Paul Soldner

The Sandra Phillips Gallery

Last fall, the Sandra Phillips Gallery (744 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5969, www.thesandraphillipsgallery.com) presented a museum-quality show featuring some of Colorado's most important ceramic artists, including Martha Daniels and Paul Soldner.

Before the show opened, Daniels had lunch with Denver Art Museum curator Gwen Chanzit. Daniels — whose own work is in the DAM's permanent collection and was the subject of a solo show there several years ago — mentioned that it was strange that the museum didn't have a work by Soldner, who is world-famous in the field. She added that the Soldners coming to Sandra Phillips were absolutely first-rate.

Chanzit was on board with the idea and got things rolling. And earlier this month, the DAM filled the gaping void by acquiring an important Soldner, "Untitled #23" (pictured), providing a happy ending to this part of the story.

The piece the DAM purchased wasn't one of the sculptures displayed in the Sandra Phillips show last year, but it did come from the same source, David Armstrong. And here it gets even better, because Daniels was rewarded for her efforts, both personally and professionally, in her advocacy for Soldner with the DAM.

Armstrong, you see, is the founder and president of the board of directors of the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California, and, not coincidentally, one of the nation's most significant ceramics collectors. AmoCA's goal is to build a definitive ceramics collection, and it has hundreds of works by Soldner. This surplus is why Armstrong has offered a few Soldners for sale, like the one that's going to the DAM.

A voracious collector, Armstrong used the money from the sale to buy another ceramic sculpture, also via Sandra Phillips: "Red Nike," a monumental figural by Daniels based on the "Winged Victory." Happily, this ended up being that rare situation that worked out for everyone involved.

 
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