Savoring the Pieces: The 19th Annual New York Ceramics and Glass Fair — January 17-21, 2018


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.



Cut rim blackberry bead design — Mt. Washington Glass ca. 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.

689 peacock

Bouke De Vries’ Peacock


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.

The Savoring

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:




Small vessels | Lacoste Gallery (Top, Center: Shapiro; Bottom two rows: MacKenzie

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.


Martha Reiger: Pomegranates

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:

 It’s New York City Antiques Weekend , so be sure to include a visit to the New York Ceramic and Glass Fair along with other fine exhibits, and enjoy the presentations as well as the objets.IMG_8989




Intrepid Performance: Heather Massie’s “Hedy! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr”

Hedy Image - Landscape - Color


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.

About My Weekend: “Arches of Hysteria”


Louise Bourgeois at MOMA: Arch of Hysteria

This weekend was all about poetry and art in New York City, so it brought up a number of reflections, particularly in the context of some woke thinking by others about sexual harassment throughout the week.
On Saturday, I went to the Museum of Modern Art to enjoy exhibits on Max Ernst and Louise Bourgeois. The Museum was mobbed, but I was able to enjoy some quiet time with a few pieces. Taking the photo above, of Bourgeois’ “Arch of Hysteria,” epitomized the day for me. “Hysteria” has been an unfortunate label pinned on many women—particularly creative artists–in the absence of knowledge about their biology and in ignorance of social limitations. Here is Bourgeois both fighting back against the limitation of the label while illustrating its naked truth. Me, too, as I’ve been saying all week.
In the evening, I had the honor of attending a retrospective of Poetic People Power, a project founded by Tara Bracco. Starting 15 years ago, the group, now comprising 35 diverse poets, takes a social or political issue and creates performance poems around the subject. Bracco had chosen a representative work from each year, and the poets returned to perform, sometimes with a video assist. The evening was agitating, as promised, and while reanimating concerns about big issues—such as, water, democracy, consumerism, inequality, violence, and social media, the ending was anything but  depressing. What makes this group so powerful is that this group puts its action where its words are, founding arts collectives and therapeutic workshops, nonprofit solutions for climate and water issues, some eschewing careers in corporations to educate children, others helping to found multicultural organizations such as Pilipino American Unity for Progress. Their optimism that action can bring about change ultimately creates an uplifting, often transcendent evening. You leave the event wanting to do something! P3, as it is known to fans, will be focusing on bringing its shows to schools and other groups who want to augment their educational efforts on social issues. Thanks to my friend, the artist Shetal Shah, (cite IMDB) for keeping me in the loop about this project all of these years. Kudos to Tara Bracco for doing the hard work of keeping this movement going.

Program from P3 at 15–Poetic People Power/Agitate

We have so much work to do. Sigh. In a week of so many sad revelations, how refreshing to hear Bill Murray, Jan Vogler, and friends perform highlights of West Side Story on The Late Show, ending with the emphatic reminder, “Puerto Rico’s in America!”

A Day of Chandeliers and Awesome Food


IMG_0001 Chihuly at NYBG

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!

IMG_0004 Chihuly chandelier

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.

IMG_0003 Ceiling Prince Coffee House

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.


Learn like a Rockefeller–Vacation like a New York Millionaire

With a little advance planning, a small fee, and quick action as the opportunities come up, you can enjoy the expertise of the savvy experts who conserve and study the extraordinary art and artists represented in the Rockefeller Brothers collections at the family home known as “Kykuit,” which is Dutch for “Lookout.” (See Photo #1 above.)
I’m not talking about the public tours—I’m talking about going deeper. Some of the recent pleasures I’ve enjoyed here include a walk around the amazing gardens with the Kykuit chief gardener to learn about the how and why of the property’s landscaping; a photography course with talented NY event photographer Todd Shapera, and a special presentation on the exceptional Lachaise statues from the Gaston Lachaise Foundation. These nearly private tours often feature refreshments along with exceptional lifelong learning experiences. If concerts or arts performances are more your pleasure, you can sign up for these and enjoy groundbreaking art by funded performers. In order to be on the A-list for these events, you need to sign up for emails from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Public Programs & Artist Residencies. When you receive an invitation, act quickly! These events sell out rapidly.
Not a planner? You can take tours of the beautiful Hudson Valley Historic Homes, such as Kykuit, Lyndhurst, and Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, and I promise you that you will want to linger longer and ask a lot of questions, so becoming an insider is a real perk.
Care to relax in luxury when you are done? Tarrytown Estate House (photo #2, above–Biddle Mansion Carriage entrance), recently added to the Iprefer collection of distinctive hotels offers you a million dollar view of the Hudson River along with accommodations fit for a millionaire. They do a lot of events-especially weddings there—so quick action will help you snag a great view from the King Mansion (lots of stairs here) or a more contemporary room in the Conference Center. Dine in Cellar 49 for casual, hearty locally sourced meals with a seasonally changing menu complemented by an international wine list. The Cellar was formerly Mary Duke Biddle’s bowling alley. Breakfast is available upstairs in the Biddle Mansion—the Crystal Palace—with a gorgeous view of the mighty Hudson. If you enjoy local history, the photographs around the property will pique your interest. Meeting planners take note: this luxury hotel was the birthplace of the modern conference, handling events of around 500 people or so. I’ve enjoyed it during busy and quiet seasons—no excuses about your exercise routine given the beautifully landscaped garden walks and excellent indoor fitness center and indoor/outdoor pool. Spoil yourself. You don’t have to be a billionaire to enjoy it.

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!–Happy Birthday, Eddie Palmieri.

IMG_4397JALC View from the State

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!