E-News Summer/Fall 2010

Crispy Fall Greetings from Sheila & Joe and the staff at Tile Heritage . . . . . .

The THF website has an exciting ‘BRAND NEW’ look!
Tile Heritage Foundation 'on line' and 'in print' publications are supported
by our Industry Sponsors


(Link to past E-News)

Here's What's Below:
Katia Mc Guirk Joins THF Board
Kitchens Flying High in the Tropics
Pratt & Larson Gulf Response Fundraiser
A Tribute to Joe Koons
Ssali Wins Tile Heritage Prize
. . . New Book! Low art Tile: John Gardner Low & the Artists of Boston's Gilded Age

McGuirk Joins THF Board

Having accepted the invitation to serve on the Tile Heritage board of directors, Katia McGuirk loves tiles now more than ever! She currently lives in a tile-encrusted shack in Bucks County, Pennsylvania close to the home and tile factory of the late, great, Henry Chapman Mercer. In 1991 at the Tile Heritage symposium in Doylestown Katia began her affiliation with the Foundation, and she has been joyfully participating with the group at various tile venues around the world for almost twenty years.

In 1981, after studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, Katia began her career as an art tile maker in Newport at her fledgling company, Fountain St. Tileworks. In the late 80s she moved to Doylestown to work as Production Ceramicist and later Production Manager at the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works. In the 90s Katia branched off and began a successful ceramics business of her own that has placed her tiles in high-end showrooms and homes around the country. Today she boasts the creation of over twenty-five public and community-built murals. Still in Doylestown, Katia now operates out of a mid-century factory as an esteemed educator, talented designer, and respected practitioner and philosopher of the arts. The factory, now distinguished as a Tile Heritage "Hub," houses a functioning manufacturing shop, a lively educational facility, and a quaint gallery showroom of contemporary tile works representing various artists. Katia believes in embodying the connectivity and collective spirit of tile enthusiasts past, present, and future. Her social effervescence is surely and gracefully connecting the dots of the tile industry's individual stories of the transformative process from artist into tangible object.

Kitchens Flying High In The Tropics
Monroe County's Art in Public Places Committee is pleased to announce the installation of another phase of the public art installation at the Key West International Airport. Key Largo artist Nan Thurn Kitchens (in photo) completed phase one of her hand-sculpted glazed ceramic project for the first floor elevators located in the main parking lot. The island-inspired artwork depicting rolling waves and leaf forms was selected by the committee on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners for the County's prestigious and progressive 1% for Public Art program.
Ms. Kitchens is one of eight artists selected from a competitive field of fifty proposals submitted for permanent exhibition in the new airport. The composition was chosen for its bright, tropical feel and bold, dynamic color palette which welcomes visitors and defines the space. Nan was honored by this commission and created this signature piece to reflect a harmonious rhythm and a joyful happy feeling for travelers and airport employees. http://www.nankitchensceramics.com/new-work.html

Pratt & Larson Gulf Response Fundraiser
In response to the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Portland, OR based Pratt & Larson Ceramics has launched a fund raiser to aid volunteers working on clean up and recovery efforts. You can join us in showing your support for these volunteers through your purchase of their Brown Pelican Tile. This commemorative handmade, hand painted 6x9 tile is available for a limited time for $50.00. Seventy percent of the proceeds from the sale of each tile will be donated to the Louisiana Gulf Response Organization.

The Louisiana Gulf Response Organization is a partnership between four non-profit environmental and wildlife organizations working together to protect and restore coastal Louisiana. All of the money donated will be divided between these partners to fund their combined efforts for oil spill recovery. The four organizations are: Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, National Audubon Society, and The Nature Conservancy. To learn more about LA Gulf Response, visit their web site: www.lagulfresponse.org Contact Pratt & Larson Ceramics to purchase your tile and help make a difference today.

Pratt & Larson Ceramics is a leading American manufacturer of custom handmade ceramic tile. In 1980, ceramist and painter Michael Pratt & Reta Larson, a textile artist and incessant home remodeler, began Pratt & Larson Ceramics in their home basement studio in Portland, Oregon. The business has since grown to employ over one hundred people working together to produce the thousands of tiles available for order. From the beginning, the emphasis has been on creativity, originality, and quality. Their tile is distributed throughout the US and Canada through their national dealer network.

A Tribute to Joe Koons (1948 - 2010)
Joseph Mitchell Koons, 61, passed away on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at his home in Riverside, California.

For years Joe has enhanced our lives personally and through Tile Heritage
events that we have experienced together. We think of the joyful times when he informally held 'court' during THF symposiums surrounded by both emerging artists and veteran ceramists. For the past decade and a half, Koons was the senior technical advisor for Laguna Clay Company. One of his most endearing and prominent gifts was his joy and enthusiasm for sharing knowledge and working as a teacher and mentor to all who sought his direction.Joe assisted the launch of many careers in clay - especially tile-making. Previously, while operating his own business,he was involved in the designing and manufacturing of custom colors and designs.

