[Stoneware vase by Walter B. Stephen, 1931. Asheville Art Museum.]
[Pisgah Forest and Nonconnah pottery by Walter B. Stephen via McKissick Museum.]
In addition to English ceramics and his own natural environment, Asian pottery was another source of inspiration.
[Nonconnah Pottery, American (Tennessee) 1904-1910. Earthenware. Given to Memphis Brooks Museum of Art by Decorative Arts Trust.]
In its permanent collection the Brooks has a really lovely example from Stephen's early phase -- actually a collaborative piece done with his mother, Nellie Stephen, who decorated it. This teapot, pictured above, was molded by W.B.; Nellie added natural white frost daisies with green leaves, built up in relief, on a soft blue ground.
One of the Museum's support groups, Decorative Arts Trust, purchased the piece for the public to study and enjoy. Like Collab, this is another volunteer group that's great for design professionals or anyone with a passion for decorative arts. Having been on the Memphis scene for more than 30 years, the organization welcomes newcomers. Four-term president of the Board of Directors, John J. Tackett (an architect who previously worked at Parish-Hadley in NYC before establishing his own firm), just completed his final term and explained to me that DAT membership fees -- lower than those at other museums -- are kept within reach for a wider range of design enthusiasts with help from upper level contributors.
[Screengrabs from John Hughes commentary about the Art Institute of Chicago scene in front of Marc Chagall's America Windows.]
[Earthenware vase with crystalline glaze, circa 1935, by Walter B. Stephan. Via Memphis Brooks.]
And speaking of keeping art accessible, the Brooks will offer free admission tomorrow, May 18, in celebration of International Museum Day.