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Feat of Clay: Five Decades of Jerry Rothman


October 11, 2003 :: No. 71

Who: Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Gallery & Laguna Art Museum
What: Feat of Clay: Five Decades of Jerry Rothamn
When: Grand Central Art Center
November 2, 2003 – January 11, 2004
Laguna Art Museum:
November 2, 2003 – February 29, 2004
Where: Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Center
125 North Broadway, Santa Ana, CA
Laguna Art Museum
307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA

Grand Central Art Center
Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday–Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m

Laguna Art Museum
Daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Public Opening Reception: 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, 2003

Concurrent public receptions will be held at both venues with a shuttle for visitors between sites.


Grand Central Art Center

Laguna Art Museum
$7 general, $5 seniors and students, children under 12 free.

Admission is free the first Thursday of each month.


The curatorial team of Feat of Clay: Five Decades of Jerry Rothman, including guest curators Susan Peterson and Mike McGee; Tyler Stallings, LAM curator of exhibitions; and Dana Solow, LAM exhibition coordinator, have built this exhibit to present the first retrospective examination of Rothman’s work from his beginnings at Otis in the early 1950s through his present day work.

Part teacher, part sculptor, part potter and all rebel, Rothman has spent the majority of his 50 years making art that challenges and pushes the limits of what he sees as comfortable and mundane. While others were conforming to the sleek, stylized and cold intellectualism of Minimalist art which was emerging as dominant in the 1960s, he sought to infuse his work with a warmth that invoked humanism, challenging the style of the time and questioning the norms of the day.

The fine art ceramics of Rothman is explored through a chronological journey of the various locations where he has worked and been inspired. The "Early Years," covers Rothman's first contact with clay and the explosive innovations that he created while in school. Seen as one of the most important achievements in vessel making during the 1950s and 60s, Rothman's first major series "Sky Pots," are well represented. “Japan 1958-60,” looks at the two-year period Rothman spent in Japan working on commercial and fine art ceramics and exploring the strong traditions of ceramics in Japanese culture. “Paramount" delves into an entrepreneurial and expansive period in his life. With a strong commercial background as well as exceptional artistic skill, Rothman was able to mass-market ceramics to a wider audience. In "Towne Avenue" we see Rothman beginning to attain his mature style. During this period he created the Bauhaus-Baroque pieces for which he has become well known. “Sun Valley Drive, Laguna Beach" shows Rothman continuing to seek challenge and change in his work. In Laguna Beach, Rothman created some of his most prolific work, exploring sculpture with a strong socio-political edge as well as developing several new series including Bay Views, Views from the Deck and a return to Sky Pots.

A mentor by nature, Rothman has affected many people with his ideas and his teaching. Discourse and dialogue are his tools, and with them he has challenged, and in the process changed, minds. In the essay, Maverick Mud included in the book Feat of Clay, Garth Clark best describes Rothman as, “…one of [the] most restless, skeptical and authentic iconoclasts,” in art. At the age of seventy, Rothman is not even close to slowing down or giving in. Still as illusive of being labeled as ever, Rothman continues to sculpt giving the art world one triumphant masterpiece after another.

Organized by Laguna Art Museum and California State University Fullerton Grand Central Art Center, the exhibition at Laguna Art Museum covers work from 1956 to 1997 with Grand Central Art Center exhibiting pieces from 1998 to 2003. It is fitting that these venues host this retrospective Rothman is a longtime resident of Laguna Beach and California State University, Fullerton ceramics professor for 26 years.

A 164-page color book, with an introduction by Garth Clark, has been published in conjunction with the exhibition. The Laguna Beach Festival of Arts Foundation and the City of Laguna Beach provided major support for this exhibit.

About The Book

Feat of Clay: Five Decades of Jerry Rothman, is also the title of the book created in conjunction with the exhibition through the collaboration of the Laguna Art Museum staff, and guest curator Susan Peterson (ISBN: 0-940872-29-3). The 164-page book includes 134 color images, and 150 black and white images as well as three essays exploring various periods of Rothman’s work. The essayists include Garth Clark, cofounder of the Garth Clark Gallery in New York City and author of numerous books on ceramics, such as American Ceramics, 1876 to the Present and A Century of Ceramics in the United States, 1879-1979; Susan Peterson, a guest curator of the exhibition, and author of numerous books, including The Craft and Art of Clay and Contemporary Ceramics; and Mike McGee, a guest curator, facilitator of the California State University Fullerton Grand Central Art Center and professor of art at the California State University Fullerton.

The book has been designed by Jerry Samuelson, Dean of the School of Arts, at California State University Fullerton.

Feat of Clay: Five Decades of Jerry Rothman can be purchased at the Laguna Art Museum Store. For more information about book purchases, please call Laguna Art Museum 949.494.8971 extension 206.

In her essay from the exhibition’s accompanying book, guest curator Susan Peterson comments on how Rothman’s, “…continual questioning [makes] finding answers essential.” He began this quest through his training under the instruction of Peter Voulkos at the Otis Art Institute in the late 1950s. Rothman was an active member of the "Otis Group," which included other well-known California ceramists such as Billy Al Bengston, Ken Price, John Mason, and Paul Soldner. Rothman was an integral member of this group, which ushered in the, "Ceramics Revolution," revitalizing and revolutionizing modern American ceramics.

Related Events:

At Laguna Art Museum

11:00 a.m. Sunday, November 2
Susan Peterson, writer and honorary professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York, will talk about Jerry Rothman and his art that is on view in Feat of Clay: Five Decades of Jerry Rothman, Main Level galleries, November 2, 2003—February 29, 2004. Susan will be available to sign exhibition books following her gallery talk.

11:00 a.m.
Sunday, November 16 Rothman will conduct a gallery talk related to his current exhibition, and in celebration of his 70th birthday, the museum will serve cake following.

11:00 a.m.
Sunday, December 7 Mary MacNaughton, director of Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery and professor of art history at Scripps College since 1985, will present a slide lecture and gallery talk on the exhibition Rebels in Clay: Peter Voulkos and the Otis Group, on view in the Lower Level, October 26, 2003—February 22, 2004

11:00 a.m.
Sunday, February 1 Kigen Ekeson Osho, vice abbott of Rinzai-ji Zen Center in Los Angeles, speaks about how Zen philosophy and aesthetic influenced many of the ceramic artists associated with Peter Voulkos and the Otis School.

Internet Site: www.fullerton.edu/arts/events
General Info: Grand Central Art galleries at 714-567-7233
Media Contacts:

Marilyn Moore, Cal State Fullerton Art Gallery at
Andrea Harris, Grand Central Art Center at
(714) 567-7233
Elizabeth Champion, School of the Arts at

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