I attended the grand opening of the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Center & Brickyard Gallery at its new location last Friday evening and was just blown away by the new space. It’s located just off Tempe’s Mill Avenue in the back section of the Brickyard space that was formerly Borders Bookstore. The Ceramics Center was located across the street from the ASU Art Museum in an old strip mall and was known as the Ceramics Research Center. The new facility has a lot going for it. It’s much larger and the new location will give it much greater visibility.
The Ceramics Center houses an impressive collection of nearly 4,000 pieces by some of the most extraordinary artists from around the world, representing several decades. A portion of the collection is always on display in rows of glass covered cases. Currently the works are displayed by the decades in which they were created and cover the 1950s through the 80s. Labels in each case provide highlights of what was happening in ceramics during that time. Each case also highlights seminal artists of each period along with examples of their works. Pieces vary from abstract to organic to massive, chunky pieces to highly stylized and sculptural to tiny, graceful and delicate pieces. The gamut of glazes and colors is also amazing. There are also many gorgeous examples of more traditional turned pieces and not-your-typical tea pots. Really, you just have to see them in person to get a grasp of the tremendous range that works in clay encompass.
The grand opening was also a time to say farewell to Peter Held, the Center’s curator since 2003. Peter is retiring this summer and will be missed. During his time at the Center, he has curated some incredible exhibitions that have shown us the breadth and depth of ceramics–exhibits like last year’s gorgeous exhibition of Hopi artist Margaret Tafoya and her descendants and MUCK, which is on display at the ASU Art Museum now through May 31. His final exhibition titled These are a Few of My Favorite Things will examine our compulsion to collect. It will include cabinets of curiosities, knick-knacks and creative tableaus from local artists, designers and the public-at-large in an exhibition that illustrates how we’re all equally passionate and obsessive about the things we love and choose to live with. It will be on display from July 19-October 4, 2014.
If you love ceramics, you will love visiting ASU Art Museum Ceramics Center & Brickyard Gallery. If you have a more traditional view of what ceramic art entails, you will be astonished at all the many incredible forms in takes. I really believe that everyone will find something to love among the many beautiful pieces on display. The ASU Art Museum Ceramics Center & Brickyard Gallery is located on the northwest corner of 10th Street and Mill Avenue. Hours are: Tuesday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. (May through August until 5 p.m.); Wednesday–Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://asuartmuseum.asu.edu/ceramicsresearchcenter/ or call 480-965-2787.