This past weekend, the Bohemian National Hall played host to the 15th annual New York Ceramics Fair.
Vibrant colors dominated the intricately-crafted pieces, which ranged from midnight grapefruit pink wine glasses to multicolored artistic vases, and those iconic blue and white dinner plates. Over 30 galleries participated in the five-day event, and they came from all around the world.
The Bohemian National Hall, home of the embassy of the Czech Republic, was a perfect place for the fair to be celebrated. In its wide, two-level auditorium, many pieces of obvious wealth, antiquity, and modern creativity were displayed alongside one another to the delight of all who visited.
Here are some of the highlights of this year's show:
Martin Brothers face jug, 1903. The Kinghams Art Pottery (England) booth had many spectacular offerings, including William Moorcroft vases and Wedgwood Fairyland lustre vases, but the most unique items in the fair could easily be the face jugs by the Martin Brothers. These whimsical, fun items feature actual 3D faces molded into a jug - often there is a face on each side, and the jugs sell at auction for thousands of dollars.
Bull's head rhyton, 6th-4th century BC. Anavian Gallery (New York) also displayed some creative pieces (including a lustrous blue-flowered tile worth $15,000), but these were much older than most of the rest of the fair items. This bull's head immediately drew visitors' attention not only because of its unique shape but also because of its age and simple yet pleasing character. From western Iran, this rhyton was made of earthenware and stylized with simple geometric shapes.
Chinese export porcelain, 18th century. The first thing that may come to mind when thinking of "ceramics" is just what Lynda Willauer Antiques (Nantucket, MA) had for sale in her booth: blue and white glazed porcelain dinner plates that are just about too fancy to even eat off of. Featuring blue underglaze, Chinese-themed vases, plates, bowls, serving trays, and more decorative kitchen items were the highlight of this booth.
Herculaneum creamware plates, 1830. Designed in an intricate chrysanthemum pattern, these plates were in excellent condition, looking as if they had just been made yesterday. Hidden along the back of the booth, these lovely items were on display by Moylan-Smelkinson/The Spare Room (Baltimore, MD). The brilliant blue, green, red, and white of the pattern made these pieces a joy to behold.
Prickly melons, 21st century. A number of galleries represented more contemporary works, but the most well-known was master potter Cliff Lee. A former neurosurgeon, this ceramicist has been creating intriguing artworks for over thirty years and a version his neon yellow prickly melons are actually on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cliff Lee's works were a refreshing and unexpected addition to the fair.
Every booth at the New York Ceramics Fair had something special to share with visitors. It was a treat to wander through the Bohemian Hall's auditorium to revel in the creativity and skill of so many artists. If you missed this year's fair, the Ceramics Fair returns every year, and many of the galleries that participated are open for business year-round.
If you stopped by the Ceramics Fair this year or past, let us know your thoughts! What was your favorite piece? Talk to us in the comments section below. And don't forget to "like" Jennifer on facebook and twitter!