California Faience On Display In Berkeley
Gus Bostrom of California Historical Design has a knack for putting together wonderful exhibitions and sales in his gallery, most notable among them being the exhibitions centered around master metalsmith Dirk van Erp. But this time around, and for their last show in their Berkeley gallery before moving to their new location in Alameda, Gus and his team have put together a fantastic display of over 150 pieces of California Faience Pottery from the Kirby Brown collection. The exhibition will run through Saturday September 10th.
California Faience was a name fortuitously chosen to evoke both the familiar and exotic. It was proudly borne by pottery made in Berkeley, California that was renowned for its high quality and simple beauty. Its products graced many humble cottages and the grandest of castles.
California Faience was one of the longest surviving Arts & Crafts potteries on the West Coast, operating between 1913 and 1959. The company was founded as “The Tile Shop” in 1913 by Chauncey Rapelje Thomas. In 1915 he was joined by William Victor Bragdon. The two partners were both trained at Alfred University in New York under the “Father of American Studio Ceramics”, Charles Fergus Binns. They carried on the Arts & Crafts tradition of fine craftsmanship and simplicity of design long after that movement had faded away.
The products consisted of low-fired decorative art pottery including vases, bowls, and sculptural figures; and an astonishing variety of tiles, both as individual objects of art and for architectural installations. Their greatest achievement was the ten year project in the 1920s to produce tiles designed by Julia Morgan for William Randolph Hearst’s “castle” at San Simeon.
The 1920’s also saw an association with Thomas Barry Gotham at West Coast Porcelain Manufacturers in Millbrae, where a line of high-fired wares called California Porcelain was produced. The Great Depression was devastating for the ceramics industry. California Faience survived by opening its doors to artists of all stripes who used the shop as a studio.
This exhibition features a comprehensive selection of ceramic wares from California Faience and West Coast Porcelain Manufacturers. Special emphasis is placed on the variety of forms and glazes, and historical origins of designs.
For more information on this exhibition, California Historical Designs’ new location and purchasing details, please visit www.acstickley.com or call (510) 647.3621.