Saturday, February 04, 2017

Pasadena History Museum: Tile and Ceramic Exhibit

Clay peacock by Ernest A. Batchelder
The Pasadena Museum of History is a hidden gem, located on the eastern side of L.A. County. Although it can seem like it's a million miles away, especially during rush hour, the handful of exhibits I've seen there have been wonderful—small and intimate, without all the extraneous trappings of larger museums. Currently showing are two fabulous exhibits: Batchelder: Tilemaker and Cast & Fired: Pasadena's Mid-Century Ceramics Industry. Both exhibits have been extended till March 12 by popular demand.


Born in New Hampshire in 1875, Ernest A Batchelder was appointed head of the art department at Throop Polytechnic Institute (later CalTech) in the early 20th century. In 1910, he started producing clay tiles in the backyard of his craft-style home at 626 S. Arroyo Blvd. in Pasadena. The rest is design history, as Batchelder became one of the premier tilemakers in the country. His work was very much informed by the local Arts & Crafts Movement and is seen prominently in Southern California bungalows. Unlike his contemporaries, who used glossy finishes, Batchelder preferred a matte surface, called engobe. As you can see, he specialized in fireplaces, fountains, and other architectural adornments.

 Batchelder's emblem: a rabbit (like the rabbit
on the moon) and his initials, EAB 

Various tiles


Large tile

Later, more colorful tiles


Tiles (my favorites)

Latin American influence

Little Jack Horner and other children's tales

Tile flooring--too beautiful to walk on!

Pasadena Ceramics

Karen, in particular, loves Batchelder, but we both just about swooned over the mid-century ceramics exhibit in the next room. Who knew that Pasadena was home to over 100 potteries, ceramics producers and china manufacturers before and directly after WWII? All the pieces exhibited were handmade by various artists.

 Stylized bowl

 Delicate swan figurine

And matching vase

Lovely lady with parasol


Ashtray and matching finger bowl

Stylized cat by Roselane (my favorite)

Roselane dinnerware (love the colors!)

Other dinnerware pieces


Cat by Twin Winton


P.S. While we were in the neighborhood, Karen and I also stopped by the Pasadena Museum of California Art to see its current exhibit, In the Land of Sunshine: Imaging the California Coast Culture.  Highly recommended if you're interested in surf culture or have ever lived near a California beach. Ends February 19.

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