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  • 11 Mar 2023 1:12 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    Part 2. For more than 30 years, Jim Kempes taught multiple annual seminars, and was listed in Ghost Ranch seminar brochures as “Potter and Sculptor, Abiquiu, NM,” and as “Ghost Ranch Ceramics Program Coordinator.” In 1983, I took Raku with Jim. Later, with spouse JB, we attended more clay seminars over the years with Jim – our last in 2004, Raku Kiln-building. The legacy of the first 30 years of ceramics programming at the Ranch, as well as Jim’s effectiveness as a teacher are what prompted me to conduct this interview. Enthusiastic listening, equanimity, wide knowledge base, use of questions, and great verbal directions --- that’s how I remember his teaching style. Thanks to Lesley Poling-Kempes for the bio info. -Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, Editor. 

    TST: Tell us more about the artist/teachers you taught with. Who were the other ceramics teachers that presented seminars too?

    Jim Kempes: Willard (Spence) was just great. He used to always divide people up: well, are you a fireman, or are you a mud worker? He was both. I felt I was both. You love the science of kiln firing, and mixing glazes and experimenting, and the making of the clay was always pretty neat. He spans both of those. I was just out with somebody hiking and their spouse was taking pottery at Baca Street Pottery in Santa Fe. He said he went in and tried to learn kiln firing and help the guy fire. And he said it was just way beyond his awareness. He would be looking at the color of the flame and the back structure, the cones. That meant stuff to him. That’s the way Willard taught. Willard fired the kiln and he taught me to fire the kiln. Very hands-on, very much you paying attention. He would keep a kiln log that was pretty detailed. Very involved, hands-on firing. 

    And Joe Mann, he knew Willard’s wife, Louise, who was a potter. Because of that, Joe would come up and help with Crystalline Glazes all the time. That was his thing. Great guy. Helped everybody, including me. 

    Marie Tapp, remember Marie? She was a potter from the Northwest very talented wheel worker, big platters. She came down and would help Festival of the Arts for a few years. 

    [Alice Bunch, Kathy Gavin, Dick McCarty, Marie Tapp, unknown -- at Raku, 1983. Photo by Cirrelda Snider-Bryan]

    Camilla Trujillo, she stepped in to do Pit Fire, though she renamed it “Micaceous Pottery.” She took Pot Hollow totally her own direction, so that was pretty neat. She would be there and I would be on the other side doing Stone Carving or something like that.

    Earl and Sylvia Deaver. Did you ever work with them? They were from Texas and they were production potters and crafts people. They were just down-to-earth, they would do service corps, and Earl came in and said, you know I built these ceramic fiber raku kilns, is there any interest in doing a seminar in raku kiln-building? I ran it by it would have been Dean Lewis back then I think, we came up with a cheap price, and had that seminar going for maybe 4 or 5 years, I think. They were great. And they were good friends with the Mackey’s who led Service Corps. That’s Ghost Ranch, it’s these connections that were pretty neat. 

    It was sort of a relief to get those fiber kilns, we had two of them that we built for the Ranch. So along with that giant trolley kiln, we could use those fiber kilns. And we did a lot of really crazy stuff with that. We would take some of the cone 10 porcelain crystals from a previous seminar and put those in and reduce them and turn a copper green into a copper red, which was pretty cool. 

    [Earl Deaver, JB Bryan, unknown, with raku fiber kilns at 2004 Raku Kiln Building workshop. Photo by Cirrelda Snider-Bryan.]

    And we had Clint Swink come in. Clint is from Bayfield, CO. He was meticulous. He was an ex-military helicopter pilot, and he did ceramics that way. You did it a specific way, you did not put a Kokopelli on a Mesa Verde black and white pot. You had to find that in the book, and make sure you were doing a replica. 

    TST:  Didn’t you and Bill Armstrong and Willard do Adventures in Clay Materials, at least twice?

    Jim Kempes: I think that was about it. The people who came to Ghost Ranch, you know sometimes it was a vacation. They had sort of a set need, and the Ceramic Materials, it was a little more esoteric.

    But that was always a passion of Willard’s. Many a clay trip with Willard, driving around northern NM and hunting for kaolin, or some kind of clay. And we would go up to Canjillon, and find and test high fire clays, glaze materials, and it was always fun to do. Our Pit Firing seminars, we would always go out to one of the red hills at Ghost Ranch and dig the clay there. The first day would be screening and weighing and mixing up that clay.

    Jim Kempes: Felipe Ortega is one that certainly needs to be mentioned. Felipe, you know, great, micaceous, Jicarilla Apache style potter who came over from La Madera. He came in and taught some of the Folk Arts, before Camilla. Accomplished master potter in micaceous work. Workshops at his place in La Madera -- that’s what he will be remembered for. His willingness to share that with people. His neck of the woods, where those clay deposits were. His pit firings with micaceous were just awesome. His humor and flamboyant personality made his teaching one-of-a-kind. And Dennis and Ofelia Jaramillo, they were Felipe’s aunt and uncle -- they lived in La Madera too, and they would come over and we would teach Elder Hostels together, with Dennis and Ofelia. And they were just so wonderful. And they would bring the micaceous clay. We would work with some of the Ghost Ranch clays, the red and black, and they would have the micaceous. We were always of the opinion that it was better to teach too much than too little. We packed it in. 

    [Molly Bryan, Robin Keck near Pole Barn, Jim Kempes upper right corner, Stone Carving 1999. Photo by Cirrelda Snider-Bryan.]

    You have to remember that Stone Carving then got passed off to Robin Keck. She used to take the classes. She does program now at Ghost Ranch. She was one of the students who would come every year. She taught it after I left. That’s sort of the same thing with Barbara Campbell. Barbara hadn’t taught there before. You know she would come in with the Potters Association. And when I left, Barbara stepped in to that position. And that was very successful. 

    One thing I was laughing about was Willard’s electric kiln, which was custom built, I think it had 12 switches, plus two bottom, plus two elements per switch. And it was an on/off switch there was no re-istat. And all the way up the drying phases. I had a nice little truck that I could put my sleeping bag in the back. I would just sleep down there in Pot Hollow in the back of my truck. One student, once I was telling him I was amazed at my brain I could just say I should get up at two o’clock to check the kiln and do other stuff. And sure enough, I’d wake up at 2 o’clock all the time. And this guy said, “I can do the same thing. If I want to get up at two, I drink one glass of water, if I want to get up earlier, I’d drink two glasses of water.” I thought that was pretty funny.

    Willard’s kiln – that electric - was such a thing to fire. My last year there we finally ordered a computerized kiln. And it came in just as I left, so I do not think I ever fired the computerized kiln.

    TST: You experienced lots of flooding over the years in Pot Hollow, right? Do you remember the annual monsoon seasons and the arroyo raging out beyond the kilns there?

    Jim Kempes: There were couple times, maybe two or three over a summer, where a storm would park in the right place, and that arroyo would just rip. And there were times when it came very close. The raku kiln was the lowest one, and it came close to it. But it never did come over that bank, though it came close to coming over. We went down and looked at it. Actually, there was a time a hiker was on the other side and came back down through Pot Hollow. And the arroyo was still pretty high, and we said you’re gonna have to wait, just wait a half hour or so, you’ll be fine.

    TST: I have memories – it would be raging. If you would have a kayak on it, it would be ranked a number 5 or 6 rapid.

    Jim Kempes: The memories of Pot Hollow. Pot Hollow was such a delightful place. I mean, we would have Coopers Hawks that would set up their nests down there when there was nobody there in the spring. And then all of a sudden there would be these seminars and we would watch these fledgling Coopers Hawks. It was nice. 

    TST: Coopers are Accipiter hawks, they have shorter wings, longer tails to maneuver in forests like down in the arroyo. What about swallows? 

    Jim Kempes: Only on rest of Ranch, not down in Pot Hollow. 

    TST: I remember Tiger Swallowtail butterflies, too. Something else, do you remember that piece of wood that was carved like a whale, that was at the end of the roof over Pot Hollow?

    Jim Kempes: Was that Ed Kraus or was that Jim Connor? We were in that stage of building that, we would build out a little farther, then out a little farther, a couple more years, so there was that one rafter that was sticking out there. Maybe it was Jim Connor. Said, “That looks like a whale.” So, all of a sudden somebody cut a tail and put it up there, and it was with us for a while.

