Mention Alleghany Meadows’ name in ceramic circles and the response is almost always a big smile. He is unquestionably one of the field’s best known and most beloved figures, not just because of his personal warmth and generosity but for his various selfless roles he plays in advancing ceramics.
The most public face is the Artstream Nomadic Gallery that has been taking contemporary ceramic art on the road since 2002. It is an exhibition space housed in a restored 1967 Airstream trailer, based in Carbondale, CO. Over the past 20 years it has pulled up at 400 locations and shown and sold work by 150 artists, from Los Angeles to New York, Houston to Minneapolis. NCECA is not NCECA without the Nomads parked close-by.
Future plans? Meadows is hoping that he can get the Airstream to Europe.
Fifteen years ago, he added two more projects while remaining a practicing potter with no time to practice. Studio for Arts + Works, Carbondale CO, is a for-profit project that anchors the Carbondale Creative Center where 25 individual artists rent spaces and work collectively on open studio events and collaborative projects. Co-founded by Alleghany, he became the sole owner in 2011 and expanded to the current location, tripling the size and scope of the project.
In 2005 he and his gallery business partner Sam Harvey (both Alfred University graduates) appeared to have lost their minds and opened Harvey/Meadows Gallery in Aspen CO. A high-end mainly-ceramics gallery in the small town of Aspen, an oligarch magnet, seemed to be wishful thinking even given the available wealth. Both Alleghany and Sam thought selling ceramics would take a modest amount of time allowing them to work in their own studios.
However, galleries are jealous mistresses and as the success of their space grew, studio time shrank even more for both ceramists. In turn, the Gallery offered an ambitious program of exhibitions showing emerging artists such as Boo + Fini, and some of the field’s top makers; Del Harrow, Tony Marsh, Betty Woodman and others. What they have achieved is heroic and it has widened the market for ceramics.
Alleghany Meadows had ended his role as dealer to focus on his studio. That means we have lost an effective gallerist and gained the return of one of America’s most revered, inventive and gifted functional potters. Denying any aura of preciousness in his work Alleghany embraces mortality as he explains:
I imagine a cup remaining in use and active for centuries; yet, I am acutely aware that the intended context carries risk, is transitory, where the cup can in one breath caress someone’s lips and in the next become shattered in the sink
The gallery is now the Harvey Preston Gallery. There was a lot of speculation among the chattering classes about who Preston might be until it became known that it is Sam Harvey’s middle name. Happily, this vital gallery continues to function.
The images in this post are mostly from his exhibition last year at Harvey Preston (along with Lucy Fradkin and Trey Hill, who are not featured) and reproduced with the permission of the Gallery and Alleghany Meadows.