A Parade of Treasures Marries Traditional With Contemporary at The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • January 09, 2017

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A rare Chinese export tea bowl and saucer decorated with a design after the Dutch artist Cornelius Pronk, circa 1745.
Polly Latham Asian Art

When the New York Ceramics and Glass Fair throws open its doorway on January 19, collectors, curators and design aficionados will clap eyes on all manner of bottles, beakers, jewelry, jars, vases, virtu and a profusion of other beautiful but fragile things that span 500 years—from 16th-century Venice, Italy, to 21st-century Venice, California.

Now celebrating its 18th anniversary, the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair is the only exposition of its sort in the United States, bringing together the best of the best in glass, ceramics, pottery, and enamel. For four days, starting on January 19 and through January 22, the Fair will fill up two floors of the Upper East Side’s Bohemian National Hall and feature choice selections offered by 28 top-tier vetted participants from England, Europe, and the United States

From the table service of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States, this wine rinser bears an engraving by Haughwout & Dailey of Manhattan on a blank made by the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company, 1853.
Ian Simmonds

Here is a guide to many of the not-to-be-missed highlights that the galleries, private dealers and artists are drawing attention to:

Beguiled by shapes and patterns she observes in nature—whether on the seashore and among desert cliffs—Lisa Battle Sculpture, headed by a sculptress based in Rockville, Maryland, is presenting Turning Point. Like all of Battle’s hand-built sculptural pieces, the artwork explores organic form and line, mimicking the curvilinear grace of natural objects. Standing almost two feet tall, the piece was fired in a noborigama wood kiln in 2011.

Thirty-three-year-old Michael Boroniec, an artist who resides and and creates in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, started making art at a young age and gravitated to ceramics because it was a medium that celebrated the oldest material known to man: the earth itself. A graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2006, Boroniec’s often gravity-defying sculptures link the historical implications of clay with contemporary fine art, which Spatial Spirals: Crackle of 2016 demonstrates eloquently.

From Limerick, Ireland, comes Martine Boston Antiques with a very rare Wedgwood majolica punch bowl designed by Christopher Dresser around 1868. A venerated cult figure among design enthusiasts, Dresser presaged modernism with cutting-edge creations way before their time. He did several designs for the venerable concern of Wedgwood, but examples are infrequent. Bearing a rare pink majolica glaze, the bowl measures 10 inches in diameter.

Warren MacKenzie's Drop Rim Bowl with Iron Marks.
Lacoste Gallery

Since the era of classical Rome, artisans have applied their inventive skills to re-imagining the salt-cellar. A pair of them, made from Irish cut-crystal command special attention, and they come from Martin Chasin Fine Arts of Fairfield, Connecticut. Confected about 1790, the cutting on these uncommon vessels presents elements of traditional Irish patterns, and the cellars are complemented by a darling sterling silver spoon.

Cofounded in 1859 by master potter Cornwall Elihu Kirkpatrick near the small Illinois hamlet of Anna, Anna Pottery is made from the brown clay that comes from deep beds all around the vicinity. Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates of Harrisburg, Virginia, is showcasing an important example of Anna Pottery: a salt-glazed stoneware presentation vase, one of two made by Kirkpatrick himself. Acquired directly from the Kirkpatrick family, the vase is dated January 1, 1886, and is inscribed to Amy R. Kirkpatrick, one of Kirkpatrick’s daughters.

Subtly reminiscent of the great Art Nouveau achievements of Émile Gallé, a clear colorless and blue-cased glass flagon with a dogwood magnolia motif is the attention-grabber from Jill Fenichell/The Bespoke Porcelain Company, headquartered in Brooklyn. The work is not of the 19th-century, nor is it by the hand of Gallé, rather it was created in 1982 by American glass artist Richard Jolley (born 1952). As a objet d’art, it is both functional and beautiful, and it stands 5½ inches.

Ferrin Contemporary contributes to the fair’s eclectic mix with the colorful bold geometric trio of vessels by Peter Pincus, one of the rising stars of ceramics world. It was purchased by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston from the fair last year.  There’s a waiting list of museums waiting to purchase his new works.  Pincus is on the faculty of RIT School of American Craftsman, a graduate of Alfred School of Ceramics In 2017 he will be the first artist to study and produce a body of work based the largest Wedgewood collection in the USA through a research fellowship at the Birmingham Art Museum.

A 1994 graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in printmaking, glass artist Carrie Gustafson of Arlington, Massachusetts, has shifted focus and her medium. She is showing off two glass pieces that were recently on exhibition at the Ebeltoft Glass Museum in Denmark, and this year’s glass and ceramics celebration marks the first time they have ever been shown in the United States. Coral Mbola and Stingray Mbola were both hand-blown by Gustafson this year and finished with sandblasting.

Katherine Houston of Boston’s eponymously named Katherine Houston Porcelain has produced a quintet of apples, ornately decorated with multifarious fruits, berries, and tendrils. “I am calling it my Jeweled Apple Collection, and it is being sold individually or in the complete set of five,” says Houston. Inspired by Indian and Asian silks and unusual pieces of jewelry, the apples are exceedingly delicate and time-consuming to fashion, and therefore, according to the artist, forthcoming editions will be extremely limited.

An important pair of Worcester porcelain frill vases from 1768-70 standout at Leo Kaplan Ltd., New York. “There are very few taller pieces of English porcelain from this time,” says Kaplan of the 15½-inch-high creations. One of the vessels is signed “To John Toulouse,” who moved to Worcester from the London factory when it closed in 1768.

