Community Member Profile: Steve Basile

Raised in Chicago. Deeply rooted in Minneapolis since 2006.

Years as a ceramic enthusiast:
Nearly twenty.

Professional background:
Independent Apple Macintosh consultant since 1988. I also support other Apple lines such as iPad, iPhone, and iCloud.

What has been the biggest change in your ceramics collection?
My collection for the first ten years (when I lived in Tucson) was almost entirely historical American art pottery. On my first visit to Minneapolis in 2005, I toured the Weisman Museum where I saw the work of a guy named Warren MacKenzie.

How did you first get involved with NCC?
I moved to Minneapolis in early 2006 and joined NCC that same year. I took classes in 2007, and even have a few humble pieces to show for it.

Who are some inspirational artists for you?
In a general sense, I’m a regional collector. Artists in the Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa clay scenes are of special focus. When I like an artist and their work, then I try to purchase at least one good, representative piece.

My local favorites are Jan McKeachie Johnston and Ernest Miller. Jan’s work appeals to me on an emotional level as I find it to be straight-up gorgeous. Ernest’s work, being both architectural and constantly evolving, appeals to my inner scientist’s appreciation for great forms. I find Mike Norman and Josh DeWeese’s work to be creatively liberated and this plays against my character. So appreciation for their work helps balance me, and by extension, my collection.

Finally, my inspiration in historic studio clay comes from Ruth Duckworth’s work. This woman was a scientist in an artist’s career. Her work is brilliant in both form and execution as it balances creative freedom with an appreciation for science and nature. So Ruth’s abilities, in a way, are those I also aspire to possess.

What was your first experience with clay?
I made a single piece in a hobbyist course when I lived in Arizona, which typifies one of my life maxims: quality over quantity. My pot was inspired by a 17th century Korean flask that I had just seen in the collection of Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

What are you goals for your “career” as a collector?
Fundamentally, my goal is to support artists of our time. These are members of our community. When the story of this time in Minnesota is written, then I’d prefer it be told through art objects and not landfills full of cheap imports.

Tell us about your favorite NCC Exhibition or Party:
APF all the way— it brings out the best work from many local artists. NCC also endeavors to bring in many out-of-town artists. So I get to handle dozens of pots, see local clay friends again, and meet for the first time artists who travel here to exhibit. It’s one giant party and visual feast.

Basile and his firm, xebrawerx, has assisted with NCC’s own technology needs since 2014.