The Old Church, in Demarest, New Jersey (about ½ to ¾ hour drive from Manhattan depending on time of day) is now an art school and this was their 39th annual fund-raiser. They appoint a curator who chooses the exhibitors from applications by professional potters based in the North-East USA states from Maine to Pennsylvania to North Carolina and between. This year the curator was Karen Karnes and she chose 27 exhibitors with Chris Gustin and herself as chief exhibitors – and they shared a stand at centre of one of the rooms.
There were 26 exhibitors, all makers of ‘domestic ware’ in our terms, all ‘potters’ in North American terms (as opposed to ‘ceramists’ or ‘ceramic artists’). Apart from Karnes and Gustin there were other names that might be known like Scott Goldberg who has twice been to New Zealand and Jack Troy who was in NZ back in the 70s. Also there was Bruce Dehnert, who taught in Otago for several years back in the early 90s and who returned last year as guest and Artist in Residence for Waikato Potters.
But no matter whether known to us or not, all there were of a high standard. Much work was stoneware, some wood-fired, but there was also porcelain and a couple of stands of decorated terra-cotta, and one used a formula for a clay body that could work directly over flame or element as well as it functioned in an oven.. While individual styles were very different, (these are mature artists who have clearly been at it for a long time) what was consistent was that American trope of altering the thrown piece evidenced by the articulation and enhanced functionality. Thrown and altered work was everywhere and made the walking through the exhibits engaging while contemplating quite how extensive were some of the amendments. Americans do this pretty much as a matter of course and it’s this that makes their tableware distinctive. Did I buy any? Well, yes. There were some bowls and some mugs (always need more in my house) that simply should not be left behind despite the cost of FedXing them home!
The whole event was set up very well so that makers could interact with clients with the least possible interruption, work could be viewed, discussed, bought and processed for getting home with greatest efficiency and least pain and inconvenience. But there was no hard sell – emphasis was on giving the crowds of regulars and newbies like us an enjoyable evening. It all worked and was to be repeated over the next two days once exhibitors filled all those spaces on their shelves from the boxes of reserves they brought.
Other artists involved, who you may like to look up via their websites are as follows (Most have websites as selling from these sites is an important part of their economy) Richard Aerni, Charity Davis-Woodart, Ryan Greenheck, Steven Hill, Naomi Dalglish and Michael Hunt, Nick Joerling, Jody Johnstone, Simon Levin, Suze Lindsay, Robbie Lobell, Michael McCarthy, Jenny Mendes, Matthew Metz, Alison Palmer, Aysha Peltz, Mark Shapiro, Rob Sieminski, Stacy Snyder, Sam Taylor, Tara Wilson and Sheryl Zacharia. Not to mention Scott Goldberg, Bruce Dehnert, Jack Troy, Chris Gustin and Karen Karnes.