Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pots and grits in Fredericksburg

I was in Virginia at Dan Finnegan's LibertyTown Arts Workshops last week for the opening of a collaborative show at that great center of art south of D.C. and a simultaneous show of my pots and those of my friend Lorraine Colson. The show opened Friday night on Fredericksburg's First Friday and it will run for a month. About 400 people walked through on opening night, admiring the fiber and other arts in the show, looking at (and buying) pots, checking out the various open studios, spending a bit of money on non-clay art, helping themselves to the wine and hors d'oeuvres, meeting friends. Lots of meeting friends.
What a great place LibertyTown is - winding corridors lined with open studios, paintings, jewelry, woodwork, earrings made from soda bottle caps, a pottery school. There was no music the night of the opening, but I know there is often music there. Dan Finnegan and his staff keep things open and friendly. I hope the people of Fredericksburg's business community appreciate what they have in LibertyTown. I know everyone there Friday appreciated it.
Lorraine's beautiful crystal-glazed pots were shown on a grouping of pedestals near the front door of the gallery, my own less flashy temmoku-, ash- and shino-glazed pots were back a bit near Finnegan's little gallery. Lorraine and I began making pots at the same time, about 20 years ago, in a class at the Art League in Alexandria, Va. Dan became our teacher a few years later and he was kind enough to offer us this reunion show several months ago.
It's always good to return to Fredericksburg, a Colonial-era town on the Rappahannock, with Revolutionary and Civil War history on every corner. For one thing, Hyperion, the best community coffee joint south of the Mason-Dixon Line, is there. Hyperion reminds me of my own local Coffee Obsession, but with a bit more architectural elegance. Finnegan and I went there for coffee (and tea) Saturday morning and greeted what seemed to be dozens of Dan's friends over an hour at one of the outside tables.
Dan and I spent some time later in the day at his new studio and two-chamber wood kiln out in Caroline County, in the woods at the edge of soybean and corn fields about ten miles from Fredericksburg. Go to his blog ( to see what his place looks like. We talked for a couple of hours about his work and the direction he's taking, for a magazine piece I'm working on.
Breakfast the next day was cooked by my favorite Fredericksburg grits chef, Lou Brent. In fact, I know only one Fredericksburg grits chef, but even if I knew ten I believe Lou and her baked cheese grits would still be my favorite. And she matched the grits with hen-of-the-woods wild mushrooms, organic scrambled eggs and whole-grain bread. There's a picture attached to this post that shows Lou and the breakfast. Lou and her husband Jerry are Finnegan's great friends and supporters. I'm proud to know both of them, not to mention delighted to eat Lou's grits any time. She sent me away with a cornbread recipe that met with her approval.
I headed back to the Cape on Monday, after spending the night at Lorraine's house in Alexandria, both of us Red Sox fans staying up past midnight to see the Sox lose their only game to the Angels.
Now, it's time to make pots for the upcoming show at Donna Sutherland's Nov. 7 and 8.


Jenny Pease said...


Pictures of the show look fab. Hope you and Lorraine do well and that you have great success with your November show.

So glad we could see you when you were in town.

Go sox!



Hollis Engley said...

Thanks, Jen. Great seeing you, too. As for the Sox ... we'll see if something better than last night's display emerges in the next couple of days.