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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio • Page 123
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio • Page 123

Cincinnati, Ohio
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THE ENQUIRER BUSINESS SUNDAY. JULY 9, 2006 J3 artist new studio A join i By Annie-Laurie Blair o1 Trie EnquirerMichael E. Keating One of the original Rookwood Pottery molds the new Rookwood group will use is the mold for this 6-inch Union Terminal bookend. Enquirer contributor CAMP WASHINGTON The afternoon light spills across Patrick Dougherty's pottery studio upstairs in a Camp Washington warehouse. In the corner are stacks of Dougherty's undecorated ceramic sink basins, which he hand-paints for Misenko Boldman Fine Arts in New Mexico. Dougherty and fellow ceramic artists Terri Kern and Allan Nairn hunch over a worktable the latter two looking a little ragged. It is late June, and they have just returned from a sister-city trip to Nancy, France, with Cincinnati Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell and others, where the artists mounted an exhibit. It was at the 1889 Exposition Universale in Paris that Rookwood got its first international exposure, winning a gold medal in a contest of 616 ceramics exhibitors. At the 1900 World's Fair in Paris, it took home the Grand Prix award for best of show. Dougherty and the London-born Nairn are the first ceramic artists to sign on with the new Rookwood. Kern, a former president of the Clay Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, will be a consultant. All three are nationally known. A piece of Dougherty's art, for example, was the cover art for the invitation for the 2005 Smithsonian Craft Show. Of their Rookwood collaboration, Nairn says, 'We are challenging the integrity of our individual styles to make it go." While Rookwood's early pottery was thrown shaped on a wheel it used east forms almost exclusively by the turn of the century. One mold reveals a 9- by 12-inch tile design of the Tyler Davidson Fountain, so detailed that you can read its "To the People of Cincinnati" inscription. Another is a 6-inch bookend depicting Cincinnati Union Terminal. Nairn's fingers move surely around a multi-piece vase mold, showing how its notches fit together around the greenware, or un-fired clay. Their work is important to the success of the new company, and showcases some of the artistic talent Cincinnati has to offer, Rose says. "We need to make these guys 1 The EnquirerMichael E. Keating Patrick Dougherty, who works out of a studio in Camp Washington, has signed on to produce pieces for Chris Rose's new Rookwood Pottery group. Their discussion stops as Chris Rose and Mike Rafter, Rookwood's respective president and vice president of business development, arrive. They are hauling weighty plaster molds up the stairs. Rookwood's past is meeting its future. F'T jdir iiol E. Keating part of the Rookwood family." Allan Nairn removes a mold from a master va sculpture. The renowned Londcn-b orn artistdesign- ei is one of the firtt r.orcimic artist to skrn on E-mail net itn the new Rookwood gioup. Rookwood: Local group planning to revive storied pottery style i i4 i Ms-" VKt New backers of Rookwood Pottery CHRISTOPHER ROSE President and CEO Age: 37 Lives: Over-the-Rhine (grew up in Fin-neytown) Education: Bachelor of fine arts graphic design, University of the Arts, Philadelphia Career: Graphic and sculptural artist who has worked under renowned fine artist Steve Tobin, and collaborated on the Korean War Memorial and the Kuwait National Memorial. His graphic-design clients included Interbrand, Siegel Gale, LAGA, General Electric, Coca Cola and 3M. Factoid: German Pioneer Heritage Museum in Green Township was originally the 1850 log-cabin home of his ancestors, the Feist family. MIKE RAFTER Vice president of business development Age: 32 Lives: Mount Washington (grew up in Mariemont) Education: Bachelor of business administration, University of Cincinnati Career: Managing partner of Main-Street Lending in Covington. Has worked in sales, technology and real estate with numerous firms, including IBM and Computer Associates. Owned real-estate investment concerns in Colorado, Arizona. South Carolina and Ohio. Factoid: Knew Chris Rose through mutual friends; helped arrange Rose's mortgage. DOUG KARLS0N Vice president of sales Age: 43 Lives: Harwich, Mass. (native of California) Education: MBA in marketing, Stern School of Business, New York University Career: Has nearly two decades of marketing and sales experience in the specialty tile industry with his family firm, California-based Country Floors Inc. Designated a Ceramic Tile Consultant by the Ceramic Tile Institute. Factoid: Met Chris Rose through contacts at LAGA, a design and branding firm with offices in Walnut Hills. PATRICK ROSE Company title undetermined Age: 42 Lives: Finneytown and Warsaw, Poland Education: Bachelor in communications, Xavier University Career: Mechanical aerospace designer, on leave of absence from TK Engineering Associates, which supports GE Aviation. Earlier worked in radio and film. Helped produce: Three books on transportation as a long-time member of the Cincinnati Railroad Club. Factoid: Flew 6,000 miles for a date with Polish systems engineer Iwona Smucerowicz, whom he married this year. They met while working on a global project. i From Page Jl In June 2004, a UMhiicIi black iris-glazed Rookwood vase made in 1900 and decorated by one of its top artists, Kataro Shiravamada-ni, sold for $350,750, setting an auction record for a piece of American art pottery. That vase is now in the Cincinnati Art Museum's permanent collection. Rose said the new company plans to produce high-end items and designs that are affordable to a broad market. "So much of our