Tile Heritage-ENEWS

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Here’s What’s Below:

Tiles of the Northern Plains: A Review

Lecture in Berkeley on California Tiles, October 26th

TCAA Tours with Tile Heritage

Beauty from Fire: A Tile Exhibition in Germany

New Publication Features Art Nouveau Tiles

Virtual Walking Tour of The Alhambra!

Tiles of the Northern Plains: A Review

Our warmest thanks to all who joined us in Minnesota for "Tiles of the Northern Plains," September 13-17, 2006, to commemorate the fourth anniversary of "Tiles in the Twin Cities" and the Handmade Tile Association's fifth annual festival in Minneapolis. These were great days and we were blessed with sunny, warm weather to enjoy the fruits of Karin Kraemer's prodigious mapping efforts in Duluth - so many interesting and diverse sites. It was especially fun for us to share Glensheen's tile bounty and Michelle Lee's fondness for everything Nemadji! The gallery tile events where we could view and purchase work by local artisans were an added attraction, and Dennis Gonsolus' cast iron stove collection, staggering.

The reception for the "One Square Foot" juried tile show, hosted by Clay Squared to Infinity, was a great way to meld into the Minneapolis phase of the conference. The lectures on Friday, where the space was graciously provided by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, were a highlight - especially with David Dahlquist's inspiring talk on the importance of public art installations. We also wish to acknowledge Ken Forster, Jennifer Olivarez and Sabra Waldfogel for their excellent presentations.

Friday evening at the Holiday Inn was delicious! Our keynote address from Eric Astrachan was engaging and timely, providing everyone with a better understanding of the current decorative tile marketplace. Of course having Eric come as the keynote speaker involved a bit of subterfuge on our part! We wanted him there to receive the Tile Heritage Award for his work in protecting, preserving and validating ceramic surfaces, old and new—bringing tiles and tile art further into the public consciousness. He appeared delighted with his "Oscar" and we were honored to present it to him. The ceramic statue was designed by the late Don Schreckengost for Summitville Tiles and was donated by Summitville’s president, David Johnson, for this occasion.

The Tile Festival on Saturday presented by the Handmade Tile Association at the American Swedish Institute was a grand success. The Institute is one of America's Castles, housing a fine collection of tile stoves and archives recording the history of Swedish immigrants in the region. The food was terrific and tile sales were brisk and breezy on a warm fall day for the 700 plus people who attended and purchased from the abundance of tile art presented by members of the Handmade Tile Association and other tile artisans from the surrounding states.

The conference culminated on Sunday with a well-organized and lively contemporary mosaic tour in the Twin Cities led by Merribeth O'Keefe. The one historic site, the chapel at the Lakewood Cemetery, was a favorite! Programs of this kind would not be affordable without the generous financial support from our sponsors. A Tile Heritage Salute is extended to Arizona Tile, Coverings, the Meredith Collection, the Tile Council of North America, and one anonymous donor for underwriting the conference. Additional assistance came from Continental Clay, Duluth Preservation Alliance, Fantasia, Jeff Heller, and Manitou Arts in Michigan. Behind the scenes, for the twelve months prior, many people were involved creating this program, and we would like to thank them all. Our special thanks to Josh Blanc for his boundless energy in organizing and promoting the event—awesome!

California Tiles:
Arts & Crafts Principles Revive the Golden Era

Riley Doty, Bay Area tile historian, and Joe Taylor, president and cofounder of the Tile Heritage Foundation, will be speaking at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar Street in Berkeley on the evening of Thursday, October 26th. The event is being presented by Artistic License, a group of professional period revival artisans serving the San Francisco Bay Area.

Much has been written of late concerning the "Golden Era"of tile production, 1910 to 1940, a period of unsurpassed innovation and creativity throughout the state. Historians Riley Doty and Joe Taylor postulate that a second and comparable golden era is currently underway, having taken root in the 1960s in response to a decade or more of aesthetic stagnation, and coming to full bloom in the last ten years. Prepare yourself for a lively and informative discussion prompted by images of significant installations from the Middle Ages to the present day and a selection of art tiles, both contemporary and historic, to enhance this hands-on experience.

TCAA Tours San Francisco’s Marina District

The Tile Contractors’ Association of America held its annual convention in San Francisco, September 30th to October 4th, and invited Tile Heritage to lead a tour of historic tile installations through the city’s famed Marina District. Tile historian Riley Doty, who initially mapped out the walking tour for the Tile Heritage symposium in 1994, was on hand to escort the group of some 30 contractors and their families.

The Marina District was built on the site of the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition, and the tour began at architect Bernard Maybeck’s magnificent Palace of Fine Arts. The 1920s period was the high point in the use of artistic tiles in California, and the Marina was developed as a residential neighborhood during that decade. No other area in San Francisco offers so many decorative tile installations in such close proximity.

