Tag Archives: Henry Varnum Poor

Visual artist Doris Laughton finds inspiration in New City

Doris Laughton in her studio in New City. (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)

Doris Laughton in her studio in New City. (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)

I had the great opportunity to finally get to chat with Doris Laughton, a wildly creative multimedia artist and notable neighbor on South Mountain Road in New City.

Her “splat” sculptures have earned her the nickname of “splat lady,” but her work — with her art and her dedicated stewardship of her unique home, designed by 20th century painter and potter Henry Varnum Poor, who also lived on “The Road” — goes well beyond that. The house has been owned and occupied by artists for all but a couple of years in the five-plus decades since it was built — first Judith Freedman Deming, who was Poor’s niece and a  founder and longtime proprietor of Fiberworks in Nyack, and, since 2008, Laughton.

Go to lohud.com to read the full interview with Laughton.

Sold: Henry Varnum Poor pottery

Three beautiful pieces of craft pottery by Henry Varnum Poor were sold by Rago Arts of Lambertville, N.J., in an auction of Modern Art this weekend. Each piece sold, but at the lower end of the expected price range. Perhaps the late artist’s son, Peter Poor, underestimated the impact of the weak economy on art buying.

Based on an interview with Peter in The New York Times last week, it appeared that this was just the first phase of selling off his father’s works. I for one am hoping that results of this weekend’s sale will slow Peter’s efforts, and but enough time for to convince him that preserving the majority of the collection intact for display at Crow House, the Poor family home and studio in New City, N.Y., is the right thing to do. It’s important to preserve Henry Varnum Poor’s legacy for future generations — and where better to house it than in the place where it was made!

Here are photos of the items, with Rago Arts predicted prices and the prices at which the items sold.

075Early compote with incised pear designs glazed in yellow and green on cream ground, 1948. (Provenance: From the Poor Estate, New York.) Signed HP 48. 5 1/2″ x 9 1/2″
Estimate: $3,000 – 4000
Sale Price: $3,360

076Early cylindrical faience jar with incised bull, cow and other animals covered in cream and brown glaze with yellow and green highlights, 1951. (Provenance: From the Poor Estate, New York.) Signed HP 51. 6 1/2″ x 5 3/4″ dia.
Estimate: $2,500 – 4500
Sale Price: $3,000

077Faience plate with incised leaf design and bowl with bird, both on mottled cream, blue and deep red ground, 1970. (Provenance: From the Poor Estate, New York.) Both signed HP 70. 10 1/4″ dia. and 1 3/4″ x 8″ dia.

Estimate: $2,000 – 3000
Sale Price: $2,160

How much of Crow House’s art will fly away?

A view from inside the Crow House studio of some of the work that could soon be sold.

A view from inside the Crow House studio showing only a few of the artworks housed in Henry Varnum Poor's self-designed homestead.

The news in Thursday morning’s edition of The New York Times about what’s happening at Crow House, the rambling New City home of the late visual artist Henry Varnum Poor is truly distressing. The idea that artwork created by Poor, who is known as the father of the modern craft pottery movement, that has been in the curious and intriguing homestead for decades is being sold off by Poor’s surviving son, Peter.

While some of the items in the house were clearly the property of family members and subject to removal, many of us who worked to save the home from the wrecker’s ball and get it into the hands of the historically sensitive administration of the Town of Ramapo believed that there was an understanding that an option existed to keep the bulk of the art with the house.

That’s clearly no longer the case, if it ever was, as evidenced by Peter Poor’s decision to sell four ceramic pieces made by his father — three of them from Crow House — at Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, N.J., on Saturday.

Certainly, Peter Poor has the right to his personal property. He can sell it, tuck it away, or smash and burn it in an affront to his father’s  memory if he likes. But he should consider the public value of his father’s legacy. To dispose of the art piecemeal would surely destroy the sense of continuity and scale that exists with the art on site where it was created. It appears that’s not something Peter Poor cares much about, given his quote about people who want to see the collection preserved: “They’re living in the past.”

It’s easy to assume that Peter Poor will simply sell a few pieces for profit, and that will be the end of it. But what he tells The Times about Saturday’s auction suggests that there is more — much more — to come.

“I wanted to put some things up with Rago to see what interest there was,” he tells The Times, adding, “This is sort of an experiment.”

That is an experiment that can only bring grief.