    TST: “The” Jim Connor huh. Wow. I’ve heard about him, a lot of people know him, but I don’t. I guess we’ve covered how a lot of new approaches got adopted.

    Jim Kempes: Except for two very important things: Mountain Biking seminar, and Cross-Country Skiing seminar. 

    TST: Let’s hear about those! 

    Jim Kempes: Isn’t that fun? Yeah. You know this is what I do. So, Chip Meneley was a College Staffer and he went to bike shops in Albuquerque, so he got me into mountain biking. And Geoff Mather, who’s now on the board, was an avid mountain biker and bicyclist from Chicago. We started a seminar and Robin Keck was in that seminar. We would have maybe 10 people, and we would go all over northern New Mexico and do wonderful mountain biking rides. And then usually go and eat somewhere, nice restaurant, to replenish the calories we had burned off. We did that, five years or so, in the fall just as the colors were turning. Real fun. Cross-Country Ski seminars a couple of years, with Paul Graham from Los Alamos. We would do the same thing, same format, we would go out, ski (snow shoes weren’t really catching on yet), we would cross-country ski. I just had to throw that in. 

    TST: Glad you threw that in, important for us to have that on our radar. Looking back, did you have one course that you looked forward to teaching more than the others?

    Jim Kempes: Favorite classes, the ones I looked forward to. You know, Cirrelda, I just have that kind of personality where what I’m doing is what I like doing, ‘til I’m done. So, every class had its real fun, positive aspect, so I mean when you were doing that, it was great. Raku was so dynamic, and people are doing things that are pushing their limits a whole lot. That was just a blast. You know, the unpredictability. You’re asking people to do things that they’ve never done before and they did just great. Over and over and over again, we had successful classes. It was a lot of work. Raku, it would kill me, man, I would finish that thing and I’d go home and leave my clothes out on the porch. Just crashed, ‘cause it was so much. Stoneware, stoneware was delightful. People would have to stay until Monday morning to unload the kiln, and if you were ever around right after breakfast, before breakfast, as we opened the door, and cracked the kiln, started looking in, it was just this beehive of activity and comments as people brought these pieces out. So, that was always a real treat to do, Stoneware. And Crystalline, same thing. That sort of alchemy.

    TST: I actually remember loading the kiln. I remember the straight edge with kiln posts, you had it out on the table so that people would pass their piece under it to make sure it would fit on that shelf.

    Jim Kempes: “Do the limbo.” All these people, just working together, organizing, doing things so well as a group was one of the strengths of Pot Hollow. Always delightful. And, you would have those students who came back year after year, and they became the teachers, helping others, figuring out, explaining what we were doing and why. That’s why it was so successful. Everybody pitched in. 

    TST: So, you had no real favorite. I remember you during those Crystalline days, you had a really great knack for talking people through throwing. Somewhere in some journal I took notes of all of your words. You were a great “throwing teacher.” You had really good words. You maybe didn’t realize it when you were a youth, looking at careers, but you were a natural teacher. 

    Jim Kempes: Well, you want somebody to be successful, right? We laugh about Raku-every-year, Stoneware-every-year -- same thing every year, but every class is different. If you’re on the ball, you have to be looking at what that student needs, and what they’re doing right, and what they need to be corrected and that’s the challenge, that’s what made it fun for so many years. The newness of it. 

    TST: The newness of each group made each year, each different program enjoyable, so that you can’t really say a favorite. 

    Jim Kempes: Yeah, and then you would have, tied in with that, those Monday nights you would see who of the old-timers was coming back. And they were going to be the support staff and help everybody. Alice Bunch. You remember Alice? 

    TST: I sure do! She was my roommate, in the Casitas, and it was 1983. And Alice, did she come for more than Raku?

    Jim Kempes: I think it was always Raku. She was so talented. So willing to share, all her information. Yeah, she was great.

    [Jim during the Zoom interview – 12/8/22. Photo by Cirrelda Snider-Bryan.]

    TST: Please tell about your current practice. Now that you’re retired, are you in your studio? 

    Jim Kempes: I am. It’s got its own rhythm, it’s real nice. Winter, you know January, February, I will do wheel work. Nice time to be inside with a wood stove, solar adobe studio. I throw myself into a couple months of wheel work and then that takes its rhythm of glazing, a part of my personality that really gets answered by doing that. And I do a lot of small, functional bowls and things like that. At the Ranch, I had the big stoneware kiln, it was 44” high. My sculptures were pretty large. And Nature has a way, ‘cause I try to move those now, and it’s like, man, how did I ever get that in the kiln? So now I just have a little electric that’s 24” tall, and I didn’t think I wanted to do my sculpture shapes in that range. But my son came up and Christopher said, “Dad, why don’t you teach me how to coil.” So, I took him through a couple of coil pots to show him how to do that and did a couple myself. You know, this is okay, this is going to work. So, I’ve been doing coil pots on that smaller range, and a lot of them are still the abstractions of “manos,” and “metates,” chips, axe heads, Corn Mothers, and different shapes that you see around this area. Some are real smooth finish. I’ve got a nice stamp that I made off of a “mano,” that I can press in as I’m making the pot and it gives me a perfect basalt texture. So, I spray glaze on it. I am having a great time with that. I do stone work. I do little alabaster pieces. I still work with that. I do some larger pieces (you know this [showing 18-20”] to me is large! [chuckles] Larger pieces of marble and flagstone from out at Blackie’s 2 ft by 2 ft or so. Stone gets heavy fast. And so yeah, I will do that, with grinders and work on that. Through the pandemic I started taking my wheelbarrow up into the arroyo and finding nice basalt boulders, and wheel them back, and then using grinders and diamond bits, pneumatic hammer drills, turning those into “tinajas,” basins. That’s been fun to work with these abstract shapes. And then that went vertical and started doing the holes all the way through, and sort of doing a “window” rock. So those are the areas that I’ve done. Then I do one for a month or two, move on to another area. And then I have to mix my adventure things with that. 

    TST: After the cold months. This has been really wonderful Jim. I can tell you’ve really been thinking about this. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and your details. 

    [Catching the pottery teacher having a solitary moment in Pot Hollow, summer 2003. Photo by Cirrelda Snider-Bryan.] 

  • 11 Mar 2023 12:41 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    Part 1. Jim Kempes came to Ghost Ranch after graduating from Penn State University in 1972. He was granted Conscientious Objector (C.O.) status by the Philly draft board and sent to Ghost Ranch to do two years of 'alternate service.' There were 3 or 4 other C.O.’s at the ranch at that time. They worked every job on the ranch, wherever needed. After Jim completed his draft service, he remained in Abiquiu, helping to build the ranch ceramics program. By 1982, Ranch Director Jim Hall invited Jim to join the permanent staff and Jim worked as the Ghost Ranch ceramics coordinator until 2005. With wife Lesley (whom he met at Ghost Ranch) he raised two children and built a home near Abiquiu where they still live. 

    The Slip Trail (TST): Tell the story of how ceramics education programs started at Ghost Ranch and how you were involved. 

    Jim Kempes: Willard Spence, who had a passion for stoneware, raku, hand-building, crystalline glazes (a lifelong potter), moved to Taos from Indian Hills, Colorado around 1970. He got in touch with Ghost Ranch Director Jim Hall and made the connection to teach ceramics seminars. And somehow, the location below the parking area behind Dining Hall was chosen as the ceramics studio, Ray McCall and Willard put it down there. Because of my Conscientious Objector (C.O.) status during the Vietnam War, in January, 1973 I began a two-year work period at the Ranch. Then Jim Hall asked me to help Willard as part of my C.O. work commitment. I had taken ceramics in college. One of the first tasks Willard asked Jim Hall to do was build a structure to cover the kiln. Ray McCall, Director of Ranch Maintenance, was there to help build the structures around the kiln, as well as transport equipment. Ray was interested in that stuff, showed up to weld, lay bricks, help, and give support. Ray was very involved in those early years. 

