Monday, November 10, 2014

40th Annual Pottery Show & Sale: Daze of Clay

Forty years ago, a Pottery Show and Sale was born in the small town of Demarest, New Jersey, just south of the New York state border and a few miles north of the George Washington Bridge. It came into existence through a long-time friendship between two respected potters, the late Mikhail Zakin, co-founder of the Art School at Old Church, and the eminent Karen Karnes. 

Sometimes called the “grandmother of American ceramics”, Karen Karnes taught at the avant-garde Black Mountain College in North Carolina into the early 1950’s, and later moved to Vermont where she has lived and worked since 1979. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among numerous others.

Back then, Karen decided to make a pottery sale to benefit the newly formed community art center, but she also wanted to create an event that served as an annual gathering place for potters to meet and exchange ideas. The grassroots culture of the school and the familial convening of potters helped to quickly establish the Annual Pottery Show & Sale as one of the best invitational shows in the country.

The Annual Pottery Show & Sale is unique because it has remained relatively unchanged in forty years. Karen has continued to curate the sale, bringing together some of the nation’s best potters of one-of-a-kind, functional and sculptural pieces. Pottery is displayed on humble wood benches and adorned with unpretentious flowering branches and sprigs of greenery. The show is held each year on the first weekend of December. This year’s preview reception is on Friday, December 5th, 6-10PM, and the show continues on Saturday, December 6th, 10AM-6PM, and Sunday, December 7th, 12-5PM.
The 40th annual Pottery Show & Sale marks the first noticeable change in the event’s long history. This year, Bruce Denhert and Chris Gustin join Karen in co-curating the show. Both are well-known figures within the American ceramics community, recognized among their peers as experts in the field.

Bruce Denhert is currently the director of the ceramics program for Peters Valley School of Craft in Layton, NJ, and has taught workshops internationally. He has published in many journals on ceramic technique and processes.

Garth Clark, a chief writer and critic on ceramic art and fine craft, calls Chris Gustin “one of the leading ceramists of his generation”. Chris is cofounder of the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Maine, and retired from academia in 1999 to devote his energies to his studio work and tile production company. Before then, he was associate professor of ceramics at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

Their collaboration brings together 30 potters from around the nation for the 40th annual invitational, including:

Richard Aerni, Dan Anderson, Mary Barringer, Ingrid Bathe, Bruce Denhert, Judith Duff, Heather Mae Erickson, Julia Galloway, Scott Goldberg, Tyler Gulden, Chris Gustin, Kenyon Hansen, Bryan Hopkins, Nick Joerling, Karen Karnes, James Lawton, Robbie Lobell, Matt Long, Matthew Metz, Maureen Mills, Ted Neal, Aysha Peltz, Doug Peltzman, Seth Rainville, Rob Sieminski, Mark Shapiro, Jeff Shapiro, Jack Troy, Adero Willard, and Erica Wurtz.

Each potter will ship and tote hundreds of their best pots to Demarest in early December, arriving on Thursday morning before the show to set up their displays. Then, Friday through Sunday, they will meet and greet both potters and ceramic enthusiasts, sharing in relevant discussions about pottery-making, and having the pleasure of seeing their wares in the hands of those who appreciate artisan pottery just as they do.

For more information about this year's show, check out

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