Group of Weed Pots and Vases (c. 1960-1970) by Doyle LaneNew Orleans Museum of Art
New Orleans born
Doyle Lane (American, 1923-2002) was born in New Orleans but, like other Black artisans of his era, he followed the promise of greater opportunities outside the segregated American South.
By the late 1940s, Lane was in Los Angeles, where he finished his education at the University of Southern California. He studied with F. Carlton Ball, Ken Price, Vivika Heino, and Glen Lukens, putting the potter at the center of California’s formative years of clay exploration.
Early in his career, Doyle Lane worked as a glaze technician with chemical supplier L. H. Butcher Company. Notably, the potter was one of the few Black Los Angeles artists who made their living working only in art through the 1960s to 1980s.
Experimental Studio Glazes
Lane maintained an East Los Angeles (El Sereno district) home and studio, working on his vibrant glazes that bubbled lusciously, cracked sharply, and dripped dangerously off the edges of meticulous little pots.
Several Los Angeles galleries were supporters of Doyle Lane’s pottery, including the Brockman Gallery, which operated from 1967 to 1989 championing the work of underrepresented artists in Los Angeles.
Collectible "Weed" pots
Brockman regularly sold Lane’s delicate clay bead necklaces and “weed” pots (so named for the tiny opening that showcases a single stem), keeping the gallery solvent to give vital exposure to Black, women, and Korean artists.
Dedication to Glazes
Doyle Lane noted in a rare 1981 Studio Potter interview, there was "no secret, just work" in his glazes. Lane described his studied experimentation and emphasized that results varied depending on firing times, how pots were stacked in the kiln, or even the weather.
Famous Red Glaze
On his vivid red glazes, Doyle Lane admitted “The reds are tricky, and you could write a whole thesis on them.”
In addition to traditional thrown forms, like vases, Doyle Lane made two-dimensional artworks he called “clay paintings.” In these murals or stand-alone flat tiles, the durable glaze allows color experimentation to live in changing light outdoors.
The Play of Sunshine
A “clay painting” was part of the landmark 1969 "Objects USA" exhibition of American craft. Lane mused in the catalog: "Why not take paintings out of doors where one might sit and watch the changing play of sunshine on the glazes, and thus have changes in mood during the day?"
Collections with Doyle Lane pots include:
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Oakland Museum of California, California African American Museum, and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
For more on Doyle Lane, watch this 2021 conversation between LACMA curator Staci Steinberger and gallery owner Dale Brockman Davis, presented by R & Company Gallery during their Objects USA: 2020 exhibition.
Bright Glazes, Black Art: A Conversation on Doyle Lane,
A February 2021 conversation between LACMA curator Staci Steinberger and gallery owner Dale Brockman Davis, presented by R & Company Gallery during their Objects USA: 2020 exhibition.
Mel Buchanan, Curator of Decorative Arts & Design, NOMA.
Object Photography: Sesthasak Boonchai, NOMA
Doyle Lane (American, 1923-2002), Six “Weed" Pots”and one Vase, 1960s/70s. Glazed earthenware, Tallest vase: 7 1/4 x 4 5/8 inch. New Orleans Museum of Art, Museum purchase, William McDonald Boles and Eva Carol Boles Fund, 2021.39-.43 and Gift of E. John Bullard 2021.37-.38