Notes and Happenings from Ferrin Contemporary:Ceramic Specialists

What Happens When the Kids Don’t Want It?
Part 1: Auctions Happen

by Leslie Ferrin, director, Ferrin Contemporary, specialist in ceramics from 1950 to the present.

Auction Records Matter

Michael Lucero lot #110

For both artists and collectors who are afraid of what happens to their collections when “the kids don’t want it” or are considering “lightening their load” by de-accessioning artworks through public auction, the results from two estate auctions this spring indicate that to do so successfully, the auction houses need help. Two collections, passionately acquired and left to their families to disperse, ended up in two different auction houses in the last two months, with mixed results. While they did achieve the goal of getting the estates sold, these collections were subjected to a variety of avoidable and unfortunate outcomes. Besides generating funds from the sale for the estates and emptying the houses, new public records were established from prices realized during these sales.  These records will now be used to establish values for insurance, replacement, and estimates for future sales and have important implications for the artists and collectors who are still actively creating and buying.

“More than 20 auction records were attained during the five-hour sale, artfixdaily, April 19, 2016

For artists whose works are being sold for the first time on the secondary market, it is indeed the wild-west era.  After the Fire & Form: Fine Art and Ceramics, Part 1 sale, Artfix Daily reported that: “More than 20 auction records were attained during the five-hour sale, with competitive bidding in a full auction room, online, and on the phones.” However and despite the appearance of success, these new public records are now available for the next auctioneer, appraiser, and potential buyers to inform their buying decisions, estimates, and for appraisals for tax purposes for museum donations. The “20 records attained” is not so much a measure of success as it is a statement about the lack of public records for many artists offered in these two estate sales, as their artwork had never been through a public auction and these are their first and only public records.

When Records Beget Records

Both artists and collectors can impact the value and outcome of what they leave behind by keeping, organizing, and sharing their records. The sad and untimely deaths of Candice Groot and Sylvia Elsesser meant that the families and the auction house specialists struggled under pressure to empty houses and settle estates. These two collections involved large numbers of works by both passed and living artists, and many had never been sold publicly. To compound the task, without access to orderly systems, complete records, and a clear de-accession plan, the resulting sale catalogs included objects that were mis-identified, minimally documented, partially shown, and in comes cases bulked in a group of objects as a group lot. Would a bundled lot have sold better had Bonhams known what was in it?


MODERN CRAFT Group of sterling silver articles, late 20th/early 21st centuries – Bonhams

In both cases, record keeping is only partially to blame. Original documentation, provenance, and publication history may have been separated from the objects or possibly lost entirely.  Valuable information, only known by the collector was no longer accessible. Families may or may not have been involved in decision making along the way or been given the opportunity. But as we learned with these two estates, when the time comes, the family needs to know how and where the records are kept and preferably be involved with the planning for de-accession. Would the auction houses use this information if provided? Would the interest in the artwork from buyers be greater had they known ? Would the sale price achieved been higher? One would think so.

The Nature of the Beast

Linda Cordell lot #43

However, the nature of the auction system is such that they receive their commissions regardless of price achieved and this works against spending time on objects whose values are still low or unknown. The business model balances the costs of handling, time, and marketing dollars spent against their profit margin. This means that they are not necessarily motivated to use their resources to seek out additional information that may or may not affect the sale price achieved.  They may not consider additional paid advertising and marketing resources as cost effective for a sale that will take place regardless of how much is spent to offer it. In terms of research, the auction houses often use Wikipedia and Google to quickly learn about an artist identity and establish estimates.   For many artists, if their identification marks are not registered with listing services such as The Marks Project, The Dictionary of American Studio Ceramics, 1946 to Present, then they may end up mis-identified or sold in a lot of “articles, late 20-21st centuries” for much less than they are worth.

Mistakes Happen
Robert Arneson "Portrait of the Artist as a Clever Old Dog" 1981 from Groot Estate Auction 4-2016

Robert Arneson “Portrait of the Artist as a Clever Old Dog” lot #16

In addition to the inaccuracies generated by these records, and despite the occasional use of amended information, the nature of the auction process means that when the final gavel bangs down, a public selling price record is established. The auctions create a dialog between buyers and auctioneers who are juggling simultaneous and occasionally competitive bidding that involve bids left with the house, buyers in the room, telephone calls coming and going, and multiple live internet platforms delivering bids from far and wide. Mistakes that can involve thousands of dollars get made when the auctioneer who asks “all in?” does not sense how long to wait or how high the sale might progress past a stalled bidding process. This individual’s experience as an auctioneer, knowledge of their material, and familiarity with the buyers is another unknown factor that plays into the final price achieved.

Since this first wave of selling a group of living, and less than well-known artists is taking place under extreme conditions, most if not all works are selling for a fraction of what they were sold for originally and in most cases, much less than comparable works currently offered through the primary market.  How much less was raised than could have been for the Groot and Elsesser estates had another method of de-accession been planned or chosen? Water under the bridge now but questions are now raised and new awareness of the pitfalls could have a positive impact on the future.

