Posts Tagged ‘Michael Mahan’

NC Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC, Announces Results of The Potter’s Palette Fundraiser

Friday, February 17th, 2012

As I have said before – this is the kind of art auction fundraiser that I can get behind and support and it turns out to have been a very successful idea – one soon to be copied by other non-profits. But, this will be the NC Pottery Center’s for the time being.

Here’s the good news.

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Unique canvases created by NC’s premier potters for the first-of-its-kind event at the NC Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC, were auctioned on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012.

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“The Potter’s Palette” featured over 90, 12”x12” canvases produced by clay artists from around the state, who were invited to create a canvas using any medium they desired, to be sold in a fund raiser to benefit the NC Pottery Center. The outstanding results raised over $18,000 during the event, which included live Celtic music by Seagrove potter Michael Mahan and an outstanding buffet of food produced by Jennie Lorette Keatts with some help from sister Pam Owens.

The palettes are still on display at the NC Pottery Center’s website (www.ncpotterycenter.org). This unusual and new event, brought another level of creativity to the North Carolina Pottery Center, and was a wonderful showcase for a different side of talent that the clay artists in NC have to offer.

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Painting by Mary Paul and John Garland

There was an air of excitement and festivity during the event where bidding went high for the exceptional paintings. The highest bid was $1700 and every palette sold, with over half bringing $100 and much more. Absentee bidding was also available at the Center and on the NCPC website and bidders came nationally from GA to VA, to CO and CA to participate in the event. Virgil Thomas of Able Auctions generously and graciously lent his expertise, while potter’s pictures were described by NCPC Vice-President and notable potter, Mark Hewitt of Pittsboro, NC, and displayed by Seagrove potter Fred Johnston and volunteer Kirk McNaughton.

Highlights of the evening included over $14,000 of palette sales, over $4,000 of donations and ticket sales and over 70 registered bidders. The NC Pottery Center relies on its fundraising activities and membership, to maintain its ongoing exhibitions and educational  activities, as the main revenue stream.

Supporting potters included: Rita Abee, Colleen Black-Semelka, Cynthia Bringle, John Britt, Tammy Leigh Brooks, Jeff Brown, Chad Brown, Bonnie Burns, Kyle Carpenter, Donna Craven and Susan Greene, Daphne Cruze, Naomi Daglish, Jeffrey Dean, Kim Ellington, Seo Eo, Mary Farrell, Abe Fenberg, Michelle Flowers, Becca Floyd, Carol Gentithes, Terry Gess, Bruce Gholson, Vicki Gill, Beth Gore, Tom Gray, Sue Grier, Michele Hastings, Samantha Henneke, Mark Hewitt, Meredith Heywood, Mary Holmes, Helene Icard, Tonda Jeffcoat, Mary Paul and John Garland, Daniel Johnston, Fred Johnston, Matt Jones, Ann Raven Jorgenson, Jennie Lorette Keatts, Crystal King, Michael Kline, Keith Lambert, Bruce Latham, Janice Latham, Andrew Linton, Dan Lovejoy, Nancy Lovejoy, Levi Mahan, Michael Mahan, Alex Matisse, Eck McCanless, Fiva McCanless, Milly McCanless, Susan McGehee, Karen Mickler, Alexa Modderno, Lynn Morrow, Ben Owen III, LoriAnn Owen, Pam Owens, Travis Owens, Vernon Owens, Hal and Eleanor Pugh, Joseph Sand, Caroleen Sanders, Hitomi Shibata, Takuro Shibata, Paula Smith, Barbara Strassberg, Roy Strassberg, Tom Soumalainen, Bobbie Thomas, Scott Thomas, John Viegland, Kate Waltman, Doc Welty, Dina Wilde-Ramsing, Charlotte Wooten and Jared Zehmer.

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Painting by Bruce Gholson

The evening was supported and sponsored by: The Goodknight Foundation; Lucy C Daniels; Daniel & Genene Uyesato; Martha Luck Johnson; Dr. Terry Zug; Brad Crone; Mark & Carol Hewitt; Ed & Gloria Henneke; Harriet Herring; Ellen Jordan; Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton; Janice & GE Gavin; Lane Wharton; Charles W Millard III; Jo M Grimley; Shelton Gorelick; Something Different Restaurant; Peggy Myers; Archie Purcell; Nancy Farmer. Many volunteers stepped forward in their efforts to support the NC Pottery Center helping with check in and registration to the food service and auction. The NC Pottery Center is grateful for the generous support of our sponsors and volunteers, without them our efforts would be lacking!

The North Carolina Pottery Center offers educational opportunities to statewide schools and individuals, changing historical and contemporary exhibitions, demonstrations, and information about statewide potters. The NCPC is a private nonprofit entity, funded primarily through memberships, grants, admissions, and appropriations.

The NC Pottery Center is open, Tue.-Sat., 10am to 4pm. Admission (excluding free special events): $2 – adults, $1 – students 9th through 12th grades, Free – children through 8th grade, free – NCPC members. The center is handicap accessible and groups and tours are welcomed.

For further information and details call 336/873-8430, e-mail to (info@ncpotterycenter.org) or visit (www.NCPotteryCenter.org).

A Trip to Seagrove, NC, to a Fundraiser for the NC Pottery Center – The Potter’s Palette – Feb. 4, 2012

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

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As is usually the case – many planets have to come into alignment for Linda and I to be able to go somewhere together. I hate it when I have to go somewhere without her and she hates it even more than I do, but it just so happened that the Feb. 2012 issue of Carolina Arts was launched – e-mail notices were sent out and she was off from her other job on Saturday, Feb. 4. So we made plans to head to Seagrove, NC, to visit a few potters and then attend The Potter’s Palette, a unique fundraising art auction where potters from throughout NC were asked to make a painting to be auctioned off in support of the NC Pottery Center.

