by TaLeiza Calloway
The countryside of St. Joseph and Avon will serve as a backdrop for the “Back Roads Pottery Tour” this weekend.
The sixth annual event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12 with a “Night out for the Arts,” an opening reception, at JD Jorgenson Pottery in St. Joseph. Sponsored by the Avon Area Arts, the tour is set for 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14.
“There’s a lot of great ceramic artists and potters in this local area, also regionally and nationally,” said JD Jorgenson, coordinator for the event. “We wanted to add an event to the Avon Area Arts repertoire that focused on ceramic art and pottery.”
Ten ceramic artists will be featured at four different venues this year. Some hail from the St. Joseph and Avon areas with some from as far away as Montevideo and even Nebraska.
Artists include local potters Jorgenson, Jasper Bond and St. Joseph’s own Joel Cherrico, Jo Severson, Zac Spates, John Larson, Ben Suga, John Martelle and Liz Vercruysse. Art available on the tour will include everything from sculptural- and functional-ware to the gas-fired look to wood-fired artwork.
“There’s a good diverse grouping of work,” Jorgenson said. “The Back Roads Pottery Tour really focuses on the rich culture of clay in the area that’s been developing over the years throughout the region.”
A new stop on the tour this year is the Minnesota Street Market at 27 W. Minnesota St. The food and art co-op will host three artists this year. Other venues for the tour are Collegeville Orchards, 15517 Fruit Farm Road; Dancing Bears Co., 12822 County Road 51; and Jorgenson Pottery at 9022 Nuthatch Road, St. Joseph. Local musicians will also be at some venues playing music as people shop and interact with artists.
The tour is about a 15- to 20-mile loop to showcase nature and celebrate art along the way. The distance is designed to encourage people to bike the tour, something Jorgenson says is sure to develop more with time. He admits to being surprised at how many people have biked the tour in previous years.
Ceramic artist Cherrico said the event has been well attended throughout the years. Between 300 and 400 people have visited venues throughout the weekend previously, with some traveling from Kansas, Texas and Canada.
While there is no order to the tour, all are encouraged to visit all four stops. Those who get their tour maps stamped at each venue and drop it off when they’re done have the chance to win a gift certificate to be used to purchase art by the featured artists, Jorgenson said. The goal of the event is to provide an all-inclusive experience.
“The tour helps more than the artists,” he said. “It gives awareness to small businesses and studios in the area and provides an opportunity to meet new people and have a conversation about art.”
Tour maps can be downloaded from Avon Arts Association website at www.frontporcharts.com and the organization’s Facebook page. Just search Avon Area Arts. Avon Area Arts is a nonprofit collective of artists dedicated to the advancement of the arts in the area.