What can be done about it?

Deborah Butterfield lot #254

What we do know is — if collections are prepared and outcomes planned whether sold or given, they will achieve better results and make it easier for families and those involved. Whether you are an artist with a life of work in private collections or your attic, or a collector seeking to downsize or de-access, everyone can make choices that will have an impact on what happens if “the kids don’t want it.”

Continued … Check back for part 2 for what you can do when “the kids don’t want it” and examples of how artists, foundations and collectors are finding ways to work with collections and lifetimes of artwork and seeing positive results from their efforts.

Click here for more on Ferrin Contemporary’s collector services.



Peter Held

Read Appraiser Peter Held’s blog post. Fire & Form Part I: The Estate of Candice Groot Auction or the Showdown at the Mudslingers Ball

See results of  Fire & Form: Fine Art and Ceramics Part1 from the Estate of Candice B. Groot, April 16, 2016 Auction at Treadway Tooomey

See results of selected works from the estate of Sylvia and Eric Elsesser in the auction The Modern House Bonhams, Los Angeles, May 4, 2016

Click here for a downloadable-printable version of this blog post.

Slide show of the April 16th Auction Fire & Form – photos courtesy Leslie Ferrin.

In reviewing the highlights and trends of 2015, we find we want to extend special thanks to all who made it a great year with their art, interest, encouragement, and support.

Click here to view the YEAR IN REVIEW 2015.

Ferrin Contemporary presents Paul Scott in “Scott’s Cumbrian Blue(s): American Scenery” at the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair 2016.

Public Lecture: January 22, 2pm
Join us for a lecture by artist, author, and curator Paul Scott and Bouke de Vries, artist and restorer. Both artists will present images of their current work and discuss the intentional use of restoration methods in ceramics to create contemporary works of sculpture and design.
The lecture will be introduced and discussion moderated by dealer and expert in contemporary ceramics, Leslie Ferrin, Director of Ferrin Contemporary, who will present an overview of works by contemporary artists who use these methods in their practice.

New York Ceramics & Glass Fair 2016
January 21–24, 2016
Bohemian Hall
321 East 73rd Street
New York, NY




Panel Discussion and Dinner in the Gallery

1315 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams


1315 MASS MoCA Way

Collecting ceramics from George Ohr to Ai Weiwei — join specialists Suzanne Perrault, David Rago, and Daniel Farrell for a panel discussion moderated by Leslie Ferrin about provenance, connoisseurship, and values in ceramics, pottery, and porcelain from 1900 to the present.

Guests will have a chance to view the exhibition, GLAZED & DIFFUSED, before the panel discussion and afterwards during a wine and cheese reception in the gallery.

6:30 pm | DISH+DINE

1315 MASS MoCA Way
$75. Space is limited.

Enjoy this dinner event in the gallery with collectors, artists, and the panelists. Gramercy Bistro, MASS MoCA’s in-house bistro, will serve modern fare made from locally-sourced food. Ceramic artist Michael McCarthy will provide the handmade dinnerware.

This event has sold out. Call 413-346-4004 to be added to the waiting list. Click here to let us know of your interest and we’ll let you know about other upcoming events and DISH + DINEs.


Studio tours and open galleries

54 Main Street, Cummington, MA



Saturday, July 25 10am -5 pm
Sunday, July 26, 12 pm-4 pm


Selections from current projects: GLAZED & DIFFUSED; Family Affair:Sergei Isupov, Kadri Pärnamets, and their daughter, Roosi; and Paul Scott’s 2015 American Scenery.


Finished pieces and works in progress by artists-in-residence, including Alexandra Jelleberg. Also work by June Ferrin and guest Elenor Wilson.



Join us for conversation and lunch with artists and friends at Project Art.
Lunch, from The Olde Creamery, is $15. Reservation deadline is July 23. Please complete the Eventbrite form below.

Admission to the galleries and studios are free and do not require an RSVP.
These events are concurrent with the Hilltown 6 Pottery Tour. Click here for more information about the Hilltown 6 events.


Raymon Elozua Studio and Jack Shainman Gallery

Mountain Dale and Kinderhook, NY

Saturday, August 8, 2015
Take a field trip to Raymon Elozua’s studio in Mountain Dale, NY, and tour of the El Anatsui exhibition at the Jack Shainman Gallery: The School in nearby Kinderhook.

Tour + lunch without transportation: $40 per person.
Tour + lunch with bus fare included: $75 per person.
Limited space. Registration deadline is August 1.




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Thursdays, July 30, August 27, and September 24, 6 to 8 pm
1315 MASS MoCA Way and throughout North Adams

Ferrin Contemporary and other DownStreet art venues and galleries, stores, and restaurants will extend their hours on the last Thursday of the summer months to celebrate the arts.


Sergei Isupov was a featured artist at The 8th Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale 2015 in the Gyeonggi-do Province of Korea. Work by artists from 74 countries was presented at three venues during this event focusing on the use of color in ceramics. The exhibit from the International Competition 2015, April 24 – May 31, 2015, was held on the 3rd floor of Icheon World Ceramic Center.

