The year 2002 was unlike others at Garth Clark Gallery in Manhattan. The year before the world rocked when two planes hit the twin towers in New York, and the impact was felt in the gallery as well for years. We bring it up because it’s strange to reflect, through the medium of art exhibition catalogs, how far we’ve come. The Garth Clark Gallery released five separate catalogs in 2002 alone. We have assembled all the 2002 catalogs into “Garth Clark Gallery Volume II: Hans Spinner, Jean-Pierre LaRocque, Tony Marsh, Babs Haenen and Ron Nagle.”
Garth Clark Gallery: Volume 1
Sierksma; Clark, Garth
From the POV of Garth Clark Gallery, what changed after 9/11?
Garth Clark: Everything, in a sense. The event brought a new gravitas to our program. It’s subtle, but you can spot it in the catalogs. On 9/11 we were ready to open a Karen Karnes exhibition. (Karen just passed away so she is in my mind.) We were all ready to go ahead with it in spite of the attacks, but the building staff voted to lock down the building at 4.pm. That week we attended every opening we could; it was a small way of taking back our town.
Do you remember 9/11 impacting sales in 2001 and 2002?
It had a strong impact, sales stopped dead for a while. But then we noticed collectors visiting New York in the year following who seemed to buy not because they urgently desired to own something but instead as a gesture of support. Overall though, we went into debt for two years and then in 2007-08 the market fell off the cliff. Keeping open during this time was a rough road.
These five catalogs are from the year 2002 alone. It seems like you had a lot going on in 2002. What do you remember from that year?
GC: Many things, it was a year of particularly great exhibitions. Ron Nagle’s show was a standout among many events. It was the year when Roberta Smith, New York’s greatest ceramic “art” fan by the way, gave him the kind of review that promotes an artist to a new league.
What was it like to work with Hans Spinner?
GC: Hans is an amazingly generous man. He lives in the South of France in Grasse- the aromatic perfume capitol of Europe. An accomplished artist himself, his greatest satisfaction comes from drawing major talents into his workshop. He works with solid, heavily grogged stoneware and glazing on sheets of volcanic rock. He drew in Eduardo Chillida and Antoni Tàpies, and he continued the ceramic journey of Pierre Alechinsky, James Brown, Anthony Caro, Joan Miró and others. Miro made the last artworks of his life in Hans’s Grasse workshop. The price we paid for our visit to Grasse was having Hans drive Mark, John Pagliaro and me late at night to our hotel in Villefranche. He is a demon on the road and I should have been forewarned! When he drove us from Nice to his home, the people saw his red Volvo hurtling towards them and ran for cover!