You should see what they're doing with ceramics these days and you can, starting this Friday at the Renwick Gallery.

"Clay for Walls," 39 works by 20 Americans, is a lively sampling of the astonishing range and variety of wall pieces currently being produced. All were done within the past three years, and there's something here to enhance any wall, whether in lobby, apartment or palace.

Which is just what curator Raylene Decatur was trying for when she assembled the exposition. "I expect the gallery to be wall-to-wall with interior decorators," she said. "They keep calling me to ask whose work they should be seeing, so I decided to assemble a representative selection that answers all the questions at once."

The spectrum runs from first-order craftsmanship to mature art, and the styles from polished punk-crock to photo-surrealism. "I think most people still have an image of ceramics artists as those granola-eating, back-to-the-land dropouts of the '60s," Decatur says. "I wanted them to see what's going on now."

What's going on now is a breakthrough in one of mankind's oldest arts, made possible as much by boldness as by space-age materials, and it makes a wonderful show.

SURFACE RELIEFS BY AMERICAN ARTISTS -- Through June 17 at the Renwick Gallery.