Click here to view pdf of images from the exhibition.

Ferrin Contemporary spent eight days in New York for the NY Ceramics & Glass Fair in late January. There, we presented two exhibitions: MADE IN CHINA: The New Export Ware and Selected Work from Current Projects, featuring work by 18 artists from around the world.

Visitors and the NY press were surprised and delighted with their discovery of the contemporary ceramics at the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair and spread the word about contemporary clay throughout the worlds of art and design. Here some of the highlights, along with links to read more.

Paul Scott, "Paul Scott, “Cumbrian Blue(s), American Scenery, Fracked No. 2″ 2013, inglaze decal collage, gold luster on ironstone platter (c.1860?), 8.5 x 1".

Paul Scott, “Paul Scott, “Cumbrian Blue(s), American Scenery, Fracked No. 2″ 2013, inglaze decal collage, gold luster on ironstone platter (c.1860?), 8.5 x 1”.

The New York Times, Art & Design

“Emporiums of the Waggish and Weird”

Browsing at Metro Curates and the Ceramics and Glass Fair

by William Grimes

“A number of contemporary artists disturb the polite atmosphere of British tea sets and Chinese export pottery. Paul Scott, an English artist at Ferrin Contemporary, has updated English transferware, with its romantic evocations of American scenes, in the rudest possible way. ‘Turnpike No. 3,’ a rectangular tray showing a toll plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike, is one of a series devoted to such heartwarming sights as the Indian Point nuclear plant and a fracking derrick,” Grimes observed in his unabashed review of the oddities at two NY shows.

Read more here…


Paul Scott, "Cumbrian Blue(s), Willow Italian" 2014, Staffordshire transferware collage, gold leaf, tile cement, epoxy resin, 15 x 11".

Paul Scott, “Cumbrian Blue(s), Willow Italian” 2014, Staffordshire transferware collage, gold leaf, tile cement, epoxy resin, 15 x 11″.

The New York Observer

“Ceramics Crack the Contemporary Art Market”

Breaking the Mold
by Brook Mason

“Few slices of the art market have changed as radically, or, surprisingly, have been taken more seriously, in the past few years as the ever-so-sleepy ceramics and glass sector. … When it comes to contemporary ceramics, some dealers said, there’s a shift going on in terms of validity in the eyes of museums. ‘Glance back two decades only a handful of museums were incorporating such work in their holdings,’ said Massachusetts dealer Leslie Ferrin.”

Read more here…


Vipoo Srivilasa, "The Patience Flower" 2014, Jingdezhen super white porcelain, 10 x 6.6".

Vipoo Srivilasa, “The Patience Flower” 2014, Jingdezhen super white porcelain, 10 x 6.6″.

Blouin Art Info

Made in China: Ceramic Exports From Jingdezhen

by Darryl Wee

In his review of our show “MADE IN CHINA, Darryl Wee observes, “Whereas traditional ‘export ware’ used to be adorned with European ideas and subjects…, Ferrin notes that this notion of cultural export has shifted somewhat in recent years due to internationally networked and cosmopolitan artists who produce their pieces at Jingdezhen Pottery Workshop while gaining exposure primarily in Western markets halfway around the world.”

Read more here…


Mara Superior, "Wounded Beauty" 2014, porcelain, cobalt, glaze, gold luster, metal wire, 12 x 15 x 5.5".

Mara Superior, “Wounded Beauty” 2014, porcelain, cobalt, glaze, gold luster, metal wire, 12 x 15 x 5.5″.

Past Imperfect: The Art of Inventive Repair

“The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair – 2015”

by Andrew Baseman

Friend and blogger Andrew Baseman focused attention on contemporary ceramic “make-dos” including Paul Scott’s, Mara Superior’s, and Frances Palmer’s mended works. “It was heartening for me to see so many examples of antique and contemporary ceramics with inventive repair in such a prestigious venue. It gives me hope that beauty in imperfection is now being embraced by more artists, dealers and collectors than ever before.”

Read more here…


Sin-ying Ho, "9.28.2014 Hong Kong" 2014, porcelain, cobalt, decal, terra sigillata, 23 x 12 x 15.5".

Sin-ying Ho, “9.28.2014 Hong Kong” 2014, porcelain, cobalt, decal, terra sigillata, 23 x 12 x 15.5″.

DXV American Standard

“Yes Virginia, Collecting Ceramics Can Be Hip”

by Lynn Byrne

In her design blog, Byrne admitted, “I know very little about ceramics and glass. There. I have said it right up front. But I like to think I have a certain radar for the artistically innovative, and one place where I did not expect to see it was during my inaugural visit last week to the annual New York Ceramics and Glass Fair. But I was wrong. Very wrong. Talk about cool—it was there in abundance. 
“By far my favorite was the artists represented by Ferrin Contemporary. Leslie Ferrin had two booths at the fair and each was filled with edgy, thought-provoking pieces.”

