Unconventional Ideas of Clay and Fire
Dan Lipcan, Associate Museum Librarian of the Thomas J. Watson Library, reflects on the North's donation of research materials to accompany their gift of Japanese sculptural ceramics to the Asian Art department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


(pdf format)
“The Norths have another passion outside of the performing arts and restaurants: contemporary Japanese sculptural ceramics. . . . Their collection is considerable and impressive.” 

Japanese Art Society Newsletter
Summer 2012 (pdf format)
“This is one of the best, if not the best, private collections outside of Japan,” Joan Baekeland, Japanese Art Society Association Newsletter, 2012

Summer 2007 (pdf format)
“Even with those beloved ceramics on leave from their apartment, the Norths were still surrounded by . . . sculptural works in addition to the functional ones they use every day.” 

Wall Street Journal
December 5, 2006 (pdf format)
“. . . the curator Joe Earle . . . has found clusters of pieces that speak to each other . . . ”

Preview MFA Boston
November-December 2005 (pdf format)
From the bimonthly magazine for members of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

View images from the 2006-2007 exhibit at the Japan Society Gallery in New York City.

View images from the 2008-2009 exhibit at the MFA Boston.

Words from
Robert Yellin
The Japan Times:

“ . . . right now at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (www.mfa.org), there is an exhibition entitled ‘Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century’ that is showing till July 9, 2006. The majority of the work on display is from the private collection of Alice and Halsey North, pioneer collectors who have had the yakimono itch for about 20 years now.

“They have studied, and often visited kilns and selected works of the highest quality; their collection is as good as it gets for modern forms. The North Collection has been featured in a past issue of Kateigaho International (int.kateigaho.com).”
The Japan Times
: Dec. 22, 2005

Visit Robert Yellin's information web site or his web gallery

Read more about the Norths' collection in English and Japanese (pdf format).

Joan B Mirviss Ltd

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Japan Society of New York

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution

The Gitter-Yelen Art Study Center

Yufuku Gallery

EYakimono information center

Musée Tomo Museum

Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz


Halsey and Alice North

Ceramics by: Yagi Akira, Fukami
Sueharu, Miyanaga Rikichi

Red Vessel
Ceramics by Wada Morihiro


Contemporary Japanese
Sculptural Ceramics

''Halsey and Alice, you have played, and continue to play, a unique role internationally as advocates for the ceramic artists of contemporary Japan and their accomplishments, focusing the attention of collectors, dealers, and museums and profoundly transforming the awareness of this field of art.''

Julian Raby, Director, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, May 18, 2012.

Halsey and Alice are collectors, patrons, and students of contemporary Japanese ceramics. Since 1994, they have worked with the ceramic artists and with curators from the Freer|Sackler Galleries; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (The Met); and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA Boston) to research, document, and contextualize their collection.

A primary focus of their collecting and advocacy has been to introduce new audiences to this art form. Works from their collection were featured in the pathbreaking exhibition held in Boston and New York, Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century, which introduced many people to contemporary Japanese ceramics and created a new coterie of collectors who play a critical role in supporting Japanese artists and spurred a high level of interest by the press and other institutions in this country and Europe.

Halsey and Alice have donated ceramics from their collection to numerous museums, notably The Met. The Met also houses the database, archives, and library for their collection, helping to create a world-class center for the study and appreciation of contemporary Japanese ceramics.

Donated Ceramics on view at
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

ongoing Contemporary Japanese Ceramics in Historical Context, Gallery 202, Great Hall Balcony (opened 9-24-2018)
to 1-31-2021 Kyoto: Capital of Artistic Imagination, display in Gallery 232, Arts of Japan
to 9-23-2018 Contemporary Japanese Ceramics in Global Context, Gallery 202, Great Hall Balcony (opened 10-19-2015)
starting 2013 Individual works on view in other exhibitions at The Met, beginning with Brush Writing in the Arts of Japan, 8-17-2013 to 1-12-2014

Contemporary Japanese Sculptural Ceramics
highlights, starting with the most recent:

