Work by leading art deco sculptor, Kansan featured in new Beach Museum of Art exhibition
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020
Waylande Gregory's "Flamingo Figure and Console Set" was made in 1930 while he was with Cowen Pottery in Rocky River, Ohio. The glazed earthenware, which is 14 x 15 x 11 inches, is part of a private collection. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — The works of an artist from Kansas who is considered to be one of the most prolific and innovative art deco ceramic sculptors of the 20th century will be featured in the next virtual exhibition offered by the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University.
"Waylande Gregory: Art Deco Ceramics and the Atomic Impulse" will open online Tuesday, Oct. 13, at beach.k-state.edu. This virtual retrospective expands on an exhibition organized by the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum at Alfred University in New York State and features 3D views of Gregory's art, film footage and interviews with specialists.
"Gregory's groundbreaking techniques enabled him to create monumental ceramic works, including his Fountain of the Atom for the 1939 New York World’s Fair — a tribute to atomic energy that earned the attention of Albert Einstein," said Elizabeth Seaton, Beach Museum of Art curator and the co-curator, with independent scholar Tom Folk, of the Gregory exhibition.
Born in the southeast Kansas community of Baxter Springs in 1905, as a young man Gregory designed architectural ornaments for the Missouri Theatre in St. Joseph and the famous Aztec Room in the Hotel President in Kansas City. His early development as a sculptor was shaped by study with prominent beaux arts figure Lorado Taft in Chicago. Soon after, Gregory became lead designer at Cowan Pottery in Ohio, known for its limited-edition table-top sculptures. He also became a professor at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan before settling in New Jersey in an art deco home he designed.
Gregory was known as one of the few ceramic artists of the pre-World War II era to address social and political concerns in his work. During the Great Depression, the Gregory produced ceramic sculpture and tile murals for the Works Progress Administration, including the depiction of a pony express rider for the Columbus, Kansas, post office. Gregory served as New Jersey’s director of WPA sculptural programs. During the 1940s and 1950s, he designed tableware, which sold at retail stores such as Bonwit Teller and Neiman Marcus. He died in 1971.
The virtual exhibition and both live and pre-recorded online events will be offered free by the Beach Museum of Art:
• Livestream lecture by Tom Folk, co-curator of "Waylande Gregory: Art Deco Ceramics and the Atomic Impulse," at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8.
• Virtual tour of the Waylande Gregory exhibition, led by Elizabeth Seaton, exhibition co-curator, at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17. The tour is part of the Beach Museum of Art's Art in Motion Expo.
• "Innovations in Clay" is a livestream talk to be presented at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, by Nick Geankoplis, K-State assistant professor of art, as part of the Art in Motion Expo.
• "Waylande Gregory and the New York World's Fair," a livestream lecture by Robert W. Rydell, professor of American studies at Montana State University, will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12.
• "Waylande Gregory and Cowan Pottery," a livestream lecture by Greg Hatch, curator and historian at the Cowan Pottery Museum, will be presented at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.
To take part in any of the related events, go to beach.k-state.edu.