Until recently, one of the most elusive Cybis-related publications was the exhibit catalog of the sculptures that were donated to the Mercer County Community College in June 1975. I’m happy to say that, thanks to the helpful people at MCCC, I now have an electronic copy of this ‘publication unicorn’!
The book is softcover, with a plastic comb/ring binding and un-numbered pages; all illustrations are in black and white. It appeared on only one Cybis price list (Fall 1975) as this item under the Publications heading:
Mercer County College Exhibit Catalog, dedicating June 1975 permanent Cybis collection. Limited printing of 1,000 …. $3.00
At the time of printing, the Library of Congress catalog number was shown as Pending; it was later assigned #932099. Let’s look at the first few pages.
The Introduction, written by Joseph Chorlton.
Congressman Thompson represented the District that includes the city of Trenton.
I am going to nitpick on the spelling of this page’s title: In the USA, the usage is to have only one E (acknowledgment) while in the UK spelling, there are two (acknowledgement.)
On the Porcelains Not Illustrated page, the name of the russet/orange sleeping kitten is misspelled as “Topac”, instead of Topaz.
The photos in the catalog are not of the actual pieces that the college was given. Instead, they are the official press/advertising photos that the studio used for the retail marketing of that sculpture, and to illustrate their own catalogs.
Each photo caption shows the sculpture name, the declared edition size if it was a limited edition, and A/P to indicate how the piece given to the College was marked. The studio normally designated any piece that was given under non-standard (i.e., not sold at retail) circumstances as an AP (“Artist’s Proof”.) This did not mean that the piece was ‘the first one’ or was ever one that the studio artists worked from as a painting guide. In reality, an A/P on a Cybis can mean one of seven different things, all of which are explained in this post.
This stock photo shows the Beaverhead Medicine Man on a non-retail base; all of the ones found to date have been on a routed/shaped base rather than this rectangular one. Sacajawea is on her normal retail base, however.
The Goldilocks image has an error in the title caption. It says Goldilocks and ‘Panda Bear’, but the actual Cybis name for this piece was Goldilocks and Panda ‘Bear’. They do show the name of the companion piece correctly; it was indeed Panda ‘Bears’.
The background of this work-table photo featuring the Madonna with Bird also shows two Pandora, two Heidi, a Rebecca, and an Alice in Wonderland.
Was this an ‘Oops’, or intentional? The photo of the Magnolia is not in its correct orientation, but is instead turned on its side.
Here is the photo as it should have properly been shown. In order to place it correctly on the MCCC catalog page, the adjacent photo of ‘China Maid’ would have had to be either cropped or downsized.
The stock photo of Pollyanna, at the left, shows the apple in her left hand rather than her right, as all the retail editions were made.
Some pages contain a collage of smaller images, several of which had previously appeared in Cybis catalogs. In the lower left corner photo, an artist paints one of the Limnettes.
The catalog credits Vincent Ceglia for its design, which is no surprise because his name appears as the layout and design credit on the Cybis Studio’s 1967, 1970 and 1974 catalogs. The circa-1970s Cybis dealer signs were also designed by him. Mr. Ceglia was Professor Emeritus of the Visual Arts department at MCCC as well as being an artist in his own right, and running summer painting workshops in Italy on Lake Maggiore. His specialty was landscape painting in watercolor and acrylics as well as graphic design work. He passed away in 2012.
The Origin and Status of the MCCC’s Collection of Cybis
The MCCC itself was originally the Trenton School of Technical Science and Art, established in 1898. In 1901 the school changed its name to The School of Industrial Arts. The school grew, especially after World War II, and in 1947 it became the Trenton Junior College and School of Industrial Arts (a/k/a TJC) and became fully accredited in the early 1960s. 1966 saw the establishment of Mercer County Community College (MCCC) which then legally merged with Trenton Junior College; a new 292-acre campus site (West Windsor) was begun in 1968 and finished/dedicated in 1972. The initial donation of the Cybis pieces occurred three years after that.
This photo accompanied a June 11, 1975 article in the Lawrence Township Ledger about the newly-dedicated collection. The sculpture is the 1973 Carousel Horse. However, part of the photo’s caption is incorrect because at that time (1975) the New Jersey State Museum’s collection already held more than 225 pieces of Cybis.
After Marylin Chorlton died in 1977, a scholarship fund was established in her name at MCCC; however, in the mid-1980s the name of the award was changed to “the Cybis Art Award” instead. It is a $940 cash award to an outstanding continuing art student having a GPA of 3.0 or higher. (It is not known whether the award survived the demise of the Cybis studio.)
The original location of the physical collection, part of which is shown in this photo, was immediately adjacent to the front entrance to the Library. The following sculptures are identifiable: (rear cabinet section, left) Minnehaha, one of the small floral baskets, Beatrice, Columbia; (rear cabinet section, right) Windflower, Christmas Rose, Pansy (?), one of the pair of Blue Headed Vireo with Lilac, Colonial Flower Basket, Dahlia; (front cabinet) Conductors Hands, Eros, Queen Esther, Ophelia, Abigail Adams, Portia, Carousel Goat, Cybele, and Carousel Horse ‘Ticonderoga.’ The presence of the baskets, Abigail Adams, and Ticonderoga mean that this photograph was taken in 1976 or later.
This photo shows part of the second level of the Library, where their individually-framed Folio One lithographs hang on the walls. It was taken in 2000 by Martin Crabtree, Reference & Literary Librarian at MCCC.
During the mid-1980s, construction began on a new MCCC Art Gallery in the separate but adjacent Communications Building; the gallery was completed in late 1989. The Cybis collection cases were then moved from the Library entrance area to the second floor of the Library, at the library end of a new hallway that connects it to the Art Gallery within the Communications Building.
At some point during the 1990s, the ‘powers that be’ at MCCC decided that the Cybis collection should not be considered part of the Art Gallery, because they were part of the college’s permanent holdings rather than being a rotating exhibit. The Cybis pieces were removed from the hallway area, boxed up, and put into storage in a back room inside the Communications Building, which is where they have remained ever since. There are no plans to return the Cybis collection to public display.
Update: As of 2022, there are 115 Cybis sculptures confirmed as being in the MCCC collection. An upcoming Archive post focusing on Cybis currently in public collections will include more details about the pieces held by Mercer.
Again, my special and sincere thanks to Martin Crabtree, not only for discovering and scanning the copy of the 1975 catalog but also for the helpful information about the collection’s history and status!
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The Cybis Archive is a continually-updated website that provides the most comprehensive range of information about Cybis within a single source. It is not and never has been part of the Cybis Porcelain studio, which is no longer in business.