Preview Night at the Fair
The description of the Fair sounded a little daunting—5 centuries of artifacts from “30 top-tier vetted Galleries, Private Dealers, and Artists”—but I can assure you there was no museum fatigue as I worked my way around the New York City Ceramics and Glass Fair, chatting with dealers, artists, and arts professionals during the engaging opening reception. I was dazzled by the hundreds of examples of glass, pottery, and ceramics makers’ art–names as familiar as Minton, Delft and Baccarat alongside contemporary, practicing artists–which I previewed on January 17 throughout two floors under the beautiful roof of the classic Bohemian National Association building at 321 East 73rd Street in New York City, which is the home of the Czech Republic Consulate and a vibrant cultural center.
While the wide sweep of human history was represented in techniques, decoration, and value of these pieces, the ability to pause and converse with experts, collectors, and makers prevented any tedium and made touring the New York Ceramics and Glass Fair a great pleasure. Like a world tour plus time travel without the jet lag! While the Fair is broad in scope and offering, each exhibitor came with a reasonable number of artifacts, so moving to each next station was refreshing. As this was the preview, wine and hors d’oeuvres were served to celebrate and enhance an already excited and pleasant vibe.
Five Centuries of Creation
Artists and Art Business Professionals from United States, England, Ireland, Israel, Czech Republic, and Asia were happy to explain their exhibits, which included artifacts from nearly every continent, dating from the 17th century to today. Eclectic tastes welcome. So many exhibitors eschewed glass cases, and I appreciated the open viewing while understanding that the many fine antiques require special handling. A stylish antique Royal Flemish vase, for example, caught my eye through a glass door, and I also had the pleasure of seeing it unmediated. Pictured below, this vase features a “cut rim blackberry bead design,” manufactured by Mt. Washington Glass Company , (later the Pairpoint Corporation), New Bedford, around 1893-5.
Special “Loaner Exhibits”
Bouke de Vries whimsical peacock, fashioned of 18th century ceramic fragments will greet you as you step of the elevator on one floor. This piece is a highlight from one of the highlighted “loaner” exhibitions from Ferrin Contemporary, part of “Revive, Remix, Respond: Contemporary Ceramic Artists,” an exhibit that opens at the Frick Pittsburgh on February 16.
A chat with Alexandra Jelleberg, Associate Director of Ferrin Contemporary, led me to discover two new artists whose work I want to follow: Paul Scott, who creates new work from old fragments, crafting in the Kintsugi practice of repairing broken ceramics, healing scars with gold to make the piece more precious than before; and Mara Superior, who approaches the topic from a different perspective by making and assembling her own “old school” fragments. Her Artist’s Statement at the exhibit sponsor Ferrin Contemporary explains her work as “the reinterpretation of historical inspirations synthesized with my own visual vocabulary.” Photos of these pieces can be found at these links: Bouke de Vries and Paul Scott and Mara Superior.
A second loan exhibit concerns a remarkable find: examples of an unusual 18th century Philadelphia slipware found during excavations on the site of the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. This recovered collection numbers some 85,000 artifacts. The loan exhibit is sponsored by Ceramics in America published by the Chipstone Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
With so many exhibits, you will see something you love. Here are some of my lingering moments:
Martyn Edgell offered a generous selection of antique pieces— what caught my eye especially were the nineteenth century whimsical, homiletically decorated pearlware dishes: “God speeds the plow”; “Industrey [sic] produces wealth.” Who could resist a bowl inscribed “Your affectionate father,” or a plate that featured your name to be uncovered after finishing your meal? Easy to channel your inner grandparent here.
A fascinating contemporary exhibit from Pascoe Gallery featured South African decorative ceramic art. The gallery features the largest U.S. selection of Ardmore Studio art featuring lively museum quality ethnic art commissioned from the Studio in Kwazulu-Natal. The intricate decorative pieces are often fashioned by a group of artists—a sculptor or two and a painter, for example.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the shiny object category. As you round one corner, you will encounter the beautiful wearable and decorative art–so at home in this building–of the Czech Republic’s Precioza. Warning: you can keep going back for this lovely eye caviar, and it makes your eyes sparkle!
