Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, April 26, 2003
I had an extremely interesting time at the AAPA Pottery Show and Sale at the Neatherland Hilton Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio this Saturday morning.
The packed Pavilion Room was a visual treat with a dazzling array of Art Pottery and Tiles for inspection and sale first to AAPA members and then to the general public.
The booth that drew my particular interest was the one by Wendy Harvey and Sandie Fowler the authors of Art Nouveau Tiles ca. 1890-1914 and owners of Antique Articles in Bellerica, Massachusetts. Wendy and Sandie’s tile book is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in European and American Art Tile.
It can be found in most libraries and at Amazon.com.
The tile ladies, as some refer to them, had a large selection of superb tiles for any maven’s perusal.
Relief Portrait, American Indian
by Herman Mueller
An unusual AETCo relief portrait tile of an American Indian ensnared this casual booth stroller. The beautiful relief tile bearing Herman Mueller initials is for sale at almost $4,000 and, needless to say, will occupy my waking thoughts for the next few months. The photograph doesn’t do the glaze color any favors. While the glaze is green it appears much softer to the eye than the similar color captured by the camera. Wendy and Sandie had many other beautiful large tile examples including a very unusual polychrome tropical Rookwood faience tile, a marked Hamilton Tile of dancing cherubs under a green glaze and a fantastic USETCo (United States Encaustic Tile Company) of trolls bowling under a brown glaze.
AETCo., Governor Foraker, approx 1897
I was able to make their cash register ring with the purchase of this blue-glazed 3 inch diameter disc showing the intaglio portrait of a gentleman, the words “The Foraker Club Zanesville, Ohio” and the initial cipher of Christian Nelson above the upper right shoulder of the portrait. The portrait shows Ohio Governor and Republican US Senator Joseph B. Foraker.
The disc was most likely made for his successful Senate run in 1897 and is fully marked as being AETCo. The initials for Christian Nelson place the disc after 1894.
I really enjoyed meeting Wendy and Sandie and I hope I can have the benefit of their expertise in the future.
The most expensive piece I noticed for sale in the Pottery Show, and trust me when I say there were many lovely things for sale, was an extremely large Rookwood landscape vase selling at almost $19,000!
Thursday, April 24, 2003
I arrived at Cincinnati’s Neatherland Hilton late yesterday afternoon for the American Art Pottery Association Convention opening banquet. Under the setting sunlight streaming through the glorious Continental Room’s mullioned windows, I met some very nice people and had a surprisingly good dinner.
AAPA 2003 Tile
Member’s, upon registering, were presented with a lovely commerative ceramic plaque made for this year’s convention. The plaque show’s Cincinnati’s Union Terminal and a Rookwood “rook” or crow with the date 2003. The plaque was a very nice touch and it is greatly appreciated.
Remarks by the AAPA president and the Keynote Speech by Cincinnati Art Galleries Director Riley Humler were very disappointing and disorganized.
While Mr. Hummler’s speech contained a lot of interesting information and anecdotes, he was greatly hindered by a different topic from the one advertised, a disorganized presentation and an old fashioned overhead projector with curly, shiny photos. As a patron and friend of the Cincinnati Art Galleries and staff I would gently urge the transition to the computerized ease of a PowerPoint presentation. Even something a s simple as a slide carousel would have greatly aided the presentation.
The actual topic revolved around the September 30, 1941 sale of the Rookwood Pottery “lock, stock and barrel” to Walter Schott (father to the infamous but sweet Marge Schott) for, considering today’s value of the pottery contained in the sale, the bargain price of $60,500! This $60,000 price included not only pieces of pottery that today are individually worth $60K but land and buildings, today worth tens of millions, atop Cincinnati’s pricey Mount Adams.
CAG director and "Antique Roadshow" appraiser
Rookwood collectors, as long as I have known them, get a perverse thrill from stories that highlight the actions of people unfamiliar with the pottery’s value. Riley had an excellent version of this kind of story from the time of the pottery’s commercial operation by the Sperti Company.
