Of Cottages and Castles

The Pasadena Museum of California Art has the Arts & Crafts Community in mind once again as they masterfully present, Of Cottages and Castles: The Art of California Faience. It is open through April 3rd, 2016.

One of the longest enduring art potteries in California, the distinctive works of California Faience, established in Berkeley in 1913 (briefly called The Tile Shop), were born out of a partnership between two former college classmates, William Bragdon and Chauncey Thomas. Firmly grounded in the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement, all works were done by hand; the only concession to industrial process was the use of slip casting for their wide array of forms, which still required significant handwork. And the two men personally carried out all aspects of design and manufacture themselves. Also producing pottery in the Art Deco and Moderne styles, their operation was always small with a handful of additional artists creating wares throughout the years, including Beniamino Bufano and many women artists, such as Margaret Clayes, Julia Morgan, and Alice Coffee.

The first exhibition dedicated to the legacy of this remarkable pottery, Of Cottages and Castles: The Art of California Faience presents the full range of the company’s decorative tiles, vessels, and sculptures, with the noteworthy inclusion of tiles from the company’s most prestigious project, the commission by architect Julia Morgan for a complete environment of tiles for William Randolph Hearst’s palatial home and grounds in San Simeon (bottom photo).

In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum will also be presenting an afternoon presentation, The History of Arts and Crafts Design in Pasadena, on Saturday, December 5th. Edward R. Bosley, James N. Gamble Director of the Gamble House, will lead this discussion on the history of the Arts and Crafts movement in Pasadena, which was the epicenter of the movement on the West Coast. Joining Bosley for the discussion will be Ann Scheid, Curator of the Greene and Greene Archives at the Gamble House, and Dr. Robert Winter, noted California architectural historian and professor emeritus at Occidental College.

And for those of you interested in learning more about Slipcasting and Glazing via a hands-on approach, join artist Alex Reed for a ceramics workshop on Saturday, February 6th. The workshop will open with a discussion on the slipcasting and glazing processes as well as other ways of making ceramic objects and participants will cast a vessel using a ceramic mold as well as decorate with glaze an already fired ceramic vessel. Glazed objects will be fired by Reed and returned to participants after the workshop.

To register for the workshop or other special exhibition-related events and to find out more about Of Cottages and Castles, please visit www.pmcaonline.org.

Top Image: Installation view, Of Cottages and Castles: The Art of California Faience, November 15, 2015–April 3, 2016, Pasadena Museum of California Art, photo © 2015 Don Milici.

Bottom Image: Julia Morgan for California Faience, tile intended for one of the belfry arches of Casa Grande. Panel reassembled and photographed by David Wilson. San Simeon State Historical Monument Collection.