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OK, two points have to be addressed before we can continue. One, I have grown to dislike art auctions, like many artists who are asked on a regular basis to contribute artworks to them. There are way too many of them and some are just a facade for some folks to throw a party for themselves and take home some cheap art. Also the “art auction” seems to be only a burden of the visual art community – what about the performing and literary arts? But, I do support art auctions that make sense for the artists to support. NC potters supporting the NC Pottery Center is a given.

Point two – what another fundraiser? Yes, fundraisers are the name of the game these days. Government funding of the arts is almost non-existent and has been shrinking over the last decade. Believe me, these folks would love not to do it, but it’s a fact of survival.

What I loved about The Potter’s Palette fundraiser was that it wasn’t potters giving more pots to be auctioned off – reducing the market value of their pots in the name of a good cause. This was asking them to work out of the box creating art that doesn’t compete with their pottery – appealing to pottery collectors – offering them a chance to bid on something rare and unusual – a real one-of-a-kind item. This concept is similar to the collaborative pots auctioned off during the Celebration of Seagrove Potter’s festival. How often can you bid on a pot made by two different potters – who are not married to each other?

The trip to Seagrove from Bonneau, SC, the headquarters of Carolina Artsis about a 3 1/2 to 4 hour drive – some on rural roads, but mostly on Interstate highways (I-95 and the future I-73 & I 74), with Florence, SC, acting as a rest stop. We left early to drop in on a few potteries that I have not been to since I stopped delivering the paper – over a year now. I was in Seagrove in November of 2011 for the Celebration of Seagrove Potters, but had no time to visit individual potteries. Besides, most were at pottery festivals that weekend.

We got to the rest area just outside of Seagrove about 12:30pm. We had lunch and headed to Bulldog Pottery to pay a visit to Samantha Henneke and Bruce Gholson, as well as Max the wonder bulldog and Ed and Gloria Henneke. But we had to settle for two out of five. Max was walled off from us. The excuse was that Max had pottery studio dust feet, which Max being Max would end up all over us (a big bummer) and they claimed Ed and Gloria were down in Florida, but I think Ed was still mad at me over the fact that Michigan had beaten Virginia Tech in a bowl game. Some people take a football loss like that hard. Just kidding Ed – it’s a good thing Michigan had paid off the refs ahead of time – right.

We got a tour of their new studio space. Well it was not so new to them, but new to us. Again, I’m amazed at all the stuff and equipment that goes into making pottery. If the public only knew what I have seen – behind the scenes of making art – they wouldn’t complain about the price of art much. At least you would think that. Most think it just involves a potter’s wheel and some clay.

We also got to talk some more about social media. Which is when my head started hurting and I noticed that there were two pots still spinning on wheels and the light bulb when off – they’re in the middle of working.

We next headed to Whynot Pottery to visit with Meredith and Mark Heywood to see what they were up to since we last saw them. Yes, I follow the blog and Facebook entries of these folks, but you can’t get the whole picture from those postings. Besides I still like the old school social media where you talk with people – face to face.

My mistake at Whynot Pottery was when we went inside their home, I sat or melted into their couch. If we didn’t have the event at the Pottery Center to go to and Linda wasn’t on call Sunday for her 911 job – I might have ended up watching the Super Bowl from that couch. Talk about visitors who never leave – it could have been me.

You ever notice that when couples get together that eventually the guys will be talking on one subject and the gals on another and sometimes the two paths of conversation will cross – and make sense? We had a few of those, but mostly we talked about a project they are working on with a designer from Charlotte, NC, who is working with a bigger designer in California.

At this point no one knows where this project will lead, but it really sounds interesting in that these designers are going to be pitching American Made up against Made in China and hopefully American consumers are ready to buy into the concept of the value of American craft over China’s price. We hope to have more about this project later.

Once I looked at the time, I think it took me about 20 minutes to transition slowly to a point where I could move off of that couch. My body didn’t want to go.

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We got to the NC Pottery Center in downtown Seagrove just a little after the event started and the parking lot was packed. And, so was the Center. Very soon we were standing in a line which eventually led to the food, which was being provided by Jennie Lorette Keatts, of JLK Jewelry at Jugtown, who we later learned was a caterer in a previous life. And what a spread it was – steamed shrimp, smoked salmon pate, tuna pate, sundried tomato tapenade, Rosemary white bean spread, Asian marinated meatballs, miniature quiches, stuffed baby red potatoes, cheeses, fruit, veggies, desserts, and more. You won’t see any photos of the food, as there was never a time that there wasn’t a crowd of people around those tables, except during the live auction, and I found it impossible to fill my plate and take pictures. But I know my priorities.

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Michael Mahan (r) and Phil Winn (l)

Wonderful Irish music was being provided by Michael Mahan, of From the Ground Up Pottery, and Phil Winn from Greensboro, NC. It doesn’t seem fair that these artists have so many talents. They should have left some for the rest of us.

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NC Potter Center Board Member Michael Kline serving up drinks

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A last minute inspection of works to be auctioned

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More inspections

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Potter Fred Johnston of Johnston and Gentithes Art Pottery giving folks a closer look at a work

Soon the live auction was starting, but it took the crowd a little time to settle down. There was a lot of excitement in the air and so many people to talk to. Bidding started a little slowly, but before you knew it – it was moving along fast and the bidding was getting heated on some of the items. One painting by Vernon Owens of Jugtown Pottery went for $1700. The high bidder was somewhere on the other end of a cell phone manned by Travis Owens. The crowd erupted when the auctioneer called out – “Sold for $1700!” I later learned that Alex Matisse’s painting came in second and brought a final bid of $1650.

