San Diego Potters' Guild - History
In 1958, potters Kay Thomas and Dorothy Moore Scott signed a lease with the City of San Diego for Studio 29 (then Studio C and D) in Spanish Village for $15 per month. Their studio hours were noon to 3 PM, Saturday and Sunday. It was hard for Kay and Dorothy to keep the studio open because of family and other obligations, so rather than losing their space, they decided to create a guild, and invited like-minded people to participate. Kay Thomas held a meeting at her home in the early part of 1961. About twelve people attended and the plan to form a guild began. The charter members were: Dorothy Moore Scott, Kay Thomas, Lily Stoddard, Lone Norton, Jean Balmer, Marvel Stickney, Betty Willcoxson, Betty Newkirk, Kay Chilton, and Carol Bradbury.
Dorothy Scott owned wheels, an electric kiln, and basic materials. In the beginning, members could bring in their own equipment or use Dorothy's while watching the studio. The majority of members worked at home and sold their work through Studio 29. Over the next few years people would visit the Guild and inquire about joining. A jury was formed from the membership to review the work of applicants and voted on the admission of new potters. Several times a year outdoor sales were held in front of the Guild. During the sales, potters demonstrated throwing pots on the wheel. Invitations were sent to patrons for a silent auction and champagne punch was served to entice them to buy one of a kind ceramic artwork.
Dave Stewart, one of the early members, purchased an old gas kiln and he and some of the other members repaired the kiln's interior. After much persuasion, Spanish Village allowed the kiln to be installed behind the Guild enclosed by a wall. Once this was accomplished, production took off, dictating the need for a better display area. Gus Thorbum, architect and husband of member Joan Thorburn, volunteered his talents.
|The sixties were an exciting growth period for the Guild. Among new members were potters like Bill Bowne, professor of Art History at San Diego State. He was instrumental in encouraging members to always perfect their craft. Critiques were a common agenda item at the meetings. The members also focused on community outreach, providing a resource for information and demonstrating their craft to the public. One high point of the sixties was a show of our members' work, along with the work of other craft guilds, at the La jolla Art Center (today the La jolla Museum of Contemporary Art).
In the seventies and eighties the Guild leaped forward. Working with the Museum of Man, the Guild presented two member shows. The Guild presented workshops with visiting craftpersons from other parts of the country. Even when the coffers were low, the Guild donated cash awards to various juried shows to encourage potters. In 1991 the gallery of the Guild was again remodeled. Display and storage areas were expanded and better lighting was installed. An open house took place at that time included a juried show of the members' work. At that time, the members voted to establish an annual juried show, and opened it to participation by all ceramic artists throughout San Diego County. Initial shows were held in Spanish Village in Studio 21, and later shows have been hosted at Bravo Gallery in downtown San Diego, and Gallery Eight in La Jolla.
Potters' Guild Members Circa 1985
|In September of 1992, Julie Brooke, then Guild president, organized a Chinese Ceramic Exchange Program, and took a group of 20 potters to China. Two of our members, Ted Saito and Julie Thompson, were sponsored by the Guild to demonstrate along with five other potters at the Central Academy of Arts and Design in Beijing (See "China Diary," Ceramics Monthly, October 1994).
In March of 1993 the National Council of Education for Ceramic Artists (NCECA) held their conference in San Diego. The educational facilities in San Diego were instrumental in organizing events, and the San Diego Potters' Guild was actively involved. Two shows were put on during the conference. One show was co-sponsored with the San Diego Ceramic Artists at Bravo Gallery, and another, "Current Clay", was held at Gallery Eight in La Jolla. In March, 2003, NCECA again held their annual conference in San Diego. This time the San Diego Potters' Guild put on a show "Pot Luck" at Studio 21 in the Spanish Village and worked together with the CASD to put on another show "San Diego Potters and their Mentors" at the Balboa Park Club of the Balboa Park.
In October of the 1993, as the second part of the Chinese ceramics exchange, two representatives from the Central Academy of Arts and Design were hosted by the San Diego Potters' Guild. They were professor Zhang Shouzhi, famous designer of Yixing teapots, including the "Snail" teapot, and Yang Yongshan, Dean of the Academy.
The Guilds' two semi-annual outdoor sales are an established tradition. They are always held the second full weekend of June and November on both Saturday and Sunday. All the members participate, and people get to meet the artists who make the things they buy. The sales are held on the patio in front of Studio 29, in the Spanish Village Art Center.