Current Exhibitions

The Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Presents Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes: The Gerald W. McNeely Collection of Pewabic Pottery

December 12, 2015 through August 28, 2016

The Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research unveils one of the largest private collections of Pewabic Pottery in the nation in Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes: The Gerald W. McNeely Collection of Pewabic Pottery.  

Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes is the inaugural exhibition of the Gerald W. McNeely Collection, which was recently donated to Cranbrook Art Museum. The collection comprises 117 works, including objects that pre-date the pottery and span founder Mary Chase Perry Stratton’s lifetime. Many have never before been on public view. Pewabic pieces from the Art Museum’s collection also will be included in the Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes exhibition. 

The Gerald W. McNeely Collection continues the long association between Cranbrook and Pewabic Pottery which dates to the co-founding of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts by George Gough Booth and Mary Chase Perry Stratton in 1903. During their lifetime, the Booths were enthusiastic supporters of Perry Stratton and Pewabic Pottery. Their purchases were intended as gifts and for display in their home. Many of the works were placed all over the Cranbrook Community. The Booth’s also commissioned ten tile installations throughout the campus, including Cranbrook Kingswood’s Green Lobby, the Rainbow Fountain on the campus grounds, and the Baptistry in Christ Church Cranbrook.

Pewabic is a non-profit ceramic studio rich in heritage. Founded in Detroit in 1903, Pewabic’s signature style is closely linked with Detroit’s artistic history, with tile installations at many of the region’s major public institutions, ranging from the Detroit Institute of Arts to the Detroit Zoo to the Detroit People Mover stations and Comerica Park. Pewabic vessels are featured in such prominent institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery. The Pewabic Pottery studio, a historic 1907 Tudor-style building, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991. Today, Pewabic is more than a ceramics studio; it is a community of makers, educators, artists and students dedicated to enriching the human spirit through clay. Pewabic continues to redefine their role in the community through outreach and education, looking for new ways to make ceramics relevant and accessible to people of all ages and skill levels.

Gerald McNeely lives in New York City, where he studied painting and drawing at the Cooper Union, developed a career working as a graphic designer and commercial illustrator, and socialized in a circle of artists that included Andy Warhol.  Although he considers himself a New Yorker, he was born in Michigan and raised in Detroit where he studied fine arts at the legendary Cass Technical High School.  It was also in Detroit as a young student at Trombley Elementary School that he had his first exposure to Pewabic Pottery, creating an ashtray with a turquoise glaze that was fired at the pottery as a gift for his father.  This experience, coupled with memories of the Pottery’s work on display in The Detroit Institute of Arts, led to a life-long passion that ultimately resulted in his creation of one of the largest private collections of Pewabic Pottery. Now retired, McNeely explored several museums as homes for the 117 works in his collection, choosing Cranbrook, in part, because of its one-hundred-year association with Pewabic Pottery.

Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes: The Gerald W. McNeely Collection of Pewabic Pottery opens Saturday, December 12, 2015, and runs through August 28, 2016. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue which will be launched on February 14, 2016, at Pewabic Pottery along with an exclusive Pewabic Pottery/Cranbrook Reproduction “Snowdrop” Vase.  To reserve a vase, please call the Center at 248 645.3077. 

Also on view at Pewabic Pottery will be the exhibition This is the living vessel: person. This is what matters. This is our universe. Curated by Cranbrook Academy of Art Artist-in-Residence and Head of the Ceramics Department, This is the living vessel: person. features eight contemporary artists whose work responds to the work of Pewabic’s visionary founder Mary Chase Perry Stratton and Cranbrook’s legendary ceramist Maija Grotell.

Photo Credit: Manufacturer: Pewabic Pottery, founded  in 1903 and directed by Mary Chase Perry Stratton (American, 1867-1961). A Selection of Twenty Vases and Bottles Circa 1901 to 1940s. Collection of Cranbrook Art Museum. Gift of Gerald W. McNeely from the Gerald W. McNeely Pewabic Pottery Collection. CAM 2015.2 Photograph courtesy of Cranbrook Art Museum. Photographers: Tim Thayer and R. H. Hensleigh.

Designs of the Times: 100 Years of Posters at Cranbrook
December 12, 2015 through March 20, 2016

Designs of the Times: 100 Years of Posters at Cranbrook highlights 100 years of graphic work in the Cranbrook Community. Designs of the Times  was organized by the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research and curated by Head Archivist Leslie S. Edwards and Archivist Gina Tecos.