Recently I ventured down to Jones Street (in Greenwich Village) to tour through Greenwich House. The director, Adam Welch, met us inside the brick building that immediately made me want to throw on my third grade smock and get creative. He gave us the history of the institution he now directs and, where he still clearly has his fingers in a lot of pots. Even while “on tour”, Adam was plastered with questions from students in every studio, seeking to gain insight from his vast knowledge on clay and its properties.
Greenwich House is the result of the settlement house “movement” popular at the turn of the century to provide a sort of community center in poorer (mostly immigrant) neighborhoods in Manhattan. Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch founded Greenwich House in 1902 upon her return from studying in Berlin. Simkhovitch was known as a social reformer of her day, championing women’s suffrage as well as being a member of the Women’s Trade Union League. Greenwich House thrived in the early 1900’s as an active woodworking school, a music school, and hosting theater and pottery workshops. Today Greenwich House remains a proud sponsor of the free expression of art in the community and can boast an impressive list of artists who have passed through its doors including Jackson Pollack, who, according to Welch, dabbled in pottery for a summer before he began famously dribbling with a paint brush.
A wall of lockers greets you as you enter Greenwich House
And there’s a wall of glaze and all the possible variations
The potters’ “guild”… a gritty, glorious contrast to the ladies who lunch
Fantastic studio space
I stalked this woman because she looked so interesting and I loved her outfit…here she is rolling out her clay on the third floor studio
We continued our tour of Greenwich House…I like this setup with the wheel and the tractor seat
I turned the corner and …wait! How did she beat us down to the first floor? Now she’s painting one of her pieces to get it ready for the kiln. She asked me what the pictures were for. I told her The New York Times. She laughed and went back to her painting, “I’ve already been in The New York Times“, she said
One of the kilns filled with finished work
Loved these guys
This is the where they actually “make” the clay. And, I learned, not only are there corridors full of glaze possibilities, there are a lot of varieties of clay which all react differently to heat.
Tools of the trade
Examples of the work done at Greenwich House when it was a woodworking shop in the early 1900’s
An installation in Greenwich House’s gallery space by artist Michael Fujita
A close-up of his work
And another…. incredible amount of detail to his work
Our tour took us to the basement of Greenwich House where we met Derek Weisberg, a Bay Area native, and one of the House’s new Studio Technicians
A finished Weisberg
Derek’s inspiration board
Here’s a shot of another Studio Technician’s desk …clearly he needs a course in anger management… actually Adam told us that he was preparing for a mosaic workshop
I spotted these tiles and thought, “I would really like to do this”… I asked Adam what the process was.. I think he said you xerox an image onto the clay.. and then I remembered, I’d have to pick the right variety of clay and then choose the glaze and the temperature, etc. … I left with a huge appreciation for Adam Welch and the artists at Greenwich House