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Travis Owens making a bid for the mystery person on the phone

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Mark Hewitt describing a painting

One of the highlights of the auction was the commentary by Mark Hewitt of Pittsboro, NC, potter and board member of the NC Pottery Center, about each of the paintings being offered. His comments got interesting, especially when it came to a work by himself or of a good friend. At times it sounded as if he was auditioning for a job at Sotheby’s or to be an Art History professor.

There wasn’t any painting that didn’t attract a bid – thank you bidding audience, and at least 50 percent of the paintings went for over $100 and some climbed to $400, $500, $600, and higher as several bidders fought to become the owner. A few bargains were had for what I would call a steal, but the bidding was well spread throughout the crowd. Some of the potters who had contributed a painting were also bidding on other potter’s paintings. The spirit of a true fundraiser was in this crowd.

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People checking their bid sheets to see which painting is up next

Before the evening was over, what I would call halfway over by looking at the bid list, Linda and I had to head back to Bonneau. Linda was on call on Sunday, and although she didn’t get called in and was able to participate in the first ever Carolina Arts All Day Super Bowl Celebration, we didn’t want to take the chance of getting home around 1 or 2am and she getting that dreaded call to come in to work at 7am.

The Pottery Center has not issued a final total raised during the event, but it might come in over $15,000. An official press release will come later, but I’d say it was a very successful venture, one that I’m sure we’ll see again and will no doubt be better than this first one. That’s the way they roll in Seagrove.

You can see other photos from the event (better than mine) at the Pottery Center’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/North-Carolina-Pottery-Center-Seagrove-NC/102520396006). While you’re there you might want to “Like” it to keep up with future events. Their annual potter auction will be coming up soon.

You can read more details about this event at an earlier post I made on Jan. 31, 2012, at this link (http://carolinaarts.com/wordpress/2012/01/31/north-carolina-pottery-center-in-seagrove-nc-offers-the-potters-palette-something-different-feb-4-2012/).

To learn more about the NC Pottery Center, check our their website at (www.NCPotteryCenter.org).

From The Ground Up Pottery in Seagrove, NC, Offers Annual R.D. Mahan Kiln Opening and Turkey Roast – Oct. 1, 2011

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Editor’s Note: This is my 500th posting at Carolina Arts Unleashed. This blog started in May 2008 as a birthday present from Linda. What else can you give someone who likes to express his opinions and views without limits? Space limits that is. You can blame her. The only wonder is – how did it take over 3 years to get to the 500th posting? All I can say is – I’ll try harder.

Here’s the real news:

Michael Mahan and his son, Levi, will be making new tree pots, large pots and shino-glazed pots from clay they dig on their land and firing them in their wood kiln for this year’s R.D. Mahan Kiln Opening and Turkey Roast, Oct. 1, 2011, from 9am-5pm, at their studio in Seagrove, NC.

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Soul Pots

Plan to come to the studio – From the Ground Up- hungry for pots and food as Michael’s wife Mary will be making Irish scones (with fresh cream and jam) in the morning, Michael will be making his freshly roasted organic coffee and Levi will likely add a dish of some sort using his culinary skills. Turkey will be served for lunch. Last year, it was roasted on the grill. The previous year, it was deep-fried.

Why the R.D. Mahan name? “I wanted to create an annual commemoration of my father, so we call the kiln opening the R.D. Mahan Kiln Opening and Turkey Roast. This is our third year. It seems appropriate to pay homage to him as it is he who gave me the determination and drive to manifest my dreams”.

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Works by Levi Mahan

Michael Mahan has been making decorative and functional pottery in the Seagrove area since 1985. He lives and works in Westmoore, seven miles south of Seagrove at his pottery, From the Ground Up. He owned and operated Wild Rose Pottery in Whynot until 1998 when he moved to Westmoore to renovate a barn and outbuildings on the site where Moore County traditional potter W.J. Stewart worked in the 1890s.

Mahan came to Seagrove as a newspaper reporter. Soon he was taking classes and changed careers to pottery. His youngest son, Levi, is currently an apprentice with him and his daughter Chelsea is also a potter.

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Shino-glazed bowls (lower right bowl glazed with alberta slip glaze)

Mahan processes some clay from his property and uses mainly North Carolina sourced clays and materials for his clay and glazes. He combine911michael-mahan2s ancient and modern firing techniques to achieve pieces that reveal the unique relationship between clay and fire. Michael’s latest work involves trees. He continues to create functional dinnerware using his trademark southwestern and ash glazes.
Tree Pot

From the Ground Up is located at 172 Crestwood Road in Robbins, NC. To see his latest work, check out Michael’s blog at (www.FromTheGroundUpPots.blogspot.com).

For further info call the pottery at 910/464-6228, e-mail to (mahanpots@rtmc.net) or visit (http://fromthegrounduppots.com). Also on Facebook.

News About the Seagrove, NC, Pottery Area

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

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From the NC Pottery Center

Dr. Everette James has once again donated an important collection of North Carolina pottery to the NC Pottery Center (http://www.ncpotterycenter.com/) in Seagrove, NC. Several years ago he gave several hundred pots that served as the core of a highly successful fund-raising auction held by Leland Little Auctions in Hillsborough, NC. This time he has given over 100 items for our permanent collection.

