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Pottery Exhibit June 8August 31
Opens at Second Annual Benefit
12" vase with buttressed handles under a matte green glaze. On loan from
Carole Kroeger, the design is by W. D. Gates.|
June 8, 2003, The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park (FLWHEP) will hold
its second annual benefit called this year, "High Tea and Teco" to celebrate
three things: the first is the showing of art pottery the initial exhibit
of art since FLWHEP was developed as a house museum; the second is the acquisition
of a Teco pot, a gift from Jan Greenberg, writer and collector, and thirdly; Frank
Lloyd Wrights birthday. Frank Lloyd Wright designed pieces of Teco pottery
and preferred its matte green finish; so it is fitting that the first acquisition
of art for FLWHEP is a matte green Teco pot from Illinois where Mr. Wright had
his first home and studio.
Peter Shank, chairman of the art acquisition
committee for the Kraus house, received the donation from Jan Greenberg who will
speak about art pottery on June 8 at 3 p.m. under the canopy on the lawn of FLWHEP.
Jans gift will be unveiled at the party.
new acquisition, along with selections from the collections of Jan and St. Louis
artist Carole Kroeger, will be on view for members and the general public during
tours through August 31.
Teco pots from the collection of Mrs. Kroeger, the
great-granddaughter of W. D. Gates, founder of the American Terra Cotta and Ceramic
Company where Teco ware was made near Chicago, will be displayed throughout the
Kraus house. Gates often designed Teco pots. (See article on Teco pottery on page
four.) Mrs. Greenbergs collection includes not only Teco, but pottery by
American pottery notables such as William Henry Grueby and Samuel Weller.
bowl with buttressed feet. Loaned by Carole Kroeger, it
is a design by architect Holmes Smith.
& Co. made pottery in Boston, MA from 1897-1919. David Rago, noted art pottery
expert, said Grueby produced the most important clay products of the American
Arts and Crafts movement. Grueby pottery was known for its Grueby
Green an opaque, matte enamel finish. Most pieces were hand thrown
and characterized by simple design with matte finish.
Weller Pottery in
Fultonham, Ohio, existing from 1872-1945, grew out of the arts and crafts movement
and was designed by artists. In its nearly 75 years, Weller Pottery produced a
wide variety of pottery including flowerpots, crocks, ornamental pots, and a number
of innovative lines of pottery.
To insure their authentic duplicaton,
pieces were cast in molds, with some hand finishing. The molds encouraged greater
producion and wider distribution.
scroll down the page to read more about Teco pottery.
with lobed decoration under a matte green glaze. A gift from
A Note From the Chairman
focus of this newsletter is our first exhibit since we restored the Kraus house
as a house museum. The exhibit was inspired by our first acquisition of art, a
wonderful Teco pot, the kind that Frank Lloyd Wright favored for use in his houses.
We are extremely grateful to Jan Green-berg for this gift and to both Jan and
Carole Kroeger for loaning us pottery from their collections and to Peter Shank
for curating the show.
High Tea and Teco will be our second
benefit. It will be on June 8, Frank Lloyd Wrights birthday, from 2-5 p.m.
and be chaired by Sally Pinckard. The art pottery exhibit will open this day.
We hope you will attend the party and bring family and friends throughout the
summer to see the pottery. Alice Gerdine has generously agreed again to be our
benefactor for the birthday party.
In this issue, we also want to recognize
two board members: Bob Hall, who has been strong and innovative in helping define
and accomplish the acquisition of the house and partnership with the county. Thanks
also to Roger Peterson who helped raise money and stepped forward with the first
significant check to get us through our financial obligations before we mounted
a major membership drive.
The house has become a full-time job and certainly
a part-time job for many of us. Without a budget for staff, we depend on our volunteers,
and they have been superb. I particularly want to thank our tour coordinator,
Liz Studt, who with Carolyn Noll, has taken your calls and booked the tours. We
are so pleased with the work they and all the docents do to make the house accessible
to the public.
Finally, I want to thank Genie Zakrzewski, the director of the
County Parks and Recreation Department, and her staff for keeping the road full
of rock after rain, snow and ice washed it away this winter and paving the entrance
on Ballas Road. The department recently planted trees that eventually will provide
a screen for the park and for our neighbors on the eastern edge of the property
line. More trees will be planted there in the fall.
We desperately need
a circular paved road and parking. However, we have made tremendous progress in
the restoration; presently, creating useable space in the tool house and building
an organization that serves the public. Your membership keeps the house going.
We are grateful to you all. Stay with us!
