Glazed in bright colors, his anthropomorphic frogs stand, sit, lounge on divans, and have round, pregnant bellies. Some of the statues fit neatly in the palm of your hand. Others are large enough for a child to ride, like the two colorful pachyderms that guarded his Sonoma front door.
These unlikely inventions bring a smile.
His ceramics aren’t only amusing. They represent a return of Joe Rice, the artist. While they bear little resemblance to his definitive paintings of the 60s and 70s, the statues are distinctive. In their skilled execution, attention to detail, flair for color, and the occasional flash of the macabre, they are unified and clearly the work of one artist. And there are new facets, not apparent in the earlier work: his abiding affection for young children and animals seen in a frog’s trusting smile, her arms wrapped possessively around her baby.
While my father may arguably have been a stronger, more strident artist in earlier years, in Sonoma, with his second wife, he was perhaps more content. I find proof of that promise in the speckled frog that gazes up at me from my kitchen windowsill."