James’ newest gift includes a great variety of forms, including early lead glazes and signed utilitarian wares from J.D. Craven, J.F. Brower, George Donkel, and O. Henry Pottery. James of course is the author of North Carolina Art Pottery, 1900-1960 (Collector Books, 2003), and so it is not surprising that his gift features major 20th century artists such as A.R. Cole, J.B. Cole, Ben Owen, Joe Owen, M.L. Owen, and numerous others. Among the rarities are a Glenn Art Pottery vase with the original sticker, a buzzard vase by J.B. Cole, a pale blue dinner set from A. R. Cole, and an earthenware vase with cobalt flows from the Auman Pottery.

James’ donation is now nestled in the storage cupboards upstairs, but a future exhibition is being planned to show off this new acquisition. The NC Pottery Center ask all its supporters to thanks Dr, James whenever you see him. No one has been more generous to the Center.

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Ben Owen Pottery Gallery Opens at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte

The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte (NC) has opened its exclusive new Ben Owen Pottery Gallery, presenting custom pottery pieces from renowned Seagrove, NC, artist Ben Owen III (http://www.benowenpottery.com/). The new retail setting will be open to the public daily and has been created to feature the work of an acclaimed contemporary potter whose pieces already highlight the hotel’s extensive contemporary art collection.

The gallery will offer 75-100 one-of-a-kind pieces of Ben Owen III pottery, with prices beginning at $45. Works will range from pots, vases, jars, bowls and platters to major showpieces and spectacular larger works of art. All items are hand-created by Ben Owen, who also will make special appearances at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte for 2011 art weekends and art demonstrations.

The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is located at 201 East Trade Street, in Uptown Charlotte, NC. The Ben Owen Pottery Gallery will be open daily from 9am to 6pm.

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Valentine’s Day Shopping on Busbee Road

Valentine’s Day is about celebrating those you love. What better gift than something handmade by an artist. The Seagrove Potters of Historic Busbee Road are planning a weekend shopping experience designed to fit your Valentine’s Day shopping needs,  on Friday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011.

Ten shops, including three museums, a jeweler, a blacksmith and a wide variety of other crafts, all in less than a three mile scenic drive, where pottery has been made continuously for over 100 years will offer their creative talents. There is something for everyone on your list in the shops starting on Busbee Road at Pottery Highway 705 and ending at Jugtown Road.

Participents in the event include: Ben Owen Pottery, Chris Luther Pottery, Westmoore Pottery, Hickory Hill Pottery, Mill Creek Forge, O’Quinn Pottery, Cady Clay Works, Original Owens Pottery, Moore Pots Pottery, Jugtown Pottery, and JLK Jewelry at Jugtown.

Visit  (www.potteryofbusbeeroad.com) for direct  links to the individual pottery websites. You can pick up the brochure for the Busbee Road section of the Seagrove pottery area at the NC Pottery Center, all NC Welcome Centers and at any of the shops along Busbee Road.

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Just Another Day at the Pottery at From the Ground Up

Follow Michael Mahan and the crew at From the Ground Up pottery as they make 500 award pots for the 2011 Uwharrie Mountain Run on his blog found at (http://fromthegrounduppots.blogspot.com/). If you think potters slow down during the winter months – think again.

Word and Pictures are Starting to Come Out from the 3rd Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters in Seagrove, NC

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

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Some of the blogging potters in Seagrove, NC, who are part of the 3rd Annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters have started posting pictures and feedback on their blogs.

If you can’t read between the lines – I couldn’t go this year – I’m spend the weekend working on another pottery project. Announcement coming soon.

First word came from Around and About with Bulldog Pottery by Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke of Bulldog Pottery. They’re young with lots of energy. And, Michael Mahan posting at From the Ground Up has offered images of his booth.

I’m sure it won’t be long before we see a report from Meredith and Mark Heywood on the Whynot Pottery Blog about what’s been going on.

New – I’ve added in Touya News the blog of Takuro Shibata and Hitomi Akebi Shibata and Turning Mud Into Gemstones the blog of Jennie Lorette Keatts. Both have added more info from the Celebration.

All of their blogs offer links to other blog where news may be soon popping up. So, if you’re like me and can’t go this year – live through the blogs.

This morning I got a call from my friend Will Ravenel who went with me to the Celebration last year – from the Celebration. He was wondering if I was on my way. I wish. And, then later he called to tell me I was again responsible for him leaving a boat load of money in Seagrove.

It’s what I do – turn people on to ways they can better spend their money – on items with lasting value. And, if you only look – that’s OK too.

A Visit to the 2009 Celebration of Seagrove Potters Festival in Seagrove, NC – Part III

Monday, November 30th, 2009

This shouldn’t be too long (right), but I just wanted to make some observations/suggestions about the pottery festivals, Seagrove, the potters there and the NC Pottery Center.

I’ll begin with the NC Pottery Center. I know it would probably be hard to find more volunteers to do this, but I think the Center should stay open extra hours, from 4-6pm – until the Friday night Gala Preview opens for the Celebration of Seagrove Potters. Most people in Seagrove who support the Center are probably involved with the festival and the Gala, but there were a lot of folks who were driving by the Pottery Center after 4pm – looking for something to do.

There may have been a lot of folks who arrived in Seagrove early for the Gala – folks who may have only planned to go to the Gala, and although there were plenty of potteries open to visit – they may have hoped to see the exhibit at the NC Pottery Center – Fire in the Valley: Catawba Valley Pottery Then and Now, which will be on view through Jan. 30, 2010..

I also think they should try to be open Sunday while both festivals are still going on. It’s the one weekend in Seagrove when the most people interested in pottery are in town and I would think it would be good for the Pottery Center to be open.

But I understand that this small town of 250 might already be stretched to capacity as to how much more it can do. So, this might be a good opportunity for those supporters of the NC Pottery Center who live outside of the Seagrove area to step up and answer the call of duty on this weekend so the Pottery Center can still man a booth at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters.

