Rose Cabat at 100: A Retrospective Exhibition of Ceramics / Tucson Museum of Art, Arizona
February 1 - September 14, 2014
Rose Cabat is considered an artistic treasure in Arizona and an important American studio ceramicist of the Mid-century Modern movement. Born Rose Katz in the Bronx, New York, in 1914, she first worked with clay as a child at the Henry Street Settlement House. In 1936, she married childhood friend Erni Cabat, who became her artistic mentor and biggest supporter. In the late 1930s, Erni studied under Vally Wieselthier, a well-known Wiener Werkstatte potter and ceramic sculptor who had immigrated to the United States from Austria. In 1938, when Erni brought home a lump of clay to use for one of his own projects, Rose fashioned it into several coiled figures and other objects. Noticing Rose’s talent, Erni bought her a membership at Greenwich House Pottery in Greenwich Village. There she taught herself to create wheel-thrown pots in earthenware and to develop her own glazes. The Cabats moved to Tucson, Arizona, in 1942, when their first child developed asthma. The family grew, and Rose worked as a riveter at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. In Arizona, Rose first worked with clay from the local brickyard, and threw pots on a wheel made from a converted washing machine. Eventually, Rose worked with stoneware and porcelain clays on a professional Randall wheel, which she still uses to create her celebrated forms. In the mid-1950s, Rose exhibited her work nationally, including at the Tucson Art Center, later to become the Tucson Museum of Art.
Cabat’s artistic breakthrough came in 1956 when she accompanied Erni while he attended a conference in Hawaii. Rose stayed on to take a course in glaze calculation at the University of Hawaii, and returned home with new insights into the nuances of the craft. Together, Rose and Erni developed a glaze they named “feelie glaze” for its silky smoothness. In the early 1960s, Rose elevated her signature vases from utilitarian craft objects to museum-quality works of art; iconic rounded forms with delicate, narrow necks and jewel-colored glazes. In 1966, Rose participated in the Craftsmen USA exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which established her reputation as an important Mid-century Modern ceramicist. Rose Cabat will turn 100 this summer. This exhibition is a celebration of Cabat’s illustrious life and intrepid artistic achievements.