His tile works can be found around the country including at Circuit City stores, Vons Pavilion and many other venues. He is widely recognized for his contribution to the restoration of tile at the historic Mission Inn in Riverside, California. As well as serving as a trustee at the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA), Joe was invited to feature his work with ancient glaze effects there. He gave lectures and workshops on a variety of ceramic techniques around the United States and wrote articles for Ceramics Monthly and other technical magazines.

A celebration of Joe's life and work was held at AMOCA in Pomona on July 18th 2010 where the Tile Heritage Foundation presented his family with the Tile Heritage Award, an honorary tribute conferred by the
Foundation's board of directors to an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the tile world. The award itself, titled "Koons to the Moon," is an 18" x 18" custom tile produced especially for Joe by tile maker Frank Giorgini of Freehold, New York, a longtime friend of Koons.

The incised tile portrays a grackle, a gregarious, chatty, free-spirited creature favored by Giorgini. The red bird and yellow moon are cone 6 glazes, the red honoring Joe's work successfully developing brilliant red glazes. Frank named the piece "Koons to the Moon" reflecting the energy flowing from the beak into the universe. The award tile was given to Julie, Joe's wife, and his daughters Amber and Jennifer.

Ssali Wins Tile Heritage Prize
Gloria Angela Ssali, a Ugandan by birth, now living in England, won the Tile Heritage Prize at the 4th International Ceramic Tile Triennial in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The tile, 4" x 4" x 1", titled "Rhythm of a Nation," was awarded in May 2010 by Thimo Pimentel, the chief organizer of the elit-tile exhibition. The tile was inspired by her experiences growing up in the bustling life of Kampala, Uganda and its beautiful scenery as well as the work of Henry Moore. The surprise is still evident to the winner who laughs as she explains that she deleted the initial invitation thinking it was junk mail, but later after consulting with tutor Joanne Anderson she was able to retrieve it and then proceed to make her creation. elit-tile has been launched to promote the making and use of tile as a conceptual medium, architectural ornamentation or personal/cultural artifact. Taken from the word elite, meaning the outmost or that which excels, elit-tile 2009-10, now 16 months in duration, has become the most important tile event worldwide.



Low Art Tile - John Gardner Low & the Artists of Boston's Gilded Age
by Richard Pennington. Self-published (CreateSpace), 2010. 240 pages (soft cover) in full color. $45.00
(member discounts apply) plus $5.50 for shipping/handling. Includes an author signed copy! See: THF Store

This book tells the story of a striking achievement in the last quarter of the 19th century by the largely forgotten Low Art Tile Company. The author first envisioned a simple picture book showcasing the lovely tiles, but as he researched his subject he was struck by the richness of the Low adventure. One short biography of Low stated, "Few men had wider and more intimate friendships among American artists than he." This group included painters William Morris Hunt, Elihu Vedder, Childe Hassam and various members of New York's Tile Club. Sculptor William Rimmer was Low's mentor, and writers Sylvester Baxter and Francis Davis Millet helped write his biography. The most important and perhaps the most gifted artist, Englishman Arthur Osborne, was hired by Low in 1878 to model his clay. During the decades that this enigmatic genius labored for Low it seems he seldom rested, creating hundreds of beautiful designs that graced fireplace surrounds, soda fountains, cast iron stoves and a multitude of other products.

The story is most often told in the words of the writers of the era, and when possible, contemporary photographs provide a visual explanation of a time when artistic expression reached a new zenith, particularly in the fields of painting, architecture and the decorative arts. The Low Art Tile Company pioneered the use of quality photography to market its products, and this book has the complete contents of its tile, soda fountain, and "Plastic Sketches" catalogues. The latter sketches were Osborne's most heralded creations, forty-seven large tiles that were framed and hung on walls like oil paintings. This book begins with Low's birth in 1835 and ends in the 1950's when an enormous cache of Low's tiles was discovered in a Cambridge warehouse, all in perfect condition and crated in boxes unopened for more than half a century.

The author, Richard Pennington, was a reference librarian at the Boston Globe from 1981 to 2007. He managed the newspaper's century-old clipping morgue and assisted reporters writing books about John Kerry, Oliver North, Charles Ponzi, Richard Nixon, Edward Kennedy, Ted Williams, and other subjects. He received a Masters Degree in Library Science from Simmons College and a B.A. in History from the University of Illinois, Chicago. His fascination with the late 19th century began in his late 20s, when searching for stories in the microfilmed pages of the Cambridge Chronicle. Pennington and his wife, Mary McCarthy, lived for more than a decade in her grandparent's Chelsea home that had two fireplace surrounds made by the Low Art Tile Company. They have travelled widely in Europe, spending part of their time in the city and the rest in the country.


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