Ceramics exhibit at CSUF shows how collectors live with their art
Most works of art in museums and galleries are displayed on their own – divorced from the context in which they were made to be appreciated.
A new exhibit at the Nicholas & Lee Begovich Gallery on the Cal State Fullerton campus departs from that – providing a glimpse into the homes in which avid collectors display and enjoy their art.
“Living with Clay: California Ceramics Collections” displays pieces of ceramic art along with the furniture, rugs, books and even clothing of their collectors. Wall-size photos showing the pieces in the collectors’ homes provide backdrops to the displays.
The result is a holistic look at collecting – giving viewers a glimpse into the private lives of the collectors and their love of ceramic art.
One display includes the bed of collector Richard Oelschlaeger bookended by pieces of ceramic art. Another shows a jacket casually hung on the back of a desk chair in a display of Pre-Columbian art.
“Collecting is a basic and innate survival mechanism performed by birds, rodents, crustaceans and insects. Humans, however, collect to fulfill an intellectual, idiosyncratic function in service to their culture,” reads the material accompanying the exhibit, which was curated by Rody N. López.
“ ‘Living with Clay’ is an exhibition that pays homage to distinguished collectors in California and salutes their tastes, ideas and eccentricities. Collectively they have amassed impressive collections, from some of the most respected artists in the field, all reflecting an insatiable passion for clay.”
The collectors featured are Julie and David Armstrong, Judy and Richard Jacobs, Richard Oelschlaeger, Gloria and Sonny Kamm, MAW Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, and Diane and Igal Silber.
Their collected items represent more than 60 artists of local, regional, national and international significance, who are representative of a wide range of traditions, including studio pottery, the 1960s Clay Revolution and today’s contemporary innovations.
Clay, a historic and malleable material, has represented ancient to modern civilizations, embodies cultural identity, and continues to adapt toward new aesthetic expressions worldwide, according to the exhibit material.
“Through the collectors’ tasteful, discerning eyes, the exhibition simultaneously presents a survey of the clay medium in its exquisite, inexhaustibly diverse splendor.”
“Living with Clay” will be on display through Nov. 17. Some pieces include depictions of nudity. A full-color catalog with essays is available. The Begovich Gallery is on the western side of the Visual Arts Center on the Cal State Fullerton campus. It is open noon-4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and Saturdays.
An exhibit out of a dream
Rody López typically dreams about his exhibitions long before they come to life.
“I literally have vivid dreams about it … and then I try to make them happen,” he explains.
He had such a vision about “Living With Clay: California Ceramics Collections,” which concludes his MFA in exhibition design.
“What I’m interested in is how they live with their collections and why they’re so passionate about clay,” said López.
One of López’s mentors, alum Karen Crews Hendon ’08, encouraged him to come to Cal State Fullerton to pursue his graduate studies. Crews Hendon is now a College of the Arts lecturer and interim director of the Begovich Gallery, taking over for Mike McGee, professor of art, who served as director for more than 25 years.
As he curated the exhibition, López worked with nearly 25,000 objects, which he had to narrow down to about a dozen from each collector. He also had to get the gallery ready for the show.
“The exhibition design program is not just about theory — there’s so much hands-on work. I’ve been sanding walls, painting, hanging and handling artwork,” he explained. “The hands-on aspect of this program is probably my biggest takeaway.”