Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: artists

With my latest kiln unloaded, and a “free” weekend on the calendar…
I decided to join my parents on a weekend studio art tour up in Northern Iowa
and Southeastern Minnesota. With 30 studio artists in the area, we’re taking our
time to make it around to all of the locations. Today we started with some drizzle,
but that didn’t dampen our spirits.

Let me just start by saying that not all of the artists in the area are making work
that appeals to me. But I do appreciate the fact that they are making art and loving it.
And sharing their passion, discussing their art and welcoming us into their studios.

We saw pottery, stained glass, painted silk, basketry, watercolors, woodworking and
more. We saw some “primitive” art… and some more advanced art. Something for everyone.
We met an older couple in their electricity-free log cabin. We watched a wood kiln firing.
We stopped in an artisan gallery with really nice stuff by a lot of artists. Here’s a few…

Allamakee Wood Fired Pottery is located in New Albin, Iowa. Graceful thrown forms
with a beautiful wood-fired surface were their strengths. Well, that and their really nice
black lab mascot that greeted everyone who came. While their work was beautiful,
it was also fun to watch Nate and a friend as they were towards the end of their 4-day
firing cycle in the wood kiln. Nearing cone 10, they were stoking in all ports and
coming close to the end.

George Lowe is another potter who we’ve met before during the St. Croix River Valley
Pottery Tour
… so yes, I will be seeing George and his pots again next weekend! But it is
always interesting to see the artist in their studio. To see their work in progress, their kiln,
their surroundings… and all of the crazy things on their walls that serves as inspiration!
George has a great collection on his wall, as well as a very productive looking studio…
there was a LOT going on in there!

Martha Monson Lowe…
And not only does George make beautiful pots, but his wife Martha makes incredible baskets
as well. Typically I’m not a huge fan of basketry. I can admire the craftsmanship, but I really
don’t care to have a bunch of baskets in my house. With that said, Martha’s baskets were
probably the best baskets I’ve seen. They were not only well made, but they were also very
well-designed. Architectural shapes, interesting textures, beautiful hand-dyed materials.
She even collects her own walnuts to dye the reeds a beautiful brown color!

For more information about the artists and the Bluff Country Studio Art Tour…


May 2nd, 2011

Thanks for the pictures from the tour, Gary! These are my old stomping grounds – studied art at Luther, threw for some empty bowls projects with George and the Evans’ and my uncle (Tim Langholz) was a regular on the tour before his death in 2008. Looks like the weather was about par for spring events in the midwest!

May 2nd, 2011

LUKE – Thanks for checking in. We had a fun time this weekend despite the weather. It was fun to see the studios of other potters, including George, Nate & Hallie. Nice pots can always divert your attention from some bad weather!!!

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