Friday, September 12, 2008

Karen Karnes: Pottery For The Ages

Karen Karnes, Casseroles, Doug Hill photograph. Photo from Craft In America.

I never know where I might pick up additional information to store inside my head. Often, great information that makes me good money comes from people asking my opinion on something I’m not very familiar with. Once I research it, I find that it is another name I should add to my list of things to search for.

This happened to me just the other day when Mary C., a member of the 31 Club asked if I could help her with some Karen Karnes pottery she might want to sell it the price was right. Well, I wasn’t familiar with Karen Karnes, so I headed to the Internet. Yeehaa! There in front of me was more information about this pottery than I really needed. Her work is marked with a very distinctive mark of two capital “K’s” back to back, similar to the Rookwood “R’s”.

I will share here Biography with you, from Craft In America.

"Karen Karnes (b. 1925) is a ceramic artist heralding from New York (Brooklyn, to be exact) who uses salt glazing and wood firing in her work. It has been said that Karen is the "grandmother of American ceramics," having been influenced at the prestigious, but short-lived Black Mountain College by renowned avant-garde artists like Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, and Peter Voulkos.

Her work, though traditional in material, always retains a modern approach, whether it's a functional pot or an expressive sculptural vessel. She attended Brooklyn College and Alfred University in New York. She has worked at Black Mountain College and Gatehill College in Stony Point, NY. The list of her exhibitions is extensive and her work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design, Cranbrook Museum of Art, Everson Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others."

As you can see she has a rather extensive background and will be an artist I'll be looking for from now on. I hope to see these pots in the 31 Gallery & Marketplace soon. So, be on the lookout for her work. Most dealers won't recognize it, and the price at your next estate sale for one of her pieces might be as low as $5.00.

This just goes to show that even contemporary items can be treasures, but the secret is to find the right ones. I can assure you that I have passed by a fortune by not spending more time researching the artists of today, both on canvass and in pottery. As you can see, I am trying to get up to speed. As I do, I will pass it on to our members.


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