Stranger Things

Surrealist ceramist Annabeth Rosen continues to break the mold in a new museum retrospective.

A retrospective of Annabeth Rosen's work is currently on display at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum.

A retrospective of Annabeth Rosen's work is currently on display at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Photo by Gary Zvonkovic

Clusters of bulging, cartoonish bulbs and bouquets of dangling, snaky tubes, all covered in loony stripes, squiggles and polka dots. Ceramist Annabeth Rosen’s clay sculptures suggest organic forms, yet are not quite of this world. Humorous, beautiful, and a wee bit disturbing, they resemble what might ensue from an autopsy of Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat. The New York Times has praised Rosen’s work for its “weighty, slightly menacing muscularity” and Art in America critic Nancy Princenthal has called it “volcanic, beastly, catastrophic and unnervingly funny.” The former Guggenheim Fellow—who holds the Robert Arneson Endowed Chair at UC Davis and has taught at the school since 1997—continues the groundbreaking artist’s tradition, doing for ceramics what Dale Chihuly did for glass. Her first major retrospective, Annabeth Rosen: Fired, Broken, Gathered, Heaped, which is on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco through Jan. 19, is a must-see—especially for fans of fun that is funny, as Dr. Seuss would say.

Contemporary Jewish Museum. $16. Fri.-Tues. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thurs. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. 736 Mission St. San Francisco. 415-655-7800. thecjm.org