As I mentioned in my last post, the artist Cheryl Ann Thomas will be opening a solo exhibition at Danese Corey Gallery in New York on Friday, November 21st, 2014. The exhibition, titled Hap, will present Cheryl’s hand-coiled and pinched porcelain sculptures. After building tall, vertical cylinders of clay, Cheryl allows her pieces to collapse unpredictably in the kiln, creating works of haunting, graceful delicacy.
It has been a pleasure collaborating with Danese Corey Gallery on this show. As the opening day draws near, their staff produced an exhibition catalogue, which can be viewed online or purchased as a traditional publication. The catalogue includes beautiful color images of Cheryl’s work and a studio portrait by Donna Granata.
Hap will be on view at the Danese Corey Gallery November 21, 2014 – December 20, 2014. If you will be in New York, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to see these works in person.
One of the most rewarding aspects of working with artists over time is the opportunity to witness the development of their work, and help them to grow professionally and creatively. Cheryl Ann Thomas joined the gallery in 2006, and I’ve enjoyed watching the evolution of her work since then.
This fall is shaping up to be a busy season for Cheryl, with lots of exciting news. I’m happy to announce that the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has recently acquired a work of hers titled December, 2009-2013. Museum placements are an important part of the work we do here at the gallery, and Cheryl’s work is now represented at 13 major institutions in the United States and Canada.
Cheryl will also be presenting work in her first solo exhibition in New York at the Danese Corey Gallery. The show, titled Hap, will be on view from November 21 – December 20, 2014. In her artist’s statement, Cheryl writes “Change comes slowly. The forms were singular for six years before I began grouping them. I worked only in black, white and gray for ten years. The new interest in subtle color represents a relaxation of the adherence to pure process and a move toward the intuitive.”
This week, I’m packing my bags to fly out to Marfa, Texas where Larry Bell will present a site responsive exhibition titled 6 x 6 an improvisation for the Chinati Foundation’s upcoming “Chinati Weekend.” A large-scale glass installation, the environmental work will absorb, transmit, and reflect light, calling into question the nature of physical and visual space. A program of special events will take place alongside the presentation of this work on October 11th and 12th, including a talk by curator Robin Clark, and a discussion between the artist and Chinati Foundation director Marianne Stockebrand. I’m looking forward to seeing Larry there! Here’s a great portrait of him, shot by Anthony Friedkin at the opening reception of the 2006 exhibition Cubes.
The elegant, restrained vessels of Richard DeVore have frequently been compared to human forms. It is easy to see why – their warm, matte surfaces evoke human skin; clefts, dimples, slits, and bulges in the works reference anatomical forms; and the suggestion of bilateral symmetry recalls the basic human figure. Even his commitment to a few selected vessel shapes, and a restricted color palette, recalls the diversity of life, bound as it is to certain limitations. Janet Koplos equated his body of work to a crowd of people, who are “recognizable as a species but infinite in their variety.”
Like people, DeVore’s works have rich interior lives, not immediately visible to the casual viewer. In many of his pots, the artist constructed a series of false bottoms that can only be discovered by peering over their rims. This requires the viewer to get close to and spend time with each piece in order to properly assess them. Invisible from the exterior, the pots have hidden layers that radically change the perception of each piece. A tall vessel, with steeply sloping walls is revealed to have a shallow interior, composed of a series of these false bottoms, accented with evocative cut-outs that lead to increasingly obscure levels. The works are mysterious, and do not easily give themselves away. Instead, as Koplos notes, “they stand, they feel, they keep secrets.”
-By Kelly E. Boyd
For the current show at the gallery, I have on display an outstanding piece called Pincushion Man, by Richard Shaw. Seated on a chair of stacked paper cups, his body is composed of sticks, tools, a mayonnaise jar and a miniature coffee cup. It’s his head that gives him his name – a strawberry red pincushion with button eyes. Because this is a work by Richard Shaw, all of these elements are painstakingly rendered in porcelain, in his signature trompe l’oeil style.
Shaw uses clay to recreate the objects of everyday life, gathering them together in still life compositions that speak to the presence of the person who ostensibly arranged them. The apparently casual nature of these pieces belie the considered relationships between items,and the layered references to pop culture, art history, and personal biography that exist within them.
The figurative works take the premise of the still lifes and extend it even further. Rather than simply referencing the presence of a person, the objects become people themselves. In a 2006 interview with Richard Whittaker, Shaw spoke about these works, saying that “taking the still life and making it into a person is like breathing life into it.” The artist taps into the expressive potential of ordinary items by anthropomorphizing them. The figures communicate with viewers through gesture and body language. As the personification of a still life, Pincushion Man returns the viewer’s gaze, peering back at them with his button eyes.
On July 12th, the gallery will open a new exhibition of works by Ralph Bacerra, Richard DeVore, and Richard Shaw. In anticipation of this, it feels like a good time to repost Richard Shaw’s online videos. Last February, Shaw participated in an artists’ conversation with Adrian Saxe. One of our most popular events, the two artists spoke at length about their respective practices, including their shared interest in juxtaposition and references to contemporary culture. I’m glad that we filmed their talk, and I’ve included the edited video below:
In 2005, Shaw was filmed in his studio by KQED for the arts education program Spark. This video really demonstrates the complexity of his artwork, revealing the enormous library of molds, glazes, decals, and transfers that he uses to achieve a stunning level of realism. The profile also captures Shaw in his element as Professor of Art at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught until his retirement in 2012.
I don’t know how many times I’ve made the drive from L.A. to the Bay Area. The number is well over 100, and spans a time period of over 50 years. Even as a child, I was irrationally obsessed with images of San Francisco, and begged my parents to take me there. My family traveled together on the train in August of 1960. We were tourists that first time, and I recorded the vacation in a short essay for my fourth grade class, with what was my very best effort at penmanship.
I’ve just returned from a road trip; this time it was part business and part pleasure. Stops in Oakland, Fairfax and Sebastopol were for gallery duties—picking up and dropping off artworks, and viewing a painting. During the long drive, I had a chance to reflect on my multiple trips, and my relationship to the oft-cited divide between the two regions of California. The divisions of geography, climate, politics, and culture are often the subjects of debate. The controversies and arguments can grow passionate—especially the rivalry between Dodger and Giant fans.
But what I was recalling—the people I know in the world of art—was a different story. It demonstrates how very much interrelated the lives of the artists and the two regions are. Let’s take, for example, the story of our artist Richard Shaw, who was born in Hollywood and lived in Newport Beach before becoming a resident of the quintessential Northern California town of Fairfax. Or consider the history of my friend, the late Henry Hopkins, a UCLA graduate who went on to become the Curator of Exhibitions and Publications at LACMA, before his tenure as Director at SFMOMA, and then his eventual return to the Hammer. Don’t forget about Richard Diebenkorn, whose first shows were in the Bay Area, but produced perhaps his most well-known series of paintings in a studio in Ocean Park, a neighborhood in Santa Monica. Peter Selz, who had a stay in Claremont before going to MOMA as the Chief Curator of Painting, eventually wound up in Berkeley. Peter Voulkos, a Montana native who attended California College of Arts and Crafts for his master’s degree, came to L.A. during the period of 1954 to 1959, then returned to Berkeley.
This list could go on, but the thought persists: Is there really such a division between the two Californias? I think not. Yes, the politics and culture may differ overall, but the people travel freely through some sort of permeable membrane. I have lived and worked in both the North and South, and so have many of my friends. Though I must be clear about one thing: I’m still a Dodger fan.