I hope you’ll understand why the Pottery Center is not involved with the Seagrove Pottery Festival since its organizers, the Bobbsey Twins of the pottery world, have tried their best or worst to close it down.

Another observation is that I think the idea, supplied by Michael Mahan of From the Ground Up pottery of offering collaborative works for the Gala Preview auction – is one of the greatest ideas I know of in fundraising. It brings the potters together – as if they could get any closer, creates a unique opportunity for pottery collectors (some of the potters even made bids on these works) and gives the Celebration a good promotional tool which can draw even more people to the Gala Preview.

On the question of should there be more collaborative works offered or less – I don’t know. Perhaps the number should be tied to how many advance tickets are sold to the Gala Preview. If next year’s ticket sales are increased by a few hundred more folks like this year – there may be a need for more collaborative items to be offered at the auction. But the balance is delicate as the main goal of the festival is for the potteries to sell pottery. Still, I would guess some people were drawn especially to the Gala Preview for the collaborative works.

My message to those Seagrove potters participating in the Seagrove Pottery Festival (the other pottery festival taking place in Seagrove that weekend), which I have nothing against is – look for new leadership before you become just another arts and craft festival. The Celebration of Seagrove Potters has the right idea in how to keep the heritage and traditions of the true Seagrove area alive. Your festival is drifting in the wrong direction – with the wrong captain at the wheel.

I’m not saying there is no room for two festivals – in fact, I think two festivals is drawing more people to Seagrove. Some people are probably drawn to Seagrove with the notion that they might see some sign of a feud – a feud that doesn’t really exist between the potters. There are always a few publicity hounds in every community and once they have tasted the spotlight, they’ll do anything, say anything, to keep those lights shining on them. It’s not about you, the potters – it’s always going to be about them – your fearless leaders. They are steering the ship and they don’t care where it goes – even a crash on the rocks is good attention for them. You need to start thinking for yourself – what’s good for you and what’s good for your community – not one 50 miles away.

And, finally, I hope the State of North Carolina gets that rest area and welcome center near Seagrove opened on Hwy. 220 (the future I-74) soon. And, I hope it represents the Seagrove area in a true light. There is a big difference between trying to get people to take the next exit and explore and getting them to make a 50 mile detour to Sanford, NC, to see what some people call Seagrove pottery. It’s best to keep politics out of North Carolina’s heritage and cultural offerings. No amount of legislation is going to make Sanford Seagrove or allow Sanford to replace Seagrove. Let Sanford be Sanford and Seagrove be Seagrove.

And, Hwy. 220 (the future I-74) also needs better signage informing folks traveling that road that there are not just area potteries at various exits around Seagrove – it should say that there are over 100 individual potteries in a very small area to explore. A few more words on a sign is not that much more to ask. If it was South Carolina – there would be 30 – 40 massive billboards in a 10 mile stretch. No one wants that, but a few more words on the official highway signs for Seagrove potteries would be better – much better.

PS – Did I win any of the raffles?

A Visit to the 2009 Celebration of Seagrove Potters Festival in Seagrove, NC – Part II

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Well, Saturday morning started with breakfast and a scan of the Greensboro newspaper, the News & Record to see if there was anything there about the Celebration of Seagrove Potters. There was an article there about the two pottery festivals going on in Seagrove, NC (from the High Point Enterprise). Things must be getting pretty bad at the News & Record– out of the four pages I pulled out of the paper which had the article about the festivals, most of the articles on the pages were from the High Point Enterprise, The Associated Press, Wire Reports, and the Charlotte Observer. I guess the N&R handled the obituaries. They’re looking like a cut and paste newspaper. Maybe the N&R owns the Enterprise – lets hope so. Oh well, times are tough for newspapers – Carolina Arts included.

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This article was a little one-sided, leaning toward the Seagrove Pottery Festival – with some info being supplied by the lesser of the two Bobbsey Twins of the pottery world. Having just stepped in a cow pie over numbers of potteries/potters participating at the Celebration of Seagrove Potters, I thought it was funny that this Bobbsey was using the figure – “80 of the area’s potters” were at his festival. I guess that’s a pretty liberal use of the word “area”. At least he didn’t use the word Seagrove, even though he and his boss got the NC Legislature to declare several neighboring counties to officially be considered to be in the Seagrove area too. Saying it don’t make it so, but it gives them the excuse to call just about anyone they want a Seagrove potter. At least the article mentioned both pottery festivals. But, what’s the deal with featuring a Civil War re-enactment at the Seagrove Pottery Festival. I guess it fits since pretty soon, Big Boss Bobbsey Twin will want potters from Seagrove to secede from Seagrove and declare Sanford, NC, to be the real Seagrove of NC. Wait for it.

So we headed for Seagrove. It was a much shorter drive from Greensboro for me – how about that? I guess they’re right – location is everything. In my arrival Friday I only saw signs for the Celebration, but on Saturday there were a few signs for the other festival, but when it came for the turnoff from Hwy. 705 in Seagrove for the Seagrove Pottery Festival there were a couple of guys with a big sign saying “Pottery Festival” waving people to turn, but most people like us just drove right on by towards Luck’s Cannery. That was the only sign of any pottery wars going on in Seagrove.

I had forgotten that the festival on Saturday started at 9am – so we were late for the start and lots of people were piling into the parking lots and many already leaving. I guess it pays to look at your ticket stub. We ended way back around the buildings from the night before, but in a better space – closer to the entrance. Outside food vendors were well at work in getting lunch ready and the smells were great. Getting in the front door took a little longer and when we finally got in – the place was really packed.

