Woodstock Ceramics Arts Today
Contemporary Ceramics Exhibition at Kleinert/James presents Closing Talks on April 8
Selections: Woodstock Ceramic Arts Today, curated by Bard College Professor of Art History Tom Wolf, features work by contemporary ceramicists from the region: Rich Conti, Eric Ehrnschwender, Sophie Fenton, Mary Frank, Robert Hessler, Alan Hoffman, Jolyon Hofsted, Brad Lail, Young Mi Kim, Joyce Robins, Arlene Shechet, Grace Wapner, and Elena Zang.
On view through April 9 at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, Selections: Woodstock Ceramic Arts Today highlights a major feature of the interdisciplinary organization’s mission. Byrdcliffe, whose programming includes exhibitions, classes, musical performance, and an artists’ residency program, is renowned for its ceramics program, which dates from the early days of the Byrdcliffe Art Colony. Byrdcliffe was founded in 1902 by Jane and Ralph Whitehead as a utopian artistic retreat including facilities for woodworking, weaving, painting, and ceramics. Byrdcliffe’s ceramics program was recently expanded to include classes in primitive pit-firing and intensive 2-day workshops with visiting artists in addition to its regular class schedule, which serves over 100 students each year. In a major community effort, Byrdcliffe recently constructed a new kiln shed to accommodate a larger kiln, permitting greater numbers of objects to be fired and serving more students and ceramicists from the region.
Selections complements the exhibition currently on view at the Samuel Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz, Carl Walters and Woodstock Ceramic Arts, which runs from February 4 – May 21, 2017. The Dorsky exhibition focuses on Walters’s ceramic sculpture, as well as his functional ceramics—plates, bowls and vessels. Ceramics made by artists who worked at the Byrdcliffe Art Colony, including Zulma Steele, contextualize his work. The exhibition at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts moves this history forward, demonstrating the breadth of production in the ceramic arts since the early days of the Woodstock Art Colony.
Tom Wolf has invited the students from his class “History of Art in Woodstock” at Bard College to co-curate the exhibition with him. “It has been a great experience for Bard students to visit the collectors and artists who are contributing to this exhibition,” Wolf says, pointing to the value of students getting a behind-the-scenes look at curating a show. He also notes that this is a selective exhibition: “Many talented artists from the region could have been added, but we are focusing on a dozen who range over several generations, including ceramicists who specialize in beautiful functional objects and sculptors who incorporate ceramics as part of their artistic vocabulary.”
Professor Wolf is one of the best-known scholars of the Woodstock Art Colony, with publications ranging from artists such as Konrad Cramer, Yasuo Kunyoshi, and essays in the catalogue Byrdcliffe: An American Arts and Crafts Colony, published by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University. In 2015, he curated an exhibition about the art of Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.
Selections: Woodstock Ceramic Arts Today will be cohosted by the Historical Society of Woodstock, 20 Comeau Drive. The Historical Society will be open on Saturdays and Sundays during the run of the exhibition, February 24 – April 9 2017. For hours and more information, visit www.historicalsocietyofwoodstock.org.
The Kleinert/James Center for the Arts is at 36 Tinker Street in Woodstock. The gallery is open Friday through Sunday, 12:00 – 6:00 pm, or by appointment on Tuesday through Thursday. Closing talks with some of the exhibit’s participation artists will be held on Saturday, April 8 at 3:00 pm at the Kleinert/James.