Read more here…


The cover of Paul Scott's  new book, "Horizons: Transferware and Contemporary Ceramics"

The cover of Paul Scott’s new book, “Horizons: Transferware and Contemporary Ceramics”

Lectures and Book Launch at the Fair

Visitors were entertained by talks and presentations made by Ferrin Contemporary’s Paul Scott, Garth JohnsonRobert Silverman, Sing-ying Ho, and Leslie Ferrin. 
NCECA sponsored a day of modern lectures there for the first time.
It was standing room only for Paul Scott’s lecture. Afterwards, the audience followed Scott to a book signing for the newly published Horizon: Transferware and Contemporary Ceramics.  Scott’s ironic commentary on landscape drew media attention with his “American Scenery” series featured at the fair. 

Click here to place an order for your signed copy.


Kurt Weiser, "Albion" 2014, china painted porcelain, 26.5 x 18".

Kurt Weiser, “Albion” 2014, china painted porcelain, 26.5 x 18″.

Wait, there’s more

Visit our Press Coverage webpage for more links to fair coverage as well as articles and reviews about other curated projects with work by artists represented by Ferrin Contemporary.

Read more coverage on the fair on:
The China Press
NY Social Diary

Robert Silverman, "Blue" 2013, re-fired commercial tile fabricated in Jingdezhen, China, 35 x 27.5”.

Robert Silverman, “Blue” 2013, re-fired commercial tile fabricated in Jingdezhen, China, 35 x 27.5”.

SOLD!  Still available?

Ferrin Contemporary presented two exhibitions at the fair: “MADE IN CHINA: The New Export Ware” and “Selected Work from Current Projects,” featuring work by 18 artists from around the world. In addition to the media blitz, sales were brisk and commissions are still coming in.

Click here to see more available work.
Or inquire about currently available artworks presented at the fair.

Paul Scott stands before his work in “Made in China” booth at NYC&GF.


Follow along as director Leslie Ferrin documents the objects, people, and experiences related to the many projects under the purview of Ferrin Contemporary. Leslie’s first-person coverage provides a subjective overview of the scene (and seen) along the path of her travels. Click on the links below to follow along:
NEWS: Instagram

With this post, we launch a new section of the Ferrin Contemporary website with reportage from Miami. Follow along as director Leslie Ferrin documents the objects, people, and experiences relating to various ongoing projects under the purview of Ferrin Contemporary (#FerrinContemporaryOnTheRoad). A specialist in ceramics and a regular participant in the art fair (or art fare) scene, Leslie’s first-person coverage provides a subjective and filtered overview of the scene and seen along the path of her travels. When NOT On-the-Road, in a museum, private collection, partner gallery, or artist studio, Ferrin is based at Project Art in Cummington, Massachusetts where she also directs a live-work artist residency. Now, in an aggregated format, her Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook feeds are shared and linked as photographic and written posts in the Blog section of the NEWS on our website

REFLECT-ED Miami 2014

The first week in December begins with the annual trek to Miami to participate in, explore, and enjoy the social and art fair events that surround Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), now in its 13th year. As a gallery, we have been showing  at various venues in Miami over the years, presenting ceramics and in the past also showing painting, photography, and works on paper. This year, Ferrin Contemporary presented selected works from MADE IN CHINA: The New Export Ware at Miami Project. This fair venue is the second stop in a series of curated exhibitions and talks that examine the contemporary, ceramic-centric exchange between eastern and western artists and markets through porcelain art works produced in Jingdezhen China. The project launched this fall when it was first presented at Independent Art Projects (IAP), our home base, located on the MASS MoCA campus in North Adams, Massachusetts. In addition to our own booth, we partnered with Kasher|Potamkin to show Sergei Isupov’s recent works from his Promenade series. Also showing at Miami Project, was one of our IAP partners Julie Saul Gallery.  Other IAP partners, Cynthia Reeves exhibited at Art Miami and Sienna Patti Contemporary showed at Pulse.

Now in its 3rd year, Miami Project is one of the premiere satellite fairs located in Miami’s midtown district. It is located close to the Margulies Collection, a noted private collection open to the public, as well as, the neighborhoods of the Wynwood Walls and the Design District. The 65000 square foot show was elegant, with lofty white walls and airy wide aisles, and conveniently located to amenities within the design district. The 80 dealers and their artists, primarily American from both coasts, are well established and the art shown was framed and well hung. It was our favorite venue to date. We heard over and over, “This is the best show and I like it here.” Translation: We like this type of presentation and we are comfortable in this environment where the art and dealers are familiar.

This year’s Miami Art Week scene was the usual combination of luxury marketing, blue chip art investing, and high contrast global economics. Words like frenzy, overwhelming, and vulgar were in regular use and many experienced in the trade shook their heads in a combination of amusement and disbelief. A Picasso plate was stolen at Art Miami and Jerry Salz , New York Magazine’s senior art critic, kept everyone rolling with laughter (LOL) with his relentless collages posted on Instagram and caption commentary that put him in the center of the action without ever leaving NYC. Many of his posts ended with “What happens at ABMB, stays at ABMB” in a parody of popular culture and the business of the art business.

