Above: Rudy Autio (1926–2007), Animal Fair, 1984. Glazed porcelain, 14 1/2 x 13 x 13 in. Crocker Art Museum, gift of Elaine and Sidney Cohen.

Exhibition: The Elaine and Sidney Cohen Collection of Contemporary Ceramics
Venue: Crocker Art Museum, 216 O Street, Sacramento, CA
Dates: August 5 – November 18, 2018

  • 60 works by 30 acclaimed ceramic artists
  • Exceptional examples of contemporary techniques in clay
  • Brings artists of national importance to Sacramento, many, for the first time

Sacramento, CA - UPDATED August 24, 2018 - The Crocker Art Museum is pleased to announce the August 5, 2018 opening of an extensive exhibition of contemporary ceramics that affords the public a remarkable opportunity to view dozens of works by many of America's best known artists working in clay.

Titled The Elaine and Sidney Cohen Collection of Contemporary Ceramics features approximately 60 works by more than two dozen artists, many of whom extend the traditional boundaries of clay. All of the works in this exhibition have been donated by Elaine and Sidney Cohen of Phoenix, Arizona to the Crocker's permanent collection.

In terms of decoration, examples in the collection range from the bold minimalism of Jun Kaneko and Claude Conover to the figurative exuberance of Rudy Autio and husband-and-wife potters Edwin and Mary Scheier. Some works are expressively raw, like those by Don Reitz and Tim Rowan; others, such as the porcelain works by Tom Rippon and Nobuhito Nishigawara, are elegantly refined.

There are pieces that hint at functionality but are not meant to be used, including a covered jar by Viola Frey and the teapot-based forms of Rick Dillingham and Peter Shire, whereas other works are purely sculptural. Despite these differences, all extend the traditional boundaries of clay, just as the Cohen Collection itself expands the Crocker’s holdings and further reinforces its position as a leader in collecting and exhibiting ceramics.

Elaine and Sidney Cohen began collecting clay pieces early in their marriage, typically as they were hunting for American wood furniture in dusty barns and antiques shops. They were drawn to Red Wing crockery in various sizes, which they intended to use for storage or as table bases. They also liked and collected Bennington spatterware, which was both attractive and functional.

When the Cohens moved from the Chicago suburbs to Phoenix, and eventually to a 1987 Taliesin-designed home with built-in spaces perfect for pottery, they started to acquire the works included in this collection. They had no definite plan to form a collection, but simply purchased work they liked until one day a collection was formed. Over time, they came to know Edwin and Mary Scheier, Rudy Autio, Jun Kaneko, and other ceramists personally, which deepened their appreciation.

Said Crocker Art Museum Associate Director and Chief Curator, Scott A. Shields: "The Cohens decided to gift much of their collection to the Crocker because it expands upon the Museum’s holdings and adds to its strengths. Many of the artists whose work is included in the Cohen collection are represented by multiple pieces, making evident their evolution and breadth of achievement."

Edwin Scheier (1910-2008), Vessel, circa 1999. Glazed stoneware, 22 1/2 x 12 x 12 in. Crocker Art Museum, gift of Elaine and Sidney Cohen.

The collection boasts particularly strong examples by the Scheiers, who are known for finely thrown functional vessels with sgraffito or applied surface decoration. Mary was an expert on the wheel and threw thin-walled pots often inspired by Chinese and Japanese forms; Edwin created colorful glazes, combining them with motifs drawn from folk traditions, the Bible, African and Oceanic art, archaeology, the natural world, and modern painting styles.

Rudy Autio is also represented by multiple pieces, which collectively show his progression from abstraction to figuration. In clay, he influenced countless artists and has been called the “Matisse of Ceramics” because of his colorful figures and animals, which enwrap his biomorphic forms.

Jun Kaneko, who studied with Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, and Jerry Rothman, has since become one of the world’s leading ceramic sculptors. Kaneko came to the United States from his native Japan in 1963. Since 1986, he has been based in Omaha, Nebraska, creating large-scale, hand-built sculptures in clay that are enlivened by glaze abstractions.

Jun Kaneko, (American, born Japan, 1942), Untitled Platter, 1987. Glazed stoneware, 3 x 25 3/4 x 20 3/4 in. Crocker Art Museum, gift of Elaine and Sidney Cohen.

High resolution images of several works in this exhibition are available to press/media upon request. Please email kchristian@crockerart.org

Karen Christian
Media Relations Associate, Crocker Art Museum
(916) 808-1867


The Crocker Art Museum’s mission is to promote an awareness of and enthusiasm for human experience through art.

About the Crocker Art Museum
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums for characteristics of excellence, the Crocker Art Museum features the world’s foremost display of California art and is renowned for its holdings of European master drawings and international ceramics. The Crocker serves as the primary regional resource for the study and appreciation of fine art and holds permanent collections of Californian, European, Asian, African, and Oceanic art, works on paper, ceramics, and photography. The Museum offers a diverse spectrum of exhibitions, events, and programs to augment its collections, including films, concerts, studio classes, lectures, children’s activities, and more. The Museum has also dedicated the historic building’s entire first floor as an education center, which includes four classrooms, space for student and community exhibitions, the Gerald Hansen Library, and Tot Land.

Hours & Admission
Museum hours are 10 AM – 5 PM, Tuesday through Sunday, and 10 AM – 9 PM on Thursdays. General admission is free for Crocker members, adults $10, seniors and college students $8, youth (7-17) $5, and children 6 and under are free. Every third Sunday of the month is "Pay What You Wish Sunday", sponsored by Western Health Advantage.

Location & Parking
The Crocker is located at 216 O Street in downtown Sacramento. The Museum is accessible by Light Rail with stops close by at 8th & O and 8th & K streets. Bike racks are located in Crocker Park, across the street from the Museum’s front door. Ample parking is available within walking distance, including street parking, parking lots, and public garages.

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