Silver City CLAY Festival runs from July 16 – 21!
Written by Jackye Meinecke
It’s time for summer fun. Wouldn’t it be a lark to play in the mud and get your hands dirty? Or take a trip to the mountains for respite from the desert heat. Escape for food, fun, history, and a change of scenery.
Get your hands dirty and find all kinds of fun in Silver City at the CLAY Festival, which runs from July 16-21. Enjoy workshops, demonstrations, and lectures on using clay in everything from construction to contemporary ceramics, take home a work of art, or add a book or two to your home library from the CLAY Market. CLAY also offers tours of a handmade tile factory and the Gila Cliff Dwellings, live music, juried exhibitions, and more. Best of all, there are numerous opportunities to play in the mud.
Lee Gruber, who describes herself as an entrepreneur, created CLAY Fest seven years ago. “I hope people will spend several days in Silver City,” she says. “Each day something is happening. It’s pretty exciting.”
I attended this festival in its early years, and my favorite experience was the tour of Syzygy Tile where the artisans make decorative tiles by hand. Visitors follow the process from huge blocks of clay to forming and stamping designs in the clay to glazing to firing. These specialty tiles are sold nationally. Syzygy will again offer free tours to visitors from 8am-5pm, Monday through Friday.
CLAY Festival 2018 features nationally recognized ceramicist Julia Galloway, who is offering a two-week workshop on ceramics; serving as juror for this year’s juried exhibition “Only A Vessel;” and presenting a lecture. Julia is a utilitarian potter and professor of art at the University of Montana. She has exhibited widely across the United States, Canada, and Asia, and her work is in major museums and private collections. Her work has been published in numerous ceramic magazines as well as in 15 books.
Julia is one of several CLAY Fest artists to offer workshops and lectures. Workshops range in price from $30 to $300 and are presented by Julia Galloway, Zoe Wolfe, Noreen Simplicio, Patricia Castillo, Romaine Begay, Carly Quinn, and Herbie Marsden. Many of these workshops give the participants a chance to get their hands dirty while they learn new techniques.
For those of us who couldn’t create a decent rope pot, lectures expand on the history, art, and development of ceramic arts. Numerous artists, including Robert Briscoe, Marko Fields, and Dr. Lea McChesney and Karen K. Charley present lectures during CLAY Fest. These events cost $10.
There also are free events for children and families, including the CLAY Rodeo and MudFun. MudFun happens on Saturday in the Downtown Historic District. During MudFun, children decorate and adorn a wire and wood armature of a turtle with clay pieces. The CLAY Rodeo, also held Downtown, features a competition that invites anyone to sit at a potter’s wheel and go for a record of largest pot, or make a piece blindfolded, or whatever competitors propose to try.
On Saturday, July 21, stroll through the juried CLAY Fest Market at the 700 block of Bullard Street for colorful finds of decorative and utilitarian ceramics and other clay-related items directly from CLAY artists! It is an outdoor, fun-filled, all-ages Saturday morning event that takes place in conjunction with the Silver City Farmer’s Market.
Don’t miss the Farmer’s Market with its fresh baked goods, organic vegetables, native plants, and crafts. As a gardener, this is one of my favorite markets because it has multiple native plant growers. I’ve found some blooming treasures for my garden here.
Western New Mexico University Museum is home to one of the largest collections of ancient Mimbreño pottery. In honor of CLAY Fest, on July 20 from 1pm-4pm, the museum will be opening their renovated space to allow CLAY Fest visitors to see this collection and some of the restoration of the museum building.
Silver City has a reputation as an artists’ community. Allow some time to visit local galleries, restaurants, breweries and coffee shops. Don’t worry, no one will mind a bit of clay on hands or clothes.
Entrepreneurship for Creatives Workshop Series
CLAY Fest 2018 adds its first-ever series of business training workshops for artists. The Entrepreneurship for Creatives Workshop Series will cover marketing, finances, and business plans. Several successful clay entrepreneurs, as well as representatives from the Small Business Development Corporation, the Western New Mexico School of Business, and the marketing-for-creatives consulting firm Calindo will run these sessions.
The series will be held from July 16-21, features six workshops, and costs $225. Go to clayfestival.com for more information or to register for the series.
For details on the workshops, speakers, registration, and fees, and to preregister for specific events and courses visit: clayfestival.com