The traffic and parking, while always a nightmare, made this year’s trekking feel more real when the national protests of the Garver and Brown verdicts intersected with the local unresolved case of the graffiti artist, Israel “Reefa” Hernandez who was tasered by police and died in 2013. The protest brought Interstate 195 to a halt, dozens of helicopters to the sky, and created a lock-down of the bridges and roads that surrounded the Wynwood fairs. In another tragic, real-life turn of events that could have been lifted directly out of one of Tom Wolfe’s fictional parody Back to Blood,  a 21 year old graffiti artist was hit by a police car on Saturday night in Wynwood and subsequently died of his injuries. The contrast between what was taking place globally and what was taking place on the ground in Miami was never more extreme than possibly during the inaugural year, when the show was delayed due to 9/11. The economic and racial divide was the topic of several strongly worded articles running in Hyperallergic, one of the many online publications providing live daily reports. The New York Times T Magazine covered the party and Kardashian -Miley celebrity scene in their followup.

#clayiseverywhere continues to be this year’s trending mantra at all the fairs. During the panel The Importance of Women Artists in Today’s Market, held at Miami Projects, a question was posed to the collector and founder of the Girls’ Club, Francie Bishop Gold, “Who are the women photographers who are trending?” She paused, smiled, and said, “Its not photography that’s trending…its ceramics.” The question provoked a short buzz and continued with a discussion of women as leading artists who use of clay and fiber materials and how that choice was gender driven. The panel was introduced with a reading of the usual dismal statistics that compared prices at auction achieved by women artists to those of male artists. The discussion centered primarily around collecting, exhibition practices, and gender ratios. Organized by Karen Jenkins Johnson, gallerist and exhibitor in Miami Project, the panel was followed by a curated tour of the fair, featuring selected works and conversations with women artists, including our own Sin-ying Ho.  After thirty years of so-called progress, it was a bit depressing to be discussing this topic or throughout the week, hear helicopters circling overhead during the #blacklivesmatter protests. But it was better that the issues were being aired than ignored, in the midst of all the glitz and glamour taking place around it.

An Aside about #Hashtags 

For those who have been puzzled by the constant use of the number sign in front of bundled word phrases appearing in photo captions, they are hashtags and function to convey and gather content in the various social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. That said, we use a few of them regularly to create photo albums that connect one event or program to another. In a future post, I will go into this further; but during Miami, each fair location and the week in general were collected under appropriate tags #clayiseverywhere, #miamiproject, #miamiartweek, #ferrincontemporaryontheroad, and #socialclay.

12 reflections on Art Week in Miami


If you can only choose one fair, make it Miami ProjectWLRN Miami Herald News

Ferrin Contemporary presented selected works from Made in China: The New Export Ware featuring recent works produced in Jingdezhen, China by Caroline Cheng, Sin-ying Ho, Paul Scott, Robert Silverman, and Vipoo Srivilasa. Kasher | Potamkins booth showed selected major works from Sergei Isupov’s 2014 solo Promenade.” Kasher | Potamkin is a new Chelsea New York gallery located in the former Barry Friedman space. (Next fall, they will present a solo show of Isupov’s as an installation featuring sculptural works and and site specific wall paintings.)


friends and colleagues

We chose this show for several reasons. Although relatively new, it is well run and we were surrounded by colleagues, our gallery partners, and art that seem to make sense next to ours. Our friend George Adams showed a recently consigned, ceramic selfie with tongue sticking out by Robert Arneson. Kim Dickey (currently showing “Mille-fleur” in the American art survey “State of the Art” at Crystal Bridges) showed two bird sculptures at Robischon whose booth was curated around the theme of birds, flight and sky. Jeffry Mitchell’s “Foo Dogs” were at PDX. Kris Kuski ’sAscension of Eos” was at Joshua Liner. Kuski is one of the many Virginia Groot Foundation award winners who were showing at the fairs. Photographer Andy Freeberg surprised us with a gift of his book Art Fare that included photographs he shot in 2010 of dealers and staff behind-the-scenes. The book featured our booth at ArtMiami. That was the year our red painted booth presented works by Sergei Isupov, Chris Antemann, and the lovely Lauren Levato came to work the show and we were reminded about how much had changed in four short years. Freeberg’s current work continues to follow his interest in working in the art world through environmental portraits and was shown by Kopeikin and Andrea Meisel at Miami Project.

