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This Month's Feature.........

40th Annual Pottery Show and Sale
The Art School at Old Church Invitational

Over four decades ago, the relationship between two potters planted the seeds for an expanding, interactive network of respect, admiration, and shared knowledge among some of the best ceramic artists in the United States. The Annual Pottery Show and Sale at the Art School at Old Church, celebrating its 40th anniversary this December, grew out of the friendship between Karen Karnes and the late Mikhail Zakin. Zakin founded the Art School at Old Church in 1974 and that same year she and Karnes invited potters to come together to share their experience and knowledge, show their works, and celebrate art at the first show and sale. Today, countless potters can trace their development to the encouragement and support of these two women and their annual show.

In an era before cell phones, webpages, and social media, artists had few opportunities to interact with each other, to share techniques and appreciate each other’s works. Karnes envisioned a coming-together of potters where artists could tell their stories and celebrate their creativity. Always committed to supporting emerging artists, she saw how they could grow through contact with each other. In founding Old Church, Zakin worked to provide space and support for artists and offered the school as a place for the weekend-long gathering that Karnes envisioned. The show has always been an invitational event, with potters chosen by Karnes, based on her exacting artistic eye and innate sense of an artist’s potential.

After 39 years of curating the show, Karnes is sharing the role this year with two potters whom she has admired for many years – Bruce Dehnert and Chris Gustin. Dehnert, noted for his sculpture and writing on ceramics, is the head of the ceramics program at Peters Valley School of Craft in Layton, New Jersey. Gustin lives in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts and is the owner of Gustin Ceramics, where he creates architectural tile and sculptural ceramics. Both potters have been featured in past Old Church shows.

While Karnes, Dehnert, and Gustin manage the selection process and the presentation of the art works, Old Church Executive Director Maria Danziger is the administrative wizard behind the huge logistical effort of launching the weekend and supervising over ninety volunteers. The show features multiple works by thirty artists – on average, 75 works each. With thousands of pieces, it is a large undertaking. Danziger says, “Setting up the show is a challenge. On Wednesday, we completely empty the entire ceramics studio and set up displays with cement blocks and wood, ready for the artists, who arrive on Thursday for the installation.” In keeping with the original spirit of the event – to support artists – meals are provided to the potters each day. Local families are enlisted as hosts, offering their homes free of charge for artists’ lodging. Saturday evening marks a big celebratory dinner for the artists, either at a local restaurant or at the home of a generous patron.

Danziger says the weekend is so much more than an pottery show or festival. “It is a real coming-together. Our students from the Art School always attend, mingling with the artists, discussing technique, and purchasing pieces for their collections,” she says. Over the three-day event, typically 1,200 visitors attend. Danziger says that this event is integral to the educational program at Old Church, with many featured potters offering workshops throughout the year, or even signing on as regular instructors. “We treat the potters well and they are very appreciative,” she says, “but it’s all about the pottery.”


Some examples of pieces in the show:

Top left:
James Lawton


Top right: Robbie Lobell

Bottom left: Aysha Peltz

Bottom right:

Rob Sieminski

The 40th Annual Pottery Show and Sale at the Art School at Old Church runs from Friday, December 5 through Sunday December 6, at The Art School at Old Church, 561 Piermont Road in Demarest, New Jersey. A $10 donation is suggested. Visit www.oldchurchpotteryshow.org or call 201.767.7160 for more information.


Pottery Show Artists:

Richard Aerni

Daniel Anderson

Mary Barringer

Ingrid Bathe

Bruce Dehnert

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

Douglas Peltzman

Seth Rainville

Mark Shapiro

Jeff Shapiro

Rob Sieminski

Jack Troy

Adero Willard

   Erica Wurtz


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