Joanne Kohn, Chairman
Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park
had been in Japan with the U.S. Navy and visited Mr. Wrights Imperial Hotel
in Tokyo. This sparked my interest and over the years, I visited numerous FLW
In the mid-60s when I was Director of Parks and Recreation
for the City of Kirkwood, I visited the Kraus house and property and, as any good
park director would, immediately saw the great potential for a public park.
thirty years later, when I was County Parks Director, I met with my old friend,
Judi Bettendorf, who wanted the countys inclusion in a plan to acquire and
maintain the house and property. I made it clear that the county did not have
any money to put into the project, but we might be able to help in other ways.
I knew that acquiring the house was just the starting point of a long
and probably frustrating odyssey. Over time, things changed. Judi moved to Florida,
and fortunately, Joanne Kohn stepped in to lead the charge. She put together a
dedicated group of volunteers who were determined to save, restore and maintain
the house and property.
I had to convince County Executive Buzz Westfall
that this was a necessary and worthwhile project for the county to take on. Along
with the newly formed not-for-profit, we devised a plan in which the not-for-profit
would acquire the house and property, give it to the county, lease it back, restore
the house, and operate it for the public benefit.
Even though I am retired
as County Parks Director, I know we have enthusiastic backing of Buzz Westfall
and Genie Zakrzewski, my successor. We have accomplished a lot but theres
still much to do. I look forward to my continued participation.
reasons for my interest and involvement in preserving the FLW House in Ebsworth
Park require some explanation. I am not a native of St. Louis. My wife Liz and
I returned permanently to St. Louis from Washington, D.C. in 1979 upon my retirement
from the Army following 26 years of active military service.
I had earlier
been posted by the Army to St. Louis from 1973-76, one of numerous locations in
the U.S. and overseas where we had lived since our marriage in 1955 in Turkey.
(Lizs father was serving in NATOs Headquarters there.)
decided on St. Louis to begin my second career in private enterprise because we
recognized the numerous advantages of living here based on our world-wide travel
experiences. Liz and I were particularly attracted by the numerous and accessible
first class, cultural amenities of this often underrated cosmopolitan center.
my good friend, and fellow Omaha (Nebraska) Central High School graduate, Joanne
Kohn, shared her vision with me of organizing a group dedicated to the purchase,
preservation and operation of the FLW house, I was immediately interested.
a practicing structural engineer, who had visited several of FLWs noted
projects, the first being the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo during my honeymoon, Joannes
initiative held a special, professional interest. Then, when I recalled what had
attracted my family to St. Louis several years earlier, I was committed. To participate
in adding yet another jewel to St. Louis already glittering crown was an
opportunity not to be missed.
Colonel, Ret. T. Roger Peterson,
W. D. Gates.
by Agnes Garino
American Art Pottery has been described as the "ceramic expression
of the Prairie Style," exemplifying the arts and crafts movement. Teco, an
acronym for the Terra-Cotta and Ceramic Company of Terra Cotta, Illinois, located
near Crystal Lake northwest of Chicago, was in business in some form from 1881
to 1967. Teco was produced from approximately 1902 to about 1923. The exact ending
date of Teco Pottery is unknown. Ads and articles about Teco Pottery have been
found dating up to 1923. The Teco trademark existed between 1885 and 1941.
D. (W. D.) Gates began experimenting in the late 1880s to create a line of pottery
that focused on the form and color rather than ornamentation for its style. The
result: TECO pottery. Characterized by quality glazes, Teco was unique primarily
because of its forms.
One of Gates goals was to develop a line of
quality pottery at a reasonable price. The typical Teco vase sold for between
$2-$5. Larger ones typically cost between $7-$20, with the highest priced interior
piece at $30. His goal was to create pieces that combined art with practicality
and to place a piece of Teco in every American home.
8" matte green vase|
Gates created a lot of the shapes, he also hired other designers who made over
500 different shapes of Teco. Teco designers included members of the Chicago Architectural
Club. Frank Lloyd Wright designed four Teco pieces. Inspired by the architecture
and design at the beginning of 1900, its individual designers, including Wright,
brought their interpretation to the pottery.
Gates, while clearly influenced
by Arts and Crafts ideas as well as art nouveau styles, believed that there was
a place for the use of molds in the ceramic process. He had heard Frank Lloyd
Wright speak in Chicago in 1901, in his famous Hull House
speech, in which craftsmen were encouraged to embrace the machine
rather than blindly reject it. Wright extensively used molds to create the architectural
elements of his building surfaces. The problem with hand-made articles, according
to Gates, was that their prices were too high for the general public to afford;
while judicious use of molds and machine processes could make well-designed beautiful
objects for the mass market.
Tecos appeal was the high-quality, unique
forms typically either geometric, organic or architectural. The most sought after
have usually been characterized by angular handles and buttresses. Gates
most successful pieces were without painted decoration, using naturalistic motifs
-- frequently leaves and flowers integral to the piece.
