Since coming on as director of the Art Students League of Denver (200 Grant Street, 303-778-6990), Leona Lazar has been on a campaign to expand and diversify the art school's programs beyond its mainstay of painting classes. One of the new programs is ceramics. "Last summer, we became very serious about starting a clay program," says Lazar. "But the equipment costs big bucks, which we don't have." Well-known ceramic artists Barry Rose and Peter Durst came to the rescue by soliciting for donations of wheels, kilns and just about everything else. Durst also secured a grant to cover operating expenses for two years from his family's Durst Foundation.
To inaugurate the new department, ASLD is presenting its first invitational exhibition, Clay + Clay +, which is crowded with pieces by some of the most respected names in contemporary ceramics in the region. There are numerous standouts. Inside the front door is a spectacular, monumental vessel in a sumptuous turquoise glaze by the world-famous potter Nan McKinnell. Opposite is a marvelous two-part composition in celadon by Mary Cay, and a fanatically elaborate piece by Jim Lorio. Ahead is "Red Nike," by Martha Daniels, a winged, headless figure previously seen in her solo show at the William Havu Gallery. Upstairs, there's a very cool Judith Cohn stacked stile and an elegant Rodger Lang double-gourd vase. Doug Fey and Blair Meerfeld contributed choice pieces, along with a raft of others.
Organized by Rose and Durst, the show also includes some of their work. Rose's "A Little Boat on the Sea," a groovy abstract wall plaque, is seen above. Although the show is admittedly unfocused and incoherent, this is still one of the best ceramic group exhibitions to be presented in over a year.