Clay Studio of Missoula’s Potsketch exhibit & gala

Exhibit opens April 5 and culminates April 20 in gala auction at University Center

Art Beat
Potsketch Auction: "Hare"
Jon Bonnicksen’s “Hare” is part of the Potsketch live auction.

Potsketch – a silent, online and live auction fundraiser to help sustain the Clay Studio of Missoula’s facilities and programs – opens Friday, April 5, with a preview exhibition.

Check out more than six-dozen Potsketches and two-dozen live auction ceramic works. Bidding begins on silent auction works at the preview, which is free and open to the public.

This event features drawings – Potsketches – donated by a host of local, national and international artists, plus centerpieces by regional artists, and a live auction April 20 of extraordinary ceramic art works.

“We have several amazing works, and the selections get even better with each year,” says studio director Shalene Valenzuela.

Live auction highlights include: a platter by Warren MacKenzie (a noted Minnesota potter who recently passed away); a vase by Missoula ceramist Alison Reintjes; a Guernica tile by nationally known artist Richard Notkin of Vaughn, WA (formerly of Helena); and “Hare,” a ceramic sculpture by Jon Bonnicksen of Missoula, who is a new auction participant.

The many Potsketches include a piece by renowned ceramic artist and retired University of Montana art professor Beth Lo. Her mother, Kiahsuang Lo, a self-taught, but accomplished Chinese brush painter, died in February, leaving behind stacks of paintings. Using one of these works, Lo created a “posthumous” collaboration and tribute to her mother.

  1. M. Scott Miller made the piece that adorns this year’s postcard. The intricate watercolor is part of a series inspired by items seen at second-hand stores.

Potsketch Gala

Potsketch Auction: Alison Reintjes
Vase by Missoula ceramist Alison Reintjes is part of the Potsketch Auction.

The gala, April 20 at the University Center Ballroom, includes live music by The Captain Wilson Conspiracy, food and beverages (no host bar), and the opportunity to make final bids on Potsketches and one-of-a-kind ceramic works auctioned by Randy Kearns of Gardner Auction Service. The evening’s MC is Bob Zimorino, and Jazmine Penelope will educate attendees on the selection of live auction works.

This year’s theme is “Greenware” – a term referring to a ceramic piece before it has been fired. “Some may think of it as ‘green wear,’” suggests Valenzuela.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Food will be available at that time, and the bar will be open for service. Centerpieces are available for purchase on a first-come, first-served basis. The silent auction is open for continued bidding and closes in three groups, starting at 6:40 and ending at 7:10 p.m.

Tickets are $65 ($55-$60 if purchased by April 5). Order online, or by phone, 543-0509.

About Potsketch

This unique fundraiser originated in 2004 as a fundraiser to further develop and expand the studio’s facilities. Because most artists draw, the idea was to invite artists to take 10 seconds, 10 minutes, or 10 hours to draw a pot or an image that had an impact on them.

To facilitate this, The Clay Studio board and staff selected a group of artists and sent out packages including a 5”x 5″ piece of Italian paper, a pencil and a return mailer, and asked the artists to donate an original work. Within a matter of days, the first drawings began arriving and the resulting auction raised $11,000.

According to Valenzuela, “Potsketch is important for us to maintain a successful studio. This fundraising effort gives us the chance to raise money for crucial projects that improve and maintain our infrastructure and offerings.”

Specifically, this year’s event raises funds to rebuild the soda kiln – an important resource for community members and resident artists, who rely on it to produce works to exhibit and sell.

Last year, Potsketch raised $42,000, or roughly one-sixth of the studio’s annual operating budget.

“The difference it makes for us is very significant, says Valenzuela. “It helps us succeed in our mission in being a resource for ceramics arts in our community.”