The stated objective
of Teco was "...to produce an art ware that would harmonize with all its
surroundings... adding to the beauty of the flower or leaf placed in the vase,
at the same time enhanced by the beauty of the vase itself."
while less popular, has been described as some of the most dynamic and compelling
forms. While architectural faience was distinguished by large, heavy interior
and exterior pots or tiles.
Much of Teco pottery is characterized by a soft,
medium green matte glaze. Some of Tecos matte green glazes exhibit a charcoaling
effect in the form of a metallic, black overglaze. Over 90% of Teco was matte
green and for nearly a decade only the matte green was available commercially,
a green, but with a grayish effect.
7" vase with |
under a matte
W. D. Gates.
1909, Gates added a number of other colored glazes, including golds, browns, buffs,
grays, dusky rose, as well as blue, purples, oranges and yellow.
colors brought bacl customers who had purchased lower-priced green pottery in
shapes resembling Teco ware. Workmen, it has been said, often sprayed the new
colors over green pieces that had not sold.
By 1911 there were more than
500 shapes, and eventually more than 10,000. Many of the early pieces were vases.
Rarely hand-crafted, mostly mass produced, as David Rago in his book
American Art Pottery states: "Teco created a sleek, stylish, machine interpretation
of Arts and Crafts design that apparently accomplished the impossible: the company
offered great design and great quality, produced such ware consistently, and stayed
form vase with four buttresses around ovoid body under
a matte green glaze. Attributed to W. D. Gates.
cylindrical vase with
four buttresses under a
matte green glaze.
Teco is the long-stemmed T and its extended cross-line on the right. The pots
were not signed but model numbers were indicated.
Teco the first
two letters of terra and cotta was a registered trademark by 1895. Work
was produced by a number of craftsmen, including two of Gates sons. While
a few of the pieces were thrown, the normal approach was molding. Clays from the
Illinois area and Indiana were used. Gates believed that good design was as critical
as was the quality of materials and workmanship.
Using modern production techniques,
including molds, power glaze sprayers, and coal-fired muffle kilns, he created
unique American art pottery. TECO did not employ potters, with the exception of
Gates. However, he did use the artisans who worked for him during the early phases
Gates experimented with not only clays, but glazes
as he invented new shapes. To quote author Sharon Darling: "His aim was to
produce ware whose beauty would derive from line and color rather than elaborate
decoration. It would conform to the highest artistic standards, yet be sold at
advertisements advise purchasers to "Look for the TECO mark under each piece"
or to insist on genuine Teco, at the same time offering a free booklet illustrating
new shapes and colors. While the number of colors and shades increased, the number
of new shapes was limited.
Darling explains that "the thriving Arts
and Crafts movement and the innovative Prairie School provided Gates with both
a philosophy of design and a clientele for his pottery." Critics pointed
out that arts and crafts bungalow homes provided the perfect setting for Teco
Writing in the Chicago Tribune in 1989 on a Teco exhibit at the
Chicago Historical Society, art critic Alan G. Artner describes Teco with its
"bulbs and pods and tendrils, as well as man-made architectural elements,
fused into a satisfying whole. Nearly always the pieces are streamlined, stripped
of superfluous decoration, with power deriving from color and line."
largest institutional collection of Teco is owned by the Chicago Historical Society.
Pieces are also included in museum collections throughout the country including
the Smithsonian and at the T. C. Industries, Crystal Lake, Illinois, site of the
old Teco factory.
Teco pieces still in circulation are primarily green,
under eight inches tall, with little or no organic or architectural detailing.
Currently prices range anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
additional information on Teco pottery:
American Art Pottery, David Rago, Knickerbocker
Millers Treasure or Not? How to Compare and Value American
Art Pottery, David Rago & Suzanne Perrault, Octopus Publishing Group Ltd.
Teco: Art Pottery of the Prairie School, Sharon Darling, Erie Art
Kroeger, great-granddaughter of the originator of Teco pottery; Peter Shank, curator
of pottery exhibit; and Sally Pinckard, chairman of "High Tea and Teco."|
St. Louis Worlds Fair and Teco
Gates brought his pottery to the St. Louis Worlds Fair in 1904, displaying
both terra cotta architectural and pottery pieces and winning high honors for
his green microcrystalline glaze. The display, the first American art pottery
to be exhibited, was in an art-glass pavilion lit by Teco lamps with shades of
Japanese grass cloth or leaded glass.
In the Fairs Mining Building,
larger Teco pieces including vases, planters, jars and tubs were on display. Visitors
to the Fair were encouraged to take home a copy of the "Teco Art Pottery"
catalog featuring lamps and pottery available by mail.
Two St. Louis Zoo
buildings are decorated with Teco tiles the Bird House and the Reptile