Holiday Open House
East Otto Country Associates November 4-5
By Carol Fisher
Hey! You! Yes, you! It’s a great day for a short ride into the countryside. If there are enough of you taking the ride, get in your cars and call it a road rally. After all, it’s that time of year! Gather together at the post office, then head toward the library and Legion. Hmmmm… the Legion could be your first pit stop if you want to make it an official rally. Just sayin’. Head straight, follow the bend on Maples Road, stay on County Road 13. It’s so pretty that you might not pay attention but, careful, a bridge is out. Press on! It’s an adventure, after all. Look for Kent Road – turn right, go over the hill. At Hinman Hollow turn left (you are back on CR13); go straight another 3 miles. In a total of 15 minutes you will find Brookside Studios on the left, before the creek. The companion studio, Hog Shed Pottery is over the creek, also on the left, so park your cars and peek inside.
Now, let me tell you about Brookside and Its owner, Robin Zefers Clark. A farm wife and Art teacher at area schools for 33 years, Robin grew up as a country kid in West Valley. She began early, imagining and learning art at the easel of her grandfather, a commercial artist/part time farmer. She still has his oils and bits and pieces of his 40’s art-making equipment which can be found in her Amish-built studio that she picked up and moved when she sold the bulk of her farm. Although most of her work is now done in watercolors, Robin plans to one day create a piece using only her grandfather’s oils and equipment. Although long gone- his spirit is so alive in her work and in his oils. It’s kind of reassuring, isn’t it, to know that we never pass on if we leave something of our spirit for others.
Here’s the fun part, as if you aren’t having enough fun yet. Have you ever wanted a picture of you standing next to a beloved person? Maybe they passed on even before you arrived, but you cherish their stories or that spirit I spoke about. You can! Robin is a master at creating those portraits from old photos. She’ll even put in a homestead or favorite imagined location (fishing with Grampa or baking with Gram) if you supply her with something to work from. If that’s not enough, she’ll create a little story card to go with the painting. In the studio, you will find something for every budget, from limited edition prints and notecards to life-like pet portraits. For her studio hours and more information of commissioned artwork, you can contact Robin at 716-713-5359.
Next, cross over the creek to Hog Shed Pottery, so named because at one time owners Elliott and Michael Hutton (both raised Buffalo city kids) wanted to be a Mother Earth type family. Elliott, an art teacher, and Michael a Registered nurse, married, moved south, started a family and a small farm. A Jersey cow that produced too much milk led to the addition of pigs to drink the milk. You know, kind of like an old kids’ song where one thing leads to another. Fast forward to today where one daughter is an equine vet in Geneseo and the other a Manhatten-ite (remember those city roots-guess it’s in the DNA). The animals are a memory but the garden remains, so, don’t look to be greeted with moos and oinks, but do feel free to explore Elliott’s working space and ask questions about her process. You will be surprised to discover that a simple mug or bird vase (so cute!) you hold in your hands takes an extraordinary number of days to complete, from wedging (cutting), kneading, and finally throwing the raw clay onto the wheel to the finished product, fresh from the kiln. You will see on their shelves finished pieces for purchase and many works still in process. Of course, you can commission Elliott to design works just for you, if you wish.
In talking with Elliott, this writer discovered that making pottery can be dangerous if the clay isn’t thrown on firmly enough or the potter gets the clay off center. The spinning wheel can do its own throwing off and whack the potter or observer. Years of training and patience create those talented potters’ hands which eventually acquire a knowledge and memory of their own. Elliott’s creative hands then make practical stoneware mugs, bowls, casseroles, vases, and special dated Christmas ornaments which Michael loads into the propane-fired kiln to bring the clay and beautiful glazes to life. Hog Shed Studio is open until Christmas. For daily studio hours, call 716-257-9549, or 716-244-2967.
You know, the art of pottery is so much like life. We begin as a non-descript bit, and through the gentle, and sometimes not-so-gentle work of the potters’ hands, we turn into beautiful, individual works of art. Some of us need more kneading or firing than others but the results are well-worth the ongoing process, wouldn’t you agree?