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Published on : Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Bauhaus-trained Marguerite Wildenhain (1896–1985) enjoyed a prodigious sixty-year career as a master potter. Born in France, she immigrated to the United States in 1940 to escape persecution as World War II gripped Europe. In 1942, Wildenhain was the first of several artists to move to Pond Farm, a Bauhaus-inspired school and refuge for artists established by Architect Gordon Herr and his heiress wife Jane Herr in Guerneville, California. Pond Farm Workshops opened in 1949, but differences in opinions led to the demise of the artists’ colony after only a few years. Only Wildenhain remained, where she ran a successful pottery studio and school until her retirement in 1980.
For thirty years, Wildenhain taught more than twenty students each summer to master the art of wheel-thrown pottery, influencing several generations of studio potters. When not teaching, she concentrated on her own work, creating pieces ranging from vases and teapots to decorative relief tiles. Wildenhain became known for her earth-colored, semi-matte ceramics, which display designs and textures inspired by nature. Traveling to countries in South America and Central America, as well as visiting Mexico and the American Southwest, further inspired her work.
This exhibition celebrates the legacy of this Sonoma County potter and displays an exceptional range of her work—from utilitarian vessels to decorative reliefs. All of the objects are from the collection of Forrest L. Merrill, who first met Wildenhain in the early 1960s. Fascinated by her life and work, he initially purchased two bowls from her. Merrill continued to collect Wildenhain’s work over the years and developed a lifelong friendship with the artist.
Pond Farm: A National Treasure
The National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a nationwide program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archaeological resources. While most historic properties listed in the National Register are significant only at the regional or state level, Pond Farm was found to be nationally significant for its association with Marguerite Wildenhain and her pioneering influence on studio pottery in the United States. Since 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, California State Parks Foundation, and California State Parks have worked in partnership to revitalize Pond Farm and preserve it for future generations. Pond Farm is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is also designated a National Treasure.
A Potter’s Life: Marguerite Wildenhain at Pond Farm is located beyond security screening in Terminal 2, Departures Level, San Francisco International Airport. The exhibition is on view to Terminal 2 ticketed passengers from December 19, 2015 to October 16, 2016. There is no charge to view the exhibition.
SFO Museum was established by the Airport Commission in 1980 for the purposes of humanizing the Airport environment, providing visibility for the unique cultural life of San Francisco, and providing educational services for the traveling public. The Museum was granted initial accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 1999, reaccredited in 2005, and has the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport. Today, SFO Museum features approximately twenty galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation.