A few years ago at a ceramics show at Vista Studios Gallery 80808, I fell in love with a colorful little bowl with a wonderfully retro-looking woman’s face on a blue background with a cartoon word bubble that said “Enjoy” and spoons floating around the perimeter. The purple rim had the words “EAT IT UP YUM” carved into the clay. Inside, I was greeted with another lush burst of green glaze. The whole work had this whimsical, imperfect feel to it, almost as if molded by a child, but this clearly was not a child’s work. It was the work of Georgia artist Vanessa Grubbs, the MFA-toting-accomplished-in-her-own-right daughter of celebrated Columbia artists Steve and Mana Hewitt.
I loved that bowl. I bought that bowl. And every time I look at that bowl (pictured), it makes me happy.
I can only imagine how it must feel to thrust one’s hands into cool damp slab of clay and shape it into something worthy of the kiln. I am so intrigued and amazed by the works of the clay artists we have right here in the Midlands, notably Anastasia Chernoff, Jeff Donovan, Sonia Neale, Paul Moore, Rita Ruth Cockrell, Mike Van Houten, Betsy Kaemmerlen, Diane Gilbert, and so many others.
So on a recent visit to Southern Pottery on Devine Street, I picked up a post card announcing the celebration of American Craft Week, which runs October 6-16. I know there are many choices for arts lovers this week. However, if you – like me – love pottery and the clay arts, you must make it out to Southern Pottery some time between today and Saturday, Oct. 16.
Tonight, Oct. 6, the Southern Pottery is hosting a reception from 6-9 p.m. for Cardinal Newman presents “Southern Icons,” hand-built clay works depicting social, religious, and cultural traditions through the eyes of teenagers. I know, it’s First Thursday on Main, and there are shows at 80808 and City Art, too. But if you’re a time-management wiz, you might be able to hit all of them.
And Friday, Oct. 7, the Southern Pottery will host another reception from 6-9 p.m. to celebrate “We Are Here,” clay and fiber works by Leanne Pizio and Paige Cox depicting aliens, UFOs, and quirky extraterrestrial visitors. Also on Friday, visitors to Southern Pottery are invited to participate in the “Made in China” mug swap. Those who donate their intact Chinese-made mugs (limit 4) will receive 20 percent off an American handcrafted mug.
The following week, on Friday, Oct. 14, Southern Pottery will feature artist demonstrations by Tuula Ihamaki-Widdifield and Susan Tondreau-Dwyer from 6-8 p.m. And on Saturday, Oct. 15, you can enjoy more demonstrations by Diane Gilbert and Paul Moore from 12-2 p.m.
Who knew? I urge you to check out some of this awesome clay-oriented action over the next 10 days. For details, visit www.southern-pottery.com or call the gallery at 803-251-3001. And tell them that Jasper sent you.
— Kristine Hartvigsen
(Kristine Hartvigsen is an associate editor for Jasper Magazine. Read more of Kristine’s work at www.jaspercolumbia.com)