Potsketch resumes live auction at UM

Clay Studio of Missoula’s popular auction and gala return April 1-23

Art Beat

The Clay Studio of Missoula’s perennial Potsketch, April 1-23, features nearly 150 drawings, ceramics and mixed media works generously donated by 110 local, national, and international artists. Funds raised help sustain the ceramic art center’s facilities and programs during the year.

Stella Nall's Potsketch is among 150 works available during the Clay Studio's event.
Stella Nall’s Potsketch is among 150 works available during the Clay Studio’s event.Photo © Stella Nall

This marks the Clay Studio’s first live Potsketch since 2019 and is both a cause of anticipation and stress for the small staff that organizes the exhibition and auction gala. “People have vocally expressed excitement over having an in-person event again, so hopefully that excitement will translate into some actual ticket sales,” says Clay Studio director Shalene Valenzuela.

“We also hope that continuing to use the auction platform we adopted in 2020 will still provide greater accessibility to the auction, as it has enabled people who don’t normally attend the gala event to become more engaged from afar.”

So what’s a Potsketch? Basically it’s a petite artwork (around 5” by 5” inches “although there are certainly some rule breakers”), and may be a painting, photograph, print or miniature ceramic sculpture. Bidding typically opens at $50.

View all the Potsketch 2022 auction work in person April 1-20 at The Clay Studio, 1106 Hawthorne St. in Missoula. The exhibition opens with a reception, 5-8 p.m. Friday, April 1, with online bidding available April 1-23.

The gala, 5:30-9 p.m. April 23 at the University Center Ballroom on the UM Campus, includes live music coordinated by Helena jazz pianist Steve Kalling, food and beverages, and the opportunity to make final bids on Potsketches and one-of-a-kind ceramic art.

Julia Galloway's Northern Leopard Frog is part of this year's Potsketch auction.
Julia Galloway’s Northern Leopard Frog is part of this year’s Potsketch auction.Photo © Julia Galloway

There is no fee to register and place bids on silent auction works, however, tickets are required for the gala, and due to the event’s popularity, should be purchased in advance.

“We have sold out in past years and likely cannot accommodate ticket sales at the door,” says Valenzuela.

The silent auction portion features 90 Potsketches and two dozen centerpiece/petite vessel works. Bidding for all these items is open to anyone (it’s free to register and place bids) and is conducted through the GiveSmart portal. Although most open at $50, the 24 centerpieces have a “buy it now” option for those who want to make sure they take home a particular masterpiece. Silent auction bidding closes at 7 p.m. MDT on April 23.

This year’s live auction offers almost two dozen works by current resident artists and others from Montana and beyond. “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of artists in the region who donate frequently,” says Valenzuela. She added, “It’s really hard to pick a favorite because there’s so much excellent work.”

Some highlights for this year’s live auction include “TV Dinner,” an illustrative porcelain tray by prominent Missoula ceramist and art professor Beth Lo; and “Northern Leopard Frog” by Missoula ceramic artist and UM professor Julia Galloway, which  is part of her larger Endangered Species Urn Project. Acclaimed Helena potter Sarah Jaeger has donated one a teapot from an older series of work that she is no longer producing, “which makes it even more special,” says Valenzuela.

Visit the Potsketch portal to view works online and begin bidding on April 1. Tickets to the gala are $75 per person ($5 discount for Clay Studio members) and may be purchased online, at the Clay Studio or by phone (406-543-0509) from noon-5 p.m. weekdays prior to the event.