The following biographical data is being submitted by Allen R. Hicks, curator of the
retrospective exhibition entitled The Art of Win Ng, which was held at the Chinese
Historical Society of America Museum in San Francisco from April 13 through July 24, 2005.
Allen R. Hicks holds a Master’s Degree in Gallery and Museum Studies from Sonoma State University (2004), and currently works as an art consultant for Modern Masters Fine Art Gallery in Palm Desert, California. Mr. Hicks is married to Katherine Ng Hicks, sister to Win Ng, and, as such, enjoys full access to the archives and family collections of the art of Win Ng.
BIOGRAPHY for Win Ng:
Born in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Win Ng established his reputation as a master ceramist, with an initial focus on abstract, non-utilitarian works in the tradition of Peter Voulkos. Raised in Chinatown, he attended Saint Mary’s Academy for six years where he studied Chinese language. Later, he attended City College of San Francisco, and San Francisco State. After discharge from the army, he resumed his studies in ceramics at the California School of Fine Arts (later known as the San Francisco Art Institute), and received his BFA in 1959. In1960, he attended Mills College, but never completed his MFA.
In 1958 he had his first one man show at the Michow Gallery in New York, then, in 1961, was represented by Braunstein Gallery in San Francisco (now the Braunstein/Quay Gallery) who continues to represent his work posthumously. Many traditional critics feel that Ng’s important work dates from 1958 to 1965, the years before he shifted his creative output from gallery art to more functional work.
This “functional” work was a collaborative entrepreneurial endeavor with artist Spaulding Taylor. As co-founder of Environmental Ceramics (later to be named Taylor & Ng), Win Ng established himself as a consummate decorative designer and innovative entrepreneur. Taylor & Ng shifted the paradigm in retail merchandising by raising the awareness and perception of the mass market toward finely wrought hand-crafted artware, and in the process became the model for many culinary and speciality stores to follow. The Chinese Wok was just one of many objects
Taylor & Ng help to popularize.
Following a twenty-year journey (from 1965 to 1985) Taylor & Ng grew from a small ceramics shop on Howard Street, to a mega, multi-level emporium at Embarcadero Center. There were also stores at the Stanford Shopping Center and other Bay Area locations as well a Taylor & Ng shop inside Macy’s in New York.
But Ng continued with his fine art even during this two-decade decorative period. He produced a veritable torrent of work—thrown ceramic bowls, pots, bottles, vases, dishes, slab constructions, sculptures in earthenware and metal, paintings, drawings, book illustrations, as well as hundreds of decorative designs for Taylor & Ng—in scales ranging from minute to monumental. And while this public departure from the purely fine art realm may have cost him an ongoing reputation in the gallery/museum world, it was his renewed focus on fine art in the final years of his life, as well as his innovations in decorative and ceramic arts that underscore his important contribution as a post-modern artist. In the last decade of his life (1981-1991) Win Ng would leave the retail world and re-visit in earnest his deep passion, “bringing together in one integrated work” his artful life.
MAJOR MUSEUM AND ARTIST ASSOCIATION EXHIBITIONS—INVITATIONAL
1959—Third Pacific Coast Biennial of Painting and Sculpture; Visa European Touring Exhibition of American Crafts;
1960— Pittsburgh International, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
1961—Eighth International Exhibition of Ceramic Arts, Smithsonian Institute; First Biennial Exhibition of USA Drawing, St. Paul Gallery, St. Paul, Minnesota
1962— Seattle World Fair, Seattle, Washington; Third International Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics, Prague, Czechoslovakia; Young American, Museum of Contemporary Craft, New York, New York; Contemporary Art Now, Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire;Alfred Invitational, Alfred University, Alfred, New York;
1963—California Sculptures, Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, California; Contemporary Ceramics, University of St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri;
1964—International Exhibition of Ceramic Arts, National Museum of Modern Arts, Tokyo, Japan (Traveling Exhibition); Ceramic Invitational, Edmonton Gallery, Edmonton, Canada (Traveling Exhibition); “Amusement”, Museum of Contemporary Craft, New York, New York; West Coast Art, University of Oregon, Portland, Oregon; American Crafts, Contemporary Crafts Museum, New York, New York; Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Academy, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
1965—Exposition of Contemporary Ceramics, Museum Cantini, Marseilles, France; American Craftsmen, Krannart Art Museum, Champaign, Illinois; California State College; Utah State College, Tenth International Exchange of Ceramic Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; 23rd Ceramic National, Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York; La Jolla Museum, La Jolla, California; Far Western Designer Craftsmen, Brigham Young University, Utah.