    So, Willard came in, and decided to start it, and he had this idea of making these two trolley raku kilns. One over in Taos and one at Ghost Ranch. And the idea would be that we would move the trolley, [chuckling] it’s so heavy, from one site to the other site. And we did that! It was the big, heavy, weird thing with all the brick front, and it just leads into this chamber of the kiln. So, we took that over to his place in Taos. I went along with Ray. We watched the first firing. Then Willard taught a Raku seminar in Creative Arts, so I helped with that. (Creative Arts was one of the umbrella seminars.) And after having done that, I think it was Carl Soderberg wanted to include a Raku seminar in “Festival of Crafts.” I was just curious. Having done it just once, they put me teaching that. So that was pretty exciting. And we just slowly started building down there.

    [Jim Kempes opening door of Raku trolley kiln circa 1970s. Photo from Poling-Kempes collection.]

    [Jim Kempes and Willard Spence in front of cone 10 gas kiln circa 1980s. Photo from Poling-Kempes collection.]

    That’s how it started, pretty much Willard, a lot of people were willing to help, you know, Jim Hall gave his support. To the point where we were going to build a high-fired stoneware kiln over there. We had the flat-bed truck up in Pueblo, CO, ready to load up hard fire brick to build this kiln. At the last second, we found out that an Office of Economic Opportunity program (Nixon canceled those programs) in Taos, had a high fire gas kiln they were willing to donate to the Ranch. So, the truck came back and went to Taos and we loaded up that kiln, brought it over. That was the start of that. Willard also donated an old electric kiln that he had had custom built, oh man it had 24 elements I think, and elements in the floor. It was a beast to fire, but it was running, free, a wonderful electric kiln. That’s how we started out. And then every year, Ray McCall would sort of extend the covering over the roof end, and we built the little shed to store materials in. 

    I think that’s about it. There’s a lot of names there. Carl Soderberg is the one who was in charge of Festival of Crafts. Jim Hall was supportive. You know, Creative Arts was the first seminar. Did you ever meet Ray Woods? 

    TST: Yeah! Would he have been from Philadelphia? 

    Jim Kempes: He was with the National Church in Philadelphia. David Brashear is the other guy. They were in charge of Creative Arts. And Carolyn Barford was an instructor, you know Carolyn.  

    TST: I remember first meeting Carolyn in the Dining Hall when I was a teenager still, in the early 70s. She was doing her illustration designs on t-shirts and would take whatever pen it was and draw it out, and fill it in with color on the shirt. It was a desired item that people were buying. Then she did paper prints and cards -- I bought a few! Later of course she transferred those prints to tiles. And then she taught Tile Painting, later, which I took one year.

    Jim Kempes: I think she was on College Staff back in ‘68. She was one of the main art teachers in Creative Arts. When they put me helping Willard with that, I was just in over my head [chuckling]. But it was wonderful. 

    TST: Did the scope of the ceramics program follow a schedule? Please list and elaborate the courses.

    Jim Kempes: Yes, there was a set schedule every summer. Creative Arts was usually the first one that would start.  In the early days we did Raku in Creative Arts. Maybe somewhere in the 80s or 90s we switched and did Pit Fire with Creative Arts. And then after Creative Arts we would have Festival of Crafts, which was one week. And we did Raku with that. And then Festival of Crafts morphed into Festival of the Arts. And instead of one week it became two weeks. And the first week was Raku, and the second week was High-Fired, Cone 10 Stoneware. And then we added Folk Arts Festival to that, and we always did a Pit Fire with Folk Arts. Let’s see, that was the core at the beginning. In Folk Arts at some point, I switched over and I started doing Stone Carving in the Pole Barn, and I think we brought in Camilla Trujillo to do Pit Fire. So, there was still a clay element but I got to do stone a little bit instead of clay. Which again was inspired by Carolyn. I think Carolyn taught Stone Carving one of those first years during Creative Arts. I would be over doing pottery and would look over there and go, “You can carve stone?” And, just picked up a little scrap and started, yeah, just jumped into that. Those were the “Creative Arts.” 

    We added a lot of different things, we added Crystalline Glazes at the end of the summer. That was Willard’s thing, his passion, to work with crystalline glazes and his old electric kiln was perfect for that. At another point, we added Clint Swink / Mesa Verde Black on White. That’s that story of me seeing that he was giving a talk at the Forest Service in Santa Fe. So, I scooted in just to hear that talk, because you are surrounded by potsherds here, you know it was pretty cool to hear him talk about that.  And we contacted him to see if he would be willing to teach. Yeah, we would end the summer with the Mesa Verde Black on White.

    Also, if you remember, that every spring we would start off with the Potters Association. The Potters group would come in and do a workshop with nationally and internationally known potters and it was always a treat for me. I would hang around and fire things and do some grunt labor, but I got to learn a whole lot. And that started with, I think it was, Juan Quezada. Did you see that news that he just passed away? Akio Takamori, you remember that workshop? Did great slab work, figurative lines. Jim Romberg, Raku. The Potters brought him in. Another one was Rudy Autio. Betty Colbert who taught tile-making. I can’t remember half of the potters that they brought in. Every year from tiles to sculpture to crazy, big wheel work. That was always the treat, start off the summer, to get Pot Hollow ready for the summer with that NM Potters course. Eddie Dominguez had a great one there. He lived in the area for a while. There was good ceramics – you could really learn a lot. And, Potters would always show their slide shows, and so you’d see other peoples’ work. Very supportive, very nice group. 

    [NMPCA workshop early 2000s. Front Row: unknown, unknown, Pat Stalgren, unknown, Penne Roberts. Middle Row: Lynn Eby, Gary Carlson, unknown, unknown, unknown, Elaine Biery. Back Row: Jim Kempes, Jack Roberts, Phil Green. Photo from Gary Carlson.]

    And then the rest of the year still had a rhythm too. We had Elder Hostel. Elder Hostels came in with Chuck and Ginny Graham, and Aubrey Owen. They sort of set that up. Then that morphed on to Bill and Carol Mackey running those. And we would do Pit Fire in May and education about some of the Native American Potters in the area. That was always great. We would be up in Piñon for that. And then there was the “Jan Term” college course. You know some colleges have 3 weeks in January off, and they have an interim course that you could go and take, and Aubrey was the one who set that up. We had DePauw, and Austin College in Sherman TX, and a few that I’m not remembering. We would get 40-60 college students for that period. They would do Black and White Photography, and Enza Quardanelli started out with Batik, another friend of Willard’s. Cordelia Coronado came in and taught weaving with her daughter, Teresa. So that was total immersion, for three weeks. We would have a couple weeks of wheel work and hand-building inside. Then we would switch to firing and we did raku, we did stoneware, and while those pots were all being fired, we did Pit Fire. Those kids, we worked them hard. Students would go their separate ways in the morning, to their separate studios. Jan Term was a great offer. Florence Hawley Ellis came up and taught Archaeology, too. There was also Solar Energy. 

    TST: Yeah, I hear that. What a year. My gosh so you ended up having February and March was that the only time you had off?

    Jim Kempes: Fall and spring were good times. Elder Hostel would fit in here and there Fall and Spring pretty wide open for me to do my own work, which just worked great for me. 

    We did have a bronze casting class too that was in Festival. We would use that Raku kiln to burn off the wax out of the “investments” (another word for "mold”). I believe that was Ed Vega who came up from Albuquerque. We did that, one or two years. And it was a blast. So, Pot Hollow was always used. 

    -- Interview continues in "Part 2."

  • 01 Mar 2023 5:58 PM | Judy Nelson-Moore (Administrator)

     by Judy Nelson-Moore, March 1, 2023

    A review of the Santa Fe Community College Exhibition, Immortal, A Memorial Show of Ceramic Artists, showing in the college Visual Arts Gallery, January 26 to March 9, 2023.

    This exhibit honors eight ceramic artists who worked in clay at the Community College and died within the last three years.  It will be taken down on March 10, 2023.

    The artists who are memorialized are Frank Willett, Eddie Hironaka, Juliet Calabi, Maia Simpson Michael, Michelle Ann Goodman, Carolyn Stupin, Donna Thompson, and Kevin Hart.  The main organizer of the exhibit is Suzanne Vilmain, with assistance from others, including Linda Cassel and Luisa Baldinger.  Three of the memorialized artists were members of the NMPCA and I was privileged to know them, as I know Suzanne and Luisa, who are also members.