Dr. George Sperti, the inventor of the Sperti sunlamp, told a friend there was “a lot of tile at the pottery”. Understand, ladies and gentlemen, some of these tiles could today sell for way over $500 each.
The friend got a pickup truck and took a load of Rookwood tile out to his farm to use as stepping-stones and ground fill! This story produced audible gasps from members of the audience.
Mr. Hummler also relayed a story from Marge Schott about Schott kids breaking vases by playing baseball in the house and briefly mentioned an infamous theft of pottery from the collection of the Institutum Divi Thomae, a foundation under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Overall, I enjoyed myself and I learned something. Tomorrow's schedule is a day of lectures ending in a pottery auction, which I'm hoping will allow more chitchat opportunities with other members.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Today is the 1st day of the American Art Pottery Association’s annual convention to be held within the Art Deco masterpiece of Cincinnati, Ohio’s Neatherland Hilton Hotel. Attendees are sure to have a wonderful time in a widely misunderstood city that none the less is a great American city with a very rich artistic and cultural history that remains vital in these too modern days.
Rookwood Pottery, Butterfat glazeline
by Elizabeth Barrett, 1925
I only hope I can attend tonight’s opening Banquet. Of course, as a food freak I’m hoping for more than rubber chicken but, the real draw is Keynote Speaker Riley Hummler, Cincinnati Art Galleries, Director and one of the PBS Antiques Roadshow art pottery experts and his topic: Rookwood During The Last 50 Years.
This will be my first AAPA convention and I’m wondering if the Iraq Museum looting will be a topic of conversation among the buying, selling, trading, collecting and, I’m sure, kibitzing dealers and collectors of American Art Pottery? Stay tuned…
Cambridge Tile Works Portrait Tiles
by Clement Barnhorn, circa. 1900
On the Iraq Museum looting front, the Washington Post has an article containing an interesting quote and an interesting statement.
On April 16th I posted a link to pfaffenBlog and a lengthy quote from the April 15th post of Bryan Pfaffenberger a professor at the University of Virginia’s Division of Technology, Culture and Communication.
The posted quoted contained these sentences:
A group of art traders, calling itself the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP), recently met with Defense Department officials. Scholars fear that the meeting "was an attempt by the influential dealers to ease restrictions on Iraq's antiquities laws. The group's treasurer has called current policies 'retentionist,' and favors the export and sale of some of the world's oldest treasures to the US."
Here is the interesting quote from this morning’s Post headlined, The Disappearing Treasure of Iraq:
"Every dealer in this country knows that these things are radioactive from a legal point of view," said William Pearlstein, co-counsel for the National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art, a lobby founded in 1975 with the express aim of softening U.S. laws on the importation of antiquities…Pearlstein drew sharp criticism from U.S. and British museum curators before the war when he was quoted as saying he hoped Iraq's post-Hussein government would relax its "retentionist" export regulations to allow more antiquities to reach foreign buyers.
The Washington Post doesn’t mention that Pearlstein is apparently the treasurer of the American Council for Cultural Policy and that the “retentionist” statement was made in Italy as members of the ACCP sat waiting for war to begin. Pearlstein is also identified as ACCP’s treasurer in an April 15th Berliner Zeitung article.
The first question that pops into my mind is, “Who are the other members of ACCP and, less importantly, of NADAOPA?” And, any connections between these members and friends of the DOD esteemed friend Ahmad Chalabi or other wealthy connected Americans?
In this morning’s AP list of key developments in the war against Iraq on the pages of the New York Times this item:
-- U.S. soldiers arrested fighters of the U.S.-backed Free Iraqi Forces after they were found looting abandoned homes of former members of Saddam's regime.
It looks very shamefully likely that there could be American connections to the rapid looting of the pricier Iraqi antiquities. Come on media…this could be juicy and packed with scandal…any extremely wealthy, exocentric and politically connected American collectors of ancient Middle Eastern Art?