Meeting LaiSun Keane and Lucy Lacoste, Director of the Lacoste Gallery in Concord, MA, led to a thoughtful discussion of the role business plays in the life of the artist. I also took away a great many details of interest about the 8 artists they represent, notably the nonagenarian Warren Mackenzie , a longtime client of the gallery, who was inspired as much by functionality as form, and Mark Shapiro, whose vibrantly colored, functional work is displayed at the Smithsonian and the Alfred University Museum of Ceramics, among other notable exhibiting institutions. Mr. Shapiro will be speaking at the Fair this week. Below are some examples of small vessels, including the work of these two artists:
At the Fair, I also discovered the work of Martha Rieger —a ceramic artist who confessed in a whisper during our conversation that she was “a late bloomer.” You might not imagine this, considering the monumental exhibits the Brazilian-born Israeli has already achieved throughout her chosen home: At this Fair, Rieger has brought some of her extraordinary pomegranates, pictured below—spheres made of rough black stoneware clay, decorated on the inside with gold.
Ms. Rieger has made up for lost time. Humbling, too, is the result of her study of Shibori painting that is featured on her blue and white ceramic bubbles, on exhibit at the Trumpeldor Gallery in Be’er Sheva. Other large-scale works have appeared throughout Israel, including the Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Culture in Beer Sheva. I want to hear more about her fluid translations of her own multi-cultural life into these elemental metaphorical shapes that capture a meaning but remain open to interpretation. A good starting place is the book Rieger graciously offered me, her own bilingual Oasis, which tells the story of her passionate, evolving art. You can also read and see more about her work at her website.
Wait! There’s more to see in NYC this weekend:
Here’s a novel way to spend an evening: On an aircraft carrier, the Intrepid, now docked in New York City as part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, watching an engaging actor, Heather Massie, reveal the complex history of an inventor: Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler Mandl Markey Loder Stauffer Lee Boies. Wait. Stay with me! It’s a fascinating one-woman show, including World War II arms dealers, Bette Davis, and Howard Hughes, among other notables.
If you aren’t recognizing the inventor’s name, you might know her better as Hedy Lamarr, the beautiful star of stage and screen known for romantic and professional pairings on- and off-screen with the likes of musician George Antheil and billionaire eccentric Howard Hughes, the first nude scene in a film (Ecstasy 1933), or perhaps Ann Hathaway’s inspiration for Cat Woman.
As an inventor, Lamarr was actually the mother of key inventions that make our cell phones and numerous other devices possible—frequency hopping and spread spectrum technology. A patriotic immigrant, Lamarr and Antheil gave their invention of radio guidance system for torpedoes to the U.S. Navy during World War II. They didn’t use it then, but we sure do depend on it now.
It was only near the end of her life that Lamarr began to receive the recognition she deserved as the Electronic Frontier Foundation reached out to invite her to receive an award. While Hedy did not receive the credit or the financial rewards her inventions deserved, this one-woman show, written and performed by Massie opens with this tribute, enabling Hedy to review the highlights of her life. It is a demanding show, with Massie playing all of the characters, making seamless transitions among many accents and personalities, with gestures as powerfully simple as raising a hat in the air or adjusting a telephone.
As a former Astrophysics major in college, Heather Massie turned to theater to explore her creative side. Through her art, she wants to encourage young women in the pursuit of science and technology and to spur creative invention. Why the Intrepid? This museum houses a special program, GOALS for Girls, to encourage girls to engage in STEAM disciplines. As I looked around at the audience during the performance, I saw rapt engagement. I was touched by the girls’ responses, and I thought: This is the way we do it—make and tell the stories that will inspire young women to create and invent.
Heather Massie’s play is doing its part, having traveled already from New York City to six other states, and Zimbabwe and Ireland. Where will you catch it next? At least 6 performances are already scheduled in different states and Ireland for 2018. Go to Heather’s website to find out more.
Note: I’ve followed “Hedy!” since its beginning as a solo show, and Heather Massie has been generous in her participation in staged readings of my work. It’s great to see an artist receive the recognition she deserves.
Nancy and Sue Eynon Lark have created a special B&B in Olney, MD. I recommend a visit there, soon. They’ll make you feel at home!
Here’s a link to a video I made during a recent visit to RowanLark.
This week’s excursion brought me to the New York Botanical Gardens for the Chihuly Exhibit, which will be on display until October 29. 2017. This site-attuned exhibit will bring the ooh’s and ahh’s to your lips. Colors and shapes, each more dramatic than the one before–Seuss-like Chandeliers, Spikes, Flora, Geological formations that tease the fountain sculptures–this is a rich experience for all ages. I spent the most time at the Fountain, where I found the beautiful icy rock-like sculptures were so organically integrated with the metal sculptures, as if they had always been there. Alas, they won’t, so go soon! If you are without a car, there are two convenient transit ways to go on the Gardens’ Directions Page here. There is plenty of nature to enjoy at the Gardens–the water lilies are in beautiful bloom right now–plan for a long visit so you can see it all!
