Art in Town

Art On Campus

Other Galleries

Art in the Workplace

To the North

Art In Trenton

Art by the River

Other Museums

Corrections or additions?

This article by Angela Capio was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

September 30, 1998. All rights reserved.

At Home With Toshiko

In the 1940s Toshiko Takaezu began working with clay

in a commercial studio in Hawaii, using a mold to make platters,


and other decorative things. "As I got older, I got bigger,"

she now says jokingly, referring, of course, to the scale of her


innovative clay creations.

A leader in modern ceramics with a career that spans over six decades,

Takaezu has moved into a realm far beyond teapots and platters. You

wouldn’t call her work simply pretty or decorative. And what could

you do with a large, ceramic cylinder, which stands 66 inches tall

and weighs almost 200 pounds? You wouldn’t dare do it alone.

A career-long retrospective exhibition, including some of towering,

monumental vessels, is currently on view at the Hunterdon Museum of

Art in Clinton. Titled "Toshiko Takaezu: At Home," the show

opened in August and continues through October 11. Takaezu gives a

lecture at the museum on Sunday October 4, at 3 p.m. (tickets $10).

And the show culminates with a guided tour of the artist’s Quakertown

studio, with demonstration and lunch, on Sunday, October 11, at 11:30

a.m. (tickets $40). Proceeds benefit the Hunterdon Museum.

The exhibit, which fills the three-story Hunterdon galleries, features

a diverse body of work: tiny, bird-like spouted teapots, colorful,

acorn-shaped pieces, even tapestries that date from the 1950s. But

the large-scale works on the first floor gallery, the first thing

one sees upon entering the Hunterdon, introduce the show. And they

have come to represent Takaezu’s signature as an artist.

These tall cylinders, each about five-and-a-half-feet tall and


top heavy, are carefully positioned so that, from a certain spot in

the room, just beyond the entrance, all are simultaneously visible.

A large white, glazed piece stands next to an almost completely black

vessel. Some of the cylinders look as if they bear messages in black

ink, like calligraphic writing. Many have an Asian feel. Touching

them, they all feel solid and cool, but some are glazed and smooth,

while others feel layered and rough.

Many of Takaezu’s ceramic pieces are unnamed, but these works, part

of her "Star Constellations" series, have names that come

from the astronomical lore of the Egyptians and from a little-known

West African people, the Dogon. The white piece is named


the Egyptian word for Sirius, the brightest star in the sky; the


one is "Po Tolo," its invisible companion. One of the pieces

with calligraphic markings is "Unas," named for the Egyptian

pyramid that contained the oldest known writing.

One can’t help but wonder how Takaezu (pronounced


a slim woman, barely over five feet tall, makes these huge forms.

And those outside the world of ceramics may wonder: why is a


pottery sphere such a major innovation? How does one get from simple

clay platters to awesome cylinders with names that conjure up


planets and distant suns?

Born in Hawaii in 1922, to Japanese immigrant parents, Takaezu moved

from working at a commercial studio at age 18 to study clay at the

University of Hawaii under Claude Horan. In 1951 she came to the


States to continue her studies at the Cranbrook Academy in Michigan,

where she met Maija Grotell, who became a dear friend and mentor.

"At the University of Hawaii, I learned technique. Cranbrook was

where I found myself," says Takaezu. "It was through Maija

that I learned you had to find out who you are. I think she knew more

about what I would do than I did. Things which I never at the time

realized were possible."

In her search for herself, Takaezu was led to Japan, the country of

her parents, for the first time at age 33, where she immersed herself

in Zen Buddhism and met with traditional Japanese folk potters. When

she returned from Japan, Takaezu accepted a position as head of the

ceramic department at the Cleveland Institute of Art. In 1964, a


of awards and grants led her to take a hiatus from teaching and set

up a private studio in New Jersey, where she has lived ever since.

In fact it was the waterfall outside the Hunterdon Museum that


Takaezu’s move to New Jersey, and it was love at first sight.


friends there in the early 1960s, she first spotted this landmark

on Clinton’s main street — then and there, Takaezu decided to

set up a private studio in Quakertown, where she has lived ever since.

Having fallen in love with Hunterdon County, Takaezu decided not to

return to the Cleveland Institute of Art (where two people were hired

to replace here), and instead accepted a position at Princeton


where she taught ceramics for 25 years, before her retirement in 1992.

