From serious to whimsical, museum's juried exhibit shows ceramicists'range


August 05, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

From Steven Glass and Mary Holland's "Dread," a handsome black-and-white bowl with simple but effective drawing, to Jo Schneider's almost 7-foot-tall sculpture "The Rational/The Irrational -- Right Brain/Left Brain," there's a wealth of variety at the National Museum of Ceramic Art's Regional Juried Exhibition. It adds up to one of the most interesting shows this organization has yet mounted.

This is the first regional for the museum, which enlisted jurors William Daley, distinguished professor of art emeritus at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, and Frederick Brandt, curator of 20th century art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Judging from the results, they were open to a wide range of styles but insisted on fresh and original work. So as we travel from quite traditional functional work to the purely sculptural and from the whimsically playful to the deadly serious, there's scarcely a yawn in the lot.

Even the most conservative works in form usually have that note of individuality, whether it's the beautiful color and delicately pointed rim of Harold Roberts' "Green Bowl" or the dotted pattern of Andrew Quient's "Bowl," the blues of Lester Marks' "Platter" or the squiggles around the rim that seem so appropriate to the subject matter of Young A. Kang's "The Big Fish Bowl."

People like to do fun things with teapots, and this show has plenty that are delightful, sometimes almost crazy. Bruce Winn's "Teapot" looks almost like a cartoon character; Robin Muto's billowing "Mad Potter's Teaparty Teapot" looks like it comes out of a gentle children's story; the big loop of a handle on Mindy Flexner's "Teapot" is a positive assertion of personality, while Woody Hughes' "Teapot" somehow resembles a costume from a 1940s comedy; and Lisa Naples' "Teapot" might be just a little tipsy.

Among frankly sculptural works, Becca Gruliow's "Untitled Sculpture," an animal riding an animal, has a solemn and even ominous presence. Schneider's "Rational/Irrational" manages to conjure up the history of flight from Icarus to space travel and science fiction, perhaps suggesting that the rational advance originates in the irrational thought.

And are Maria Gloria's "Striped Chair" and "Elephant Chair" purely sculptural? They are the size and shape of real chairs, and reminiscent of Scott Burton's stone furniture, which is functional. But these are for looking at, and among the show's most eye-catching works.

Then there are works whose meaning is really in their message, notably those by Kevin A. Hluch and Dana Simson. Hluch's "Post-Helms Madonna" has been censored: Foliage covers strategic areas. Simson's impressive "Blood and Architecture" suggests that every "civilization" is built on the blood of its predecessor.

There's ample time to see this show, which runs through September, and ample reason.

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