An eclectic, contemporary art gallery in the heart of Bozeman, Montana
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Artist Bios: Pottery
As a child I grew up making mud pies on our family wheat farm in eastern Washington. I loved the transformation from a wet blob of mud to a crusty pie baked in the warm summer sun. I still love the feel of the crust of the earth between my fingers and toes. Back then it was my hands to shape the pies and the sun to “fire” them. Now with the use of a wheel and kiln things are a little faster but it is still very satisfying to roll a piece of clay between my hands and on warm, sunny days I still set my pots outside to dry in the sun.
Nearly 20 years ago, while living in an enormous city surrounded by concrete buildings, by some magical twist of fate, I discovered clay. I found myself reconnecting with the earth and elements in a way I would not have thought possible. The first thing I was taught was how to make was a bowl. I still have some of those old, very heavy “door-stoppers” to remind me of where the journey started.
I continued with utilitarian ware fully enjoying the metamorphosis from a ball of raw clay to a shiny bowl that held my soup. After studying with a group of potters in California I moved across the country and began an apprenticeship with a master potter in Maryland. The apprenticeship not only refined and honed my skills but exposed me the wide range of responsibilities of operating a production potterie. Tasks such as firing different types of kilns, developing glaze recipes, marketing, distribution and gallery management were all new to me but it wasn’t long before I was maintaining my own studio space and selling my wares to local shops and galleries.
The last 20 years have seen many different clay bodies, surface applications and firing methods all of which have imparted many valuable lessons. I love big, bold color and find that adding a big burst of tangerine to the inside of a bowl makes me smile.
I would say one of the most important lessons is, don’t forget to thank the kiln goddess when you open the lid of the kiln and find shelves of beautiful, smooth and shiny vessels because she has the power to make it otherwise!
Favorite quote: “women who have diamonds… it can’t possibly touch the joy and excitement of opening a kiln.” - excerpt from an interview with the legendary potter, Beatrice Wood.
Ed and Kate Coleman met in 1991, started taking clay classes and dreamed of becoming professional artists. They now work in their home studio in the mountains of North Carolina, raise their daughter, and sell to craft galleries. They hope their love for clay, handmade craft, and a fun, simple, everyday life is apparent in their work.
"We believe that life is more beautiful and more livable when surrounded by things made by hand. Our work is created for those who search for this quality in craft objects. We share this connection with those who own our work."
Ed and Kate Coleman received their fine art degrees at Ball State University in 1998. Their work has been shown in solo exhibitions and museum shows.
I specialize in wheel-thrown functional porcelain with finely carved slip design. After forming my pottery on a potter's wheel, I use a variety of etching techniques (scraffito) with stains and colored slips to create my intricate designs. All my pottery is finished with a hard durable, glossy glaze and fired in an electric kiln to around 2250 degrees Fahrenheit. My designs are created around natural themes with floral, fish, insect and animal motifs . My style originated from the rich, timeless grace of my Asian heritage and my inspiration is continually nurtured by the Montana landscape."
My work centers around the rhythm of a simple revolving wheel and focuses on endless patterns and natural motifs. Pottery is a way of life that has provides me a place of equilibrium and quiet introspection.
Theresa has been a potter in Montana since 1979 and exhibits in galleries and art fairs throughout the Western states and Northeast. After graduating from the University of California in Sociology, her travels in Asia sparked her interest in the Ceramic Arts. During the 1980's to 2012 she owned and operated several art galleries in Billings. She enjoys hiking in the foothills and canoeing the rivers to hunt agates. Her studio is in Shepherd, MT where she lives with her family in the house they built overlooking the Yellowstone River.
Raku is a firing technique for pottery that originated in Japan in the 15th century. The word “Raku” is commonly translated from Japanese to mean “pleasure” or “happiness”. During this intricate process, the pottery is fired in a kiln until it reaches approximately 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The extremely hot pottery is then removed from the kiln and placed in a reduction chamber filled with combustible materials. As the heat from the pottery creates a fire, the lid is placed on the chamber, creating a vacuum which forces carbon into the glazes. Some glazes become crackled, creating dark lines where the raw pottery is exposed, some glazes become metallic and shiny. As the pieces cool, the artist can use different techniques to create various desired results. Leroux was born in Henrietta, NY and attended University of Montana, majoring in Fine Art. He and his wife Leslie are raising their two sons in Whitefish, finding the balance between their love for the outdoors and time in the studio. For the Leroux’s, Raku is more than a technique of firing pottery; it has become part of their philosophy of life. Spontaneity and acceptance of unexpected events form the core of this philosophy.
Beth Mueller was born in rural Indiana. Her artwork is inspired by having lived there, her travels, her family and day-to-day experiences.
