Lane, Hill and James / LAMA

Lot 158 Tony Hill Lamp

Tony Hill, Wilmer James and Doyle Lane were all black ceramicists in Los Angeles during the mid-century. They also all studied under Glen Lukens.

Tony happened upon a night class Glen Lukens was teaching to “housewives and war workers” at the Pueblo at the Del Rio housing project ( Paul Revere Williams and Richard Neutra helped design the layout of Pueblo Del Rio). Tony was instantly inspired by the potential ceramics had to offer and was the first black student enrolled in ceramics classes at USC under Lukens. It was Lukens who encouraged Hill to start his lamp business. 

The lamp can be seen here with a shade, to the right of Tony himself.
He was in California Design 7 (1961)

Photo: Jet, 1957

Tony Hill and Wilmer James 

In 1944 Tony co-founded a studio in Los Angeles on South Arlington Ave with Wilmer James. According to a 1946 Ebony article, Tony tried to rent a store and “Security First National Bank wouldn't rent to a Negro”. A white friend rented the store for him. Tony then bought the equipment and a studio was born. Later they moved to Jefferson Boulevard and were in business together until at least 1949. 

Image: Ebony 

Museum of California Design exhibition, California's Designing Women, 1896-1986'  that took place in 2012.

 Wilmer moved to Japan with her husband in 1950. It was about then when her name stopped appearing jointly with Hill on the ads for their studio on West Jefferson. In 1963 Tony opened a showroom on Beverly Blvd but kept producing the work on West Jefferson. 

James returned to the US and started her own business before transitioning from ceramics to printmaking. She founded the Art Center of the Exceptional Children’s Foundation which was dedicated to teaching art to children with special needs. 

Image: Arts & Architecture, 1945

Lukens, Hill and James were all included in an article on California artists.

Image: House Beautiful, 1947

A 1962 newspaper article about Lane mentions Lane's time at USC under Lukens. Lane attended USC about a decade after Hill and James but a similarity is evident in their glaze techniques. 

Source: Independent Star News, August 26, 1962

Doyle the glaze master at work. 

Source: Ebony, 1958 

In his early work, Lane did more traditional forms. This period tends to get less attention than his weed pots and clay paintings but are actually a lot harder to find. This yellow harken back to his days with Lukens. This piece in particle shows that Lane wasn't just a glaze master. He could also throw a finely balanced thin-walled vase. The surface decoration is also great.
LA Times, 1963

Another traditional and somewhat utilitarian form with a classic red-orange Lane glaze.  

And of course everyone's favorite, the weed pots. They are the most celebrated forms by Lane. The small yet powerful forms showcase his skill with glazes. Just look at the way the drips are controlled in this example. There is a suspended tension that is best illustrated in this black glaze. According to his friends from the time period, he did this without any instrumentation on his kiln. He cut all the gauges off his secondhand kilns and just had a feel for what needed to be done. 

Lane marketed his work to many of the top modern architect's in Los Angeles. This includes A.Q. Jones. This example comes from the collection of an architect who worked for Jones. They were given as gifts during their annual holiday party. Jones also had a number of them in his own collection. 

Another one from the A.Q. Jones associate.

More on Tony Hill and Wilmer James can be found here.
More on Doyle Lane here.
More on Glen Lukens here.