DREAMING OF THE SEA: CERAMICIST ALISON EVANS

by Marisa Marcantonio

I recently did an artists series for New England Home Magazine's blog, where I featured artists doing their thing in Rhode Island and Maine. Such beautiful areas have inspired artists for centuries, and I wanted to take a look at what artists were creating today. Alison Evans and I went to high school together, so it is a real treat to feature her enormous talents here.

Photos courtesy of Alison Evans
The entrance to her light-filled gallery in Maine

Taking her cues from the sea, Yarmouth, Maine-based potter Alison Evans creates organic forms based on gifts the ocean bears. She makes her ceramics, richly glazed oyster, razor and clam shells in Maine, so the inspiring subject matter is never far off.

How did she know creating with clay was her calling? While sitting in a computer programming class at my alma mater, Miss Porter’s School, Evans had a realization: “I knew that I wanted to be a business woman and that I didn’t want to join corporate America.” So she took a pottery throwing class and happened to be a natural at throwing on the wheel.
She decided at that very moment that this was her chosen path. An education at the venerable Rhode Island School of Design followed, and a creative career was born.
By absorbing and learning as much as she could from working with New York artist and head of RISD’s ceramic’s department Katy Schimert, she felt ready to go out on her own. In 2003, she opened her first Alison Evans Ceramics studio in East Boothbay, Maine. Today, her work is a family affair, with her husband Chris Fritz’s involvement, handling managing the studio and sales.

Inside the gallery

Rich, layered raku glazes have become a hallmark on her sea-inspired shell shapes. By layering glazes in the surface decoration, the resulting patterns can be somewhat uniform with subtle variation. The unexpected color iterations take on a life of their own once they go into the kiln, which provides a wonderful element of surprise. Shimmering in the light of day after emerging from firing, each piece is truly unique. The underglaze and overglaze fuse with drips and patterns she creates in bone white, mint, tortoise and charcoal. Creating designs that make their way to molds, Alison makes textured shell surfaces that have ridges and pitting just like the wave-tossed originals.

Nesting shell dishes

The mint charcoal condiment dish

A mint charcoal stout teapot

One of my favorites, her bone white nesting bowl

Growing her business, Alison saw a steady stream of work come in. The combination of word of mouth, gallery shows, gift shows and boutiques carrying her work has helped her develop a dedicated following. By maintaining her vision and unique point of view creating sea-inspired collections, she is able to grow her product range while attracting collectors who adore all things tied to the sea and those who dream about being near it.

Baby Shea inside gallery

CRAVING SUMMER: NANTUCKET LANDSCAPES

by Marisa Marcantonio

With the weather turning brisk, I often get to thinking of my favorite summer locales. These are the times when I yearn for longer days with sunlight, green leaves on the trees, flowers in bloom, and one of my favorite spots, Nantucket. It may be just 30 miles out to sea, but it is a destination like no other. The Grey Lady has a special place in many peoples heart's, for it's remote setting and tranquil beauty. It has a place in my heart, since going there as a child I have fond memories of driving our hunter green Wagoneer to Great Point, preparing picnic lunches with Portugese Bread from The Nantucket Bake Shop, making pottery at the Artist's Association, and eating Bluefish Pate at Straight Warf.
I love Nantucket just as much today, and am happy to say one of the great living landmarks still exists. The Nantucket Looms, an extremely special shop with artwork and items for home, is owned and run by the amazing Liz Winship. It was started in 1968, and is best known for divine loomed, handwoven brushed Mohair throws. I remember would go in there from time to time when in town, and I would wander around and look at the now iconic oil paintings of boats with red sails. My sister worked there summers in college. To this day, I still cover one of those Robert Stark Herrishoff paintings, with the magical play of light and shadow, expanse of sea and sky. I know I can go to see Liz if I feel like having a peek, or checking out the work of any of the 50 artisans she carries at The Looms. A few years back they moved to a new location, and can be found at 51 Main Street. Stop in and visit if you are there, and marvel at the world Liz has created.

Known for her ability to capture houses, landscapes and seascapes in a bold, realistic way, Nantucket Islander Joan Albaugh captures the magic hour at dusk.

A red barn contrasts with the dramatic blue sky in a Joan Albaugh from her starkly beautiful Houses series.

A desolate yet beautiful view of a marsh pond in a painting by Jill Coolidge.

A lone Herreshoff sails off in a painting by Robert Stark, Jr.