    This is an exhibit of great humanity.  There is a short bio about each artist and a good representation of their work, spanning several years of their careers.  Little is said about how the artists died, so the focus is on their lives and their creativity. Little is said about the techniques, materials, or firing methods, and some of the works would not have attracted my attention in another setting.  But, I found myself going around the exhibit repeatedly studying the bios and the works intently because it made me feel a connection with these people, more poignant because I could never see them again.  

    After seeing this exhibit, I feel I know all the artists personally, even better than I did before.  The overall effect of the exhibition is an honoring of creativity and humanity that leaves a lasting impression.  Looking at individual works of art allows the artist’s creative expression to seep into your mind and bring peace and joy.  The written words about the exhibit  by John Boyce speak volumes about the exhibition and its lasting impression on the viewers.  

    Immortal by John Boyce

    Life is short, but art is long, not forever, but long enough.  Art becomes a part of that which endures beyond our last breath.  Art carries us on beyond our singular selves and connects us to the greater self.  Art gives meaning to our brief lives and gives that meaning to all who touch what we have made, who experience us through what we have left behind.

    When speaking of an artist’s work we say “I own an Andy Warhol”  This odd use of language which seems to confuse the artist with their art is not an error, far from it; it signifies a deep truth, that these inanimate objects are a living part of the artist who made them.

    This show looks at the work of seven artists who for a time made their art at the Santa Fe Community College, and who all passed away over the last three years.  These years have seen us pay a great deal more attention to our mortality than we have been accustomed to in recent times, and yet death was never far from any of us, we had just gotten good at ignoring her.

    An odd point that should not be ignored in this age of COVID is that none of these artists passed away from that great plague, but rather from the normal variety of ailments and maladies that end our lives.

    I live with and use the work of several of the artists we show today. I use their art every day along with the work of artists who lived hundreds of years ago, artists whose names I will never know, but whom I know through my experience of the art they made.

    Art is said to be either high or low, ceramics often being thought of as a low form of art, a craft,  utilitarian.  This class differentiation has its uses, but I ask you today to look at art another way, that art is either shallow or deep.  Some art though touching millions will last only a moment and be forgotten, it is shallow art.  Another piece of art will touch only a few yet it will resonate through a thousand years, it is deep art. 

    I believe the art we see here today is deep art, it contributes to a conversation that has been going on for at least 8,000 years and will continue for as long as there are people to see and touch the works of artists.

    Here is a selection of images showing a portrait, bio, and one or two works by each artist.  Click the images to view larger size.  

    Carolyn Stupin


    Donna Spearman-Thompson


    Eddie Hironaka


    Click the images to view larger size.

    Frank Willett


    Juliet Callabri


    Kevin Hart


    Maia Sampson Michael


    Click the images to view larger size.

    Michelle Goodman


    Thank you Suzanne Vilmain and John Boyce!  

  • 22 Feb 2023 2:44 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    NMPCA is lucky to have a sister organization in our state, The Potters Guild of Las Cruces (PGLC). We keep each other in mind; as examples, they recently donated to NMPCA Clay Forward fundraiser, and in 2021, a program run by some of their members, “Healing Wings,” received NMPCA’s Armstrong Grant. In addition to their biennial exhibit “Fire and Fiber,” and juried regional show, “From the Ground Up,” the Potters Guild’s program also includes an annual “Empty Bowl Fundraiser” which only partially got interrupted by the Covid Pandemic quarantines. 

    After a tip from Leonard Baca, I reached out to Jan Archey, PGLC member, for more info about their very successful Empty Bowls' fundraising in 2022, which was their 30th year! In addition to answering some of my questions, she shared the report she wrote to her fellow PGLC members.

    From Jan Archey to PGLC: "Empty Bowls XXX again was a great event with over $32,000 raised to support El Caldito, our local soup kitchen. As always, our event would not be successful if we did not have the support of El Caldito to handle the soup donations, kitchen, tickets and publicity for the event. We are thankful for St. Paul’s hosting Empty Bowls these past 30 years. Their generosity of space is truly a gift. For workdays, we thank Joshua Clark at NMSU for hosting workdays and firings, Peter Paulos of Las Cruces Clay & Studio for hosting workdays and bisque firings, and the DACC Ceramics Studio for the use of their studio for workdays, firing and glazing. Special thanks to Melissa Renfro overseeing the glazing and firing of the ^6 bowls. Bertha, the Guild’s monster electric kiln, performed perfectly. Certainly not last on the list are YOU the members who give so much! Your bowl donations, silent auction items, working the event…You all are AMAZING! We had 1650 beautiful bowls, maybe our most ever!!! We had an abundance of special priced items which brought in over $1000. This year we were gifted a collection of pottery items, some by nationally known ceramicists. These donations gave new energy to the Silent Auction. Having the auction online drew bids from out-of-town buyers and they were happy to be able to participate and support Empty Bowls. Through Cally Williams and Suzanne Kane’s expertise, the Silent Auction brought in an all-time high total of $6124.64, about $1000 more than the previous year. Mesilla Valley Estate Sales again donated their time and resources to the Silent Auction. This year, I called together a Steering Committee meeting to include key leads from the Guild as well as El Caldito. Empty Bowls has grown way too large to have just a few people in charge. Sadly, the need to feed the hungry has not lessened so we will march forward with new ideas for Empty Bowls 2023 and will implement a few changes in organization and add a few new fundraising events."

    The Slip Trail had a few questions for Jan.

    The Slip Trail (TST): Did the covid pandemic stop you all from conducting Empty Bowls fundraisers?  

    Jan Archey: In 2020, we actually kept on making bowls. It was amazing how we gave people clay and they made bowls in their own studios and other members glazed and fired the bowls. (We extend our thanks to New Mexico Clay for donating clay for our event.  They have donated clay/supplies almost from the very beginning.) Some of us who have larger personal kilns fired many more firings than we usually do because the public studios were not open in 2020. When it came time for our event in Oct 2020, the governor changed the public restriction and we didn't know if we could even put on our event. Her mandate was to go into effect the Saturday after Empty Bowls. We were in a quandary about what to do. I actually called the Chief of Police, and after he quizzed me on our procedure, he said the police were too busy during the time of our three hour event and he doubted they would respond if there was a complaint!!! Empty Bowls continued even during the pandemic! Our plans were to set up tables outside, everyone had to be masked and gloved, and the tables with the bowls were spread out. People registered their name and contact info so if we had to get in touch with them regarding some exposure issue we could contact them.  

    Sadly, hunger doesn't take a break and El Caldito was dependent on the funds we brought in. 

    TST: How many years have you all topped $30K?

    Jan Archey: In 2020 - no soup, just bowl sales - $18,756; 2021 - $34,400; 2022 - $32,540.

    TST: How many folks spearhead the effort? Does the group change much? This past year we discovered we need to change our organizational plan to group leadership with different members in charge of the various aspects...bowl making days, glaze days, sorting bowls, silent auction, Guild ticket sales, t-shirt sales, day of the event set-up, new events at Empty Bowls to bring more interest and income, etc. etc.

    Our leadership of Empty Bowls had some personal conflicts and many of us had to jump in at the last minute to make it successful. With some of our previous chairs, very little was left in the way of 'how to's' so we are in the process of making a procedure book on the how's, when's and who's. Cally Williams brought the concept of Empty Bowls back from an NCECA conference where she met John Hartom who introduced Empty Bowls in 1990 to his high school students in Bloomfield Hills, MI. (For more info: .)  Cally came back with the idea and it took us several years until we first pulled it off in 1993.

    Below is the list of leads we had between the Guild and El Caldito for a Steering Committee that met several times before the event.  From all evals on this, it was good the people had a face to face and we will continue a steering committee for 2023.  The Guild will also have our own steering committee for our part of the Empty Bowls.

    DAY OF EVENT POTTERS' GUILD CHAIR - changing this to several leads





    GUILD TREASURER in charge of Guild ticket sales


    GUILD MEMBER - FUNDRAISING EXPERTISE a new Guild member who will help spearhead some innovation new events for EB

    GUILD MEMBER - EDUCATION OF NEED retired social worker who is passionate about food insecurities and education about




    TST: El Caldito Soup Kitchen - how long have they been the recipients of the earnings? 