ceramics (production) has moved off-shore," says Gary Childress, general manager of the nonprofit Edward J. Orton Ceramic Foundation in suburban Columbus. "High-quality producers are the only ones left. To have the Rookwood Pottery up and running again, to reestablish the brand, that's certainly an opportunity." Secret recipes, quiet deal Purchase price of the May deal with Dr. Arthur Townley was not disclosed. Initial financing has come mainly from friends and family though those friends include pop star and Cincinnati native Nick Lachey, Rose says. Rose also has enlisted the help of Stan Aronoff, arts patron, lobbyist and former president of the Ohio Senate. Aronoff says he plans to explore state Department of Development assistance and venture-capital organizations, both public and private. Rose's management group includes an expert in the sales of high-end ceramic tile and architectural pieces, a start-up expert with a business management degree, and a branding and marketing veteran. For technical advice, such as decoding Rookwood's glazing recipes almost as much a secret as That Skyline Sauce the company hired the Orton Ceramic Foundation of Westerville, Ohio. The foundation is known for its ceramic engineers, who are specialists in kiln operations and py-rometric devices and have done fuel-cell research for NASA Orton began working on Rookwood's processing systems about a year ago, says Childress, and is ready to help them set up production. "Chris Rose seems to be doing everything right," says Anita Ellis, head curator at the Cincinnati Art Museum, and a Rookwood expert. "He is studying the past, formulas, shapes and designs and using that as a springboard into new lines of Rookwood," says Ellis, who has been following his business progression for months. "I can only wish him well." None of this would have happened if Chris' brother, Patrick, had not gone in search of some bookends for a friend. The EnquirerMichael E. Keating Chris Rose, a 37-year-old artist whose ancestors arrived in the Queen City in the 1850s, says his new Rookwood Pottery Company plans to use modern technology to achieve the same results as Rookwood did in its heyday, 1880-1930. Dr. Arthur Townley, of Brooklyn, had bought the moldings he eventually sold to Chris Rose and his group. S. McGeeDe-troit Free Press iff- I I rA rsLA and design experts, or in finance. The start-up money of several hundred thousand dollars will carry them through the first year. They project $1 million in revenue for the first year and $10 million within five years, according to Ed Wandtke, an intellectual property expert from Columbus who helping them with fundraising. Luckily, equipment for pottery making is relatively cheap, and the custom orders they are seeking pay a 50 percent deposit. They have contracted with interior designers Jennifer Ween, known for spa projects around the world, and Kirk Christcnsen, known for corporate projects, and for custom work on homes and offices. But the market for high-end ceramics projects is difficult to gauge. The U.S. Department of Commerce tracks consumption of commercial tile used for flooring. The latest figures show 79 percent of all tile used in the U.S. is from overseas. Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallo-ry, who has met with the Rookwood group several times, points out the extensive use of stone and tile in this year's Homearama. This is the perfect time for the relaunch of the brand," he says. E-mail finally signed all the papers, Townley broke down in tears. "He never thought of this as just a business opportunity," Chris says. "He wanted to start a movement." 'These medals are ours now' Chris Rose and some of his management group are touring the Cincinnati Art Museum's Rookwood exhibits. It is June 7, just weeks after they took control of the company. Rose makes a beeline for the Procter Gamble Gallery, where Rookwood's The Four Seasons architectural piece is installed. The four tiled panels graced the former Hotel Sinton at Fourth and Vine, Cincinnati's finest hotel for decades. The group moves among the pieces, talking about the artistry. Rose rests his fingers on a display case containing Rookwood's many medals from national and international art exhibitions. "All these medals are ours now," he says quietly, bending closer to look at them. Out on the patio of the museum cafe, the talk rums to business. Only Rose is working on Rookwood full time at this point, and some in this group aren't ready to be identified, because they still hav-- iobs as marketing "That's the last thing a collector ever wants," says Townley, now 80. Patrick went to visit the dentist and his wife. "It was pretty powerful, when we walked into his basement the sight of all these master molds and blocks," Patrick remembers. They were delivered in the crates they had been shipped in from Mount Adams in 1961." He offered to buy the company. Townley refused one of many refusals he'd issued throughout the years. But he did tell Patrick, "come back in three years." Patrick did return, and he took his brother, Chris. The deal took almost 18 months to finalize, but when they Treasures in a basement Not just any bookends, mind you, but Rookwood replicas of Cincinnati Union Terminal. Patrick Rose, 42, is a railroad and transportation geek who has helped the Cincinnati Railroad Club produce three books. Patrick's search led him to Townley, a Michigan dentist and pottery collector who, in 1982, flew to Starkville, to buy Rookwood's assets with his life savings. After the Depression, the company went through bankruptcy and dispersal of its collections, was sold and resold, and finally moved to Starksville. Townley discovered that an Asian firm was trying to buy the molds for mass production overseas.

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