Though we were told not to engage with the ceramicists, one did happen to be walking by, not poised at a potter’s wheel or a work station, so we thought it would be safe to address her. The next hour flew by as we spoke with Jennifer Simison, Kathryn Levee, and Jenelle Peterson. Their enthusiasm for working with clay emanated from every pore and their love of the American Museum of Ceramic Arts’ work studio is infinite.
For $100 a month (if signing up for a year’s membership), people can come and work the wheel, hand build, roll slabs, experiment with tools, and experiment with glaze—all day long. The studio is open 7 days a week, anywhere from 6 hours on Sunday to 11 hours during the weekday.
Classes are offered, most meeting twice a week for nine weeks, offering beginner, intermediate, and advanced hand building and wheel throwing, as well as mold making and creating bas-relief tiles.
Workshops are lead by various artists including Working with Porcelain by Lauren Smith, Image Transfer with Carol Gouthro, learning the Mata Ortiz style of ceramics with Diego Valles, and Revealing the Artist Within (“exploring the evocative power of figurative sculpture”) by Michele Collier. A flyer taped to the wall advertises a workshop for folks who want to sell their work online—Selling Online 101—but have no idea how to begin. Workshops seem to run from $200 to $375, and class size is kept to fifteen students.
The work studio is situated away from AMOCA’s main exhibit hall and store; through a side door and meeting room and down a short hallway. It’s quite large (a former car dealership and mechanics shop, we believe) with two roll up doors that allow in the outside world; a small table and chairs set up in front of one door for breaks and conversation. Several huge tables are for working, metal shelves are everywhere with pieces in various stages, several impressive kilns sit in the middle and along one wall, a side area is for glazing, and another area for the potters’ wheels. Around a half a dozen people were working during our visit and we were encouraged to look around and come back to sample a class.
Through another door is a kitchen with displays of artists’ works for sale, and a side gallery exhibit art of works by Don Reitz and Ben Roti.
We were tempted to sign up then and there, roll up our sleeves and feel that wet clay under our hands, feel it shrinking and drying on our arms, pulling at the small hairs. It’s been too long since we’ve experienced that sensation, and the AMOCA ceramic studio might be just the temptation we need. What about you?
AMOCA, 399 N. Garey Ave., Pomona 91767. Hours vary; check website. Tel: 1.909.865.3146.
(Photo, top right, is Bottle #84 by John Conrad and is for sale in the museum store.)