    Jan Archey: Since the beginning. The success of our Empty Bowls over the last 30 years has been in my opinion

    1) the size of Las Cruces. People can get to St. Paul's United Methodist Church in under 20 minutes.

    2) we have not changed sites in the 30 years and we always have it on a Friday in October. St. Paul's is proud to host the event and people have come to expect it.

    3) we expect El Caldito to participate in putting Empty Bowls on. They get the soups, do the food serving part and clean-up, do the publicity and handle the tickets. We are only in charge of providing bowls and working that part of the event and the Silent Auction. The Guild also promotes the event and sells tickets. In our opinion, if they are going to be the benefactors of the proceeds, they need to be a vital part of the event. Some years they are better than others and on one occasion we had to remind them that we could choose another organization to receive the proceeds. 

    Because the three agencies work together on Empty Bowls, I truly think that is what makes Empty Bowls the successful event it is.

    The piece that is probably lacking is education on why we have to do Empty Bowls every year. We are working on that to bring facts to our patrons, to help them understand it isn't just a cool event, but their participation may be the act between someone having a meal or going to bed hungry. El Caldito does a bang-up job in using surplus food from different stores and from farmers. There is a team of gleaners who make weekly rounds picking up food.  Even the waste is picked up by farmers to feed livestock.  I'm really proud to be a part of this organization as well.

    ---end of interview--- 

    You can read more info on the PGLC website:

    Empty Bowls elsewhere in New Mexico

    From around 2017 through 2020, Vicki Bolen, Albuquerque artist, held an Empty Bowls-type event, called “Soup is Love,” with proceeds going to Offcenter Community Arts Project, making and donating from her studio “Little Bird de Papel” at Mountain Road and 12th street. According to sponsor Brant Palley / New Mexico Clay, Albuquerque had a very successful run from 1999-2017, with NMPCA members Elaine Biery and Michael Thornton taking leadership roles for a good amount of those years, along with Claire Lissance and others. 

    Now in 2023, here in the middle and northern parts of our state, a student of pottery at CNM’s westside campus, Fay Chazin-Seidelman, has taken the baton to raise interest in holding the fundraiser again. It has been at least ten years since there has been one in the Albuquerque area. If you are interested in helping revive Empty Bowls in Central NM, email her at or text her at 914-439-5778. 

  • 22 Dec 2022 10:57 AM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    This story relates a memorable experience at Ghost Ranch by NMPCA member, Judy Nelson-Moore.

    By Judy Nelson-Moore                 12/11/2022

    Born and living in Denver, Colorado, I worked with clay since high school in 1964, progressing from what I now call my “early functional period” through non-functional, decorative ware, into sculptural work.  Simultaneously, as ever the practical and “driven” person, I also pursued a career in computers, ending up with a wonderful situation of independent consulting for larger companies, helping them with their Human Resources/Payroll mainframe systems.  I did and still do feel that the two contrasting careers, computer software and ceramic art were complementary, helping to balance myself, my finances, and my emotional development.  However, I often struggled to maintain both.  

    Figure 1: Rudy Autio, "Astarte"

    By the mid-1980’s I needed to do more with my ceramic art.  I had attended workshops with many worthy ceramic artists finding their ideas and thoughts even more valuable than their clay techniques.  I began to pursue a study of Jungian thought and mythology with Steve Gallegos and other practitioners with active imagination sessions.  I was amazed at the adventures and insights I could discover through these sessions. 

    In about 1984, inspired by mythology, I made a black Halloween costume with a large stuffed head that I called the “Monster from Within” (shown below with a friend wearing a witch costume). 

    Figure 2: "Monster from Within"

    Then, in 1985, I attended a NMPCA workshop at Ghost Ranch.  The presenting artist was Rudio Autio.  Rudy was still teaching at the University of Montana.  It was a significant coup for the NMPCA to obtain him as a presenter.  I remember Jim Kempes was the Ranch coordinator at the time, and my friend Grett Friedman and I cemented our friendship started during previous workshops, and the interaction with others was significant.  The environment at the ranch, as usual, lent itself to inner reflection and immersion in the creative process.  During the workshop, I took a walk up to Chimney Rock and other areas around the ranch searching for an animal guide, like the guides I had met in my active imagination sessions.  I was disappointed that the only animal I found was a lizard, but I did the best I could in a conversation in my mind with this lizard.  While working on a piece guided by Rudy’s way of working, and listening to him talk about his journey, ideas and life, something began to emerge under my hands.

    Figure 3: Work in Progress, Pot Hollow, Ghost Ranch

    There was a monster drawn on one side of my large vessel and a lizard on the other.  When applying the colors, I made the monster white.  I called the piece "The Ghost Ranch Lizard Meets the Monster From Within." The experience of Ghost Ranch had transformed the black monster to white!  The transformation of my inner thoughts and emotions was reflective of these color changes. 

    During the workshop, Rudy walked around the work area, talking to each of us, and giving us suggestions and ideas in his gentle, perceptive way.  The main comment I remember was that I should do more drawing (duh…later when I really looked at the way the monster and lizard had been drawn, I knew exactly why he said that!).  The entire experience of working with Rudy at the Ranch during this critical period of my development achieved a transformation in my mind about my creative efforts.  Prior to that workshop, I hesitated to think of myself as an artist.  After the workshop, I felt comfortable calling myself an artist.   It was a transition that enabled me to move forward, applying the skills and techniques I had learned from workshops and classes, and expressing my own vision in clay. 

    To this day, I keep “The Monster from Within….” As a reminder of my transition.  Also, to this day, I remain committed to supporting and participating in the Ghost Ranch ceramic arts program so that others can continue to have transformative experiences.  

    --Judy Nelson-Moore

    The experiences of coming to Ghost Ranch for many workshops, the friendships developed there, and the transformation of my thinking ultimately led my husband and I to move from Denver to Santa Fe in 1992 and my long and happy association with NMPCA and Ghost Ranch.  I retired from computer consulting in 2004 but continue to pursue my career in ceramic art.  

    Figure 4: "The Ghost Ranch Lizard Meets the Monster from Within" by Judy Nelson-Moore, 1985, photographed in 2022  

  • 12 Dec 2022 3:04 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    Re-printing of Lia Lynn Rosen’s message to NM Potters and Clay Artists, December 2013. Published in the January 2014 NMPCA Slip Trail.

    Lia Lynn Rosen was a clay artist, teacher, beloved community member and more --- and a member of NMPCA for many years. On October 2, 2022 she passed away from ovarian cancer. Maybe you knew Lia, as she was the most generous sort, as you can see from this message she shared with the whole NMPCA community. Re-published to celebrate both the spirit of a wonderful member of our clay community here in New Mexico as well as the spirit of the season. Please consider adding a comment, a memory would be great. -Cirrelda S.B., ed. 

    These NMPCA folks shared their memories of Lia: 

    "It was sad to hear about Lia,  I met her and her partner at one of the annual meetings and we connected again at the Ghost Ranch workshop with Sheryl Zacharia,  we exchanged pieces.  I would get her emails all the time about life." - Leonard Baca

    "Yes, Lia was a member of NMPCA for many years and attended some Ghost Ranch events, annual meetings…So sad to hear of her passing." - Judy Nelson-Moore

    "I knew Lia well. She lived in NM many years. Her focus in pottery was a fusion of Southwest Native art with Judaica. She was a peacemaker." - Michael Thornton  



    January 2014 Slip Trail 


    I understand that when solstice-time comes, the sun "stands still", or actually, the tilt of our Great Planet pauses just a bit before beginning its "turning back", causing our longer days, once again. 

    I like thinking of this awesome pause; and feel we all need this time of rest and solstice or standing still, to see and to thank, in whatever ways we each do that. 

    And so I share with you here, from two of my favorite writers, below; and some images of this magical time, depicted on ancient rock art of the Southwest; a piece of mine that speaks to this Winter time; and a recent great snow storm here that left a blessing of WHITE to bring in what for many, is another time of new beginnings. 

