Oklahoma Clay: Frankoma Pottery / Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Norman, OK, USA
April 20 - September 16, 2012
Opening reception: Friday, April 20, 7-9 pm.
Works of one of Oklahoma’s favorite potters, John Frank, are featured in a new exhibition, Oklahoma Clay: Frankoma Pottery, opening Friday, April 20, at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. The exhibit features a selection of work from Frank’s Oklahoma-based pottery factory that manufactured unique and collectable ceramics for more than 50 years. Highlights include a group of individual pieces made by the potter.
“This exhibit gives the University a great opportunity to honor the pioneer contributions made by John Frank to our School of Art, especially our ceramics program,” said OU President David L. Boren. “He came from the Chicago Arts Institute to start the ceramics program at OU. Using Oklahoma clay, he shaped ceramic pieces that would make him well known across Oklahoma and even around the world. Countless Oklahoma dinner tables were graced with his dinner ware.”
“It is a great pleasure to celebrate the life and works of a true Oklahoma artist,” said Ghislain d’Humières, director of the art museum at OU. “John Frank’s legacy continues both in the artistic integrity and the continued collectivity of works created in his factory nearly 80 years ago.”
In 1927, Frank founded a ceramics program at OU, where he taught for eight years. While teaching at the university, he established Frankoma Pottery, using local clays with colors and designs symbolic of the Southwest and Great Plains.
The April 20 opening for Oklahoma Clay: Frankoma Pottery is preceded by a daylong symposium at the museum. Scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Decorative Arts and the American West – the seventh biennial symposium of the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West – is free and open to the public, with a nominal charge for an optional luncheon. Noted scholars, museum curators and art historians will discuss such diverse topics as ranch-style furniture, regionally inspired pottery and silver-mounted saddles.
The exhibition is curated by Jane Ford Aebersold, curator emeritus of ceramics at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and retired professor at the OU School of Art and Art History.
“Oklahoma Clay: Frankoma Pottery is a celebration of the vision of John Frank and his wife, Grace Lee, and of the talented designers, artisans and engineers who were part of the larger Frankoma family,” said Aebersold. “Their goal was to provide cheerful and colorful tableware and decorative accents to fit into the modern mode of living, well-crafted but affordable for a family of modest means.”
Although its glory days of the Frankoma company ended in the 1980s, Frankoma Pottery works continue to rise in popularity among collectors. Frank’s works have appeared in exhibitions at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and are included in the International Ceramics Museum’s permanent collection in Faenza, Italy.
The museum will offer a free tour of the exhibition at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, led by Susan Baley, museum director of education.
Michael Bendure, Director of Communication
Tel. (405) 325-4938
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Arts District of the University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
555 Elm Avenue
Norman, OK 73019-3003
Above: Frankoma Pottery, Wagon Wheel Dinnerware, introduced in 1948. John Frank, designer (U.S., 1905–1973), Sapulpa Clay, Prairie Green Glaze (this grouping). Courtesy President David L. and Molly Shi Boren.