The 2012 American Art Pottery Convention

This is the time of the year that art pottery lovers come together. The 2012 American Art Pottery Convention is gearing up and will be in Cleveland Ohio later this month. We have the schedule of events for what’s sure to be a great time.

The dates for this year’s convention are April 19 through April 22.

A Note About the Hotel

The host hotel this year is Holiday Inn Cleveland South – Independence. It’s recently underwent a major renovation and now offers 364 stunning guestrooms and is one of the largest in the area. It’s located just 15 minutes from the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. It’s not too late to make your reservations, either. You can do so by visiting the website at hiindependence.com or by calling 216-524-8050

Schedule of Events

On Thursday, April 19th, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., there’s a tour of the Museum of Ceramics and Homer Laughlin Fiesta and China. If you’ve never visited the museum, it’s an absolute must. Even those who have spent a considerable amount of time in the art pottery family know the value of this tour. It’s sure to inspire.

The registration tables will also be open at 9 a.m.

At 6:30 p.m., a welcome reception and cocktail party is being hosted. (Note there will be a cash bar available). There’ll be prize drawings and giveaways and of course, plenty of networking opportunities.

On Friday, there’s plenty to do. There will be two seminars, with the first one beginning at 9 a.m. Understanding and Collecting Pillin Pottery by Jerry Kline runs until 10:15 and then, at 10:30, you can attend The Many Phases of Van Briggle. This seminar is hosted by Kathy Honea. It runs from 10:30 am. until 11:45 a.m.

The preview for the art pottery auction runs for two hours beginning at 2:30. There will also be a book signing and a “Meet the Authors” event between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The art pottery auction begins at 4:30 and your auctioneer is Peter Gehres.

Saturday provides one more seminar, Richard D. Mohr’s “Tiles I’ve Known and Loved”, which is slated for 9:15 a.m. and expected to run until 10:45 a.m.

For registered members of the convention, you’re afforded the opportunity to preview the AAPA Show and Sale beginning at 11 a.m. This runs until noon, at which time, the public is allowed to preview the sale.

On Sunday, the annual business meeting begins at 9:30 and runs until approximately 10:45. At 11 a.m., the AAPA Art Pottery Show and Sale runs until approximately 4 p.m.

If you have any questions regarding the convention, you can visit the American Art Pottery Association’s convention page at http://www.aapa.info/Convention/Convention2012/tabid/70/Default.aspx

Cowan Pottery

Cowan Pottery was in business for a brief period of time; specifically, between 1912 and 1931. That’s not to say, however, that this Ohio art pottery company didn’t leave a lasting impression – it most certainly did.

Founded by R. Guy Cowan, an Ohio native, Cowan Pottery began as a tiny studio with only a few kilns and with Cowan serving as the owner, artist, designer, bookkeeper and so on. Despite what was surely an exhausting effort, Cowan produced many art pottery pieces and tile designs. By 1917, Cowan was enjoying the fruits of his hard work with many awards for his art pottery collections.

As was the case with many art pottery companies during this time period, World War I meant a closing of his business so that he could serve in the Chemical Warfare Service. The war ended and Cowan found himself following his passions once again, this time in a new location in Ohio. He upped the equipment, created a studio and before long, he was filling orders for department stores, individuals and other national chains. That was soon followed with commercial pottery efforts. He was able to hire a staff of artists and his output neared 175,000 pieces each year. Some of those Cowan Pottery pieces included bowls, vases, lamps and candlesticks.

Despite his impressive successes, in the late 1920s, Cowan found his business struggling financially. The demand was slowly dropping for pottery, as would-be customers found themselves struggling from a financial aspect, too. Indeed, times were incredibly difficult and by 1930, the writing was on the proverbial wall. The Depression hit fast and hard and Cowan Pottery closed its doors in December, 1931.

The legacy left behind is priceless. The glazes and artistic abilities are nothing short of genius; partly due to Cowan’s familiarity with the chemicals used in the American art pottery sector.

Cowan knew he could never walk away from art pottery and became a well respected judge and trustee for the National Ceramic Exhibitions until his death in 1957.

The American Art Pottery Move in its Infancy

Sometimes we can develop a deeper appreciation for things, such as American art pottery, if we know more about the history. How did it start? Where did it start? There are some interesting facts that can truly enrich a fan’s passion for art pottery; so, after looking through many of the collector’s book and reminding ourselves of some of these stories of “where it all began”, here are some little known facts you may not have known.

Most farmers collected clay from their fields in the summer and then spent their winter months creating pottery in an effort to maintain steady work year round. Ohio has an abundance of that rich clay that serves as the foundation for art

Weller Ardsley Double Wall Pocket

pottery and it wasn’t uncommon for farmers to collect whatever it was they were growing in any particular season while also digging clay. They stored it in hastily built sheds until they could get around to working their magic.

By 1840, Ohio had 99 potteries. These potters were no longer firing pottery for use in the region, but rather, they were shipping it around the country and even exported what is described as “huge quantities” down the Mississippi River into New Orleans. It’s interesting to know within just a few years, any competition to the east and south was annihilated as many of these farmers came to realize there was much more financial security in the rich clay than the cotton and potatoes that grew alongside it.

Within two decades, many potters were no longer thinking from a utilitarian perspective, but were beginning to understand the lucrative and untapped market for decorative art pottery, one that the “lady of the house” would want to showcase in her sitting room or foyer. Suddenly, it was no longer a “man’s industry”, so to speak, but the creativity and beautiful floral patterns and color combinations opened the eyes of many women.

It’s amazing to think all these dynamics came together so long ago and that they still have a place in our hearts and homes in a modern society. It sure makes you see your own art pottery collection in a different light.

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