3. Design Miami

collaboration and the special projects

Ephemera, sponsored by Perrier-Jouet, commissioned Vienna based duo Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler to create Small Discoveries. The project included mechanized plants moving, growing, and dying. Thinning Ice by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang was sponsored by Swarovski. Both dealt with ecological issues and sustainability. To begin and end the show is the leather-clad Fendi booth celebrating Peter Marino, awarded “Design Visionary.” (Marino’s solo show is onview at the Bass Museum.)


no names, no labels, no price lists

While clay may be everywhere, at Design Miami, you have to guess who made the piece or find someone in the booth who isn’t tied up with another VIP to ask. Then you have find a way to remember who did what where. You either needed to record voice or written notes on your phone or revert to taking notes with a pen on paper. I borrowed a pen and drew pictures on paper and left a card to receive digital information sometime in the future #oldschool. Elisabeth Agro, curator Philadelphia Museum of Art, used a pencil-written, paper cheat-sheet of her bucket-list dealers to visit.


less is more and more is less

It is true that #clayiseverywhere throughout this fair, celebrating its 10th year with 35 dealers. Booth design is strong and in some cases overwhelms the work presented. Large low tables, mixed up and sometimes cacaphonic shelving, burnt wood shelf grid, colorful walls, clusters-as-still-lifes, and intensely lit individual works were a bit over the top. A quick overview of the ceramics reveals contemporary and mid-century works from the USA, France, Belgium, Holland, South Africa, and Korea. Of all the fairs, this one provided the most concentrated opportunity to view ceramic objects but this was primarily within the context of design, not fine art. (The highlighted links when clicked lead to web information that offers explanations of what was seen but not readily accessed at the fair. The list that follows refers to the series of images contained in the blog post with artist names and the dealers who presented their works.) Adam Silverman at Edward Cella Art + Architecture; Ron Nagle; Tony Marsh at Pierre Marie Giraud; Anders Ruhwald at Volume; Haas Brothers at R&Company; Maren Kloppman; Eva Hild at Hostler Burrows; Iris Eichenburg at Ornamentum; Studio Makkink & Bey’s Pyramid of Makkum (an edition of 7, that commemorates the original first produced at the Royal Tichelaar Makkum, the oldest dutch manufactory, est. 1572.) Presented within a wooden cabinet housing an assemblage based on everyday objects with detailed instructions to be assembled into a flower pyramid was exhibited by Priveekollektie. Selected ceramic sculpture from La Bourne, France produced from 1940–1960 was shown by Magen H Gallery. The Southern Guild from Capetown, South Africa, presented works by Ardmore Ceramic Art, a ceramic studio in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The presentation of South African design was made possible by the department of trade industry.  Seomi exhibited artist-designed ceramic furniture. Jean Jacques Inc. presented an array of American and European ceramicists.


too large for one day let alone three hours so you can’t possibly see the whole show

For those who come every year, the #clayiseverywhere saying is true; but actually, clay is not as everywhere as it was last year-but if you weren’t there last year, then it seems as if it is everywhere this year. Great singluar works were on view throughout the show by clay masters Ken Price ,Toshiko Takaezu, and Betty Woodman along with younger artists Theaster Gates and Francesca DiMateo. CFILE’s Justin Crowe spent time there and wrote the filtered report on clay works at this fair. I noticed that he missed a booth off to the side with a set of pickle jars fabricated partly from wood, ceramic, and found objects. Like much of the work we were showing and looking at recently, they used collage and time honored repair methods to join history to the present in an object driven message delivered through the power of the familiar utilitarian object. Sudarshan Shetty, shown by Gallery SKE from New Delhi, presented a series titled “every broken moment piece by piece.”


shiny, reflective and selfies

There were way too many opportunities to take reflective selfies at ABMB, but the most powerful example might have been the two part work by the ultimate, selfie-ist Ai Weiwei whose selfie taken of himself (with police behind him pre-arrest in 2009) was presented behind and reflected upon a something-ton forty-inch cube of clear crystal. ABMB, with over 73000 visitors included 160 museum groups and more than 267 galleries from 31 countries. That’s a lot of PEOPLE. People was the word embodied in one of the booth’s rotating neon signs. A personal favorite, was a neon sign by Jeppe Hein that asked “ARE YOU REALLY HAPPY”.


a kid could do this

“a kid could do this” was one of the special curated projects at the entrance to this fair. Installed as period room setting, each artwork was hung above a wainscot moulding with the artists’ signature on the wall in vinyl shown in dim lighting under a ceiling with a scrimmed covering presented by Gallery Gmurzynska. (Catalog available.) The idea is that modern art elicits the comment “any child could do this ____”. Appropos to our #clayiseverywhere theme, the title and intent of this exhibition could have been used as a starting point for an exhibition that explores the ongoing debate about intentional and unintentional abstraction by artists who come from the “Art World” to suddenly start working with clay and those who work with clay but climbed up the art ladder through training from the “Clay World.”


