Great & unusual places
to find pottery
In our travels, we often find excellent pottery shows, studios, galleries, and museum exhibits. Sometimes we find great work in unexpected places. That is why we decided to start this column and dedicate it to travelling clay lovers (or anyone who wants to experience the thrill vicariously).
We are passionate to travel and seek more, so this area changes constantly. If you have a suggestion for a great or unusual place to see clay art, send an email to
and we'll try to check it out!
Here are a few of our latest discoveries.
San Francisco Craft & Folk Art Museum
Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA
They host some important shows unavailable elsewhere. Most shows don't travel widely, they are borrowed from Bay Area collectors who are willing to share their art with the gallery and the public for a limited time. This March, I was lucky to catch a wonderful show on British potters. Last year, they had a Beatrice Wood, retrospective show. The next show on Japanese Porcelain opens August 8, 1998.
British Potters: The Dixon Long Collection
Dixon Long has an incredible collection of well known British potters including; Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Bernard and David Leach. These artists influenced British pottery movements after World War I. The funny thing for me was, I had recently become quite discouraged because my temmokus kept running on the outside of pots. When I saw my first Bernard Leach pot, I couldn't help but smile as his temmoku had run down the side of his pot too! All pieces were part of a private collections so the gallery said it probably won't be on show anywhere else.
Garth Clark Gallery
24 West 57th Street, New York, NY
Next time you get to New York city, check out this high profile pottery and ceramics gallery. Garth Clark started his gallery many years ago to cultivate, promote and of course sell the work of pottery and ceramics artists. He's had a positive impact on the profession as some of the pieces merited fifty to sixty thousand dollar price tags with the low end around three to four thousand dollars.
Three artists were featured when I visited. They had the first pots I ever saw by the 'Mad Potter of Biloxi', George Ohr, who has a crazy reputation for making pots with wild glaze colors and textures. Ken Ferguson's stuff was rampant with rabbit designs. Michael Cleff's work was beautiful. I had seen it in Ceramics Monthly (February '98) and it was great to see it up close. He can show you shino.
San Simeon, CA
The Hearst Castle was built in the early nineteen hundreds. It reached its' heyday in the 1930's when William Randolf Hearst entertained the wealthy and famous at this palatial estate located on the central coast of California. It was during this lavish time in history that Hearst imported treasures from all around the world to decorate it.
Today it's been turned over to the state of California, they maintain the estate and grounds and offer tours to the public. There's much more than pottery to see here. Incredible European carved ceilings, marble statures, and two pools; one notable for appearing in the movie Sparticus (outside) and one with gold leaf tiles (inside). Check out the pottery and other art if you are ever in the central coast/Santa Barbara area of California.
The collection of Greek and Roman water vessels and vases is extensive. He also had some majolica pieces and beautiful ceramic tiles, which you will see throughout the grounds.
LA Contemporary Museum of Art
5905 Willshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
You will notice right away that pottery is well appreciated at this fantastic west coast museum. They have an entire room dedicated to 20th century Art Pottery, a permanent collection, in the Ahmanson Building.
They also have works representing all of the following American potteries; Grand Fue Art Pottery, Grueby Pottery, Marblehead Pottery, Newcomb Pottery, Frederick Hurten Rhead, Roseville Pottery, Arequipa Pottery, Rookwood Pottery and Teco.
On the second floor a room is dedicated to porcelain clay. It explains how porcelain originated and became popular in China. So popular it collectively became known as "china" throughout the world. They show examples of French, Italian, German and 18th century English ceramics and European Porcelain and display many beautiful (and rare) Wedgwood pieces.
Museum of Arts and Design
40 W. 53rd St., New York (across the street from MOMA)
The American Craft Museum is fantastic. Check what's showing before you go as they feature many other mediums than clay. However, they always have nice ceramic pieces in the gift shop. Last year I was fortunate to see a retrospective of the life and work of Toshiko Takaezu.
Toshiko Takaezu - A retrospective
Toshiko Takaezu is a wonderful teacher and artist who gained her inspiration from Japan and Hawaii. Her current work includes large and natural stoneware forms. This show featured many large closed 'sphere' forms including some suspended in air by mesh nets. Tall hollow 'tree' forms came up from the floors. Traditional tea pots and bowls from Toshiko's early works were also displayed. There was a great short movie detailing her career in University teaching and her travels to Hawaii which influenced her work. During her career, Toshiko's work digressed from the idea of functional pottery and her forms became less functional and more artistic.
Up on a hilltop outside of Santa Monica, CA
This cutting edge American art institute is an amazing place to visit. They aspire to be international art protectors, educators and purveyors. One mission is to assist in the preservation of "endangered art" in poorer countries before it is too late.
There are rooms of Greek and Roman art, early Dutch and Spanish art but few examples of modern art.
The educational research computers are a good resource. They were free and open to the public at the time of my visit in June '98. I found information on Mailocia and it's origins. I even watched a 3 minute video demonstration of the technique.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped and if you go in the evening, you can enjoy the sunset and panoramic views of the ocean and city.
(Note: You must make a reservation in advance for parking.)
The Picasso museum opened in 1985 in an estate which used to be an art institute. The collection was started by works the French state received in payment for death duties after Picasso died in 1973. It gives the unique opportunity to follow Picasso's development throughout his career (1894 -1972). They have interesting sculpture, drawings, paintings, even great pottery by Picasso. In 1993 some pieces from Picasso's personal art collection were added.
If you see great pottery and ceramics please share it with us. Send email to
and include a brief message to the editor about places to visit.