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The 2013 American Ceramic Circle Symposium in Houston, Texas

Moche, Peru, north coast, Reclining Feline Vessel, 100-800, Ceramic, from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The American Ceramic Circle or the ACC, as it’s often called, is an annual event composed primarily of collectors, museum scholars, auction houses and dealers, all with an academic interest in the variety of pottery and porcelain produced throughout the centuries and across the world. European Furniture & Decorative Arts specialists, Leah Kingman and Stephanie Opolski, had the pleasure of joining me on this occasion.

Each year the symposium takes place in a different city with a host museum, and visits to local collections and other institutions with a concentration in fine ceramics complement lectures from nationally and internationally recognized experts. This year, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston hosted the event from October 31st through November 3rd. 115 professionals from 17 states as well as Australia, Canada, England, Germany and the Netherlands attended the symposium.

The lectures included:

  • Maureen Cassidy-Geiger, an independent scholar, who spoke on Porcelain Figures in the Royal Court Pantries in Dresden, Warsaw and Hubertusburg: A Crash-Cource in the Hof-Conditorei Inventories Taken Ahead of the Seven Years War.
  • Christine Gervais, Associate Curator for Decorative Arts and Rienzi at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, speaking on Porcelain Rarities from the Rienzi Collection.
  • Leslie Grigsby, Winterthur’s Senior Curator of Ceramics and Glass, speaking on Uncorked! Wine, Objects and Tradition.
  • Eveline Holsappel, Curator Applied Art and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem (The Netherlands), speaking on T.A.C. Colenbrander: Uncompromising Innovator of Dutch Ceramics.
  • Angela Howard, dealer and director of Heirlooms & Howard Ltd. Speaking on Pitt, Politics and Porcelain: A Portrait of an Eighteenth Century Family.
  • Margaret Connors McQuade, Assistant Director and Curator of Decorative Arts of The Hispanic Society of America, speaking on The Famous Mexican Potters of Colonial Puebla.
  • Scott Ruby, Associate Curator of Russian and Eastern European Art at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington, D.C., speaking on Elegance in a Cold Climate: Russian Porcelain Treasures of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.
  • Jenni Sorkin Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, speaking on Ceramics at Black Mountain College 1952.
  • Cindi Strauss, Assistant Director, Programming and Curator for Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Design at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, speaking on New Frontiers: Ceramics as Art Installations.

In addition to attending this diverse group of lectures, we took trips to see several private collections featuring English pottery and porcelain, Chinese export porcelains, Pronk wares, and contemporary ceramics.  We also toured the world famous collections of European decorative arts at Rienzi, and American decorative arts at Bayou Bend, the former home of prominent Houstonian Ima Hogg.  Both are now house museums at the conference’s host museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.  American Adversaries: West and Copley in the Transatlantic World, and Koloman Moser: Designing Modern Vienna, 1897-1907, are among the exhibitions currently showing at the main campus, which features impressive collections of fine art from around the world.

We saw many wonderful items at these exhibits, and the vessel pictured above caught my attention, less for its historical significance, and far more for its eye appeal and humor.

The symposium made for a wonderful experience complete with camaraderie and the sharing of a wealth and expanse of knowledge. Next fall, we’re headed to Toronto.

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