    With gratitude, and all the best to you, Lia


    Tillie Olsen: Dream-Vision; Mother to Daughter, Daughter to Mother 

    "Perhaps, in her last consciousness, she did know that the year was drawing
    towards that solstice time of the shortest light,
    the longest dark, the cruelest cold, when-as she had explained to us as children - 

    poorly sheltered ancient people in northern climes
    had summoned their resources to make out of song, light, and food, expressions of human love-
    festivals of courage, hope, warmth, belief." ____________________________________________

    Mary Oliver: Poem of the One World 

    This morning
    the beautiful white heron
    was floating along above the water
    and then into the sky of this
    the one world
    we all belong to
    where everything
    sooner or later
    is a part of everything else
    which thought made me feel
    for a little while
    quite beautiful myself. __________________________________ 

    יוצרת.Lia Lynn Rosen,Yotzeret Ceremonial Arts in Clay and Spirit
    Page 7 January 2014 NMPCA Slip Trail 

  • 04 Dec 2022 12:34 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    In the December 20 eNews a link was incorrectly directed.  Click here to for the article about Lia Lynn Rosen.

    It was a banner year for giving through the NMPCA – in addition to the Clay Forward Campaign for Ghost Ranch ceramics programs (via over 100 donors), the board chose to award four schools this year with the Armstrong Grant. 

    The mission of NMPCA includes the support of education in the ceramic arts. Schools and non-profits are invited each year to apply for a Bill Armstrong Grant to support their programs and projects. Bill Armstrong was an active member of NMPCA from the organization's beginning til his death in the early 2000's. He served on the board, and co-instructed courses at Ghost Ranch with Jim Kempes in the 1980s and 90s. The New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists established an annual grant program in memory of the late distinguished member in 2002. Bill was instrumental in teaching many people about pottery and was always interested in experimenting, learning more, and helping others.

    The applications were many this year, and the NMPCA Board decided to fund several, due to the worthiness of the proposals, as well as the health of our finances.

    In the spirit of celebration, read on to witness a small sampling of what is happening throughout New Mexico with ceramics education, from preK through high school. All are definitely worthy of the support of the over 200 members of New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists. Because we choose to offer this grant, we are able to keep our finger on the pulse of ceramics education in New Mexico a bit!

    Holy Ghost Catholic School, in the International District of ABQ, was awarded a $1000 Bill Armstrong Grant to hire a Pueblo potter for workshops, and to purchase clay and clay tools. Sarah Madigan, Applicant; Dr. Douglas Wine, Principal.

    From the Holy Ghost Catholic School proposal:

    “Holy Ghost is a STREAM school inspiring students with a highly engaging curriculum that provides context for their learning and challenges to apply their knowledge. This grant supports a ceramic unit for grades K-8 with a focus on the rich tradition of pueblo pottery here in New Mexico. Funds will bring in a visiting pueblo potter/ceramic artist to Holy Ghost School. This artist will share practices, techniques, processes as well as the work’s cultural significance. The artist will engage with students around the development of their own ideas and inspire them to create their own work with clay. Funds will provide every Holy Ghost student with clay. Students will have experiences in various hand-building techniques, including but not limited to, coil building and slab building. Younger artists will begin with a simple pinch pot. Following some practice with the pinch pot, coil building techniques will be introduced to elaborate on the vessel. All young artists will have a guided experience hand building a prescribed ceramic vessel and then apply their new skills to make a piece of their choosing, whether a utilitarian vessel or something sculptural using the techniques they have learned or the inspiration they gained from the stories they have heard. A description of who will benefit from this project/program and what are the anticipated outcomes All Holy Ghost curriculums are K - 8, building knowledge and skills from previous to future years. Older students are “buddies” for younger students, so students will not only work on their projects solely in class; they will also be able to share their efforts and ideas with older and younger students. One hundred and fifty-three Holy Ghost students grades K-8 will be included in this experience. Initially, students will learn about pueblo pottery traditions in New Mexico from a visiting artist as well as from different books from our library. In addition, students will learn about and explore several clay techniques. The first piece will be prescribed to ensure the acquisition of foundation skills, and the second piece will challenge students, as we do in our STREAM mission, to apply these skills to an individual creation.”

    Cottonwood Valley Charter School , a K-8 school in Socorro, NM, was awarded a $730 Bill Armstrong Grant for purchasing a new slab roller for the school. Beth Cadol, Fundraising Committee Chair and Linnea Burleigh, K-8 Art Teacher.

    From the Cottonwood Valley Charter School proposal:

    One of the major goals of the art program at CVCS is to use community support and collaboration to expand the art program by planning, designing, constructing and utilizing a kiln room/clay studio that benefits students and community members. Students will identify how the plan for the building and kiln will be implemented in lab sessions with the art teacher and other community members. Students will participate in clay projects that relate to societal, cultural, historical and personal themes. So far, we have fundraised enough money to purchase a kiln for the school; the next step is building a kiln room. Our request for funding from New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists is for a portable slab roller. Slab rollers are fantastic opportunity makers! They can be used to make tiles, dishes, flower pots, boxes or anything else that needs a flat starting place. Storage for one isn't as tricky as a kiln, and a portable slab roller could fit into our existing setting. The 170 students at CVCS (Kindergarten through 8th grade) would be the ones benefiting from this program. We are a Title I school with 100% of students offered free lunch. Anticipated outcomes include continuing to empower students with the opportunity to explore new mediums, to serve our community and to promote long lasting beauty on our campus. Students will benefit from being able to easily connect with clay thanks to the opportunities and ease a slab roller provides. Students will be able to create hand built bowls for our community Empty Bowls Gala, where their ware will be auctioned off to raise money for our local food pantry. The eighth graders will be able to continue the Legacy Mural Project and leave behind a beautiful space in the school many of them have been in since kindergarten. Many, many more opportunities to use the slab roller will come up and be thoroughly appreciated! Though we may be a small school on a skeleton staff, our art curriculum is vibrant and thriving. Art in our school is valued as a way to personally process and navigate uncertain times. We continue to sing songs that remind us to love others and the world, and we create art with our friends and family for the good of our community, giving our students and our city opportunities to create, to make purpose, and to grow towards the future.

    Aztec High School, in Aztec, NM, was awarded an $800 Bill Armstrong Grant, for clay and glazes to support Ceramics program. Dr. Warman Hall Director of Federal Programs Aztec Municipal School District and Ms. Anne Hartman, Fine Arts Chair & Ceramics Teacher.

    From the Aztec High School proposal:

    “The Grow Ceramic Arts at Aztec High School program is an integral part of our fine arts course offering at the school. Currently, Aztec High is only able to offer one section of pottery and ceramics to our students each semester. This is due to constraints in our master schedule of classes. For the 2022-23 school year our Ceramics teacher, Ms. Anne Hartman, has received over 50 requests from students to take ceramics. This level of request has grown considerably with the school’s forward thinking decision to increase our daily course offerings in a seven period school day. Unfortunately, Ms. Hartman is Aztec High's only ceramics, drawing and painting teacher.   With the support of $1000 from the Bill Armstrong Grant, the Aztec High fine arts department will be able to purchase the supplies needed to add at least one major unit of ceramics and pottery into the existing curriculum in Ms. Hartman’s regular painting courses. Given Ms. Hartman’s load of 5 daily art classes, other than ceramics, this increase in budget for clay and glazes would allow her to deliver ceramics art instruction to an additional estimated 150 students. Such an increase in ceramics art learning at our high school would greatly increase the presence of student art on exhibit in local art shows and grow the interest in ceramics study among our general student population. Aztec High School is the comprehensive public high school in Aztec, NM. The school’s enrollment includes an average of 750-800 students; 35% of whom are Native American and 45% of Hispanic background. An estimated minimum 40% of students at Aztec High School will be eligible for free and reduced lunch this coming school. Most notably, the school expects to serve a population of 60-80 students who will reside in the Kinteel Dormitory residential facility during the school week, while returning to their homes in rural and reservation parts of the greater Four Corners region for the weekend. Aztec Municipal School District and Aztec High School are fully ready to partner with the Grow Ceramics program through continued support to Ms. Hartman in her courses; and by highlighting the students' art pieces in the school’s student concert and fine arts exhibitions each semester.” 

    A Child’s Garden Preschool, in Albuquerque, NM, was awarded a $470 Bill Armstrong Grant for clay, glaze, firing and other materials to support the Bosque Bark Project. Sandria Cook, lead teacher for the project.

