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Ceramic and Metal Sculptures
by Waylande Gregory

Gregory is noted as one of the pioneers of ceramic sculptures in the US and abroad and enjoyed many awards and museum exhibitions. In the latter part of his life he did glass and metal sculptures.

He was born in Baxter Spring, Kansas & began at age 16 designing and making molds which were cast in plaster. These were decorative ornamentals for local buildings. By age 18 he was sculptor for the Hotel President in Kansas City, Missouri. He was swift at his task and created hundreds of interior designs but placed his greatest effort on the 4th floor Aztec Dining Room. The innovative hotel received much publicity and the Aztec Room was featured in the National Architectural Magazine in NYC. He replicated the Montazuma plaque (calendar stone) after much research. He dedicated this room to his teacher Elsie Bowman by engraving her name on the fountain in the Aztec Room. He was a very shy lad and it was she who realized his artistic ability and inspired, influenced and encouraged him to pursue his dream of being a sculptor.

Sculptures Designed for the Hotel Roosevelt
Left: One of severl columns with cherrubs; location main entrance. Right: Located on fourth floor in the Aztec room. Best I could do with the old black & white negatives.

Hotel Roosevelt

After this Gregory became designer and sculptor for the St. Joseph Missouri Theater, now historical. In 1996 the old theater received funding and the exterior was restored. It has recently received l.9 million for its further restoration and for the past months construction workers have been repairing, painting and updating the interior for opening day March 19, 2002. In charge of the restoration: Ellison-Auxier Architects Inc. of St.Joseph.

Wally Bloss, Executive Director of the Allied Arts Council noted that
"its a piece of our historical past that can be made functional and should continue on". I thank Wally for sending me photos of the restorations and keeping me informed.

Mr. Wineinger, foreman for E. L. Crawford Construction Co. stated: "We're trying to go back to the original as best we can,"

On opening day a gala event took place at this newly renovated theater. Outside the theater 1920 automobiles were parked and many were in attendance. On exhibition was Portraiture of Yolande with Earing by Waylande Gregory; life size 1930's shown below.

Below is table showing sculpture along with a few art deco wares and news articles on Gregory for viewing by the public.

The first film shown at the theater was "Rough House Rosie" staring Clara Bow date was June 1927. Shown below is Rose Koeppen who portrayed Clara Bow at the opening. According to Mr. Bloss she has the same hair color, size and demeanor and was a perfect fit for representation. She is the president of Robidoux Resident Theater. A community theater group that uses the Missouri Theater. Dress costume was made especially for this event.

Decorative theme of the theater in the late 1920's included the Hittite, Assyrian, Persian and Arabian; into a creation of original ornamentation. Gregory blended the styles into a decorative embellishment in harmony with the spirit of the architecture. The theater has unusual and unique forms of architecture, art and colors. For that era, 1927, it was something new and yet quite old.

Gregory credits Mr. Boller architect for his liberal views and Mr. Engle for his delving into historical events. Both gave Gregory the necessary freedom in designing the sculptural details to combine the complex influence of styles selected.

The interior represented an open air playhouse with all the atmospheric splendor of a royal palace of one of the ancient kings. Over the top stretched a huge tented canopy, gloriously decorated. Looking beyond the tent was the sky with star lights. A new lighting system was put in place. The gold overlay ropes to the canopy is about 12"dia. This is all so very impressive.

Like artists on canvas, painters revive colors tarnished and dulled over the years with fresh paint, adding life to the intricate plaster details throughout the theater. The construction crew met regularly to talk about the project, reviewing old photographs and attempting to accurately restore history.

Another view of the huge canopy

Close to the canopy workers moving planks around.

Even the ceiling paint underneath the balcony is intricate. Yes, it's pink ... in keeping with the theater's original color scheme of the 1920s. Note the vibrant colors of the combination of oranges and pinks.

Below is photo of mezzanine ceiling.

On either side of the large screen are large carved figures of the sacred winged bull bearing the head of a glorified dignitary of the royal house; photo below that's me when I visited the theater several years back.

Above the stage proscenium is a border of phallic gods fertilizing the female tree of life. The design is behind worker on the scaffold.

A frieze around the sides represent sacrificial rams kneeling before the tree of mystery.

Another frieze represents the conflict of opposing archers.

The designs are richly colored with the vigorous ceramic mineral reds, blues and sun baked yellows.

Smoothing out the edges of a freshly poured plaster rosette, workers for Collins Plastering Inc., made new molds for restoring the architectural details inside the theater.

Finished and in place.

Giving new life to an old column, Butch Dulaban of Atchison, Kan., with Thompson G.A. Painting & Contracting Inc., is one of the many painters helping refurbish the historical theater. On most days, about 30 different workers were laboring away on the building's interior.