Almost 93 years old and still practicing his centuries-old craft, Minnesota-based Warren MacKenzie is a potter who has been deemed an American living legend, one who has taught and inspired generations of American studio potters. Like all his works, Drop Rim Bowl with Iron Marks is rooted in function, and it the prime showpiece from the Lacoste Gallery of Concord, Massachusetts.

Boston’s Polly Latham Asian Art Inc. draws back the curtain on a rare Chinese export tea bowl and saucer decorated with a design after the Dutch artist Cornelius Pronk (1691-1759), who was notable for his rich body topographical renderings of cities, towns and buildings. He was also a painter and porcelain designer, and the tea bowl presents a rare instance of a known European artist supplying design direction for a Chinese porcelain. It dates from around 1745.

Cliff Lee is celebrated the world over for metamorphosing kaolin clay from England’s storied White Cliffs of Dover into vessels inspired by Chinese Song Dynasty porcelain, often by re-creating Chinese glazes all but lost to history. His Cliff Lee / Lee Gallery & Studio in Stevens, Pennsylvania, has a triad of brand-new works on display: a celadon triple dragon with ruby eyes, a red-over-blue vase and a black lava vase with lychee-nut lid.

Born in Japan, where he apprenticed with a master potter for six years, producing thousands of sake cups, then thousands of teacups, Hideaki Miyamura of Kensington, New Hampshire, moved permanently to the United States in 1989 after obtaining a degree at Western Michigan University. He is displaying a bottle with hare’s fur and brown glaze (“I like this because two different glazes just fit,” says the artist), and a jar called Tower with a white crackle glaze and a lid with hare’s fur glaze.

A rare set of earrings fashioned of Vauxhall glass is the attention-commanding highlight from Moylan-Smelkinson/The Spare Room Antiques of Baltimore. These exquisite ear ornaments come from England and date from around 1850. Vauxhall glass jewelry from the mid-Victorian period is precious because it was not mass produced, and since glass is all-too fracturable, few examples have survived intact, much less in the attractive and flattering leaf-form that these earrings possess.

Numerous shards of salt-glazed stoneware have been unearthed in the vicinity of the earliest American colonial homes along the Eastern seaboard. Amongst the rarest of stoneware material are the solid agate or marbled salt-glazed wares. Figures in this material form an even rarer group—exemplified by the marbled white agate figure of a woman made in England between 1740 and 1750, and presented by Polka Dot Antiques of Waccabuc, New York.

An important example of White House glassware claims pride of place among the treasures offered by Ian Simmonds of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. From the table service of President Franklin Pierce, the 14th man to hold the nation’s highest office, comes a wine rinser bearing an engraving by Haughwout & Dailey of Manhattan on a blank made by the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company. It dates from 1853 and stands 5 inches tall.

Says Susan Tillipman of TOJ Gallery in Annapolis, Maryland, of the work of art she has singled out: “It’s by Anglo-Japanese artist Akiko Hirai. I picked this piece because of the way Hirai has taken an ancient form, the moon jar, and turned it on its head to create a thoroughly modern ceramic masterpiece.” Wheel-thrown stoneware with porcelain and slip, oxides and glazes, it is not unlike the artist’s other moon jars, which are scarce and reside in esteemed collections worldwide.

A duo of rare and irresistibly charming Prattware figures of oversize sheep—one with a shepherd and a dog and the other with shepherdess holding a basket of flowers and watering can with lambs at her feet—are the captivating prizes awarding appreciative fans of Staffordshire, thanks to Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge, New York. The figures stand 6 inches tall and date from 1800 to 1820.

The Open Vessel Series by Michael Schunke and Josie Gluck explores a balance between control and loss of control—the space where chaos emerges as beauty. To achieve these masterworks entailed blowing technically precise cane and murrini patterns that are dismantled and then obsessively layered to disrupt symmetry and repetition. The resulting detail is at once simple and complex. These remarkable creations grab notice compliments of Vetro Vero of West Grove, Pennsylvania.

Michael Wainwright of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, is putting forth a striking bowl that is an homage to the Hagia Sophia. Porcelain finished with 24-karat gold and 19 inches in diameter, the bowl is part of a series that feature iconic domes from around the world, including St. Peter’s, the Taj Mahal, the Paris Panthéon and the U.S. Capitol. (And to name-drop, Lady Gaga bought a version of the Hagia Sophia.)

“You might find one of these for sale in 10 years but two from the same vendor at the same fair is extraordinary,” says Mark J. West of Redhill, England. The items he is referring to are his museum-quality standing bowl and his clear glass bowl on a tall spreading foot, both from Venice and the second half of the 16th century. “These bowls are rare because large pieces of glass of this age inevitably are vulnerable,” adds West. “A few survive as they were ‘statement’ pieces and were displayed rather than used to show the wealth of the owner.”

The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair, which takes place on the fourth and fifth floors of the Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street (between First and Second Avenues), opens with a Private Preview on Wednesday, January 18, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and to the public on Thursday, January 19 through Sunday, January 22. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person and can be used throughout the duration of the fair.

An important component to the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair is their extensive lecture program, which runs throughout the duration of the fair. With a line-up of distinguished curators and experts, this year’s series will not disappoint collectors and connoisseurs of all stripes. And neither will the two loan exhibitions: “Expression and Experimentation in Clay,” curated by Thomas Loller and “Private Thoughts: Beadwork Sculpture,” by Leslie B. Grigsby.

The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair is co-produced by Meg Wendy of MCG Events LLC and Liz Lees, of Caskey Lees Inc.

For more information visit, www.nyceramicsandglass.com or phone 929-265-2850.


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