It’s that time of year…holiday shopping and the Stoneware Gallery sale

I am not sure if it really feels like fall anymore in Winnipeg now that we have had our first dusting of snow but, it is time for all of the local pottery groups to be having their annual sales.  The Stoneware Gallery has been a cooperative venture since 1976, forty-two years ago.  Almost a decade ago I had lunch with Valerie Metcalfe and she was worried that the coop would not be able to attract young people to fill the places of the retiring members.  Fast forward eight years and the site on Corydon Street in Winnipeg is bustling.  They offer wheel throwing classes from September to June; there is always a waitlist.  It is an excellent place to start as a beginner or to remove the rust from once trained hands.  Members take turns in the gallery shop that represents the emerging talents and the well-established potters of our City.

Beginning tomorrow, the members will be opening their doors for a four-day sale.  For those of you looking for a secret Santa gift or for one for your valued other, you will find whatever it is you are looking for.  Steve Jorgenson has been making his casseroles for three generations of buyers.  Kathryne Koop and Valerie Metcalfe have marvelled all of us with their decorative porcelain while Alan Lacovetsky brings in his special wood-fired pieces.  These are the people that I know best but Barb Balfour has her raku and Jennifer Johnson has been getting assistance in spontaneous decorating from her two daughters.

Take an hour, drive over to Corydon Avenue, pick up some gifts for the holidays or, maybe just something for yourself.  Helping support someone who makes their living by making beautiful handmade ceramics is a ‘good thing’.

Don’t Miss Out – One more day for the Crafted Show and Sale at the Winnipeg Art Gallery!

The Crafted Show and Sale is on at the Winnipeg Art Gallery til 9pm tonight, Friday November 2 with doors opening Saturday from 11am to 5pm.  This is the fourth year that the WAG has opened its doors so that  Manitobans can see the talents of more than fifty of its artists.  The entry fee is $5.

Once inside the door you are welcomed by the team that put together a great charity event.  Twenty of the ceramists and their bowls were teamed up with twenty of Manitoba’s top chefs to create a cookbook.  They are selling for $10 and the majority of the proceeds will go to Winnipeg Harvest.  It is beautifully designed and illustrated and is the perfect gift for all of you looking for a Surprise Santa gift.  Going along with the theme of soup and soup bowls, you can actually have your lunch while shopping.  On offer for $5 a bowl are Smoked Arctic Char Chowder, Curried Green Pea Soup, Chilled Roasted Golden Beet Soup, and Hemp Mulligatawny.  And if that wasn’t enough there is also White Bean Soup, Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, Kale and Potato, Carolina Crab Bisque along with Vegan Carrot.  It is a great opportunity to rest between floors!  and visit with friends.  Despite it being a Friday, visitors were already flooding the stalls by 1pm.  One of my favorites Indigo Arrows, beautiful hand made and printed textiles by Destiny Seymour, was almost sold out by the time I got to the 4th floor.  Her simple designs on lovely dyed linen represent Destiny’s Cree heritage.

But, I have to admit that it really is heart warming to see so many talented ceramic artists that have been students at the School of Art.  Terry Hildebrandt has just returned from getting his MFA in Alberta (featured image).  Check out his beautiful wood and soda fired work up on the Mezzenine Floor.  He is right on the left as you exit the stairs.  I have a ‘soft spot’ for Terry’s plates, my collection extending back to when he was an undergrad student and more recently some of the most stunning plates found at the Manitoba Craft Centre’s shop.  Directly across from Terry is the talented Jessica Hodgson who not only creates work and teaches at The Edge Clay Centre but also works for the Manitoba Craft Council (busy young lady).  Alan Lacovetsky is part of the cooperative at the Mostly Stoneware Gallery.  His studio is located in St Andrew’s.  Alan is part of the Interlake Wave Studio tour that takes place in the spring and again the beginning of September.  It’s a nice drive and a great chance to check out his wood kiln!

The number of ceramic artists boogles the mind and again is a testament to the thriving ceramic community both within Winnipeg and out.  Their work is so varied and is a reflection of their strong creative spirit.   I do apologize if I miss anyone – you are all fabulous.  PJ Anderson combines her love for basketry and ceramics into distinctive smoked fire vessels.  I have always admired Kelli Rey’s sense of humour and her wonderful ability to handle clay since I first curated her work into the exhibition, Soup and Sustenance, in 2008.  That show also had a charitable theme with the gala soup dinner tickets going to the Portage la Prairie soup kitchen.  Funny too…it was a bit of a snowy blustery day back then.  Several other members of the Mostly Stoneware Gallery are included including the rising young talent of Teegan Walker and the work of the celebrated Kathryne Koop.

I could go on and on…the list of clay makers is long.  But I also want to call attention to two special people on the first floor.  The first is the ceramic technician for the School of Art, Chris Pancoe.  Check out his fermenting jars and his soup bowls.  Valerie Metcalfe, one of the founders of the Mostly Stoneware Gallery on Corydon, is next to Candice Ring just a short walk away.  I have admired Valerie’s work for decades but this year my heart went out to her as she and a group of devoted citizens tried to protect a wooded area, home to a large number of deer, near to where I live, from being destroyed by urban expansion.  In response, she made a lovely series of work specially dedicated to the Parker Forest and Wet Lands.  It was because of that big heart of hers that I had to break a promise not to bring any more ceramics into my house.  Valerie, I am sitting here enjoying the nicest green tea from that gilded mug.  What a tearful day it was and what will now happen to those deer that so long have called this area home?  One found its way into the traffic by Jubilee and Pembina.  Thankfully it wasn’t killed.

Ceramic artists share so many social and environmental concerns while at the same time making objects and vessels to enrich our daily lives.  The Crafted Sale has more than clay but, why not tomorrow, begin thinking of who might need something for the holidays – a teacher, someone in your family, a friend – and head down to the WAG for the last day of Crafted.  Have your lunch, buy a cookbook and feel good about helping others.  You won’t regret it!

Interlake Studio Tours June 9-10

Every year the Interlake supports its makers with bi-annual open studio visits.  This year the dates are June 9 and 10 and September 1 and 2.  Go online, check out the map and visit the workplaces of the more than 29 plus talented individuals.

The Interlake has a history of creative individuals.  The Wave tour began in 2002 when School of Art graduate and Winnipeg Beach painter, Helma RoggeRedhers, organized the event. RoggeRedhers joined forces with Sandy Driscoll, a graphic designer, creating a self-guided tour of studios along Manitoba north highways 8 and 9.  The tour has grown successfully since its beginnings to encompass more than 29 artists (some years 40!).  Pottery, painting, sculpture, textiles…there is something for everyone.  Good luck to all of the artists this year!