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We sort of got to wave at some folks to let them know we were back, but the crowd didn’t exactly let us talk to people again. Plus today, my friend and official photographer of the day, Will Ravenel, was shopping. Moving around took some skill.

While trying to get to Bulldog Pottery we noticed that there was hardly anything left at Jugtown Pottery. I asked Pam Owens, one of the Owens clan from Jugtown what they were going to do for Sunday or the rest of Saturday for that matter – she shrugged her shoulders and said – maybe we won’t have to come back tomorrow? I thought that strange, but later learned that Jugtown doesn’t usually do pottery festivals, but was doing the Celebration to be supportive, and I had forgotten for the moment that all these booths – also have folks manning their regular potteries in Seagrove – where there is much more inventory.

That was another thing different about Saturday. The Friday Gala Preview had all the folks from the potteries on hand, but come Saturday some had to stay at home to manage the potteries and on the drive in there were lots of people at the potteries too.

At one point we came across a booth that was unmarked by a sign as to which pottery it was – again it helps if you pick up a program or remember to bring the one to got from the night before. People were really crowding in around this booth. We finally got close enough to see some of the pottery and we both liked what we saw. We eventually learned that this was Ray Pottery. There was a line of people with pots and objects in their hands waiting to give these folks money. Later after a few more turns around the room – there was still a line of people waiting to buy. A nice problem to have.

During a pass by Whynot Pottery, still unable to get close, I picked up a flyer for the Catawba Valley Pottery & Antiques Festival, which will take place on March, 27, 2010, at the Hickory Metro Convention Center in Hickory, NC. They have a Friday Night Preview Party too, scheduled for March 26, 2010 – also advance tickets only.  The Festival is a fundraising event for two non-profit institutions, the Catawba County Historical Association and the North Carolina Pottery Center. More about this event in another blog entry, but you can check the link now, but come right back – I’m not finished.

Will was making purchases and some of my weekend anxiety was relieved by carrying one of his packages around. But then I started to worry about the folks I had said I couldn’t buy during this trip – seeing me with a big bag and thinking – those newspaper types – they’ll say anything. So the anxiety came right back. But at least give me credit for recruiting Will to the event, which lead to purchases of Seagrove pottery. And, besides the crowd was too heavy and the booths were so busy, I doubt anyone noticed me, much less anything else a few feet away from their nose.

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Takuro Shibata of STARworks Ceramics explaining clay making process.

Finally we found a booth that wasn’t too crowded. It was the STARworks Ceramics booth. They make clay down in Star, NC, a little south of Seagrove on Hwy 220 (the future I-74). We talked with Takuro Shibata, the director of STARworks Ceramics. We had looked up their site Friday night when we got back to Greensboro after talking with Nancy Gottovi, the executive director of STARworks NC. We also watched a video that was playing on an Apple computer in their booth (a good sign for both Will and I – diehard Apple folks) about their clay making process. Santiago Ramirez, the operations manager at STARworks Ceramics also gave us a lesson about clay that was very interesting. We were learning a lot about clay, glazes, pottery processes, and the pottery biz – which is another side of the festival which I think most of the crowd was missing, but I’m glad for the potter’s sake that most people there were interested in buying Seagrove pottery.

I did finally meet one of my first contacts with the Seagrove area, Jennie Lorette Keatts of JLK Jewelry and Shop at Jugtown Pottery. She has helped supply me with info about Seagrove and the potters there – as far as five years back, but more recently helping supply photos for the blog and coordinating Carolina Arts‘ media sponsorship of the Celebration. That’s the way it is in this biz – I deal with folks on a monthly basis – some who I have never met face to face in all these years.

I think the last potter I got a chance to talk with was Michael Mahan of From the Ground Up pottery. That’s where I learned from his wife, Mary Holmes, that it was his idea about the collaborative pottery pieces for the auction on Friday. It takes a wife sometimes to give credit where credit is due.

We ate a lunch of stir-fry from a new restaurant which had moved from the west coast to Asheboro, NC – Pacific Rim Noodle House. That was some good eating and outside was wonderful. The selection of food was very good – it seems they had everything covered. It’s hard to believe this festival is only in its second year.

Back in the building the crowd in the back room with the booths seemed to have gotten larger and tick tock it was 1 o’clock already, a time I had set when I had to leave to return to Bonneau, SC, headquarters of Carolina Arts.

On the way out I got to see Sid Luck of Luck’s Ware doing a pottery demo for a few minutes – he makes it look so easy. I really didn’t want to leave – there was still so much to see and another auction scheduled for 4pm on Saturday, but I had to go. All good things must come to an end.

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Sid Luck doing his magic.

Before I left the building, on the way to the restroom – I’m no dummy, I noticed that there was one copy of Carolina Arts left on the check-in desk. I asked the woman standing there if that’s all they had – she said I could take it, and I said I have plenty. She looked back at me with a funny look and I replied – it’s my paper and that I have more in the car. So I went and restocked their pile. A lot of folks were probably seeing their first copy of the paper. No surprise to me, but good for us.

Leaving the cannery there were still tons of folks coming in for the festival. When back in Seagrove I decided to drive by the other festival – there were a lot of people there too – so I would guess that both festivals did well and hopefully will learn that they both offer something that will draw people to Seagrove which is good for all. Let’s hope that sinks in to one group soon, but with the Bobbsey Twins of the pottery world leading them on (I mean literally leading them on) – don’t hold your breath.

