Hudson Valley Pottery Tour Returns

The Department of Art at SUNY New Paltz presented its work at the Hudson Valley Pottery Tour’s itinerary.

Various SUNY New Paltz professors, alumni and one current student hosted the tour among a collective of internationally recognized ceramicists. 

This year marked the second annual Hudson Valley Pottery Tour: a self-guided experience that invites guests into the studios of some of the region’s most accomplished artists. 

The tour provides the public a rare opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind works, and get an intimate look at the inner workings of multiple artist’s studios. 

The pottery tour was held on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday, Oct. 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

In the past, Anat Shiftan, the associate professor of the ceramics graduate program, has had solo shows at The Dorsky Museum. This year, Shiftan shined from her personal studio. Here, Shiftan presented her vase entitled “Winter,” which is part of her Garden Views series of four ceramic/porcelain vases depicting the four seasons. 

To create the Garden Views series, Shiftan worked directly from botanical illustrations of plants found in Wild Garden of Wave Hill, NY. 

Shiftan also opened up her studio doors to former student Sarah Heitmeyer, a 2016 alumna. Heitmeyer presented her porcelain and glaze piece “Reduce Me to Silence.” Specializing in decorative tile and functional tableware, Heitmeyer said, “This piece recreates a feeling of expansive space before the viewer, simultaneously losing oneself in emptiness and filling with immense awe.

Bryan Czibesz, the assistant professor of the ceramics graduate program, dappled with some experimental pottery forms, including cups, bowls and vases. 

Czibez also featured sculptures based on historical vessels from his collaboration with potter Shawn Spangler. To accommodate for the pottery tour’s focus on handmade pottery, Czibez decided to work with simple pottery shapes that built complexity through a digital visualization process. 

Side by side with Czibesz was Ben Evans, a 2007 alum with a BFA in Ceramics. 

“I chose Ben Evans because he makes great slip cast functional pottery objects that uses bold color and decoration to provide variation,” Czibesz said. 

Evans, one of the two guests at Czibesz’s studio, showcased his recent work that focused on geometry and structures in architectural themes. 

“The great thing about a pottery tour,” said 2005 alum with a BFA in ceramics Doug Peltzman. “Is that you can open your studio and show the full breath of what you make and what you are interested in.” 

Peltzman strives for functionality. With featured pieces entitled “Mug” and “Canteen Vase,” Peltzman proved that kitchen items can be as tasteful as sculptures. 

“I believe that well crafted handmade pottery can change your daily life for the better,” Peltzman said. 

Peltzman’s studio also featured pieces of Lauren Sandler, a 2004 alumna. Sandler’s preparation began a few months prior to the weekend tour, determined to make functional work to sell at this specific event. 

Sandler’s pieces ranged from cups, bowls, and serving platters, to a few more specialty items like flower pots and candle stick holders. 

The decay-inspired work of Tim Rowan—a 1991 alum with a BFA in ceramics—drastically differed from the work of his fellow potters. 

Rowan’s art is made primarily from native clay originating from the earth. He hand-digs selected sections of earth and works with geologists to locate local clay deposits. Rowan’s quaint studio deeply tucked into the woods only adds fuel to his artistic fire. 

“Each morning, before Rowan’s work in the studio begins, and regardless of weather conditions, Rowan walks his 48 acres of wooded property,” Ceramics Now Magazine reported. “His observations of nature’s transformations are a never ending source of discovery and connection.”

Andrew Sartorius, current MFA candidate for the ceramics program, was a guest at Jeff Shapiro’s studio. For this pottery tour, Sartorius showed his most recent work from the wood firing in the New Paltz Anagama—a Japanese wood burning tunnel kiln—and a selection of pieces fired in an electric kiln. 

“Participating in the Hudson Valley Pottery Tour is a huge honor and opportunity as an emerging artist,” Sartorius said. “It gave me the opportunity to share with my mentor, my professors and full-time practicing artists who I greatly respect.”

The turn out this year was three fold from last year, according to Haakon Lenzi, a guest potter at Peltzman’s studio. 

“The world of handmade ceramics is an intimate one, so to see all of these people introduced to the field and for them to have such positive response to the work,” Lenzi said. “Well that was very special.”

With almost every studio located through dense trees or at the end of a windy driveway, the Hudson Valley Pottery Tour may seem intimate. Exclusive, even. But exclusivity is the farthest thing from the potters’ minds. 

“Its importance is in the connection with people,” Czibesz said. “Being present when people pick up and hold the work that you make, closes a loop between maker and user.”


Nicole Zanchelli
About Nicole Zanchelli 82 Articles
Nicole Zanchelli is a fourth-year journalism major with a sociology and Italian studies minor. This is her third semester on The Oracle. Previously, she worked as a sports assistant copy editor, an arts & entertainment copy editor and features copy editor. Her favorite articles to read and write deal with exposing corruption and analyzing social injustices.