    From A Child’s Garden proposal:

    “A Child’s Garden (ACG) Bosque Education Project is an opportunity for our oldest preschool children to become familiar with our local ecosystem and to experience learning and growing in an outdoor classroom. Our older three-year-old and our pre-k classes are taken out into the Bosque to learn about this ecosystem firsthand. … the children can experience the wonders of the Rio Grande and the surrounding Bosque. The Tree Bark Clay Project has been designed to facilitate and expand upon the children’s explorations and observations during and after their excursions to the Rio Grande Bosque. The purpose of the project is to help children see their place within the natural world and cultivate an interest in, and a love for, their local ecosystem that they will hopefully spread to their families and communities.  

    The project will include creation of bark impressions on clay that will be made into vessels, a model “bosque”, tiles, and/or a mural. 

    This project aims to promote observational skills that the children will use to:           

    *become familiar with the flora and fauna in their natural habitat

    *notice and be able to differentiate between various types of trees in the Bosque

    *become aware that trees are individuals just like other beings 

    *learn and be able to identify different parts of a tree 

    *learn and remember locations of individual trees within the Bosque

    *build an awareness of what trees provide to the flora and fauna in their environment (ie: food, shelter, shade)

    … A Child’s Garden Preschool is a fully inclusive non-sectarian community outreach program of First Presbyterian Church which is committed to providing a developmentally appropriate learning environment for a diverse population of young children. We accept any child regardless of ability, background, and socioeconomic status and we are respectful of the individual needs, cultural heritage, and identity of each child in our program.  The teaching staff at ACG recognize that all children are unique and learn in different ways and at different rates.” 


    Congratulations to all!

    This article has benefited from the individual applicants’ proposals as well as from the words by Vice President and Armstrong Grant coordinator Michael Thornton. 


    -Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, Slip Trail Editor 

    December 4, 2022. 

  • 01 Nov 2022 3:12 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    Thanks to Leonard Baca who reminded us about this article at our July 14, 2022 "Clay Connections" Zoom. 

    From Slip Trail archives. Original: February 2005; re-published January 2013.

    By Betsy Williams

    How do you price your work? Do you have a consistent pricing system, or do you simply assign prices according to whim? Do you think prices are arbitrary and 'personal'? Are you trying to build a viable career? Do you have a long-term strategy connected with the pricing of all your artwork? These are essential questions to ask before you sell your work. Pricing is a joint venture, involving you, your market, and yes, your fellow artists. Failure or inability to price your work appropriately will create obstacles in your career. If your work is overpriced, you may alienate potential customers and galleries. If your work is underpriced, you may undermine your own reputation and long-term financial growth. According to Caroll Michels’s book, How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist, there are three approaches to pricing your artwork, each of which must be considered and coordinated. 

    1. Pragmatic Pricing 

    2. Market Value 

    3. Confidence 

    Pragmatic Pricing: 

    The artist should begin with a standard formula to calculate the price of a piece. 

    • Calculate your annual business expenditures, including materials costs. Divide by 12 to calculate your average monthly overhead 

    For example, let's say that all of your expenses for materials, utility costs, advertising, and so on, add up to $15,000 per year. $15,000 divided by 12 gives you a monthly overhead of $1250. 

    • Calculate the number of pieces you complete in one month. (While the specifics may be different for production potters, or those who make a combination of gallery pieces and production pieces, the approach is the same.) Clay artists should calculate the average number of pieces that are successfully fired each month. 

    For example, let's say you've kept track for an entire production cycle through to a glaze firing, by recording your hourly work, and find that it takes about 30 minutes (.5 hours) lo complete one cup in your production repertoire - throwing, trimming, adding a handle, bisque-firing, decorating, glazing, loading the kiln, etc. This time period should represent all of your labor from start to finish. On average, you could complete 16 cups per day. If you work 22 days per month, that means you can make, give or take, 350 cups per month. 

    • Determine your hourly wage. What is minimum wage for you? What do other professionals with equivalent levels of education charge per hour'? Do you have many years of education and expertise, or are you just starting out? When you have decided on a wage, calculate your monthly costs in labor. Keep an accurate record of your labor costs not only to help with pricing, but also to give you information necessary to schedule, budget, and price commissions and other projects. 

    For example: let’s say you’ve set your hourly wage at $15 per hour. At this point, you can multiply .5 hours (the time it takes to make your one cup, as described above) by $15 per hour. Your labor costs alone for the cup total $7.50. Then your $1250 per month over- head must be included. If you can make a total of 350 cups in a month then your monthly overhead per cup = $1250/350 cups = $3.57 per cup. Your total thus far is $7.50 plus $3.57 per cup = $11.07. 

    • Add a profit margin (recommended is 10%). That brings your total to $11.07 + $1.11 = $12.18 per cup. 

    • Add 100% commission (to account for the standard gallery cut of 50%). Whether or not you sell all or some of your work through galleries, the price that you charge from your studio and the price for which a gallery sells the same piece must be the same. Always establish the retail price, rather than the wholesale price, to prevent inconsistent prices at different galleries and in different regions. When selling work directly to the customer, a discount of l0% is acceptable. If you discount more to your direct customers you are underselling yourself and doing a disservice to your gallery, as well as to your fellow artists in the same market. 

    Now the total is $24.36 per cup.
    Note: These examples are meant simply to clarify the method of calculation. Your figures may be dramatically different from the ones above. 

    • Add sales tax, packing, shipping, etc. 

    Market Value: 

    After you have calculated the price of a piece or body of work according to the above formula, next compare your figure to the market value of a similar type of work by other artists with similar backgrounds and reputations. This means, simply, visit other galleries, shows, and fairs to see what's out there. Know your world. Michels advises that you “keep in mind that other artists' price ranges should serve only as guidelines, not as gospel." 

    Is your figure dramatically different from other work in your field? Do you have a valid reason for this difference? Consider whether or not you should adjust your hourly wage to bring your figure closer to the perceived market value. 

    Constance Smith, in her book Art Marketing 101 advises, "Think of your artwork as having a price range, not just one price. You'll determine an average price range, and then price according to size, subject, media.... and importance of work." 

    A typical price range on functional items, for example coffee cups, can be clearly determined. Setting the specific price for a specific cup may require some additional thought, but is, even so, not normally a complex issue. One-of-a-kind pieces - because of their individuality and because of considerable time spent creating each piece - may require more market value study than production items, but the approach is similar. 


    Underselling work that you value will ultimately make you resent your own customers. Selling, at any price, work that you don't value will degrade your own image and your potential to create truly fine work. What about work that you feel is your best, and for which you have designated a price? Now confidence becomes important. Las Vegas-based art theorist and critic, David Hickey, known for his daring ideas and blue-collar approach, describes the pricing of art as a kind of casino-style bet with your potential customer. The artist says, “I’ll bet I can sell this piece for price X." If the customer buys the piece at the price X, the artist wins the bet. Of course, the artist can study all the cards and make an educated, rather than a wild, bet. Essentially this is a foray into discovering what the market will bear, at the root of our capitalist system. Where there is no risk, there is no gain. 

    Garth Clark, in Shards, reprimands clay artists for underselling their work. How, can ceramics ever gain legitimacy in the art world if ceramic artists continue to undervalue their own work? He advises ceramists to dispose of, once and for all, the Leach model of inexpensive work, pointing out that Leach himself was never the successful businessman able to follow his own advice. In the chapter "The Future of Functional Pottery Part Two: Bernard's Orphans – Searching for Neo in Classical" Clark writes: The Japanese, unlike the British or the Americans" got the concept right. They built a strong following for functional wares and they kept both the quality and the prices high. ... At the end of each year potters would assemble all of their pots and destroy all but the best work. Others ... controlled their market by selecting a minority of their pieces to be boxed and signed, giving them value above the unboxed wares. Either way they developed a system that allowed their potters to live lives as comfortably as successful painters have done, or other visual artists do, rather than the subsistence existence we often find in the West. 