Not far away, I made the pilgrimage to New York’s northern “Little Italy,” Arthur Avenue, rewards the pilgrim with tasty fresh foods, made the old-fashioned way–fresh mozzarella, pasta, vegetables–markets and specialized shops to take home some. I went in quest of that creamier mozzarella, Burratta, but, alas Calabria’s (home of the famous “meat chandelier”) only begins to make it on Tuesday so it wasn’t going to be ready on Thursday…a weekend trip back sometime will be necessary if the fresh mozzarella I had to buy is any indication of what to expect.
I dined in high deli style at Mike’s Deli in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, surrounded by all manner of Italian delicacies. Huge portions. They wrap to go!
Afterwards, I took a stroll to find bread and at least look at beautiful pastries. Purchases done, I relaxed with an iced latte at the pleasant café, The Prince Coffee House (air-conditioned or sidewalk seating). The ceiling is covered with latte pitchers–great atmosphere for this coffee lover! Sorry, I cannot tell you about the pastries.
The Arthur Avenue neighborhood is a brief sliver of New York, so you could pass through quickly or have a leisurely lunch and an excellent stroll in and out of the stores. A New York gem to visit.
July 12–Chadds Ford, PA–The day began with huge crowds for the opening of the Brandywine River Museum for the occasion of Andrew Wyeth’s 100th birthday. The museum and tours of Wyeth country, mobbed and sold out, respectively, but I did manage to get my first-day Wyeth stamp. Three generations of family painting, men, women, children, and grandchildren are amply represented in the collection. You can see an ample representation of the other people in their lives–the mysterious Christina demystified in her elder world, and more of the Helga series. In the alternate galleries, you’ll find a great selection from the works of the other family members. I was particularly struck by a portrait of Andy Warhol by Jamie Wyeth, who continues to live and paint in this beautiful countryside that inspired his family. The beautifully curated Centennial exhibit runs until September 17, 2017.
I always approach tribute concerts for elder musicians with a some trepidation—don’t ask me about the last time I saw Brian Wilson—but last night’s performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center, featuring the belated 80th Birthday Celebration for Eddie Palmieri (continuing tonight at JALC and then on tour) transcended any hopeful expectations I might have entertained. Mr. Palmieri, who turned 80 in December, took to the stage at the Rose Theater just after 8 pm, and the self-described “frustrated percussionist” delivered two hours of muscular performance energy in a dazzling array of styles, each infused with the Latin Jazz of the moment. Happy Birthday! I am celebrating, still. I sometimes like to sit behind the band to watch the organization, and last night, it was fun to watch the collaboration between Palmieri and trumpeter Brian Lynch—a former member of Eddie’s Afro-Caribbean Jazz group—corralling their joyful anarchy into smooth sound. You can catch some of the energy at this link to a rehearsal, and I’d say run to get a ticket to some event on this tour, which is also promoting Palmieri’s newest release: Sabiduría. An apt title, the music celebrates the wisdom the Spanish Harlem-born virtuoso has gathered in a 50-year career.
My day began with a trip to the Museum of Modern Art highlighted by an exhibit on 1960s artists. I particularly appreciated the photography sections, led by the works of Diane Arbus. I appreciated the Picabia exhibit though sometimes the put-on’s taxed my patience. I was glad for the exhibits on the Ourslers and their interest in the occult. Strange museum site—the great hall surrounded with photographs of people from birth to age 100, hardly anyone was looking at the photos. In the center of the hall a huge, inviting seating area beckoned, and nearly everyone on it was engaged with a cell phone. We are never where we are anymore, are we? Maybe these are “un-happenings,” and we should consider the artistic moments? Still pondering that, but I can’t beat back the tide anymore.
Later on, since I planned to attend the pre-concert lecture at JALC, I savored an early dinner at Maison Kayser on Broadway and Columbus Circle. A quite reasonably priced and delicious prix fixe menu gave me that feeling of being in Paris for an hour and a half. Dining room or take-out to Central Park when the weather is better—this beautiful store is a find, open 7 am to 10 pm. Dinner begins at 4, and no one will rush you. Almond croissants, desserts with names like Adagio and Moccacino were irresistible. Several locations in New York City, 100 shops in 20 countries. Do not ignore!
I needed to escape the election noise today, and, November not usually being flower-full, the road took me to Longwood Gardens, a guaranteed Chrysanthemum Festival. Thousands of chrysanthemums–an early birthday treat for me. So I “rolled down the window and let the wind blow back my hair” to get there. Now, as I go through my photos of the day, I’m listening to the Boss, and feeling full of hope about tomorrow. Don’t tell the roses it isn’t summer any more. There’s something about a rose beside the topiary. The blooms never end at Longwood–open all year.