Three and a half hours later I was back home in Bonneau. On the ride back home I was listening to a book on CD – Hard Row by Margaret Maron – another discovery from that area of North Carolina. Maron has provided me with background info on the pottery world in Seagrove, the furniture market in High Point and other characteristics of this area of NC. Her books are always a good listen. Perhaps her new book will be Showdown at the Seagrove Pottery Festivals – who knows.

A Visit to the 2009 Celebration of Seagrove Potters Festival in Seagrove, NC – Part I

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

I’m going to let you know right off the bat – this could be a three-parter with all the info I have to offer about this event. It involves much more than the Celebration event in itself. So bear with me while I take you on my journey. I hope some of you will enjoy my tale of our shared experience and the rest of you will kick yourself for not taking my advice to attend this festival. Good thing for you – it will take place again next year – bigger and better than the last two I’m sure.

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I left Bonneau, SC, and headed north toward Seagrove about noon Friday, Nov. 20, 2009. That’s a short jaunt from Bonneau to Manning, SC, where I picked up I-95 and then at Florence, SC, I got off on Hwy. 52 which took me to Cheraw, SC, where I picked up Hwy. 1 to Rockingham, NC, and then Hwy. 220 (the future I-74) all the way up to Exit 45 to Seagrove. In a little more than 3 1/2 hours I was in the parking lot of the NC Pottery Center. I can’t wait until that new rest area is opened just before Exit 45 so I don’t have to stop at the one in Ellerbe. Sorry Ellerbe, I know you’re getting the short end of the stick with the new I-74, but you’re going to have to come up with something better than a rest area to attract people there.

I just made it in time to see the exhibit, Fire in the Valley: Catawba Valley Pottery Then and Now, which will be on view through Jan. 30, 2010. There will be a separate posting on that exhibit. This is also where I was going to meet up with my friend Will Ravenel, who was coming from Greensboro, NC, to go with me to the Gala Preview event. Linda, my better half, had to work that weekend. Will had agreed to come as my official photographer, since I can’t talk to people and remember to take photos. Plus, he’s a better photographer than I am. Carolina Arts and I are very grateful for his expertise with cameras, computers, websites, blogging and just about anything else technical – and, he asks some pretty good questions as well. He has joined me on several trips to Seagrove and I think he really enjoys it as much as I do.

Will arrived about an hour before the Gala Preview opened so we headed to the Westmoore Family Restaurant – a great place to get some good food at a pretty good price. But, I’m sure a lot of folks traveling to Seagrove have already found that out. Remember, Seagrove is a town of about 250 people, so you wouldn’t expect a lot of places to dine. Asheboro, NC, is just 12 miles away, so you can find everything you might need for a trip to Seagrove there. We knew there was going to be food at the Gala, but we couldn’t think of anything else to do in the meantime. Everyone in Seagrove was getting ready for one pottery festival or another.

Once we finished our dinner we headed back up Hwy. 705, the Pottery Highway, toward Seagrove to the historic Luck’s Cannery where the Celebration of Seagrove Potters was taking place. The closer we got to the turnoff the more cars joined in the line headed to the same place. The Police Officers directing traffic in and out of the Cannery did a great job of moving traffic and the parking attendants found us a place to park very quickly. Both groups did a great job all weekend long moving the horde of people in and out. I’ve waited longer to cross the street in downtown Charleston, SC.

Now it might seem like a lot of stuff – before we step foot through the door to the event I’m blogging about, but it’s all part of the experience – something I think everyone should know. It would be like blogging about an art walk in downtown Charleston, SC, and not mentioning the fact that it may have taken 20-30 minutes to drive around before you found a parking spot and that you were three blocks away from where you would like to be – and that’s someone who knows the city well. It’s all part of the experience. I hate it when people act like they just magically appeared at some event – no hassle at all. What’s not worth doing even it involves a few hassles?

OK, so we’re in the door – we have our tickets (no tickets are sold at the door so you have to buy them in advance – remember that) and right off there are copies of Carolina Arts on the check-in desk. My night was made already. We were one of the media sponsors of this event, but that doesn’t always mean you’re going to be treated in a manner you always hope for – I left the event filled with the glow that our sponsorship was not only appreciated but celebrated. That’s never a bad thing. And, in almost 100 percent of those situations, we are happy to renew our sponsorship – year after year.

So, to answer the questions on everyone’s minds who read my two previous entries about this festival: there was no sign of the Bobbsey Twins of the pottery world or any hired goons making my visit an unpleasant experience. But I did turn my head every time I heard the word Tom shouted a little louder than normal – as if someone was giving me a warning. And, no pottery was sacrificed in any scrambles of people trying to get away from me.

We filled out our ticket stubs for the raffle items and then moved on past the line for food (which looked great), but we had just finished dinner, but we found a dessert table – with lots of desserts. We visited that table several times that evening. We then checked out the items to be auctioned that evening – the collaborative pieces – most done by two different Seagrove potters – a few face jugs done by three different potters and a few done by husband and wife potter teams. Just looking at some of the works and seeing the names associated with them – I knew the bidding would be way over a lot of peoples’ heads – especially mine, plus I was out of the pottery purchasing game altogether this trip. My little joke of the night was that – I’d love to buy something, but I have a struggling arts newspaper instead. Ha Ha. That was the only miserable part of this trip. It was killing me.

We headed into the part of the building where the pottery booths were. Apparently that was a new feature this year. Last year the festival was held in one big space and this year there was a divided wall up separating the entry room where the auction would take place and the entertainment, food, drink, and information tables were set up. This new wall was important in that the band playing in one room didn’t add to the noise of the crowd around the pottery booths so you could talk and the people wanting to hear the music didn’t have to deal with crowd noise. Plus while the auction was taking place people could and were still shopping.

