Sunday, July 02, 2000

Jazz Bowl finds home in Cleveland

$121,000 piece bought at auction

By Owen Findsen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Cleveland Museum of Art is crowing over the acquisition of the Jazz Bowl, “an internationally significant ceramic work” that was acquired at a Cincinnati auction in early June for a record price of $121,000. It is one of the highest prices ever paid for American Art Pottery.

        The Jazz Bowl, an Art Deco punch bowl in deep blue and white, was created in 1930 at the Cowan Pottery in Rocky River, Ohio, near Cleveland, by Viktor Schreckengost, “a very important American ceramic artist,” according to Riley Humler at Cincinnati Art Galleries.

        The first Jazz Bowl was designed for Eleanor Roosevelt to celebrate husband Franklin's election to the governorship of New York. Fewer than 50 copies of the the bowl were made, and only a dozen are known to exist.

        The Cleveland Museum had the winning bid at Cincinnati Art Galleries' Keramics 2000 auction, one of four ceramics auctions held in Cincinnati, June 2-4. The three auctions held by Cincinnati Art Galleries and Treadway Gallery's Rookwood Pottery auction the same weekend totaled more than $2 million in sales.

        The Cleveland Museum was eager to acquire the Jazz Bowl so it could be featured in their exhibition Viktor Schreckengost and 20th Century Design, Nov. 12-Feb 4. Mr. Schreckengost, 94, lives in Cleveland.

        Jazz Bowls were produced in two sizes. In 1993 a small version was sold by Cincinnati Art Galleries to the Fogg Museum at Harvard for a relatively modest $15,000, but because the Cleveland Museum was eager to have the bowl for its retrospective exhibition, and because there was competition for the bowl, the bidding was lively, Mr. Humler said. The $121,000 price includes a 10 percent buyer's premium.

        The Jazz Bowl, a major example of Art Deco art, was designed by Mr. Schreckengost after a visit to New York. It features jazzy, cubist images inspired by Times Square, Radio City Music Hall and the Cotton Club. The word “Jazz” is seen on a drumhead on the bowl. It measures 161/4 inches in diameter and is 111/4 inches high.

        Although all Jazz Bowls feature the same design, there are variations from one bowl to another and only a few are signed.

        Although it is one of the highest prices paid at action for American ceramics, it is not a record. The record is $198,000 paid for a Rookwood Pottery vase by Kataro Shirayamadani at Cincinnati Art Galleries' auction of the Glover Collection in 1991.

        Colorful question: Was it green or was it brown? That was the question facing the restorers of the Tyler Davidson Fountain. Before the restoration, which was completed this spring, the fountain had a green wax coating to simulate the patina of aged bronze. But new bronze is brown. Did the original makers intend for the fountain to be brown, or did they apply chemicals to accelerate a green patina?

        Which color did Cincinnatians see at the dedication of the fountain in 1872? Restorers found the answer in the only known color lithograph of the fountain, printed by Ehrgott and Krebs shortly after the fountain's dedication. The print shows the fountain as golden brown, and restorers took their clue from that.

        Seen from the south, where the Westin Hotel is now, the print shows wagons along Fifth Street, people strolling on the Square and all of the buildings on the north side of Fountain Square between Vine and Walnut. The print also showed restorers the original pattern of the water spray.

        The 1872 lithograph been reprinted. Cincinnati City Council member Jim Tarbell published the print with the Westerman Printing Co. to celebrate the restoration of the fountain on May 6. It was published in the Enquirer's Weekend section on May 5.

        The print, which measures 21 by 30 inches, is available at the Ohio Bookstore, 726 Main St., downtown; Joseph-Beth Book Sellers, Rookwood Pavilion, Norwood; Fabulous Frames, Fountain Square Plaza, 10817 Montgomery Road and the Northgate Shopping Center. There are two editions, an unlimited edition at $25, and a limited edition on archival paper at $50. For information call 621-5142.

        Filling the walls: New buildings mean new walls to fill, and the University of Cincinnati is filling the walls of the new Kingsgate Conference Center with art.

        Paintings from the University of Cincinnati collection, and works by Cincinnati artists, are displayed at the Conference Center, on the UC medical campus, 121 Goodman Drive, Corryville.

        Previously empty walls in halls and corridors are being used as exhibition space. The main and sixth floors of the Conference Center now has paintings by L.H. Meakin, Herman Wessel and James Roy Hopkins, all early 20th-century Cincinnati artists, and a dramatic painting of Cossacks on horseback by Russian artist Evgeny Lanceray.

        In the fall, a call to artists will be mailed to request regional artists to submit work to be shown in the first of a series of local art shows on the fourth floor of the center. An outdoor roof terrace on the sixth floor will be used for displays of sculpture by regional artists.

        “The Conference Center is used for meetings and training sessions of people from every college of the University and throughout the community,” U.C. curator Anne Timpano said. For more information or to request a prospectus for future exhibitions, call Ms. Timpano at 556-3210.

        Through the back door: What with road work in Eden Park, getting to the Cincinnati Art Museum is a task this summer, and once you've arrived, you'll find the front door closed.

        Don't leave. The Art Museum is open for business, but the only entrance is the DeWitt Entrance at the back of the museum.

        The Art Museum lobby and bookstore are undergoing an extensive renovation, including new lighting, new information and admission desks and a new color scheme.

        The lobby is important to the museum not only for its function but because it was designed in 1908 by Daniel Burnham and Sons, Chicago, one of the most important turn-of-the-century architectural firms. In a way the lobby is more than a lobby, it is part of the museum's permanent collection.

        The renovation is in preparation for the installation, in June 2001, of a spectacular new addition to the CAM collection, a large chandelier by contemporary glass artist Dale Chihuly. Titled Rio delle Torreselle Chandelier, it is a hanging cluster of cobalt blue glass spheres that were created for installation in Venice. If you've been to the Columbus Museum of Art in the past six months, you've seen this work almost filling a gallery.

        The Chihuly chandelier will be part of the exhibition Treasures for a Queen, A Millennium Gift to Cincinnati.

        Owen Findsen is Enquirer art critic. Write him c/o Tempo, The Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202; fax, 768-8330.


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