A need to work has driven Takaezu throughout her career, and she has

never married. "I don’t understand how people can say that they

don’t have enough to do. I don’t have enough time to do all the things

that I want to do," she says. "When I’m not working I feel

that something is missing."

Since Takaezu’s retirement from Princeton, she says she has been


than ever. She keeps in touch with some of her students, and now has

the requisite time to devote to her own art. With several traveling

exhibitions over the past few years, her work has been shown abroad,

in several venues in Japan, and nationally, at sites in Oklahoma,

Florida, Arkansas, and New York.

"Toshiko Takaezu: At Home" is her latest one-artist


And as with most good titles, this one fits in a variety of different

ways: the pieces seem particularly at home in this setting; Takaezu’s

home is literally 10 minutes away; and Takaezu has worked closely

with the Hunterdon Museum of Art for over 20 years.

Outside the museum, beside the cascading waterfall,

hangs a bell that the artist completed in 1996. Cast in bronze, it

seems as ethereal as her ceramic works, and like many of her pieces,

it looks as if it is dripping with glaze. When the wind blows, it

sways. Toshiko, who has said that sometimes she hears music when she

spins clay, has always been intrigued by the relationship between

sound and form. When knocked upon, the bronze bell resonates nicely.

Museum director Marjorie Frankel Nathanson, and exhibition curator

Sandy Grotta agree that the Hunterdon site suits Takaezu’s sculpture

particularly well. "You can really judge an artist when you see

the range and scope of the work placed in a large venue like


says Nathanson, who planned the exhibition over the course of a year.

"Some artists’ work may seem strong on its own, but doesn’t hold

up in a big exhibit. You can really see how rich and strong the body

of Toshiko’s work is here."

Proceeds from the sale of the pieces (which have been brisk throughout

the span of the show) will support the exhibition and education


at the Hunterdon. Prices for the works range from $150 to $200,000

— the latter price of her amazing "Tree Man Forest," a

series of abstract, ceramic trees that stand on a carpet of little

gray rocks.

"These works should stay here forever," says Grotta, exhibit

curator and friend to Takaezu for over 25 years. "At Home"

is actually Takaezu’s second exhibition at the museum. It was at her

first show, in 1973, that she and Grotta met. Now Grotta is relieved

to see the pieces moved from studio storage to a place where they

can be widely appreciated.

Grotta also offers a fresh perspective on her friend’s art.


is really a painter, only she paints on ceramics," she says.

The way in which the colors fall across these clay surfaces gives

each work its unique character. Takaezu, who has always regarded clay

as a sentient entity, explains that she steps back somewhat during

the coloring process, letting the work take on its own personality

in the heat of the kiln.

"The pieces shrink about 15 percent in the kiln," she says

"You don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out. The colors

run, and I’m very often surprised at what the piece looks like."

No single part of the process is more important than any other,


Takaezu. It is perhaps her studies in Buddhism that have led her to

see life as an organic whole, and each step of her work in clay as

equally significant. A New Jersey Network video documentary,


Takaezu: Portrait of an Artist" is included in the exhibition.

"Growing my potatoes or tending to my garden isn’t any more


to me than making my pottery," we hear her say on video. Speaking

with her in person, this same philosophy comes across.

"Work is the solution to a lot of things. It gives you the answers

that you need and you want and you think you should have," says

Takaezu. "Sometimes it’s technical, you solve a technical problem.

Sometimes you figure out why you’re making the piece."

Takaezu says she started making the large vessels as a challenge,

to see if she could do it. In 1980, she had a large kiln specially

designed by Dick Hay of Indiana State University. With the help of

strong (male) assistants, Toshiko, perched high on scaffolding, shaped

the clay, while someone below operated the pedal of the wheel.

Takaezu may have been the first potter to ever successfully close

off a pot. She had never seen one before she succeeded. With this

creation, a vessel without an opening — which looks like a large

acorn — Toshiko significantly influenced the world of modern


The closed form has come to imply singular strength in a


container. It has been described as inner strength and outer quiet,

a style that Toshiko, in her search for herself through the process

of working, has created.

Now, at age 76, Takaezu says that big is not where she needs to go.

