Painting in the Dark in New York, NY

When I’m in NYC, I never miss a chance to go to James Cohan, my neighborhood gallery. I like their expanded upstairs space which is next door to their original Walker Street location. I always visit both.

Kathy Butterly, who is among my favorite contemporary ceramic artists, curated a show for James Cohan, with Glenn Adamson, called Painting in the Dark. This curatorial essay by Adamson is worth a read.

The exhibition includes seven artists, “spanning more than a century, who exemplify a painterly approach to the ceramic medium. Participating artists include Hugh Robertson (1845-1908), Rudolf Staffel (1911-2002), Toshiko Takaezu (1922-2011), Rose Cabat (1914-2015), Tony Marsh (b. 1954), Marit Tingleff (b. 1954), and Kathy Butterly (b. 1963).” (James Cohan Gallery)

I am always delighted to see Kathy Butterly’s work in person, and there were five pieces in this exhibition. Little gems basking in the light coming through the large gallery windows. I had just seen a large body of her work at James Cohan this past winter, which you can read about in my blog post here. I’m such a fan.

Front left: Kathy Butterly, Taking Form, 2022
Porcelain, earthenware, glaze
Kathy Butterly, Green Shift, 2022
Porcelain, earthenware, glaze
Kathy Butterly, Taking Form, 2022
Porcelain, earthenware, glaze
Kathy Butterly, Adapting Form, 2022
Porcelain, earthenware, glaze

Tony Marsh is another ceramic artist whose work I really admire and have followed for years. There were five of his pieces in the exhibition, beautifully displayed on the other side of the wall from Butterly’s work. The second floor gallery space is really special on a sunny day, but makes it hard to capture the true color of the artwork with my iPhone. The two pieces below were my favorites.

Tony Marsh, Neo-Crucible, 2021
Multiple fired clay, glaze
Other view
Detail
Tony Marsh, Neo-Crucible, 2021
Multiple fired clay, glaze
Other view
Detail

I had never seen so many pieces by Rose Cabat, and the groupings were dreamy.

Rose Cabat, Collection of 7 Feelies, ca 2012-2013
Glazed stoneware
Rose Cabat, Collection of 6 Feelies, ca 2006-2012
Glazed stoneware
Rose Cabat, Collection of 5 Feelies, n.d.
Glazed stoneware

I knew the exhibit was going to be wonderful, but it was better than I anticipated. I have seen very few of Rudolf Staffel’s pieces so up close and in person and I really understood their appeal. The grouping of translucent porcelain work was lovely, and photos cannot do them justice. I really wish I could have seen them illuminated. Their title, Light Gatherer, could not be more perfect.

Rudolf Staffel, Light Gatherer, ca 1970s-1990s
Translucent porcelain, handbuilt, glazed, with vitreous element
Rudolf Staffel, Light Gatherer, ca 1970s-1990s
Translucent porcelain with cobalt oxide
Inside view
Rudolf Staffel, Light Gatherer, ca 1970s-1990s
Translucent unglazed porcelain, wheelthrown and incised, with vitreous elements, and with cobalt and iron oxide washes.
Inside view

I always like seeing Toshiko Takaezu’s stoneware pieces. The forms are fabulous. My favorite was the one below. I’m all about the glaze.

Toshiko Takaezu, Untitled, ca 1990s
Glazed stoneware

I cannot show you everything from the exhibition, but I will finish with the work of Hugh Robertson, an artist I am embarrassed to never have heard of. Having seen this show, I am now obsessed with learning everything there is to know about him.

“The earliest figure included in the exhibition is Hugh Robertson (1845-1908), an English-trained potter who settled in the Boston area in the 1860s and was a leading light of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. He was inspired to the point of obsession by historic Chinese wares – particularly those with a deep red “oxblood” glaze, a secret he labored for years to reproduce. The selection of his works in Painting in the Dark is drawn from two of the most significant private collections of Arts and Crafts material in the USA.” (James Cohan)

The show featured a bunch of his work, and his iridescent and luster glazes are dreamy and hard to photograph. I’ll leave you with photos of two pieces that have volcanic glazes, which I adore.

Hugh Robertson, Experimental Vase, ca 1896-1908
Earthenware vase with volcanic green glazes
Hugh Robertson, Green Volcanic Vase, ca 1896
Porcelain vase with an ivory and green volcanic glaze

You may notice that I have started leaving off dimensions of the artwork I am showing. It takes an immense amount of time for me to add them to my posts, and I have a huge backlog of shows to share. This blogging takes a lot more time than you can imagine. If you want to know a size, you are welcome to contact me. I have all that information on hand. Thanks for reading Woman Seeking Art!

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