In 1994 I traveled to western Massachusetts to do an ACC show with a body of work quite different from the useful pots that I am better known for. My first interest in clay was as a sculptural material and while I have made my living as a functional potter I have never let go of those those early ideas and interests.
|"The Vase and Beyond: The Sidney Swidler Collection of the Contemporary Vessel|
At that show I was approached by Sidney Swidler about buying some of my work. Sidney, it turned out, was a keen collector of American Ceramics and had (I think) a great eye for good work. He bought this piece below and told me that he hoped to donate his collection to a museum one day. Last week he phoned to say that he had indeed donated 802 of the 1200 pieces that he collected over the last 30 years to the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, California. And 2 of my pieces were in the collection and in the coffee table book that was published in conjunction with the exhibition! (hence the title of this blog).
The entire collection is on display at the museum and if your anywhere nearby it looks to be a marvelous show to see! My photos of the photos in the book here are weak and I'm looking for the original slide to show you at another time. As we might say in England, I am quite chuffed to be included!
|"Bedrock Teapot" 17" h|
A year later Sidney appeared at my studio here in town. the first thing he told me was that he wasn't here to buy...he was on his way to North Carolina to buy work there with his quarterly allowance for pots(!). In spite of himself he bought a bunch of my functional pots which he said that he would be giving as gifts. Some were pots I had made at Toff's in England and some were pots from wood firing with Bill Van Gilder in western Maryland. I guess he kept this one for himself. It's not an exciting form, but I refired it in my gas kiln after woodfiring and it has an extraordinary luster on the surface. On the phone, he called it a teabowl...I object! I don't make 'em (well, hardly ever).
|"Bowl" twice fired 4"x6"|
The exhibition at the Crocker was reviewed by the Art Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, Kenneth Baker. He wrote:
"I entered 'The Vase and Beyond' not particularly interested in modern ceramics, but by sheer force of connoisseurship, the Swidler Collection kindled a new appreciation and curiosity in me". (how cool is that!)