"I think it’s time to say this is enough," but this does not

mean that she has stopped working. Returning to Grotta’s description

of the artist as a painter of ceramics, Takaezu says she now wants

to paint more, and to travel. Her next stop is Reykjavik, Iceland,

where she will have a small exhibition.

— Angela Capio

Toshiko Takaezu: At Home, Hunterdon Museum of Art,


908-735-8415. Toshiko Takaezu gives a lecture at the museum, Sunday

October 4, at 3 p.m. ; tickets $10. On Sunday, October 11, at

11:30 a.m., Takaezu gives a tour of her studio, with demonstration,

and lunch; tickets $40. The exhibit is on view through October 11.

Top Of Page
Art in Town

Chapin School, 4101 Princeton Pike, 609-924-7206. Images

in fabric by Canadian artist Patricia Carely, to October 6. Call to

view during school hours.

DeLann Gallery, Princeton Meadows Shopping Center,


609-799-6706. Group show featuring oils by Izyaslav Kligman, Larry

Chestnut, and Michael Barber; acrylics by Sidney Neuwirth; prints

by Michael Teters; and sculpture by Milt Liebson. To November 20.

Hours are Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.

to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Firebird Gallery, 15 Witherspoon, 609-688-0775. The

children’s folklore and fantasy gallery features original works by

Russian-born illustrator Gennady Spirin. Gallery hours are Tuesday

to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Gratella Gallery at the Forrestal, 100 College Road East,

609-452-7800. "Lyricism," Allan Hill’s exhibition of abstract

paintings, inspired by nature-derived imagery, to October 30.

"Art occurs in the process," says Hill. "In my direct

approach to painting, this process relies upon chaos and chance to

provide many options for discoveries which leads to a greater


of a more immediate, personal statement."

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158

Nassau, 609-921-6748. "Practical Photographers: The Rose Family

Studio," images from the collection of 10,000 glass plate


The Rose Studio was founded in Princeton in 1873 by Royal Hill Rose

whose commercial photography studio stood on Nassau Street through

three generations of family owners, until its closing in 1951. Museum

hours are Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Through February.

Medical Center at Princeton, Witherspoon Street,


Michael Bergman’s photographs of ancient sculptures in the collection

of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Sales benefit the Medical Center.

To November 19.

At the Merwick Unit, Bayard Lane: Oils and watercolors by Betty Offt

Dickson. For 15 years, she illustrated advertisements for Lord &


To December 10. Both exhibits open daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Princeton Jewish Center, 435 Nassau Street, 609-921-0100.

"The Eden Series," new paintings by Gilda K. Aronovic that

aim to portray the special realm of the garden in all its splendor

and particularity. The artist’s work has been in shows at the


Gallery at Princeton University, at Bristol-Myers Squibb, and the

Trenton City Museum. To November 15.

Williams Gallery, 8 Chambers Street, 609-921-1142.


and still-life oil paintings by Robin Gary Wood, a Paris-trained,

widely traveled artist. To October 3.

"In the art that touches me, there is a quality of spiritual


says Wood. "From the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux, the

African and Egyptian experience, to early Christian art, I see this

same quality. I attempt to relfect this in my work, whatever the


or subject." Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m.

to 5 p.m., and by appointment.

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Art On Campus

Art Museum, Princeton University, 609-258-3788. "What

Photographs Look Like," a study show, to October 18. The permanent

collection features a strong representation of Western European


old master prints, and original photographs. Collections of Chinese,

Pre-Columbian Mayan, and African art are considered among the museum’s

most impressive. Not housed in the museum but part of the collection

is the John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Collection of 20th-century outdoor

sculpture, with works by such modern masters as Henry Moore, Alexander

Calder, Pablo Picasso, and George Segal located throughout the campus.

Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday from

1 to 5 p.m. Tours every Saturday at 2 p.m.

Rider University Art Gallery, Lawrenceville, 609-895-5588.

"Russian Fiber Art," a traveling exhibition of work by


Russian textile artists Natasha Muradova, Ludmila Uspenskaya, and

Ludmila Aristova curated by Princeton artist Joy Saville. The artists

will also talk part in a panel discussion in the gallery on Thursday,

October 8, at 7:30 p.m. Show continues to October 25. Free.