1966—American Ceramic Arts, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England; Ceramic Arts USA, Skokie, Illinois; California Ceramic Sculpture, Reed College, California;
1969—Object USA, Johnson Wax Corporation, Racine, Wisconsin;
1981—Braunstein Gallery, 20th Anniversary, San Francisco, California;
1986—American Potters Today, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England;
1990—Braunstein Gallery, Bay Area Sculptors of the 1960s, Then and Now.
1958: 1st Award, Ceramic Sculpture, “Pottery 58”, De Young Museum, San Francisco;
1959: 1st Award, Purchase, Sculpture, 78th Annual Painting & Sculpture Exhibiting, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art;
1961: 1st Award; Purchase, Sculpture, 21st Ceramic National, Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York;
1962: Ward, Sculpture, 82nd Annual Painting & Sculpture, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Award, Purchase, Sculpture, San Francisco Art Festival;
1964: Award, Purchase, Sculpture, San Francisco Art Festival; Award, National Jury’s Choice for Best in Show and 3 other prizes, Purchase, Sculpture, 23rd Ceramic national, Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York;
1965: 1st Award, Sculpture, “One Score”, De Young Museum, San Francisco, California;
1969: 1st Award, Purchase, Sculpture, San Francisco Art Festival;
1987: 1st Award, Paintings, 15th Annual Art Expo, Ingram, Texas.
COLLECTIONS—INSTITUTIONAL THAT CURRENTLY HOLD WORK
Smithsonian, via the Johnson Wax Collection;
Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo;
Acquisition Board, Taiwan Government, Gift of the City of San Francisco;
Victoria & Albert Museum Acquisition Board
Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, New York;
Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York
Asian Art Museum, Foundation Collection, San Francisco, California
Oakland Museum, Oakland, California
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
De Young Museum, San Francisco, California (acquisition pending, 2006)
San Francisco Art Commission, San Francisco, California
Mills College Art Gallery, Oakland, California
Hal Riegger, “The Pottery of Win Ng,” Ceramics Monthly, (Professional Publications, Inc., Columbus, OH, 1963), 11.4, 16.
Roland Prijoles and Wiley Wong, interview by Allen R. Hicks, tape recording, San Francisco, CA, 8 May 2004.
Abner Jonas, Clay Today, The New Gallery Department of Art, School of Fine Arts, State University of Iowa, artist catalogue (1963): 3.
Thomas Albright, Art in the San Francisco Bay Area–1945-1980–An Illustrated History (San Francisco: UC Press, 1985), 135.
William T. Wiley, phone interview by Allen R. Hicks, Forrest Knolls, CA, 15 Oct. 2004.
Spaulding Taylor, interview by Allen R. Hicks, tape recording, San Francisco, CA, May 2, 2004. Appendix, 58.
Rose Slivka, “The New Ceramic Presence,” Craft Horizons, (New York: American Craftsmen’s Council), July/Aug. 1961: 24.
Yoshiko Uchida, “Win Ng”, Craft Horizons, (New York: American Craftsmen’s Council), Jan./Feb., 1960: 33.
Jade Snow Wong, phone interview by Allen R. Hicks, San Francisco, CA, 25 Mar. 2004.
Adolphus Wong, interview by Allen R. Hicks, tape recording, San Francisco, CA, 30 Apr. 2004. Appendix, 63.
Mildred Hamilton, "Taylor & Ng: Up and Out of the Garage,” S.F. Examiner, (Hearst Communications, Inc., San Francisco), 19 Sept.
1979: 21.Ibid., Hamilton, 21.
Herb Caen, “File & Forget,” San Francisco Chronicle, (Hearst Communications, Inc., San Francisco), 9 Dec. 1967: D1.
Ruth Braunstein, interview by Allen R. Hicks, tape recording, San Francisco, CA, April 28, 2004. Appendix, 52.
Mark Van Proyen, Win Ng, exhibit review, Artweek, 25 May 1985: 6.
Beth Fagan, “Ceramic Studio,” The Sunday Oregonian, Portland, OR., 8 Sep. 1963: 18.
Win Ng, interview by Mary Brown, “Psychological Aspects,” San Francisco, CA., 14 Dec. 1976, unpublished transcript, Win Ng Archives.
Win Ng, artist statement, exhibit display board, c. 1959. Win Ng Archives.