2007-2020 With Louise Cort (Curator Emerita of Ceramics, Freer|Sackler) researched in Japan and the United States and wrote Listening to the Clay: Conversations with Contemporary Japanese Ceramic Artists (publication pending).
2013 The exhibition New Blue and White, MFA, Boston, included works from the Halsey and Alice North collection.
2011-13 The exhibition Reinventing the Wheel: Japanese Ceramics 1930-2000, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, included a gift from Halsey and Alice North.
2011-12 The exhibition An Unspoken Dialogue with Japanese Tea, MFA Boston, included works from the Halsey and Alice North collection.
2011 With Louise, wrote “A Conversation with Fukami Sueharu” published in Fukami: Purity of Form by Andreas Marks, Editor, Hanford, CA: The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, 2011, pages 40-51.
2011 The exhibition Birds of Dawn: Pioneers of Japan's Sōdeisha Ceramic Movement at Joan B Mirviss LTD, New York, NY, included six works from the Halsey and Alice North Collection.
2011 Purchased rare, pivotal work by Sōdeisha founder Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979), Direction of the Wind – Unglazed Clay Pipes (Fūi – Yakishime paipu), 1955. In 2017, donated the work to The Met.
2010s In their Upper West Side apartment, led tours of their collection for groups from thirteen museums and, when artists came to NYC, hosted dinners, enabling artists to meet collectors, museum curators, journalists, gallerists, and other clay artists from across America.
2009 Guest curated Breaking from Tradition: Japanese Ceramics Today at Harvey / Meadows Gallery, Aspen, CO; lectured at the Gallery and at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass, CO.
2008-09 The exhibition Celebrating Kyoto: Modern Arts from Boston's Sister City, MFA Boston, included fourteen works from the Halsey and Alice North collection.
2007 Advised Nishi Maya, researcher, writer, and co-curator of the exhibition Soaring Voices, Japanese Women Ceramic Artists, which traveled to fourteen museums in Japan, France, and the United States.
2005-2007 Collaborated with Joe Earle to organize the exhibition and write the catalogue Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century at the MFA Boston (2005-6), introducing the Halsey and Alice North collection. Extensive coverage by magazines and newspapers introduced new audiences to this art form. An expanded exhibition of Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century appeared at NYC's Japan Society (2006-7). During and after Contemporary Clay, lectured on contemporary Japanese ceramics at the two exhibition sites as well as in other museums, universities, galleries, and art centers. The 2005-6 MFA Boston exhibition included fifty-one works from the Halsey and Alice North Collection; the 2006-7 Japan Society exhibition included sixty-four works.
2004 Returned to Japan to visit artists and augment the collection for the MFA Boston exhibition, traveling with independent curator Nishi Maya.
2003 Lectured about contemporary Japanese ceramics at the MFA Boston. Asked by Joe Earle, Department Chair, to work with him to create an exhibition and catalogue based on their collection.
2001 Expanded the scope of their collection by purchasing works by artists they had not met personally, beginning with works by early members of Sōdeisha.
1999 Produced and coordinated the North Group/Japan Society tour focused on postwar avant-garde contemporary sculptural ceramics led by Kyoto-based Yagi Sakiyo, daughter-in-law of Yagi Kazuo, a founder of the Sōdeisha group.
1995 Produced and coordinated the North Group/Japan Society ceramics-focused tour led by Jeff Shapiro, accomplished ceramic artist who lived and studied in Bizen.
1994 With Louise Cort, accompanied Koyanagi Atsuko, Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo, to visit ceramic artists in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hagi.
1991 Produced and coordinated the North Group/Japan Society ceramics-focused tour led by Leila Philip, potter, teacher, and author of The Road Through Miyama.
1989 Produced and coordinated the North Group/Japan Society tour led by Patricia Massy Towyama, author of Japanese Crafts and the People Who Make Them.
1988 Started visiting Japan regularly to meet ceramics artists in their own environments, learn about their art, get their advice, purchase their work, and prepare for upcoming North Group/New York's Japan Society tours.
1987 Attended New York's Japan Society Symposium Historic Japanese Kilns and Contemporary American Potters and met Louise Cort, Curator of Ceramics, Freer|Sackler.
1986 Five-week trip to Japan to visit craft artists. Purchased first museum-quality Japanese ceramic directly from the artist, Shimaoka Tatsuzō (1919-2007).
1970s-80s Collected North Carolina and New York State ceramics. Donated that collection to Mint Museum of Craft+Design, Charlotte, NC, 1993.
Note: Japanese names appear family name first followed by given name.
Ceramics by (left to right): Kishi Eiko, Sakiyama Takayuki, and (top to bottom) Mishima Kimiyo, Takiguchi Kazuo, Kiyomizu Rokubey VII, and Matsuda Yuriko.

Ceramics by Fukami Sueharu.

The North Group Inc.

Halsey and Alice also headed The North Group Inc. as Chairman and President, respectively, from 1987 to 2018, providing an integrated approach to planning, board development, and fundraising for nonprofit performing arts centers and historic theaters across the country. They led the 1988-90 Advancement Programs for the National Endowment for the Arts, guiding teams of consultants working with 100 arts groups across America. Over the years, their national perspective enabled them to share “best practices” around the country. They have been active in the League of Historic American Theatres and the Association of Performing Arts Professionals as board members, teachers, volunteers, board emeritus, and honorary lifetime members. They have received numerous awards for their leadership and service in the field of performing arts management, including an award named for them — the Halsey & Alice North Award — presented annually by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals.

Prior to 1987 Founding of
The North Group Inc.


1983-87 Executive Director, NYC Cultural Council Foundation
1980-83 Vice President, C.W. Shaver & Company, fundraising firm, NYC
1979-80 Director, Corporate Contributions, Philip Morris Companies (Altria Group, Inc.)
1976-79 Executive Director, Charlotte Arts & Science Council; opened Charlotte's Spirit Square Cultural Center, an anchor for revitalization of Charlotte's downtown, NC
1974-76 Executive Director, North Carolina Arts Council, Raleigh, NC
1971-74 Managing Producer, Little Theatre of Winston-Salem, NC
1974 Arts Management Program, Harvard University, MA
1971 MBA performing arts management, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL
1970 BA economics, Earlham College, Richmond, IN


1984-88 Vice President, First National Bank of Chicago (now JPMorgan Chase)
1982-84 Vice President, Citibank, N.A.
1977-82 Assistant Vice President, North Carolina National Bank (now Bank of America)
1977 MBA finance/international business, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
1973 MA United States history, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
1969-1971 Administrative Director, Earlham College Japan Study Program —faculty/ student exchange, Great Lakes Colleges Association/Waseda University
1969 BA East Asian history/Japanese language, Earlham College, Richmond, IN
1967-1968 Junior year at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
1965 Guide, 1965 New York World’s Fair, NYC
1964 AFS exchange student, Miyagi Gakuin high school, Sendai, Japan




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