Glazed and confused

AQUA lost a bit of its charm and uniqueness without the eye of the original founders Jacque Chartier and Dirk Park at the helm. But it was still art fun to cruise through at the end of a long day. Our Berkshire neighbor William Baczek has been exhibiting consistently, and presented illustrator Travis Louie along with well-known artists from our area Susan Mikula and Scott Prior. Victori Contemporary presented Jae Yong Kim’s wall of ceramic donuts. This was our most-liked photo and elicited the best captions comments. His interview in twelvmag about how he came to “make the donuts” is priceless. (Kim’s donuts were also shown by Lyons Weir at ArtMiami)


Now located on the beach

This solid show started in Wynwood ten years ago and is now under the direction of Helen Toomer. Toomer moved it to the beach this year. Adjacent to the boardwalk and steps from the ocean, the show is beautifully installed with plenty of white space to show off the fresh, contemporary, material-driven artworks shown by well-known galleries that feature both established and emerging artists. Included in the varied materials and media was plenty of photography and conceptual installations. These provided a good setting for Sienna Patti Contemporary to show works by Susie Ganch and Lauren Fensterstock. (Fenderstock’s work was shown this summer at Independent Art Projects in North Adams, Massachusetts.) A major seated man by sculptor Viola Frey was presented by Rena Bransten. Tthe work of emerging artist Alwyn O’Brien was shown at James Harris Gallery in an organic grid-glaze-figurine collage sculpture. These assemblages are a new trend in ceramic sculpture as they push the limits of the clay’s fragility. A gorgeous series of works by Kathy Butterly at Shoshana Wayne greeted visitors at the entrance of the fair.


plan A, Skypad and more…

What’s Miami without a few parties? Special thanks goes out to Kasher|Potamkin and particularly Andi Potamkin for hosting the Miami Project exhibitor party on the boat. We felt honored and pampered; it was definitely a lovely benefit of being a dealer exhibiting at the fair. We were on a boat. Then there was the Saturday night let-it-all-down penthouse party held by our uber host and hostess Stuart and Julie Chase at Skypad-on-the-Bay. Twinkly lights, sunrise/sunsets, and birds eye view of the backed up traffic, police lights, and reflections of boats across the water. Gathered there were various #artberkshire regulars, museum professionals, visiting photographers, and, of course, the weary dealers. Stuart Chase, director of HistoryMiami, announced the Knight Foundation award of a matching grant to develop a new photography center dedicated to the photography of Miami. We were all there to congratulate and cheer on this initiative. I lacked any initiative at that hour and only took a shot of the view before sitting down to enjoy the company in real time. Monday we took a spin through the current exhibitions at HistoryMiami museum and discovered how the Beatles foresaw Miami Art Week as shown in the photograph of the group on their 1966 Butcher album cover.

12. And then there’s UBER

No one could have gotten anywhere without them and their friendly coupons.

And we’ll be back, same time next year.

Miami Artist Run Over by Cop Dies of His Injuries  by Benjamin Sutton
Hundreds Take to the Streets to Seek Justice for Artist Killed by Miami Police by Jillian Steinhauer
#BlackLivesMatter vs #artbasel by Jillian Steinaher
Blacked out in the Art World  anonymous
From Kim Kardashian to Miley Cyrus Looking Back on Art Basel Miami’s Week of Excess in the New York Times T Magazine
Provacative Art Basel Tweets Make Jerry Saltz the Jonathan Swift of Social Media WSJ
Jerry Saltz’s Fake Instagram Week at Art Basel’s Kamara Williams interviews Jae Yong Kim Ceramic Genius
Artnet with Picasso Stolen from art fair in Miami
CFILE’s Market Report | Art Basel Miami Beach

Leslie Ferrin reports from Chicago, November 2014

Returning from SOFA Chicago this year, I was asked again and again, “How was it?”

Now in its 21st year, people wanted to know about the sales, attendance, and, of course, what was being shown.  My reply, “Indeed, the show does go on.”

Eva Kwong and Kirk Mangus at @mindysolomongallery at @sofaexpo #ferrincontemporaryontheroad

A photo posted by Leslie Ferrin (@leslieferrin) on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:05pm PST

High Octane Redhead — You are a force of nature! @hioctaneredhead Thanks for all you did. Your new studio and gallery space in Evanston is a great thing #sidetracked  More from “scene and seen” last week in Chicago #ferrincontemporaryontheroad   photo posted by Leslie Ferrin (@leslieferrin) on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:40pm PST

@stevenylee one of the #ceramictop40 artists is showing @sofachicago #ferrincontemporaryontheroad

photo posted by Leslie Ferrin (@leslieferrin) on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:42am PST

#Susan Beiner one of the #ceramictop40 artists showing @sofachicago #ferrincontemporaryontheroad A photo posted by Leslie Ferrin (@leslieferrin) on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:38am PST

#sergeiisupov show “Promenade” on view at Perimeter Gallery in Chicago #ferrincontemporaryontheroad

A photo posted by Leslie Ferrin (@leslieferrin) on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:58am PST

SOFA Chicago continues to be a gathering place for people in the field of contemporary decorative art and studio craft, despite the fair’s reduced scale and lack of diversity. Opening night, as always, is about the people: artists, longtime friends, colleagues, curators, and collectors. A wonderful whirlwind of meeting and greeting that makes it challenging, if not nearly impossible, to actually see the artwork on view.