She received a BA from Eckerd College. During her time there, she also worked at Studio Santa Reparata in Florence, Italy, learning printmaking. Upon graduation, she served a two-year apprenticeship in the pottery studio of John Gick.
Before becoming a full time studio artist, she worked as a camp counselor, supervisor for a housing shelter, waitress, bartender and French teacher - not necessarily in that order.
She now designs and produces a line of fine art prints, stationary and pottery in Barre, Vermont where she lives with her family. Her work is included in numerous private and museum collections.
Eric Van Eimeren is a ceramic artist originally from Huntington Beach California.
After receiving an MFA from Alfred University, Eric moved to Montana in 1991 to be a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena. Realizing that Montana was a pretty special place, he set up a pottery studio in 1993, and has enjoyed living and working in Helena ever since.
“I am inspired by the fact that despite thousands of years of pottery making, we can still leave our studios today having created something new. I like being informed, but not bound, by tradition while creating functional pottery that is visually unique and comfortable to use.”
Van Eimeren was the recipient of a WESTAF/NEA regional fellowship for visual art, and an individual artists award from the Montana Arts Council.
Cathy Weber grew up in the Midwestern U.S., studied at the Herron School of Art and Indiana University, and completed a formal painting apprenticeship in Mexico City. In 1981 she moved to Montana, where she maintains a studio in historic downtown Dillon. Though most of Weber’s work is done in oil, she is skilled in a variety of media. Her work is motivated by an increasing sense of urgency to make things of beauty in response to war, injustice, greed and violence. Weber finds comfort and hope in the process of creating beautiful images of common objects.
Artist’s Statement I am a visual artist living and working in Dillon, Montana. I am a gardener, carpenter, cyclist, skier, feminist, civil libertarian and mom; but am most steadily compelled in my daily life by a need to make visual manifestations of my view of the world. In that context, much of my work is done in the service of beauty.
I love the possibility contained in every item found among the tools and supplies in my studio. Paper, paint, pencils, board, glue, ink, thread and fabric — all hold potential for expressing or informing a concept. I can’t recall ever not having several ideas that beg to be pursued. There is always an object I would like to explore by painting it. A story bears telling. A technique might yield something of interest.
Experimenting with book arts, for example, has led me to the discovery of watercolor luminosity on skin parchment. I am fascinated with the secrets hidden between the bindings of books, and tools of that trade suggest endless structural possibilities. Playing with elements from books led to an interest in old maps. Which then inspired me to explore ways to visually map human emotion and experience. One path leads to another, and there is no end in sight!
I believe that the details of an artist’s personal life are relevant in so far as they are revealed through her work. Artistic expression is most powerful when it speaks to the human condition and elicits a personal response from others. I infuse my images with my own experience and worldview, and hope that viewers, in turn, will recognize and honor themselves in my art.
Emily Free Wilson’s signature style of Free Ceramics began in 2003 just after moving to Helena, Montana for an internship at the Archie Bray Foundation. A graduate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a background in running and a degree in sculpture and ceramics, Emily was interested in gallery or museum work and being an active part of the art world. Helena’s rich history and supportive community of potters led to a conscience decision to find her own voice in pottery. Taking her obsession with drawing dots and combing them with her pots was an “ah-hah!” moment in a friend’s studio where it all began. With the help of her husband, Matt Wilson, they worked together to fine-tune the pottery line of “Dot Pots”.
As the Gallery Director at the Archie Bray and with the arrival of Matt and Emily’s son Clayton, Dot Pots needed help in order to continue growing. In 2007, Bobby Free, also a ceramic artist and Emily’s brother, joined the pair and the three started “Free Ceramics.” The family collaboration not only increased visibility and opportunities to show in galleries across the United States, but it also allowed all three artists to focus on a specific part of the making process. Free Ceramics has a great team that works together to create better forms and decorations while meeting customer’s needs for a reliable piece of beautiful hand made pottery.
Free Ceramics was featured in the 2011 summer issue and on the front cover of the international magazine Ceramics Monthly. The same year Free Ceramics expanded their studio space and started “Clay Club,” year round clay classes for kids. Expanding our space and being more involved in the community has introduced us to new ideas and allowed us to offer our pottery to a wider audience. As Free Ceramics continues to grow we have had new members join us. In February of 2012 Lindsey Carroll started making pottery for Free Ceramics. Joseph Pesina and Bobby Free also throw pots for Free Ceramics when needed. The increase in making productivity led to our brand new paid Internship Program, and our first intern Danielle O’Malley. The paid internship will give a recent undergraduate an opportunity to have a job in an artisan studio where they will gain experience teaching and working as an artist.