The excellent Post article (except for the odd statement I’ll mention later) went on to say:
Despite scattered rumors of artifacts turning up from Tehran to Paris, not a single one of the 90,000 or 120,000 or 170,000 plundered artifacts -- no one knows for sure how many -- is known to have been offered for sale anywhere in the world…It's a market that no art dealer in the world admits serving but one that has swallowed up the art of ancient cultures from Peru to Cambodia to Mali in a trade estimated to be worth as much as $3 billion a year…"They're not going to try to get this stuff out of the country right away. I think they're going to sit on it until some of the pressure dies down," said Robert Wittman, an FBI agent who has worked on several cases of art and antiquities theft and is headed to Iraq next week…Antiquities dealers say some of the choicest and more portable artifacts taken in the two days of frenzied looting have probably left Iraq and may already be headed for the homes of collectors who don't care that the pieces are virtually impossible to resell or show publicly…In legitimate markets, "the major pieces are absolutely unsellable because they're so well known," said Jerome Eisenberg, owner of New York's Royal-Athena Galleries and founding editor of Minerva magazine, which covers the antiquities business. "But I could visualize some multimillionaire hiding a piece away and gloating over it." Looters and smugglers sometimes wait years for market conditions to improve before selling their plunder. Items looted more than a decade ago in Iraq during the first Gulf War are still "dripping onto the market"…The best items could sell on the open market for as much as $20 million, dealers said. But because of the circumstances, the price could be driven down to perhaps a few million, they said.
Here’s the odd statement in the Post article on looted Iraqi antiquities:
The London-based Art Newspaper published images of 300 objects on its Web site Monday
I posted a link to TheArtNewspaper’s Iraqi photos on April 17. A link, I’ll bet, that was published the day before.
Oh, Mr. Getler, should I write another email? A terrific story full I information I want to know but with two little slips that make me doubt overall story veracity. I wish Kay would haunt the halls at night and screw up offending staffers’ blotters.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
The missing 4,300-year-old
bronze mask of an Akkadian
ArtsJournal.com today linked to Melbourne, Australia's theage.com.au:
Art collectors and dealers say they are already getting queries about artifacts looted from Iraq's museums, and the FBI said today at least one suspected piece had been seized at an American airport...People in the United States already buy about 60 per cent of the world's art, both legal and illegal...Customs agents at an unspecified US airport seized at least one item believed stolen from a Baghdad museum...Customs officials declined comment, citing an ongoing investigation. But they did say that Customs agents at ports of entry nationwide are on the lookout for Assyrian, Sumerian, Mesopotamian and other treasures believed stolen...The FBI will work closely with art collectors, auction houses, museum curators and even online sellers such as eBay to track down any Iraqi pieces offered for sale in the United States.
Do Robots bleed electric blood?
This interesting bit appears in a larger WiredNews story linked through Noah Shachtman's very informative DefenseTech:
DARPA, other Defense Department research centers and university and defense contractor labs will use their slice of the Pentagon's estimated $500 billion budget in 2004 to fund such network-centric warfare initiatives as...the most intensive net-centric warfare rollout, geared for the next major conflict, will be the Army's Future Combat System, which attempts to meld manned and robotic ground units with unmanned aircraft into a single unit that can be deployed anywhere in the world within 96 hours.
The idea, engineers say, is not to replace human "shooters" with machines, but to network them with robots to create a more effective, less expensive and faster-moving force in the field.
Even such gung ho net-centric warfare experts as Dr. John Arquilla, who helped invent the concept as a Rand Corporation researcher in the mid-1990s, admit the Achilles heel of digital warfare systems is the possibility that an opponent could penetrate or otherwise hack through it.
"Advanced information technology makes us tremendously efficient, but it also may make us tremendously vulnerable," Arquilla said.
The rapid onset of a vicious flu bug prevented any weekend posting on an Internet that seemed curiously empty of people. Perhaps a generalized revulsion of too much information and noise has set in amidst the plugged in.
I certainly wanted to post something after reading nearly identical page one fan letters to Donald Rumsfeld in Sunday’s New York Times and Washington Post following a week of unprecedented American media manipulation geared toward solidifying the Bush administration preferred war perceptions.