    Do you have a piece that you don't feel is up to par? Do you just want to get rid of it? Don't affix a low price and give your customers the impression that your work is cheap. Put it in the closet for a few years, out of sight. Or go out into the yard and smash it with a sledgehammer. Or, donate it to charity. Use what you've learned to make your work better. Remember that pricing your work is part of the larger web that connects you with society. Developing a consistent pricing strategy will give you confidence, and you will be able to convey this confidence to your customer. Will you help society understand the value of your work in re- turn for an appreciative clientele's advancement of your career though financial support? Money is a link in the chain that connects us all. Will you be the weakest link? 

    Recommended reading:
    Art Marketing l0l by Constance Smith ISBN 0-940899-48-5

    How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist by Caroll Michels ISBN 0 8050-1953-7 

    Shards: Garth Clark on Ceramic Art Ed. by John Pagliaro ISBN O9725097-1-2 

  • 29 Aug 2022 2:39 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

    The Rio Grande SUN in Española published Arts Editor Bob Eckert's review on July 14th, 2022. Thanks to Bob for furnishing these pdfs of the article, as well as for writing a vivid document of NMPCA's 2022 Celebration of Clay: Uplifted. Be prepared for lots of background info on 9 of the 50 artists in the show: Sara D'Alessandro, Lee Akins, Sheena Cameron, Sharon Brush, Marina Rabinowitz, Leonard Baca, Hebé Garcia, and Judy Nelson Moore. 

    Celebration of Clay page 1 - CMRS20220713B006.pdf

    Celebration of Clay page 2 - CMRS20220713B007.pdf

  • 22 Aug 2022 3:42 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)
    We came together August 19-21, 2022, to renew our community in clay and share techniques and ideas with each other.  This year's New Mexico Connections workshop brought six experienced NMPCA members to share their knowledge, learn together, and celebrate creativity in the beauty of Ghost Ranch for two full days. Album of more photos posted to the NMPCA Facebook page

    Presenters were Luisa Baldinger & Judy Nelson-Moore, Yuriy Luzov, Brant Palley & Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, Merlene Walker. Workshop Coordinator: Michael Thornton, NMPCA VP.

    Judy and Luisa give a demo on applying Terra Sig.

    Luisa Baldinger & Judy Nelson-Moore - Terra Sigillata

    Luisa Baldinger, in collaboration with Judy Nelson-Moore, will be discussing the preparation of Terra Sigillata, the addition of various colorants to Terra Sigillata and its application to the hand-built form.

    Luisa Baldinger: My vessels are simply sculptural forms - vehicles for the exploration of color, surface, movement in three dimensions. Terra sigillata, stains and engobes are used to enhance form and surface, followed by a "fume" firing in aluminum foil saggars. I grew up in Santa Fe, and returning here in 1980 I soon married well-known potter, Frank Willett.  For more than forty years we partnered in a number of ceramic adventures: producing a line of functional work, “Sunridge Pottery," combining our skills in wheel thrown pottery and slab-made work decorated with a landscape motif; we designed and produced “Santa Fe Lights,” a line of clay architectural lighting fixtures; and we owned and managed Santa Fe Pottery, a fine craft shop on historic Guadalupe Street carrying the work of over eighty local and regional craftspeople. More info at:

    Luisa Baldinger sprays her pot with Terra Sig. 

    Judy Nelson-Moore is an artist born in Denver, Colorado, who moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico 20 years ago. Having worked with clay in all forms of expression for over 45 years, she is currently concentrating on sculpture using paper clay. She enjoys exploring mixed media additions during the ceramic construction process or after the firing. These additions might be fabric, paper collage, paint, or other mixed media. Over the years, she studied with many wonderful clay artists, and realized that what she admired about many artists’ work was not the technical expertise, but the spirit and soul in their work. The combination of these experiences, plus a strong interest and affinity for primitive and indigenous art of many cultures, has helped to form the imagery and motivation for her sculpture. More info at:

    Samples of Terra Sigillata with different oxide and stain washes added. Made by Judy and Luisa.

    Yuriy Luzov - Polymer Clay

    Yuriy using camera over his work table to display on screen.

    Yuriy Luzov demonstrated the basics of murrine construction in Polymer Clay, with several cane profiles to generate a great variety of geometric patterns and three dimensional forms. Bigger, more elaborate sculptures may be constructed with a combination of these simple tessellated forms. With a good foundation, participants were able to take this technique quite far. Materials provided for hands-on learning.

    Yuriy observing Leonard Baca's cane compositions.

    Polymer clay is a medium that fascinated Yuriy's inner child in high school, and he's been working with it ever since.  Yuriy discovered the Murrine technique mostly on his own with minimal external influence, and therefore his style has developed in a unique way.

    Born in Minsk, Belarus in 1982, Yuriy immigrated to the United States in 1994.  "As a child, seeds of a future in clay were planted when I discovered vast amounts of wild ball clay at my grandparents’ homestead in Ukraine, where I spent my summers.  In Colorado, I discovered atmospheric firing.  Now I have an anagama kiln of my own in Santa Fe, and am excited to build on over a decade of experience firing a variety of wood kilns around Colorado and New Mexico." More info on FB - Yuriy Sergeyevich Luzov   

    Yuriy observing Andrea Pichaida's compositions.

    Brant Palley and Cirrelda Snider-Bryan - Stains and Oxides in Clay

    Brainstormed list of how participants use oxides and stains. 

    A discussion about color in clay with a ceramic materials fabrication expert and a ceramics educator, focused on oxides and stains. Participants gained hands-on experience mixing a body-stain into porcelain, and making test tiles. Materials provided. Printed information will be shared: Mason Stain Ingredients; Joan Weissman Mason Body Stains for Porcelain, and more. Brant Palley was unable to be with us due to recuperation from recent surgery.  A handout shared his words on stains and oxides, and he provided a Mason Color Inc. Reference Guide for each participant. 

    Brant Palley – Owner of New Mexico Clay since 1985. Graduate of Otis Art Institute, 1979.  Clay Body Designer, Webmaster at, Kiln Expert, and ... Head Floor Sweeper. More info about Brant & NM Clay:

    Tomás Wolff's body stain tile portrait. 

    Cirrelda Snider-Bryan – Artist/Educator/Community Muralist. Creator of clay programs/instructor of: cirrelda’s clases de clay (Pot Hollow South studio) and Clay Science at the Museum (NMMNHS). Whole school tile mural coordinator at Alvarado and Alameda Elementary schools, APS. Co-coordinator Protect Our Wildlife Corridors Community Mosaics, a project of Pathways located in Placitas, NM. Board member of NMPCA 2021-2024, editor of The Slip Trail.  More info on Cirrelda:,

    Andrea Pichaida's body stain applied to porcelain on a bowl form. 

    Merlene Walker - Precious Metal Clay

    Merlene "Mo" Walker giving her introduction to Precious Metal Clay.

    Merlene conducted a hands-on workshop in Precious Metal Clay. If you like working with clay, and you love silver jewelry, this is the best of both worlds!  Participants saw Merlene demonstrate how to work with Precious Metal Clay. They learned the basics: how to texture, shape and cut the clay; how to fire, polish and finish your work to best bring out the design. Students learned these methods using 7 grams of Silver Metal clay. Tool kits were supplied. 

    Silver metal clay pieces drying ahead of firing with the help of hot plates. 

    Merlene Walker worked in a corporate environment for over 25 years. After years of taking art classes, and with the help of "The Artist Way" workshop, Merlene took a leap of faith and left her job to pursue a degree in art. She designs and facilitates metal clay classes and creative workshops to help others have fun and learn about the transformative power of creative possibilities in their life.  I am stimulated by museums, nature, books, and classes of all kinds. But my favorite stimulation is the exchange of ideas and experiences with others. I am better able to process my own thoughts more clearly as I listen to others share their experiences. Teaching provides the perfect venue for this exchange.” As a PMC instructor, certified by Tim McCreight, and cross-certified in Art Clay®, Merlene maintains memberships in the NMPCA and Eldorado Arts and Craft Association. 

    More info at:

    Mo dunking silver metal clay pieces into water while hot, just out of kiln. 

    Thanks to Michael Thornton and all the presenters for the text of this article. Photos by the editor.

    -Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, editor for The Slip Trail.

    Rainy day at Piñon Pottery Studio, complete with moss growing on the edges of the puddles and rain plinking on the sheet metal. 

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