Last Thursday I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Bohemian National Hall for my first experience ever of The NY Ceramics and Glass Fair. It seemed like a no-brainer that this should be on my list of things to do. I also had the pleasure of riding the newly opened 2nd Avenue Subway for the very first time. The 72nd Street stop was just around the corner from the venue and I enjoyed viewing the colorful mosaics at the station. It was exciting to ride the gaily decorated train through the clean tunnel to the bright and cheerful stop. I had never been to the Bohemian National Hall, located on 73rd Street. It’s a beautiful building and very much worth the visit.
My first stop was to attend a lecture, The Feminine Clay given by Shannon Stratton. It was a thought provoking presentation of contemporary interpretations of the figurine featuring the works of artists Coille Hooven and Chris Antemann, both of whom have works currently on display at The Museum of Art and Design (MAD.) I enjoyed the lecture immensely as I had seen the MAD exhibits and adored their works. I particularly enjoyed the thesis of the subversion of the classic figurine for feminist interpretation. What made it an even bigger treat was that Coille Hooven was in the audience and took questions after the lecture.
Onward and upward to the 4th and 5th floors to view the works on offer in the booths. In addition to the impressive selection of antique glass and ceramics, several contemporary artists displayed their works, 3 of which particularly impressed me.
I could have spent the entire day visiting with beadwork artist Leslie B Grigsby and her beadwork sculptures. She uses taxidermy forms to create lifelike animals out of hundreds of colored glass beads. I will never complain again when I am in the midst of adding texture to my sculptures with the point of a pastry bag. Leslie has me beat hands down in the intricateness department. I had so much fun visiting with her, she treated me like a long lost friend and let me hold and handle a couple of her sculptures. She told me that it takes so long for her to create each one, that when she’s done they are like her pets and she has trouble seeing them go out of her studio and into the world. Her sculptures are so gestural and lifelike that I can see why, each has its own personality.
After leaving her booth I made my way to the booth of Hideaki Miyamura. His booth contained vessels with stunning satin lusters. I was drawn to them as iron to a magnet. At first I thought they were blown dichroic glass and I spent quite some time looking at them up close to determine that they were indeed ceramic. I asked Hideaki if the glazes were the result of fuming and he told me no, they are porcelain fired to cone 13. Huh. I have never seen glazes act that way at that high a temperature. Another penny into the bank known as all the things Lisa never knew that never cease to amaze her.
As I left Hideaki’s booth, my lusterware antennae began to quiver. I was picking up a vibe that glaze nirvana was close by. I followed the signal and hit pay dirt (stoneware to be exact) when I came upon the booth of Michael Wainwright. His platters and vessels share my form sensibility and his use of platinum and gold are what I hope and dream I can someday achieve if I ever stopped being a cheapskate and forked over what these materials cost. I fell in love with one of his crystalline free form platters. To me it looked like a giant slice of a precious mineral. I am so thrilled with my tray. We had a very pleasant chat before I snatched my tray and scurried home like one of Leslie B Grigsby’s squirrels with a prized nut.
Overall it was a wonderful time. My only regret is that I didn’t revisit the Fair to attend the panel lecture Buy, Sell or Give? What Happens When the Kids Don’t Want It? that included friend Ulysses Grant Dietz, chief curator of The Newark Museum. I have attended many of his lectures and they always delight and inform. Sorry I missed you Ulysses, next time!