By Gail McCarthy
---- — It’s worth a drive to Cape Ann to check out unique artistic creations at a first-ever festival throughout the month of August.
The Cape Ann Ceramics Festival will be held in various locations, including Gloucester, which was again named one of the top 25 Small City Art Destinations by American Style Magazine.
The festival’s mission is to spotlight Cape Ann ceramic artists and increase awareness of the skills and talent present in this historic, scenic and artisan-rich area, according to organizers. Ceramics is an age-old art form dating back thousands of years, but it is always evolving.
“We want to promote an understanding and appreciation for the art of ceramics on Cape Ann,” said Susan Hershey, an organizer.
A free gala opening reception is today, Sunday, Aug. 11, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Cultural Center at Rocky Neck at 6 Wonson St. in Gloucester. The three-week show there is titled “Beauty in Use: Ceramics from Cape Ann, Pucker Gallery & Beyond.”
This inaugural festival is a collaboration between the Pucker Gallery of Boston, showing the work of world-renowned ceramic artists Randy Johnston, Ken Matsuzaki and Phil Rogers, and a number of local and regional potters. Local organizers are Hershey, Jenny Rangan and Seyrel Williams.
Johnston, department chairman at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, has worked in ceramics for more than 40 years.
“He has pursued functional expression and brought a fresh aesthetic vision to contemporary form and has made many contributions to the development of wood kiln technology in the United States,” according to a press release.
Johnston studied with Warren Mackenzie at the University of Minnesota and in Japan at the pottery of Shimaoka Tatsuzo. His works are included in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and other collections.
The next two weekends bring special events, too. The weekend of Aug. 17 and 18 features opportunities visit local studios on The Pottery Trail from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
The last weekend of the festival, from Aug. 23 to 25, features “Art of the Possible: All Clay Inclusive,” a three-day show and sale, at the Cultural Center at Rocky Neck. Free small bowls will be given away during the opening to those who arrive early Aug. 23; the event also features food and music.