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Other Galleries

Firehouse Gallery, 8 Walnut Street, Bordentown,


"Big Show of Small Work," a show of art miniatures. All work

is 8×10 inches for less; sculpture less than 8 inches in any


To October 4. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.;

Wednesday to 9 p.m.; Saturday noon to 4 p.m.

Mariboe Gallery, Peddie School, Hightstown, 609-490-7550.

Expressionist paintings by Kaaren Patterson. To October 16. Gallery

hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ruth Morpeth Gallery, 18 North Main Street, Pennington,

609-737-9313. Recent landscape paintings by Paul Mordetsky and


by Rory Mahon. Mordetsky is an instructor at Princeton Latin Academy,

Mercer County College, and Artworks. To October 3.

"Though my images depict places that I have photographed or drawn,

it is not their existence as real places which interests me,"

says Paul Mordetsky, whose atmospheric landscapes are based on sites

in the Colorado Rockies and Quebec’s Saguenay River region. "It

is rather some quality of silence that I wish to capture in an


often barren, openness where a soul might wander for a time


itself, alone and undisturbed."

Top Of Page
Art in the Workplace

Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Building 2, Lawrenceville,

609-895-7307. "Innovative Imprints and Impressions," an


of electroetch prints by Marion Behr and mesh prints by Margaret K.

Johnson. Behr is a professional printmaker and co-inventor of an


safe method of etching copper and zinc plates. Johnson studied with

Josef Albers at Black Mountain College and is co-author of


Prints Today." To October 23. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday,

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Summit Bancorp Gallery, 301 Carnegie Center at Route 1,

609-799-6706. "Images of the East," a group show by nine


artists featuring Min Chen, Shu Leu, Hiroshi Murata, Teresa Prashad,

Mayumi Sarai, Seow Chu See, Cecilia Sharma, Zhou Yong, and Sonam


Curated by DeLann Gallery, Plainsboro. To November 25. Open daily,

9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Johnson & Johnson World Headquarters Gallery, New


732-524-3698. Sculptures and drawings by Estella Lackey, combining

steel and fabric to create semi-transparent, abstract sculpture. To

October 13. By appointment.

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To the North

East Jersey Olde Towne Village, Middlesex Country Cultural

& Heritage, River Road, Piscataway, 732-745-3030. "New Jersey

Shipwreck and U.S. Lifesaving Service Artifacts," a maritime


exhibit. To December 31. Open Tuesday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:15

p.m.; Sundays 1 to 4 p.m.

Mason Gross School of the Arts, Civic Square Building,

33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-932-7511. "Contemporary

Scottish Artists," an exhibition organized by the Scottish Society

of Artists to exemplify leading directions in British art. Show


large floor pieces, photographic installations, innovative materials,

and video. To October 27. Free.

Also, "Colorprint USA," an invitational show of prints by

53 artists representing all 50 states. Judith K. Brodsky of Princeton

represents New Jersey with "Stella by Starlight." Ends with

a reception, November 6, 3 to 6 p.m. Gallery hours are Monday to


10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, George and Hamilton

streets, New Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "The Art of Selling,"

an exhibit of advertisements for French products from 1874 to 1905

drawn from the museum’s French and Belgian graphic arts collection.

Also "The Art of Giving," recent additions to the Japonism

Collection, to October 25; "Unrealities: Abstraction in


Printmaking," to January 24; and additions to the Children’s


Illustration collection. Museum hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.

to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays and

major holidays.

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Art In Trenton

Ellarslie, Trenton City Museum, Cadwalader Park,


"Invention & Diversity in Textile Art," a 14-artist group

show featuring works by Pamela Becker, Nancy Moore Bess, Suellen


Kerr Grabowski, Nancy Koenigsberg, Patricia Malarcher, Chris Martens,

Joan Pao, Hollie Heller Ramsay, Joy Saville, Robin Schwalb, Betty

Vera, Carol D. Westfall, and Erma Martin Yost. To October 18.

