In 1970, ceramicist Doyle Lane, brilliant in both technique and hue, was the highlight of two major shows: the nomadic “Objects: USA,” in which he showed a vibrant ocher and turquoise tile mural, and “California Black Craftsmen,” likely the first exhibition devoted entirely to its titular category of makers. The next decades weren’t entirely kind; art institutions, then and still too often now, ignored art and design that didn’t fit into their ideas of what Black makers should do. Lane carried on, devoting much of his practice to the creation of astoundingly elegant “weed pots,” circular and squat and swelling vessels for a single, straggly piece of nature, each coated in a glaze devised by Lane to suit their contours.
Lane built a remarkable community of architects and Black networks to support himself as best he could until he died in 2002. And then, as with Alvin Baltrop and Sylvester and so many other Black innovators, the world began to catch up to his work when he was gone. In 2020, the artist Ricky Swallow curated a show of weed pots at David Kordansky Gallery’s L.A. outpost. This summer, the show arrives in New York. Lane’s pots, arranged lined up seemingly without pattern but in an almost infinite variety of crackle and form, are not to be missed. They demonstrate what persistence of vision can make.