter who was an expert on Japanese style kilns. A recognized “national treasure” of Japan, Yamamoto began a cultural and artistic exchange alongside Dr. Bendel at NAU. Together, they designed and built the only Tozan kiln outside of Japan with both anagama and noborigama elements, which has continued to serve students, professors, and artists in residence in Northern Arizona.

Dr. Bendel was awarded the first ever Viola Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Arts in 2009, and his legacy continues to permeate Flagstaff’s artistic community. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010 and while his mind isn’t the same, he is just as charismatic, humorous, and energetic. It is an honor for the Coconino Center for the Arts to celebrate Dr. Bendel’s impact with Legacy: Don Bendel.


Legacy: Don Bendel is generously supported by: