Latest Gallery Exhibits Showcase Ceramics

As the winter months approach, so does a new collection of art to be showcased at the Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art on the campus of Central Methodist University.

Beginning October 25, the Gallery in CMU’s Classic Hall will play host to a pair of exhibits featuring ceramic artwork. Some of the works have already been on display, with Italian ceramics from the Laura Perez Mesa collection available to view in the outer lobby. But the main focus of the “Recent Acquisitions” show will be the California ceramics donated to the Gallery from the collection of Karen Haslag and Roger Hurlbert of Jefferson City.

The relationship between the family and the Gallery goes back several decades, to when Haslag was a student at what is now Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. Ashby-Hodge registrar Dr. Joe Geist was a professor there and crossed paths with Haslag, beginning a long friendship between the two. In the years following her time in Kansas, Haslag moved to California for graduate school. It was there that her collection of ceramics began – although she didn’t recognize it as such at the time.

“I had no idea when I bought my first piece that I would eventually collect as much as I did,” she said, adding that many of her pieces, especially the early ones, were purchased at the Fine Eye Gallery in Sutter Creek, California.

Fine ceramics like the ones in the collection have a unique dual purpose in the art world. They are both beautiful pieces to display and practical for use in the kitchen and dining room. In fact, Haslag said that most of hers were even microwave-safe.

“My interest in having these beautiful dishes is really simple,” said Haslag, “when we serve a meal in our home, I love to set a beautiful table.”

She still loves to set a beautiful table for family and friends, but since their move back to the mid-Missouri area about three and a half years ago, Haslag and Hulbert have been “letting go of things” from their large collection. Haslag said she considered dividing up the collection among her nieces and nephews, but after years of regularly attending exhibits at the Gallery, she “realized that the total grouping was of such beauty and integrity that it just dawned on me one day to offer them to Ashby-Hodge.”

Now, some of her favorite pieces will be on display for a wider audience than ever before, where they can be appreciated as the one-of-a-kind works of art that they are.

“I’m very happy that we had this idea because now they’re all together in what I know to be not only an art museum, but within a larger college campus that’s very stable moving forward,” said Haslag of her donated pieces.

The California ceramics and other recent acquisitions will be available for viewing from October 25 through December 10, excluding Thanksgiving week. The Gallery is open from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. every Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday on the first floor of Classic Hall. All visitors are required to wear masks and practice social distancing at this time. For more information, call 660-248-6304.

Learn More
Apply Now