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Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008

Community Art

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   Molding clay into containers to carry water or food inspired the initial use of this humble art medium. Yet through the centuries the art of pottery had transcended the functional to become both a decorative and collectible fine art.

  A new exhibit at Villa Terrace displays pieces of Norse Pottery created during a relatively short period of time, from 1903-1913. Designed by a small company in Edgerton, Wis., Norse Pottery began producing singular types of ceramic containers glazed with a unique verdigris finish to resemble "bronzes" referencing stone age, Grecian, and Egyptian models. However, these vases, jars, urns, bowls, candlesticks and jardinires reflect their Scandinavian origins through the Danish immigrants, Thorwald P.A. Samson and Louis Ipsen, who fashioned them.

  The exhibition of this extremely limited production of Samson and Ipsen's Norse pottery inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement is titled "Viking Bronzes to American Arts and Crafts: A Tradition Transplanted." The exhibit, which opens Sept. 24 with a reception from 5:30-8:30 p.m., becomes one of the first extended displays of this art form in nearly 100 years.

  Guest curated by Nicol Knappen, former editor of the Journal of American Art Pottery Association, the majority of the exhibit pieces are loaned from collectors Sheryl Samuelson and John Danis. These shapely vessels incised with Scandinavian ornamentation combine black glazes and antique green oil finishes to compose stunning examples of this exclusive Norse Pottery. Footed Fern Dish, with applied handles in the shape of dragons, features feet shaped as animal heads and geometric designs adorning the sensual circular shape.

  Two special events speak to the history of Norse Pottery and the contributions of Samson and Ipsen. On Oct. 12, 2-3 p.m., collector Sheryl Samuelson hosts a visual presentation on the exhibit. On Oct. 26, 2-3 p.m., Knappen gives a gallery talk on "European Elements of American Art Pottery" to enlighten the public on this peculiar niche of ceramic art.

  This weekend IN:SITE, an organization dedicated to promoting and creating public art, stages its fall installation. Two pieces will be on display in the Sherman Park neighborhood; one by Bridget Frances Quinn and another by Kamryn K. Boelk with special participation from the community in constructing the artwork. An additional piece by Eriks Johnson continues the IN:SITE commitment to beautifying the North Avenue Gateway with a 60-foot wall-painting.

  The opening reception takes place on Saturday, Sept. 27, at the Sherman Park Community Association (3526 W. Fond du Lac Ave.). Meet the artists from 1:30-2:30 p.m. before traveling to the installation sites at 3 p.m. Johnson speaks at 3901W. North Ave. and Quinn hosts a discussion at the Sherman Perk Coffee Shop (4924 W. Roosevelt Drive).