Don Bendel received the Award for Lifetime Contribution to the Arts

The hearts of family, friends, and ceramists worldwide are heavy this week. Dr. Don Bendel passed away on Sunday, March 24th at his home in Flagstaff.

Dr. Don Bendel had a unique and distinguished contribution in teaching, creative work, and service to Northern Arizona University and beyond which was rare and exceptional. His achievements were the work of a man with an original mind and selfless devotion to share it with his students, NAU, Coconino Community College, and the national and international community.

Because of Don Bendel and his work with Japanese artist Yukio Yamamoto, the NAU campus today has wood-fired, Japanese, Tozan noborigama and anagama kilns that have been fired and are beloved by ceramic artists across this nation and around the world. Continuing that legacy, many other kilns have been added since that time. The undergraduate ceramics program in The School of Art is the best in the country, and Dr. Don Bendel started it all.

Don’s work is represented in 17 collections, including those in Finland, Russia, Latvia, and Japan. His often humorous, organic work has been represented in at least 135 exhibitions, including 18 one-person exhibitions. He and Dr. Joel Eide of the NAU Museum and Galleries co-directed a series of national and international ceramics conferences for 18 years.

Dr. Bendel received the highest honor that NAU can bestow, the title of Regent’s Professor. His students everywhere carry his vision forward, as he changed many lives. An exhibition of his work was held at the Coconino Center for The Arts in summer 2018.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, April 7th, at 2pm at Peace Lutheran Church, 3430 N. 4th St., Flagstaff. A sale of his work and potluck will be held Saturday, April 6th, at 801 W. Anderson Road. 9am-1pm, Bendel Ceramics Studio.

This post was written by
Paula Rice, Professor Emeritus
Ceramics, NAU