Pottery on the Hill Goes Virtual

Katherine Maloney. Below: Michael Kline. Images courtesy Hill Center/ Pottery on the Hill

For the first time in eight years, Pottery on the Hill will not take place at the Hill Center.

The annual fall event has showcased potters from around the US in an art fair, expo-style environment since 2012. Due to concerns over the global COVID pandemic and in an effort to remain compliant with DC laws governing public health, the 2020 edition will take place virtually. A benefit auction will kick-off on November 5 followed by the virtual event on November 13.

While virtual in format, the event will maintain its recurring theme of exhibiting functional handmade pottery produced by some of the nation’s most renowned professional ceramicists.

Benefit Auction: Nov. 5-15
Like many cultural institutions around the globe, Hill Center has faced a number of operational challenges as a result of its temporary closure which began in March at the onset of the pandemic.  While Hill Center has slowly bounced back with the help of virtual programming and events limiting the number of in-person attendees, Pottery on the Hill provides an opportunity to raise funds for the Center.

Each potter participating in the year’s virtual event has donated a work to Hill Center’s benefit auction.  Works include everything from shot cups to large vases.  Hosted on Auctria, an online auction platform, buyers can place their bids as early as November 5.  During the ten-day auction period, bidders are notified if they’ve been outbid giving them the chance to place a higher bid. The auction closes on November 15 at which time the winning bidders will be notified.

Also beginning November 5, Dan Finnegan, potter and Pottery on the Hill’s curator since event’s onset, has created 100 mugs which he has donated to the fundraiser.  Finnegan’s commemorative mugs will be sold for $100 apiece.

All of the proceeds from both the auction and the sale of Finnegan’s mugs will benefit Hill Center.

Pottery on the Hill: November 13-15
“Since we had no limitations to the number of potters who could be involved in the show, we decided to invite all the potters who have previously participated in Pottery on the Hill over the years since the first show in 2012,” said Finnegan.

And herein lies the silver lining with this year’s event—in years past, Hill Center could only accommodate a limited number of participants, usually fewer than 20.  This year, thanks to virtualization, Pottery on the Hill will feature 45 potters. In previous in-person editions, only ticket holders who paid in advance could attend opening night offering them first dibs on the potters’ work.  This year, anyone can login from anywhere and access the virtual event on the first day at no cost.

“Moving Pottery on the Hill online is just another example of how, as a small arts and culture organization, we’ve been able to adapt our programming in this new COVID era,” says Diana Ingraham, Executive Director of Hill Center. “The virtual show allows us the opportunity to support the ceramics community which has been critical to making Pottery on the Hill one of the premiere shows in the nation.”

This year’s event is analogous to 45 potters opening their stores simultaneously.  From Friday, Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. through Sunday, Nov. 15, visitors will have the opportunity to log on and visit each of the potters’ stores and purchase work.  Access is granted through the event’s main website PotteryontheHillDC.org beginning November 13 at 5 p.m. Each potter’s online stores uses a separate sales platform like Etsy or Square to process sales so each store will have a slightly different look and feel.

In addition to the 35 Master Potters who have shown at the event before, there are 10 up-and-coming potters who have been apprentices of the more established master potters in the show.  In the last few editions of Pottery on the Hill, attendees may have noticed smaller collections of emerging potter’s work displayed at the expo entrance. This year, emerging potters’ online stores will feature a wider array of work than previously exhibited alongside their mentors.

In past editions, Pottery on the Hill organizers featured live raku-style firing of ceramic objects in outdoor kilns and other types of demonstrations.  Since this year’s edition is completely virtualized, social media will play a central role in providing information about the ceramicists and their process.  The organizers are planning on doing live demonstrations mainly via Instagram and will also feature studio tours and artist chats.

Pottery on the Hill 2020 takes place virtually at www.potteryonthehilldc.com
On Instagram at  @potteryonthehilldc

Events will be held on the following dates:
Pottery on the Hill 2020 | Online Show and Sale | November 13-15
Online Silent Auction and Benefit | November 5-15


Pottery On the Hill Participants

Master Potters:
Richard Aerni
Bandana Pottery:
Naomi Dalglish & Michael Hunt
Mary Barringer

Bulldog Pottery:
Bruce Gholson & Samantha Henneke
Kyle Carpenter
Kevin Crowe
Andrea Denniston
Carolyn Dilcher-Stutz
Dan Finnegan
Warren Frederick
Ryan Greenheck
Richard Hensley
Mark Hewitt
Matt Hyleck
Michael Kline
Matt Krousey
Suze Lindsay
Katie Maloney
Kent McLaughlin
Jenny Mendes
Matt Metz
Lisa Orr
Donna Polseno
Mark Shapiro
Gertrude Graham Smith
Stacy Snyder

Studio Touya:
Hitomi & Takuro Shibata
David Stuempfle
Sam Taylor
Kate Waltman
Catherine White
Julie Wiggins

Emerging Potters:
Camilla Ascher
Christina Bendo
Lauren Braney
Carrie Creech
Jason Hartsoe
Mathew Meunier
Beth SperlazzaJulia Walther
Joel Willson
Sarah-Anne Winchester

Phil Hutinet is the publisher of East City Art, DC’s alternative art source. For more information visit www.eastcityart.com.