In newspapers bereft of more encompassing Iraqi warfare coverage excepting the omnipresent and monocular embedded “diaries”, the Post was still able to categorically state, "Rumsfeld stands tall after victory," while the Times said, “After the war, new stature for Rumsfeld." due to “swift victory in Iraq, with relatively low casualties.”
Now I may experience some fever induced delirium as my flu battle rages but I fail to grasp how the fight described as the “war to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction” can be said to be victorious when those same weapons have yet to be found in a land potentially more devastated by our heavy handed technological swiftness.
Mr. Bush should emulate the courage of American troops and boldly state his belief in victory and stop hiding behind the cowardice of surrogate statements and Mr. Rove’s endless polling. Warning bells sound when our glorious mainstream American press make definitive statements based on limited and usually fed information that really should be quotations from policy makers or impartial 3rd parties with real access to hard information.
Does the word “cakewalk” and the lawyerly waffling regarding claims to its paternity ring a bell?
I’m of the opinion, anyway, that the “if “ and “when” of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction are one of those rabbit chases postulated by the bespeckled corporate pharmaceutical executive who has “seized all of Washington's means of communication”, according a Times that still admiringly mixes a few brambles with the laurel.
A recent disturbing conversation with a military medical source suggests the United States government is hiding the actual numbers of American wounded by diverting medical flights from Germany to Italy and Greece and away from the media’s selective cameras.
Another unchased rabbit, tantalizingly hinted in a range of superb battlefield reporting, should be on the creative shoestring Iraqi tactics that did initially stymie our overwhelming might. Hints, such as the coordinated Republican Guard use of cell phones to coordinate artillery fire and other unconventional or guerilla tactics, have remained unexplored. These hints are as critical to the successful future fight against terrorism as they are dangerous to the successful completion of the Bush political agenda.
I pray the Army and Marine generals whose jugulars are scheduled for a SecDef political gnawing fight back with the same recently displayed courage of their soon to be forgotten troops.
The largest number of POW’s, so celebrated over this past weekend, were taken by the enemy during a supply chain weakness while possible unconventional Iraqi tactics, involved in the Apache downing and the two Warrant Officers’ capture, certainly bears closer examination.
I continue to be disturbed that the Marine Combat 1 Commander can be removed from his battlefield commission to vanish on a chopper ride back to Kuwait. This event, certainly, owes its testimony to History.
Throughout this weekend amid the wide smiles of the returning POWs there was one whose smile was brief and infrequent.
Even Sunday, as President Bush repeatedly squeezed his arm and patted his back, Chief Warrant Officer David Williams could not give America and George Bush’s leadership the politically desired benison of a happy ending smile. This young man like all the other POWs and many returning young soldiers witnessed and participated in military actions that will affect the rest of their lives at the order of the President. The noble sacrifice of youthful innocence by these soldiers deserves more than their calculated use in a political drama to secure that same President’s agenda and reelection.
High ranking elements of our United States government have a very large stake in obscuring supply chain difficulties and the clever on the cheap Iraqi tactics that did (according to an honest read of most embedded reports) stymie, however briefly, the plan that Mr. Rumsfeld was so loath to lay claim to prior to the start of the past week’s "swift victory" media juggernaut.
As these politicians and their media advisors purposely blur costly issues of war and government restructuring with the emotions surrounding the returning POWs, America’s issues have taken a back seat to the political goals of the Bush administration. I have sadly thought, because of the complete and dangerous capitulation of the mainstream media, that the real story of Iraq II might only come out slowly through conversations between soldiers, family members and friends as Afghan war stories did during the last years of the Soviet Union. Will CWO Williams and the rest of America still have a happy ending smile in a year or so?
The Bush administration and certain elements of the military have a large political investment in Mr. Rumsfeld’s restructuring and the domestic United States perception of the war. As the advocates this is certainly their right but if America is to remain American through this “war on terra” other voices than those of the administration and their surrogates have got to be heard through the masterfully orchestrated and very unamerican popular din.
It’s the American way.
Photos: Reuters, USNews
Monday, April 21, 2003