Of course, Audrey, Kate, and Lynn, the main coordinators of the invitational, were already checking in the potters while professionally displaying the pots throughout the whole building starting Thursday. That evening, Jenny Mendes hosted a workshop on the second floor. The class participated in a terra sigillata process after she gave a presentation on her work. She is such a kind and great soul. I got emotional as I carved into the terracotta tile brushed with layers of chartreuse terra sig I had painted on. I knew at that moment, my next pots had to have carvings.
Once the 9th came, the preparation got more intense. Kate and I made a wild trip to Wegman’s grocery store to buy all of the horderves and drinks for the opening reception. The largest Wegman’s in Rochester is like going into the BassPro in Springfield, MO: fucking crazy. We got back and began helping more potters unload. The exhibiting artists were Mark Shapiro, Dan Finnegan, Jane Shellenbarger, Kristen Kieffer, Jenny Mendes, Forrest Lesch-Middelton, Mary Barringer, Bob Briscoe, Julie Crosby, Peter Beasecker, Ryan Greenheck, John Gill, Doug Peltzman, Liz Quackenbush, Bryan Hopkins, Kenyon Hansen, Matt Metz, Tony Clennell, Carolyn Dilcher-Stutz and Richard Aerni. It was fun getting to meet each and every one while seeing their personalities as they arrived and unpack their work. Kelly (the other resident), and I also helped in getting all the boxes of pots to every room. The rickety wheel chair elevator was quite the experience. It’s like what an elevator was before they were completely invented. If you ever have to go up in one of these, take the stairs!
On Friday night the show opened. Each room had its on feel, lit to perfection with pots galore! I made sure to scope out and put the pieces I wanted to purchase to the side before people arrived. Once the sun went down, the building was packed in every room with people from all around the state of New York and nearby areas. Kelly and I had the task of pouring the champagne for the opening toast. It was an interesting attempt to get a glass in each person’s hand before Pincus, Beasecker, and Metz gave a great toast. After everyone left that evening, there was a little chit chat between the staff, and I slept like a baby!
Saturday came, and I worked with wrapping pots that people were purchasing, worked as a pot carrier when someone had a purchase, and ran the raffle table. I got to see Trevor and Amy Blackwell-Bennett, old friends from the ceramic world of UALR. They live in Alfred, NY at the moment. There wasn’t a slow minute the whole weekend. Everyone involved worked their butts off. Saturday evening, all of the potters and staff got to eat dinner catered by Han Noodle Bar around 6:00. Gosh, it was nice to chill out after the hubbub. Co-workers and I were able to chat and mingle with the artists. They were all so engaging and fun to be around. I especially enjoyed the company of Peter Pincus, Kristen Kieffer, & Bryan Hopkins, who were so kind.
Sunday arrived. I worked all day, then helped Liz Q pack up her plethora of pots, and finally purchased a teapot from her. All the potters quickly loaded up. The only one who was shipping work was Forrest Lesch-Middleton from California. All the others gave warm hugs and drove off in the distance. Forrest did a demo Monday morning; his screen printing process on pots is mesmerizing. Forrest, the staff, and I ate at Dogtown, gave our goodbyes to him and called it a day. Somehow, I made it back into the studio to do more work that afternoon. I think the adrenaline and inspiration put a spark in me. We were all recovering from the event for a good week. Kate and Audrey had a cold nearly the whole time, but held up through the event. The weekend was filled with energy, love, and community. I had lots of fun and took away much than just pots from the experience! I am beyond thankful to have been a part of it all.