Garth Clark Gallery: Volume III (2003-2007)
In 2008, Garth Clark Gallery closed its doors on 52nd Street in Manhattan with 28 years of service to contemporary ceramic art under its belt. It was a difficult decision that had been stirring for some time. Of their last few months in New York, Garth told me “I don’t remember anything. Those months were a blur.”
After three months of releases, today we are adding the final Garth Clark Gallery catalogs to cfile.library. We hope you’ve enjoyed this blast from the past as much as we have. In the last five years the gallery released five outstanding catalogs. We have assembled the final five into “Garth Clark Gallery Volume III: Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Carlo Zauli, Karen Karnes, Phillip Maberry, Beth Cavener Stichter.” Starting today, these catalogs are exclusively available in cfile.library. If you are already a member view the catalog, or start your 14-day free trial today!
Read my conversation with Garth Clark and preview the catalogs below.
CFile: Of course New York City gets old, but I’m curious: Did you close the gallery because you wanted to leave the City or did you leave the City because you wanted to close the gallery?
Garth Clark: It was one of those chicken and egg situations. We closed because we felt that we had done what we had come to do. Never stay too long at any party. To continue would mean creating a very different new multimedia gallery with a new audience and we were not in the mood for reinvention, particularly not in an austere post-2008 environment. When we closed, the last anchor for remaining in the city was pulled up. But we had been thinking of leaving since 2004. The city we knew when we arrived in 1983, with its big creative community, was gone, so were most of the creatives. The dance club scene had changed and that had been our bonus for living in an expensive town. The clubs were too costly and boutique-like. The huge Palladium and Roxy clubs were gone. This was not the specific reason for leaving but part of a drip, drip process. We wanted a third act and were canny enough to know that you do not get that in the City, it’s too hardwired.
CF: Wow. Some would say the art community in New York is now more vibrant than ever.
G.C. The new art world today is night and day compared to when we were there. First, the art “world” is gone and has been replaced by “the market.” Huge money is now involved. Gagosian Gallery sells about $1 billion (yes, billion) worth of art every year. Just let that number sink into your brain. I do not care how much is made at the top end; the difficulty is that it has driven out the smaller galleries who cannot compete that were an incubator for young talent. That upper middle class collector is now nearly extinct. It’s now the same as the music business, either you are a star or you must have a day job.
CF: Any regrets about leaving New York?
G.C. Very few. We do miss our friends in New York, the theater of course, and dance performances. But the move to New Mexico has recharged our spirit.
CF: Carlo Zauli’s is one of the lengthier, more extensive catalogs that Garth Clark Gallery produced. Have you ever met Zauli personally?
G.C. Yes, Mark and I visited him at his home and studio in Faenza, Italy in the early 80’s. He was grand, and his work was as large as his ego. He already had his own museum in preparation. A superb sculptor, much influenced by Lucio Fontana, not in style but in ambition. I still love his work. We became good friends with Zauli’s charming son Matteo after he made an appearance opening night at our Zauli Retrospective at our Long Island space. It was wonderful to do shows there, but looking back it was maybe too costly of an adventure given that New Yorkers would almost never leave Manhattan. Back then Long Island City was just becoming what it is today.
CF: Did the Phillip Maberry show involve photographs of the house that he tiled?
G.C. No, it did not, at least in a major sense. We wanted to capture the house in a document, a huge art project that was amazing. Alas, the owners sold the house shortly afterward and the new owners tore out the tile, a great loss of a masterpiece for Phillip that I still mourn.
I am a man who deeply loves a “clot” of clay, who wants to vitalize, shape it slowly, exalting and reorganizing its endless rhythms, the mysterious strains hiding in it.
I do not contrast the matter, but I conform to it, trying to understand it, melting it with my fantasy, moulding shapes that follow a genesis, a life, a series of possibilist exaltations. Rather than compressing forcedly and twisting unnaturally, I try to seize as sharply as possible the natural invisible forms which are hiding within it, that breathe and intend to come to surface, that want to “be.”
-Carlo Zauli, from his Garth Clark Gallery catalog