The theater is located on 717 Edmond in St.Joseph. If in the area or taking a mid-western trip its worth including it in your itinerary. The performing arts include: St.Joseph Symphony and/or various choral groups etc. The theater is accessible for the handicap. The sound and lighting systems is state of the art.

During this period, Gregory caught the attention of Loredo Taft, noted historian and sculptor, who was known to encourage young talent and was invited to share Taft's Midway Studios in Chicago; a complex of units which contained much marble cutting and other facilities. Gregory was taught the academic tradition of sculpture in marble, bronze and ceramics. He also traveled with Taft for European studies. Taft was a father figure and benefactor to the young Gregory. While in Chicago, Gregory had designed decorative works for Cowan Potteries and several years later joined them as full time Designer. During his stay in Chicago he did permanent works for the Chicago Theological Seminary; titled Christian Symbolism. The sculpted portals can be seen: Gregory sculptures


In 1922 at age 17. Gregory was on both sides of the plaster, inside and out. He learned the technique early in his career and did many masks of face & hands of both the living and the dead. When his very dear friend Vally Wieseltiere died he did her hands. It was an emotional strain for him as was the death mask of his father which he did in the basement of the undertaker in a small town in Kansas.

In a column written by Gregory he warns the amateur not to attempt this art unattended by an experienced and well trained professional in this technique. Its a frightening ordeal to the living subject as the plaster of paris covers one in darkness, sets into a stony hardness and gets rather hot and can burn and irritate. It takes considerable restraint to resist tearing the plaster away and gasping for air. It's risky, one can get plaster into the ears, eye ducts and nostrils even though the eye lashes and eye brows are heavily covered with an oil paste. There can be considerable discomfort and the loss of some hair in the removal of the mask. Below is Gregory's mask done by him, with assistance. His father's death mask -- several years after Gregory's death, I mailed it to his brother Bill -- well that's another story which I will not go into at this time.

Bather with Fish; 54"H luster white glaze with pastel undertones back view only and also a cropped view.

Below are several sculptures Gregory executed while at Cranbrook Academy as Resident Artist. Left is Vase of 8-maidens; 1931, 13hx6"dia. of luster glaze ceramic. Right: Girl with the Olive; 1932; life size; luster glaze ceramic; received First Prize at First National Exhibition.

Below: Girl in Flight, luster glaze also see for further information

Below: A glorious array of vibrant colors on jumbo hand designed vases

A lovely portraiture of Girl with Braid, life size. Took cover page of Art Magazine in 1936. It is a semi-glaze white ceramic and so beautiful.

Below are a few examples of the Gregory ceramic sculptures.

Left: Swimmer; late 1930's; 12x20x8"; Ceramic with ice blue luster glaze. Right: Vase; early 1940's; 18x13"Dia.; matte glazed ceramic; Knight on Black Horse.

Hand Hammered Lead Repousse, 1960's
Left: Adam & Eve: 36"h and Right: Moses 48"h

Below left: Embrace, 1960's; 36"h; hand hammered lead repousse.
Right: Female Nude Torso; 24"h, hand hammered lead repousse.

Gregory executed over 40 metal works, which mostly consisted of hand hammered lead and copper repousse. He also did some very impressive wire sculptures and one that comes to mind is a rooster, 48"h, which he set onto a block of coal. Since I don't have a good photo of it, I have included instead, below left, MOSES; 1960's 32"h; to the right is a 6-foot high mobile; Ballet Dancer on White Horse, 4-foot wide; 1960's. Its a combination of wire mesh window screen, fencing material and wire, painted in silver & white. It's innovative and although whimsical it is very interesting and caused quite a stir when it was on exhibition at the N.J. State Museum along with other of the Gregory sculptures.
The mobile has a separate thin wire from its point of origin to the top of the dancer and then separate wires from the dancer to the horse. Since it is not synchronized, each seem to be doing its own dance. It fascinated the children and me too.

A few examples of the Gregory designed, incised and painted glassware are shown below. These were done in the 1940's; early 1950. Gregory is noted as one of the pioneers of the American glass movement of the 1950's. Gregory fused clay with glass and had patented this process which he called crystal glaze; shown are a few of the crystal glaze works.
Below: Men's Cologne bottles.

Glass bowls. Both late 1940's

Crystal Glaze Fish.

Mermaid Bowl (similar bowl owned by Museum in Florida)

The Gregory estate has now been turned over to the nonprofit Door of Hope, Inc. We help the battered women and children; supply food, etc. All proceeds of the sale of his former estate is for this charity. So if interested in any of his works; email me and I can forward info on what is available for sale. We give art for donation to the Door of Hope and will TRADE ARTWORKS FOR GRANTS.
Also check out other web site:

Comments email let me know what you think of the Gregory artworks.

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The site for International Ceramic Sculptors - KLUP Keramiek