Also, "Potteries: The Story of the Trenton Ceramics Industry,"

from bricks and stoneware to table and art china, from the 18th to

20th centuries. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3

p.m.; Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Grounds for Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton,

609-586-0616. Fall/Winter Exhibition: "Glass: A Group


indoors, with works by Robert Dane, Stephen Knapp, Ron Mehlman, Mary

Shaffer, and Joy Wulke. Ricardo Barros’ portfolio of 36 photographs

of sculptors is featured in the Domestic Arts Building. New additions

outdoors by Fletcher Benton, James Colavita, Tim Holland, Luis


William King, Joel Perlman, Tom Phardel, and Robert Ressler. To


28, 1999.

The 22-acre landscaped sculpture park is on the former state


site, with indoor exhibitions in the glass-walled, 10,000 square foot

museum, and the newly-renovated Domestic Arts Building. Gallery hours

are Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street, Trenton,

609-292-6464. "The African-American Fine Arts Collection,"

an exhibition of painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography

by 60 artists. Beginning with the 1802 portrait by Joshua Johnston,

the collection is distinguished by its broad range of esthetics and

styles. Emma Amos, Benny Andrews, Minnie Evans, Gladys Grauer, Jacob

Lawrence, Hughie Lee-Smith, Gordon Parks, Horace Pippin, Alison Saar,

and James Van der Zee are among the artists represented. To January

3. Free.

This major show includes a symposium on historical frameworks of


cultural expression, "Defining a Self, Creating a Culture,"

that takes place November 7. Call 609-394-5310 to register.

Also "Two Worlds: The Work of Bogdan Grom," a retrospective

of the Slovenian-born American whose career in painting and sculpture

in the United States was linked almost exclusively to architectural

commissions. Guest curator is John DeFazio, architect, Drexel


professor, and author of the monograph "Grom" (Fine Arts


1996). To December 27.

In the Cafe Gallery, paintings by Fay Sciarra and for sale at the

Friends’ shop through October 25. Museum hours are Tuesday to


9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

St. Francis Medical Center, 601 Hamilton Avenue, Trenton,

609-599-5659. "Shuttle-Mir," photographs by Phil McAuliffe,

a New Jersey spaceflight photo-journalist who has visited two


and witnessed over 40 launches. Highlights from the U.S. Space Shuttle

program as well as America’s presence on the Russian Mir space


To November 10. Free.

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Art by the River

Artists’ Gallery, 32 Coryell Street, Lambertville,


Shared show featuring hand-colored photographs by Tracey Minchin and

figurative paintings by Lisa Mahan. Also pastels and figure drawings

from Mahan’s "Sketchbook Series." To October 4. Gallery hours

are Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Howard Mann Art Center, 45 North Main Street,


609-397-2300. Featured from the collection, Marc Chagall color


including the suite of Jerusalem Windows and signed posters. Gallery

hours are Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

69th Annual Phillips’ Mill Exhibition, Phillips’

Mill ,

Solebury, 215-862-0582. Winning top honors in 1998, the $1,000 patrons

award, are Mary Dolan of Princeton, Pat Martin of New Hope, and Peg

Ridgely of Lafayette, Pennsylvania. Jurors are Virginia Connor, Susan

Crowder, Rebecca Hoenig, Stuart Shils, and Barbara J. Zucker.


$3 adults; $2 seniors; $1 students. To November 1. Gallery hours are

Sunday to Friday, 1 to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 1 to 8 p.m.

Top Of Page
Other Museums

James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine Street,


215-340-9800. "A Legacy Preserved: The First Decade of Collecting

at the Michener Art Museum," featuring latest acquisition,


Burning of Center Bridge" by Edward Redfield. Show continues to

March 7, 1999.

"A Legacy Preserved" features some of the most important


acquired in the Michener’s first decade including Daniel Garber’s

mural "A Wooded Watershed," Thomas Hicks’ portrait of Edward

Hicks, and Joseph Pearson’s painting, "The Twins: Virginia and

Jane." Contemporary artists include Selma Bortner, Paul Keene,

and Katharine Steele Renninger.

Also "Sun and Shadow: Sculpture in Stainless Steel, Bronze, and

Aluminum," large outdoor works by New York sculptor Molly Mason,

to March 14, 1999. Also featured, "Creative Bucks County: A


of Art and Artists," an interactive exhibit honoring 12 maverick

Bucks County figures that include Oscar Hammerstein, Pearl Buck, and

Dorothy Parker. Museum hours Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;

Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays. Adults $5;


$1.50; children free.

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