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modern ceramics

Gray’s devotes May 22 auction to modern ceramics, art glass

modern ceramics
Stoneware vessel by Cleveland School ceramist Claude Conover titled ‘MAAC,’ 24½in. high. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000. Gray’s image

CLEVELAND – Gray’ Modern Ceramics and Art Glass Auction on Wednesday, May 22, will feature the work of the admired Ohio potter, sculptor and teacher George Roby, including works from Roby’s personal collection, plus a single-owner art glass collection from an Ohio collector. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

In all, 267 lots totaling over 1,000 pieces will cross the auction block, starting at 11 a.m. Eastern time.

The first six lots of the auction are dedicated to the noted Cleveland School ceramist Claude Conover (American, 1907-1994), an artist whose works rarely come up at auction in a such a large grouping. Conover specialized in creating architectural pieces of large proportion, and his work is highly sought after by collectors. He was a commercial designer before devoting himself full-time to pottery.

Works by Conover to be sold include a stoneware vessel titled MAAC, 24½ inches high by 11¼ inches wide (above; est. $6,000-$8,000); a stoneware vessel titled Baach, 20¼ inches high by 14¼ inches wide (est. $4,000-$6,000); and a stoneware vessel titled Aclix, 21 inches high by 15 inches wide. All three pieces have been artist signed and titled on the bottom and are accompanied by the original clear plastic insert.

Conover’s works are followed in the sale by four lots from Helen Beling (American, 1914-2001), a nonobjective sculptor who worked in a variety of media in her career, including bronze, ceramic and wood. The New York City native studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League of New York. Her work has been exhibited at the Met and Whitney museums in New York.

Sculptures by Beling set to cross the auction block will include a Belplast sculpture titled Crenellated and Arched, 48 inches tall by 35½ inches wide (est. $4,000-$6,000); a fiberglass, polyester resin, aluminum mesh and wood sculpture titled Man at Conference Table, unsigned (est. $4,000-$6,000); and a Belplast sculpture titled Red Warrior (est. $2,000-$4,000). Belpast is an amalgam of fiberglass, reinforced resin and bronze powder that was created and used exclusively by Beling.

modern ceramics
Belplast work by Helen Beling titled ‘Crenellated and Arched,’ 48in. tall by 35½in. wide. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000. Gray’s image

Lots 11-26 are all pieces by the Ohio potter and sculptor George Roby (American, 1936-2017). Roby’s work included large, expressive slab and coil-built sculptures that were suitable for indoor or outdoor exhibit. He also produced functional stoneware using both hand-built and wheel-thrown techniques. Roby used special oxides and glazing techniques that augment the characteristics of electric firing. This process resulted in striking surfaces and colors that coincided with Roby’s well-conceived forms. He became well known through juried exhibitions such as the Cleveland May Show, Butler Sculpture and Ceramics exhibit and Ohio Designer Craftsmen. His works can be found in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Butler Institute of American Art and the Columbus Museum of Art.

Work by Roby in the auction – which include plaster busts, stoneware and raku abstract sculptures, and large stoneware sculptural vessels – will feature an abstract stoneware sculpture and base, unsigned (est. $150-$250); a raku ceramic in two parts titled Bird Bath, signed on the base and 32¼ inches in height (est. $100-$200); and a group of six raku ceramic bowls and cups, all unsigned (est. $150-$250).

modern ceramics
Abstract stoneware sculpture and base by the Ohio potter and sculptor George Roby, unsigned. Estimate: $150-$250. Gray’s image

Most of the ceramics in the auction come from Roby’s personal collection. They’re followed by a collection of Ephraim pottery.

The art glass portion of the catalog comes next with a Val St. Lambert art glass vase (lot 154), followed by 100 lots of glass by Murano, Orient and Flume, Lundberg Studios, Vandermark & Merritt and others. The sale closes with Chinese cloisonné and Japanese Tokoname.

A hand-blown, 20th century Cleveland School art glass center bowl (below), unsigned, 14½ inches in diameter, has an estimate of $600-$800; a 20th century Chinese cloisonné teapot and bowl set is expected to bring $200-$400; and an unsigned 20th century Japanese Tokoname redware vase with dragon form handles and decoration, unsigned, 18¼ inches tall and 9½ inches in diameter, should command $80-$120.

modern ceramics
Hand-blown Cleveland School art glass center bowl, unsigned, 14½in. in diameter. Estimate: $600-$800. Gray’s image

Also selling will be an untitled ceramic by George Somogyi (American, 1923-2009), unsigned (est. $150-$250); a 20th century Ephraim pottery vase by Laura Klein, signed and 14¼ inches tall, one of 35 lots that feature the work of Klein in the auction (est. $80-$120); a Lundberg Studios  art glass vase from 2002, signed and dated, 12½ inches tall (est. 80-$120); a 20th century Orient & Flume art glass vase, signed and numbered on the bottom (est. $80-$120); and a pair of 20th century Vandermark art glass jack-in-the-pulpit vases both signed on the bottom (est. $80-$120).

modern ceramics
Two Ephraim pottery vases produced in the 20th century by Laura Klein, the larger one being 12in. tall, both signed on the bottom, being sold as one lot. Estimate: $80-$120. Gray’s image

Contact Gray’s Auctioneers & Appraisers for details: 216-226-3300 or

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modern ceramics