Visitors to Featherstone Center for the Arts enjoyed soup, rolls, and dessert on Sunday at the sixth annual Potters Bowl in exchange for purchasing a ceramic bowl. The event served as a fundraiser for a new pottery studio that the center anticipates building next year. In addition, more than 20 potters have their work on display at the Featherstone Gallery in “The Art of Ceramics: Free Style,” which opened Sunday and continues through Wednesday, Sept. 16.
The new show represents a remarkable variety of work, ranging from Robert Jewett’s Hamada’s Shino glaze bowls to Jennifer McCurdy’s elegant white porcelain “Torch Vessel.” Three pots by Washington Ledesma, “Mermaids & Birds,” “Parade of Elephants” and “4 Goddess,” utilize black backgrounds to enhance this artist’s antic sketches. William O’Callaghan, a.k.a. the Mad Potter, displays six works with figures drawn from Celtic mythology. Most arresting is his “Dragon Nest,” where he has cradled small ceramic dragons in a large, oval aerie of wooden sticks. Potter Dan Parker is showing mugs as well as bowls.
Octopuses provide the subject for Francis P. Creney’s work, which includes the dramatic “Octopus Luminary.” Along with a vase and a bowl, Carl Mueller offers the humorously titled “Chubby Mermaid.” Julia McNelly uses her ceramic skills to create pieces of jewelry called “Clay Jewels,” while Donald O’Shaughnessy’s works are eponymously titled “Brown Landscape” and “Blue Landscape.” Three pieces by Lisa Vanderwekken are fancifully named “I Can Fly,” “Open,” and “Be Mine.”
One of the most arresting works in the show is Scott Campbell’s stoneware “Horse on Tile,” which uses the medium to convey successfully the massive strength of the animal. The nature of the ceramic used gives not just the title but also evokes the appearance of Debbie Hale’s “Naked Raku Vase” and “Morning Light Ferric Chloride Platter.” Kent Ravenscroft works with white resin and has three voluptuously sculpted figures on display: “Dreamer,” “Venus,” and “Spring Goddess.” Sandra Grymes is showing what she calls “Funky Bowls,” and Blanche Somer explores marine motifs in porcelain with “Seascape Bowl” and “Seascape Vase,” while her “Curvy Cut” stoneware vase exploits a unique abstract aesthetic. “Leaf” by Sarah Mayhew brings a different form to her ceramics.
Robin Tuck has etched a portrait of Rip Van Winkle in her ceramic piece of the same name. Both Sharry Stevens Grunden and Lainey Fink Scott reflect the potentially pragmatic nature of pottery in their work. Sabrina Kuchta uses white stoneware and red iron oxide in “Night Owl.” Nancy Blank, a longtime Featherstone instructor and a painter as well as a potter, has included “Bowl,” and Jennifer Langhammer puts the medium to new abstract-oriented form in “Susanoo.”
Ceramics is the most popular medium at Featherstone, and the pottery studio, formerly a breeding mare barn, is its most used facility. The center plans to break ground on its new pottery studio in June 2016.
“The Art of Ceramics: Free Style,” Featherstone Center for the Arts, 30 Featherstone Road, Oak Bluffs, through Wednesday, Sept. 16. For information, see featherstoneart.org.