As a former exhibitor, it is with some poignancy that I return to SOFA. First at New Art Forms in 1983 and then at SOFA from 1989 to 2011, Ferrin Gallery presented hundreds of individual artworks in curated group and solo exhibitions that included career highs for many of our artists. Now, only three years removed from that time with SOFA, the changes to the event seem significant. Only a smattering of works by the artists who once commanded the aisles appeared to be on view. The fair, now functioning under new management and ownership, is much smaller in scale and fully dominated by an overwhelming quantity of glass, shiny and heavily lit. Largely unedited, but still highly sought after, glass fills the floor plan, overflows walls, and hangs from above – making this fair still the best place in the world to see a full range of contemporary glass – blown, polished, cast, with or without videos – for sale.

For other media, however, there has been a marked attrition of American dealers. Gone as well, are the familiar clusters of British and Australian galleries that formerly presented large selections of clay sculpture, furniture, art jewelry, mixed media objects, and studio pottery have dwindled. The galleries that remain are to be commended for continuing to provide the opportunity for those attending the fair to view and experience works “in person” rather than as digital images. The not-for-profit exhibition by Anderson Ranch, celebrating its 50th anniversary, picked up some of the slack by showing and selling single works by their esteemed teaching faculty.

Walking the aisles, I did enjoy seeing artwork by some of the artists from Ceramic Top 40: Susan Beiner, Andy Brayman, Cristina Cordova, Leopold Foulem, Rain Harris, Steven Young Lee, Lauren Mabry, and Jason Walker as they were presented by various galleries.

The special presentation of works by the recently passed Kirk Mangus at Mindy Solomon Gallery, accompanied by a lecture and book signing for MOCA Cleveland’s “Things Love” exhibition of Magnus’ works, were of particular sentimental significance.

Also of note was Michael Strand’s NCECA (the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) sponsored lecture  “Across the Table: Craft Practice Beyond the Object.” It examined the role of objects in the 21st century as catalysts for community building and social change through past, present, and future projects. The lecture was presented as part of SOFA’s always engaging lecture series.

Beyond SOFA, gallery hopping in Chicago included visits to Perimeter Gallery to take in selected works from Sergei Isupov’s solo exhibition Promenade, as well as a serene installation of contemporary ceramics by masters of the medium. Also on view were paintings by Christian Vincent at Ann Nathan Gallery and Kahn Selesnick’s Truppe Fledermaus project (previously exhibited as part of COVET  back in 2012) at Carl Hammer Gallery .

A studio visit with Dana Major and Rodrigo Lara Zendejas gave me the opportunity to see Mana Contemporary Chicago, a large, renovated industrial building filled with artist studios as well as exhibition and presentation areas. Seeing this building provided a moment of comparison to our own industrial-building-turned-art-space project: Independent Art Projects (IAP). IAP is a collaborative art space, co-founded by Ferrin Contemporary and CYNTHIA-REEVES in June 2014, and located in building 13 on the MASS MoCA campus. IAP features ongoing installations of works from our current projects. Visting Mana afforded me the opportunity to imagine what our nascent project may someday evolve to be. Click through to read more about expansion projects at MASS MoCA profiled in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and the Boston Globe.

#FERRINCONTEMPORARYONTHEROAD is a visual photo stream diary of people and objects related to ceramics, both historic and contemporary, as seen in both private and public collections and at fairs and galleries. The images, photographed by Leslie Ferrin, are generated through Instagram as she traverses the world and sends images wherever wifi and phone service permit. Find related content on Tumblr, Facebook, and
Follow along. Questions and comments are very welcome.



Founded by Australian artist Vipoo Srivilasa, artKamp is an ongoing series of events where artists come together to work collaboratively and in the process, expand their worldviews.

As part of this series, and through the generous sponsorship of The Australia Council, Ferrin Contemporary, the Lighton International Artists Exchange Program, Amaco and Mayco, eight ceramic artists –including Ben Carter, Chase Gamblin, Alex Jelleberg, Frances Palmer, Bonnie Smith, Mara Superior, Vipoo Srivilasa, and Elenor Wilson —  came together at Project Art in Cummington, MA to create a unified tablescape.

From September 23 to October 8, 2014, the artists lived, worked, and explored the region together. The results of their residency, as well as individual works by participating artists will be presented for sale by Ferrin Contemporary at Independent Art Projects November 22 through January 4, 2015.

See below for images from the artKamp residency, and click here to read more about artKamp.
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artKamp: indigo mass
a collaborative group exhibition
November 22, 2014-January 4, 2014

Presented by Ferrin Contemporary, artKamp: indigo mass is an exhibition of selected works created during artKamp — a two-week international residency featuring eight artists working collaboratively to create a unified tablescape. Individual works by artKamp artists, which include Ben Carter, Chase Gamblin, Alex Jelleberg, Frances Palmer, Bonnie Smith, Mara Superior, Vipoo Srivilasa, and Elenor Wilson, will also be on view.