The Wheel of Fortune is a turning wheel. When our fortunes are up, we must be careful not to get complacent because the wheel can turn at any time. But then again, when our fortunes are down, we don’t have to despair or become despondent because the wheel can turn again and we will once more find ourselves on top.
There’s been a lot of wheel-turning, both actual and metaphoric, going on at East Cotter Street because that’s where the Potters on Cotter studio has been located for five years. It’s a working pottery studio, which means the items that are on display and for sale there were made there. The studio is one of the few shops in Port Aransas with ware made from scratch (Glass Art Studio is another.) The cute bright pink building was once the office of Dr. Sharp. Although it’s definitely the site of much industry, one of the things owner Brenda Barnett delights in is that people love to come by and just hang out, soaking up the good creative vibes.
Brenda has been working with clay for decades, in California and even Australia. She had a stoneware pottery studio in Illinois for 25 years before coming to Port Aransas and opening Potters on Cotter with her then husband. She focused on finishing, glazing and “hand-building” from slabs of clay while he did the “throwing” — building up roundly-symmetrical works on the revolving potter’s wheel.
The Potters on Cotter were pottering, err, puttering along very nicely and then the Wheel of Fortune turned. Brenda’s partner left to pursue other interests. Brenda was left with the studio but no one to throw pots, a skill she’s still learning to master.
And the Wheel of Fortune turned again as the art community came to the rescue! The Port Aransas Art Center was very supportive. Even better, clay artists came out of the woodwork to revive a skill that had lain fallow in their lives or to discover a heretofore unknown talent. Before long, Brenda found herself with a team of production potters, artists who would create a dozen or so items that are more or less similar. They’re dried or fired and then Brenda glazes them, often with the soft, pastel “beachy” colors for which the studio is becoming known. Potters on Cotter is now a community of artists. Brenda plans to work her small rental property behind the studio into the scenario, trading room and board for pottery production.
She’ll continue to design but is also branching out, bringing in Raku pottery. Here, fired items are removed from the kiln while hot and smothered in ashes, paper or woodchips. This creates a unique appearance. She’ll be working on jewelry with her daughter-in-law and also wants to put more time into her photography. Examples of the local scenes she shoots can be seen in the shop’s photo cards which are popular items. She wants to hold workshops and have guest artists, like her mentor/friend from Australia.
“Change has been good for Brenda,” she says as she talks enthusiastically about being a sole proprietor who is also part of a collaborative environment. “The Potters on Cotter are going strong!”
To mark the studio’s June 9 anniversary she’ll hold a mini-ArtWalk celebration, with pottery demonstrations, food, sale items, musicians and displays of works by other local artists like folk artist Nancy Hyder. Brenda was also one of seven ceramicists featured in the June 1, 2102 First Friday exhibition and reception at the Port Aransas Art Center. Her work will be on display there all month.
(Speaklng of the Port Aransas Art Center, put the July 6 First Friday on your calendar. In addition to the exhibit of the winners of the Coastal Bend Wildlife photo contest, I’ll be on hand to sign copies of The Lost King, which you can now find at the Art Center. Sales of my book help to benefit the Port Aransas Art Center.)
For more information about the Potters on Cotter, contact Brenda Barnett at 361-749-7712. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or just stop by the studio at 413 E. Cotter Ave. It’s open for sure from 10 a.m. to 5:00ish p.m. every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when it’s open “by chance.” I’ll see you there.