We made a quick tour around the big room divided into three pathways – stopping to talk (when we could – the place was packed) with potters from places we visited during the spring kiln openings earlier this year and fellow bloggers I now think of as friends – Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke of Bulldog Pottery (Samantha’s father – Ed Henneke was there too) and Meredith and Mark Heywood of Whynot Pottery. Some folks we never did get to talk to that night even after several passes – they were tied up with customers. To me sales always come first – whether I’m on the phone with someone or in their gallery or studio – if customers come in – everything is on hold until business is concluded. Business is business.

Blogger’s Note: My apologies to Meredith and Mark Heywood – I keep trying to make them Haywoods.

So, in-between trying to say hi to some folks we roamed around to wherever our eyes took us. At one point we were at David Stuempfle’s booth of Stuempfle Pottery admiring his very big pots and we met Nancy Gottovi who turned out to be the executive director of STARworks NC, located just off Hwy. 220 (the future I-74) in Star, NC. She answered some questions we had about Stuempfle’s work and wood-fired salt glazes and then we talked about STARworks and Central Park NC – but for now you’ll have to check the links and wait for a separate entry on that facility.

At Whynot Pottery’s booth we got an explanation of crystalline glazes and how that works. We were really fascinated by that glaze technique. And I asked about something I thought of on the ride up to Seagrove. I wondered what kind of objects children made in art class in a community like Seagrove – home to over 100 potteries. I had bet myself that the pottery sessions were better than the ones I had in school back in Michigan. Some of the children’s parents would be some of the area’s potters. These are kids who have been hanging around potteries most of their lives – of course they made more interesting objects out of clay than the rest of us and with programs organized by the NC Pottery Center and taught by area potters – why wouldn’t they be better? Of course many turned out like my creations did – we can’t all be gifted artists.

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Here I am (before Thanksgiving, if you can believe it,) talking with Meredith Heywood trying to remember what my first creations in clay looked like.

At the booth for Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery (Fred Johnston and Carol Gentithes) I picked up a flyer for the second Cousins In Clay event which will take place in Seagrove on June 5 & 6, 2010. This expanded version will include the Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery as well as Bulldog Pottery.Michael Kline will be returning to Bulldog Pottery with Val Cushing and Allison McGowen will be a guest at Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery. Put that on your calendars.

While we were looking around Will was beginning to think that Saturday – the first day of the Celebration of Seagrove Potters festival – he might have to do some early Christmas shopping. He was seeing lots of possibilities. Lucky stiff.

Just before 8pm we headed back into the first room to find a good spot to observe the auction. I thought – this is going to be interesting and I wasn’t let down.

As I said in one of my earlier entries about the festival – these items were one-of-a- kind works. You can’t get a piece where two different potters from different potteries worked on a special creation together – so there were some people there ready to spend some money to call those works theirs. And, some of the teams were made up of very high profile potters. The bottom line is that the Friday night auction took in $10,000 which would be used for programs in the Seagrove community and promotion of the event.

I can’t give you details of the entire auction – this would go on forever – just like some of the bidding did – back and forth between two competing bidders and just when you thought the bidding was over a third bidder would throw their hand up – starting the bidding back and forth again.

Here’s a few of the highlights. A vase by Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke (Bulldog Pottery) went for $600. A turtle created by Blaine Avery (Avery Pottery & Tileworks) and Carol Gentithes (Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery) went for $550. Two small vases created by Donna Craven (Donna Craven Pottery) and Samantha Henneke (Bulldog Pottery) demanded a high bid of $725. A very small melon vase by Ben Owen III (Ben Owen Pottery) and Will McCanless (McCanless Pottery) went for $400. But the big winner of the auction was a work by Ben Owen III (Ben Owen Pottery) and Fred Johnston (Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery) that took in $1650 before the bidding was over. All of these potters make pots that sell for more than these works took in, but it was really great of them to donate special works for this auction.

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Here is Ben Owen III holding up a work at the auction he and Will McCanless created.

This event was very exciting to watch – some people got some real bargains and others paid perhaps beyond what I’m sure they wanted to, but they walked away with some items – all us spectators wished we were going home with. I know I was drooling over most of the works offered.

By the way, the idea of making collaborative works to auction off was the idea of Michael Mahan of From the Ground Up pottery. He wanted the Celebration to offer something special – something different from other pottery festivals. Perhaps this idea stemming from the positive energy he puts in his creations – soul pots, peace pots – with feelings of love and kindness. I’m not making fun – we all can use a lot more peace, love and kindness in today’s world.

I later learned on Saturday that the Gala Preview may have attracted a few hundred more people than the first year’s event and I’m sure more will be there next year as the word gets out. But for the record – final figures on attendance and money raised will come later – the figures offered here are just what I’ve heard so far, nothing concrete. I’m watching out for the cow pies. (A reference to earlier blog entries.)

Will and I had a good time – learned a lot about pottery and had some good conservations about all kinds of things. When we got back to Greensboro we watched a DVD of the new Star Trek movie – which was also very good – Saturday at the Celebration would be another day and another entry.

Bloggers Note: Of course the minute the Celebration of Seagrove Potters and the Seagrove Pottery Festival ended Sunday afternoon – these potters could take a long deserved rest – wrong! Many are scrambling to get ready for other shows, like the 40th Annual Carolina Designer Craftsmen’s Fine Craft + Design Show at the Exhibition Center at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, NC, Nov. 27 – 29, 2009, or kiln opening at their own potteries coming in December. This is a busy and critical time for these folks, so if you didn’t make it to either of these festivals – they sure would like you to come to Seagrove to do some holiday shopping. A handmade gift of pottery is better than anything you can find waiting in line in the dark early Friday morning after Thanksgiving.