ART & DESIGN

The Devil is in the Details

Satan Ceramics opens at Salon 94 Freemans.


A year ago, Tom Sachs casually mentioned to Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn that he’d begun making ceramics, so she invited him up to her E. 94th Street outpost, Salon 94, to talk about their mutual fascination with clay. “He came to look at the more historic ceramics I had and he started telling me he was in this small little class with JJ Peet at the 92nd Street Y,” recalls Greenberg Rohatyn. “One of the reasons he was using the kiln there is because it’s actually one of the only high fire kilns in New York City that produces a white porcelain.” At the time Peet, a master ceramicist in his own right, was also teaching the artists Mary Frey and Pat McCarthy, who, along with Sachs, would go on to form an informal ceramics community playfully known as Satan Ceramics—which is also the title of the show of their work opening at Salon 94 Freemans. “When Tom showed me what the other students were doing alongside JJ we had to show them together,” says Greenberg Rohatyn. “They were in such a dialogue and so united.”

As a sort of penance for neglecting to make tea ceremony bowls for his 2012 Mars installation at the Park Avenue Armory, Sachs has spent the past year making hundreds of hand-turned chawan-style bowls emblazoned with red painted NASA logos. (There are some “Chanel” versions, too.) He’s also presenting a ceramic boombox and a Duchampian urinal. Peet has created several cups that have a porcelain knife cutting through them, drawing a thin line between violence and civility. Frey, who takes a deep interest in the surface of her ceramics, has decked a 1975 Hobie-inspired skateboard with a bespectacled nude drawn by her son Arsun when he was seven. Meanwhile, McCarthy has integrated his pigeoning practice into his clay work by crafting minimalist coops outfitted with electricity and feeding vessels.

“There’s a refinement you’re going to see with this painted white porcelain,” says Greenberg Rohatyan. “But there’s also tons of humor, rebellion, and this utopian idea that they’ve chosen a community around this activity.”

Photos: The Devil is in the Details

Tom Sachs

Conejo, 2013

English porcelain, temple white glaze, Nasa Red engobe, reduction fired

3.75 x 4.75 x 5 inches

JJ PEET

Decoy Cup 2, 2013

Stoneware, porcelain blade, cardboard, granite

8.5 x 8 x 8 inches (21.59 x 20.32 x 20.32 cm)

Mary Frey

Grannyskate, 2014

Porcelain and deathmetal underglaze or engbo, independent trucks and allied cultural prosthetic wheels

24 x 6 x 4 inches

(61 x 15.2 x 10.2 cm)

Mary Frey

Grannyskate, 2014

Porcelain and deathmetal underglaze or engbo, independent trucks and allied cultural prosthetic wheels

24 x 6 x 4 inches

(61 x 15.2 x 10.2 cm)

Mary Frey

Grannyskate, 2014

Porcelain and deathmetal underglaze or engbo, independent trucks and allied cultural prosthetic wheels

24 x 6 x 4 inches

(61 x 15.2 x 10.2 cm)

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