David Batz
Birth Date: 1945
Death Date: June 23, 1994
Artist Gallery
When Cleveland artist, David Batz, died in 1994 at the age of 49, his completed works ran into the thousands. Batz was born in 1944, in Rockville, Connecticut to Elmer A. and Flora Batz. In the fall of 1962 David started to take classes in the five-year architecture program of the Rhode Island School of Design, but soon became disillusioned with the length of time it took to complete the courses; he switched to their ceramics program. Under the tutorial wings of master ceramicist at RISD, Norm Schulman, Batz developed a passion for East Asian art especially that of Sumi-e ink painters of China, Japan and Korea. The way they used few brush strokes to create a single image fascinated him. Once he perfected his own technique with a Sumi-e brush, he routinely decorated his pieces of clay pottery with simple insect and floral designs. After completion of a master’s degree in 1970, David became the new ceramics professor at the Cleveland Institute of Art. He also established and taught at the CIA school’s satellite project in France. Batz participated in the Cleveland May Show from 1971 to 1993. In the mid-80s Batz was diagnosed with a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome, a debilitating disease that weakens the muscles in the hand. He was told to stop throwing clay pots on his wheel. This only put Batz on a search for a new medium which soon became albaca paper. This paper is made from dried leaves of a banana plant and is similar to clay in that its durability and flexibility allow an artist to shape it into functional and sculptural items. David was able to return to throwing clay in 1991. In his career, Batz never stopped experimenting from small sculptural constructions to hand-made paper for his prints in addition to his functional pottery with pictorial reliefs and brush work. He traveled extensively, scaling the steps of the Pyramid of the Sun in the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacán, in England he studied the Druid megaliths at Stonehenge and in France he examined the Paleolithic paintings in the caves at Lascaux. The globetrotting stints of research resulted in a career that produced some of the most celebrated pieces of earthenware and porcelain ceramics designed by a Northeast Ohio artist.