San Joaquin Potters Guild will exhibit clay and glass works at annual show
The first time Kathy White dug her hands into a piece of cold clay was in the 1960s when she was a student at San Joaquin Delta College.
“I wanted three easy units, and it sounded like fun,” White said. “I’ll take a pottery class. Bruce Duke was my instructor. I had no idea that one class would lead me on such a long journey. I’ve been with clay ever since.”
White and fellow members of the San Joaquin Potters Guild will exhibit their clay and glass works at their annual show at the Goodwin Gallery this month. A reception is 4-7 p.m. Dec. 8.
Some Potters Guild members also are members of the Stockton Art League, but for years the league has opened its gallery at 1902 Pacific Avenue to the Potters Guild. This is the second year the show has been in December.
It comes a month after the Potters Guild’s two-day Fine Arts Show at St. Basil’s Church. That event has grown so large — this year there were 34 artists — that artists must be juried to be accepted.
This month’s show at the Goodwin Gallery is open to all members of the Potters Guild, and that includes artists who work in clay and glass.
White has stayed with clay all these years, mostly creating functional pieces.
“I like the feeling of clay, being able to take a ball of clay and wedge it and cone it and make a bowl or make something,” White said. “It’s a real challenge. It still is a challenge to this day to try to make new shapes. You have to work at it. There’s just something about clay, being able to create something and see a finished product.”
Painters, of course, and artists in other media, have the same experience, but White wouldn’t know. Painting is not something she’s ever tried to master.
San Joaquin Potters Guild president Glenda Burns is proficient in both, though.
“I started out as a painter and a friend of mine and I took a class together,” said Burns, whose father was an artist as well as her sister. “I liked doing it. I could use pottery as a vehicle for my painting, using colors and that kind of thing.”
Burns spends more time with ceramics than painting these days, having found a unique creation. She uses old photographs from her grandparents and parents and works them into her pieces in a series she calls Generations.
Initially she tried imposing a photo directly onto the clay, but the image was too blurred.
Now, she makes a decal from the photo, puts that on the clay piece and uses a fine pen to define the image and then applies color. She fires the pieces four times.
“I started them in 2017,” Burns said. “I had that featured artist show (at the Goodwin), and I was going to do paintings. I needed to fill the space, and I came up with the idea for little plates (with photographs). I filled up the space out of necessity. I made a couple and love doing them.”
In addition to connecting her to the past and family members she knew or only heard about, Generations allow Burns to combine all the skills she’s learned — drawing and painting from classes she took at Delta after retiring as an elementary school teacher in 2006 — and ceramics from former Potters Guild president Jeri Ross.
It was Ross who introduced her to the Potters Guild and Burns remains active because of the members, who number 49 and come from the foothills as well as the Valley.
“The people are really nice and we’ve become friends over time,” Burns said. “That’s the main thing, and we talk ceramics.”
White joined the group that formed in 1991 around 1999, she said.
“When I joined it was like it opened up a whole new world of ceramics to me,” White said. “I heard about workshops in other locations. It’s a great place to hear about things and gain additional information. You can hone your skills by taking workshops in other areas. Once you complete the classes at Delta College, you’re on your own looking for workshops.”
White has honed her skills to the level of being accepted into the Association of Clay and Glass Artists, a California group that juries its members. White, who considers herself a professional potter since retiring in 2006 as executive director of the San Joaquin Dental Society, was accepted on her second try.
But she’s still devoted to the San Joaquin Potters Guild, which meets once a month at the Goodwin Gallery, has a summer gathering at a member’s home, puts on workshops and holds a pit fire, in which artist glaze their pieces in the way Native Americans did.
The San Joaquin Potters Guild is open to anyone.
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