How did Boca Museum get one of last works by this famous artist?


Boca Raton Museum of Art assistant curator Lanya Snyder didn’t know what to expect when she visited sculptor and ceramicist Betty Woodman in her Chelsea studio in Manhattan last spring.

Artists, after all, can be aloof.

And Woodman’s career had been a formidable one. She was a feminist force in the once-macho world of ceramics, becoming the first living woman artist to have a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She blended painting and sculpture into an inventive hybrid that helped ceramics become accepted as fine art.

So Snyder was delighted to discover the artist was a gracious, welcoming host. And was saddened when she died January 2 at age 87.

“I can’t stress enough what a warm, hospitable, very personable person she was,” said Snyder, who visited Woodman to see how a piece commissioned for the current Boca Museum ceramics show was coming along. “She was quiet, maybe because she had just lost her husband, but she spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon with me. She made us tea. I found a personal connection to her that is not always the case.”

Woodman’s work, called “A Single Joy of Song,” is a huge, two-dimensional piece that spreads exuberantly across a wall in the museum. Woodman’s topic has long been the vase in various historic mutations.

In her piece for the Boca Museum, the vessels don’t hold something in. Instead, two vases jauntily spew forth bits and pieces of colored and uncolored clay shapes, reminiscent of Matisse’s paper cutouts. The pieces spread out over the wall in a work that is 10 feet tall by 23 feet long. The vase is set in a domestic scene that seems to be a house, whose walls are decorated to look like wallpaper.

Although Woodman was mourning the loss of her husband of 64 years, George, an artist and photographer, the effect of “Single Joy” is energetically joyous, even a trifle zany.

“It’s extraordinary that she created this massive wall piece specifically for our show,” said Snyder. “She didn’t have to say yes, we could have borrowed a work, but she very much wanted to keep working, even after the death of her husband.”

Woodman’s work is part of a major ceramics exhibit at the museum dedicated to George Ohr, known as the “mad potter of Biloxi” for his delicate but contorted vases and other vessels.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community

See streets of downtown Lake Worth transformed into work of art
See streets of downtown Lake Worth transformed into work of art

Like festivals? How about seeing regular city streets become canvases and slowly transformed into works of art? Then don’t miss out on the 2018 Lake Worth Street Painting Festival. This annual affair will be held Saturday and Sunday and will bring in over 600 artists. There will be featured artists from all over the country as well as local featured...
Fanboys, fangirls assemble, the Comic Con Revolution is here
Fanboys, fangirls assemble, the Comic Con Revolution is here

Love comic books and science fiction? Then get down to the Palm Beach Convention Center and check out Comic Con Revolution West Palm Beach. This one-day-only event will feature an incredible line up of guests. Among the creators, artists and authors at the festival will be: Chris Bachalo (Dr. Strange, X-Men, Generation X, Death), Patrick Broderick...
Tennis champ Serena Williams reveals she ‘almost died’ after giving birth to first baby
Tennis champ Serena Williams reveals she ‘almost died’ after giving birth to first baby

Tennis champion Serena Williams revealed she “almost died after giving birth” to her first child, daughter Olympia, last fall, according to a column by Williams on CNN.com.  >> Read more trending news  Williams had a relatively easy birth Sept. 1, 2017, delivering her daughter by C-section, but two hours later, she was in...
What is Graves’ disease? Wendy Williams opens up about her condition
What is Graves’ disease? Wendy Williams opens up about her condition

Fans of the “Wendy Williams Show” will have to watch re-runs for nearly a month, because the media maven is taking a three-week hiatus to treat her Graves’ disease.  >> Read more trending news  She made the announcement on air Wednesday, revealing that her doctor is requiring her to take a break from work to &ldquo...
Delray Beach grandson recalls Billy Graham’s favorite film, warm spirit
Delray Beach grandson recalls Billy Graham’s favorite film, warm spirit

Aram Tchividjian’s grandfather always used to say “he wanted to live to 100, and we were like, ‘Yeah, right,’” he remembers. “But the closer he got, the more we thought, knowing him ‘Well, wait a minute, maybe it’s gonna happen!’” Unfortunately, Rev. Billy Graham, or “Daddy Bill&rdquo...
More Stories