Two types of installations predominate: stair risers for single-family and duplex homes, and outside foyers of apartment buildings. Also there are decorative tiles and groups of tiles set into some of the stucco facades.

One company, Solon & Schemmel of San Jose, dominated the high-end market in San Francisco. S&S did not distribute its tiles nationally, confining itself to the Northern California marketplace. In addition to S&S the Marina contains tiles from several other manufacturers, primarily from California: Batchelder, California Art Tile, California Faience, Gladding, McBean, Malibu, Muresque, Stonelight, Taylor, Tudor, and Woolenius, among others.

Beauty from Fire: European Tiles from Eight Centuries

An exhibition at Museum fuer Kunst und Kulturgeschichte in Dortmund, Germany August 12 to October 29, 2006

In 1903 the Museum fuer Kunst und Kulturgeschichte (museum for art and cultural history) in Dortmund, Germany, acquired an outstanding collection of around 600 tiles from the Swiss archaeologist, art historian and collector Dr. Robert Forrer. It is now the center of a much bigger collection of tiles which the museum has acquired since its founding in 1883.

Based on his own collection Robert Forrer had written Geschichte der europäischen Fliesen-Keramik (history of ceramic tiles in Europe from the Middle Ages until 1900), Strasbourg/France 1901, which remained an essential publication on the subject for a long time. The acquisition by the Museum fuer Kunst und Kulturgeschichte was never published. Therefore in the world of ceramic research this unique collection was thought to be lost. An exhibition accompanied by a catalogue now brings it to light again.

The exhibition presents a selection of around 300 tiles showing the most important and most beautiful pieces from Forrer’s former collection. The earliest pieces in the exhibition are relief floor tiles from the church of Ste. Foy in Séléstat, Alsace/France. They date from the middle of the 12th century and are among the earliest tiles surviving from the Middle Ages. A great number of richly decorated inlaid and relief floor tiles come from medieval churches, monasteries and castles in France, England, Belgium and Germany. Colorfully glazed tiles from the 14th century onwards represent the rich ceramic tradition of southern Spain. Also part of the Spanish tradition are Catalan tiles, painted in blue, and heavy ceiling tiles, dating from the 14th to the 16th century. Majolica tiles from Italy and France demonstrate the highly elaborate art of tile in the Renaissance. They once decorated floors and walls in churches, private chapels and representative secular rooms. Highlight of the exhibition is a series of majolica floor tiles that was commissioned by the French Duke Anne de Montmorency for his newly built château d’Écouen near Paris from the potter Masséot Abaquesne of Rouen around 1540-50. Today, being the museum of the French Renaissance, the château d’Écouen was once lavishly decorated with around 20.000 floors tiles many of which are now lost. Dutch tiles of the 17th and 18th century and their influence on the production of other European countries round off the exhibition along with some fine industrially produced pieces from the 19th century.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog (in German) that relates the history of European ceramic tiles and lists all 600 pieces from the Forrer collection:

Gabriele Koller
Schoenheit aus dem Feuer
Fliesenkunst aus acht Jahrhunderten
Deutscher Kunstverlag Munich, Berlin 2006
128 pages, more than 200 color illustrations.
Price: 19,90 euro

The catalog is available from Museum fuer Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Dortmund Hansastrasse 3, 44137 Dortmund, Germany mkk@stadtdo.de or from Buckland Books buckland.books@tiscali.co.uk

                                                      New Publication Features Art Nouveau Tiles

Carl Sigmund Luber:
His Life and Work as Artist for the Art Nouveau Ceramics
of Johann von Schwarz, 1896-1906

The fascinating Art Nouveau ceramics produced by the Nuremberg company Johann von Schwarz, coveted worldwide, are documented here for the first time. 548 objects are displayed in their full glory, and 1187 designs are listed in the registry of works.

Until recently, the name of the company’s designer, Carl Sigmund Luber, was known, but next to nothing was known about the man himself. Through contact with his grandchildren, however, he has been rediscovered. This book, written by longtime Tile Heritage member Wolfgang König and Rudolf Weichselbaum, describes a unique artistic personality of Art Nouveau.

In her Foreword to the book, Suzanne Perrault astutely points out what sets Luber’s work apart from other artists of the period, namely the use of two separate decorating techniques on individual dust-pressed tiles: while bright, opaque majolica glazes fill most of the cloisons, the faces and hands of the lovely Pre-Raphaelite ladies, the hallmark of Luber’s work, are left for the artist to paint by hand, resulting in the haunting allure that makes these objects nearly irresistible to collectors.

272 pages (hard cover) in full color with 600 illustrations. Price: $75.

Books are in stock at Tile Heritage, ready for immediate shipment.

How About a Walk Through The Alhambra?


Special thanks to friend Chere Mah for informing us of this incredible opportunity!

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