Arts in crafts

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I’m not sure exactly why I haven’t walked into Wexler Gallery until now. After all, everything looks swell in the windows.

I suppose part of is has to do with it being more like a shop than a gallery, its goods all aglitter. And part of it might be a little Philadelphia stodginess, a slowness to welcome what’s new.

But I passed by last week and pushed myself through the door, having been tipped off by my husband and a friend of his about some great, rock-like pottery upstairs (shown above, Lip Vessel, by Randy O’Brien).

Now I had just seen some rocklike pottery over at Snyderman, giant clay boulders by Paul Chaleff (shown left), that didn’t move me one way or the other. So when I went in, I was thinking rocks in the sense of something realistic.

But the rocks at Wexler, traditionally shaped clay pots with amazing glazes, were not in the least realistic. Their claim to fame were both intense colors (oh, I’m so sorry my picture doesn’t quite capture the wonderful glow) and these fissures, created by four layers of glaze that crack to reveal the dark underglazes, looking sort of like a dried out, crazed mud flat . It’s one trick but it’s a good one.

Wexler, which is a crafts gallery, also carries things that qualify as art, such as the little crocheted steel-wire suits of clothes by Donna Rosenthal (shown, Warrior Clothing). Just 3 or 4 inches tall with rhinestone buttons and beautifully made, they are loaded with meanings. Clearly, these perfect little suits were not made to dress a doll, nor were tiny chainmail tutus a likely outfit for a warrior.

Wexler also carries work by Heeseung Lee (shown, left to right, Lee’s Landscape Vase with Butterfly and Landscape Vase with Peacocks) and Rain Harris, two clay artists whose art resonates with meanings beyond the level of craft. We’ve written about both of them before. Anyway, if Snyderman and the Works are galleries, so is Wexler. I’m sold.

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