Good Art Won’t Match Your Sofa – Fred Babb
This weekend has comprised mostly art, not music, and it’s one of my favorite weekends of the year.
Friday night, I traveled to Demarest, New Jersey for the 39th Annual Pottery Show and Sale at The Art School at Old Church. Saturday was the Holiday Sale by alumni of the Rhode Island School of Design. They are very different shows/sales with the same purpose – to put high-quality handmade objects in our hands and our homes.
I am not going out on a limb when I opine that the Old Church show is the finest pottery show in the US. The school was founded by the late Mikhail Zakin, a wonderful potter and person, and is curated by Karen Karnes. Karen is an amazing potter as well as mentor to several generations of potters who’ve been invited to the show over the years.
I have attended this show every year (except last year when the show was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy) since 1999, when I was introduced to it by my late mentor, Malcolm Davis, one of the finest human beings I’ve had the privilege to know. There is a small core group of potters who are the show annually, and Malcolm was one of them. Other potters are invited for up to three years.
I am a potter (not in the league of the potters at the Old Church show) who happens to especially love wood-fired pots, and there are always a number of wood firers at this show. I have pieces by all of them except Karen whose work unfortunately doesn’t fall within my budget. Maybe someday…
Every potter at this show is a master and each one is unique. One could not walk through this show and think ‘Gee, those pots look a lot like so-and-so’s.’
Some of my favorites from this year are Suze Lindsay, Nick Joerling, Richard Aerni, Rob Sieminski, Chris Gustin, Charity Davis-Woodard (who was unfortunately stuck in the ice storm and didn’t make it to the show on Friday night), Robbie Lobell and Simon Levin. I hesitated about listing my favorites because I didn’t want to imply that the ones I didn’t list aren’t wonderful potters. These are merely my favorites.
Here are the pots I bought this year (using a great deal of restraint):
The RISD show is a different kind of show – all artists are graduates of RISD. They are mostly more recent graduates, but there are a number of artists who graduated many years ago but enjoy doing this show.
The show is a one-day affair and is very casual. The artists aren’t trying to compete with one another by using lavish displays; this show is all about the work. There are jewelers, photographers, painters, glassblowers, textile artists, and more.
I go to this show to buy unique gifts for the holidays, and I always succeed. I also love supporting artists, especially in this economy.
I’m not sure how many artists sell at this show – 200 maybe? All offer unique work at mostly reasonable prices. There are many artists who do this show year after year.
No pictures from the show – the items I bought are all gifts and I don’t want to spoil anything!
Go out and buy your holiday gifts from artists. They will appreciate it and so will the recipients of those gifts.