• Tom White in his Northfield pottery studio pulls and squeezes a bowl into shape as it slowly spins on his wheel. Staff FILE PHOTO/Paul Franz

  • Tom White Pottery on display at his Northfield Studios on Winchester Road. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Tom White Pottery on display at his Northfield Studios on Winchester Road. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Tom White in his Northfield pottery studio. Staff File Photos/Paul Franz

  • Tom White Pottery of Northfield pieces waiting to be fired a second time. March 30, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 5/7/2020 8:00:33 AM

Each May, potters throughout the Pioneer Valley throw open their doors for the annual springtime Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail, a self-guided tour of nine area studios. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the potters will showcase their work in a different way — by throwing open their doors digitally.

Beginning at noon on Saturday, May 30 until May 31 at midnight, local art enthusiasts can log onto the Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail’s website, apotterytrail.com, to view the work of nine featured artists and purchase their work. Potters will be available to talk on the phone or via video conferencing apps about their work.

Additionally, there will be video demos and real-time video studio tours and personal shopping available at some studios. All of the info and links will be on the pottery trail’s website closer to the event. This year, featured local artists include Shelburne Falls potter Molly Cantor; James Guggina, of Florence; Tiffany Hilton, of Florence; Greenfield potter Lucy Fagella; Mary Barringer, of Shelburne Falls; Stephen Earp, of Shelburne Falls; Donna McGee, of Hadley; Tom White, of Northfield; Francine Ozereko and Frank Ozereko, of Pelham.

Locally, Barringer makes hand-built pottery and sculpture with distinctive textured surfaces reminiscent of stones or ancient implements. Cantor is a functional potter whose work features block-print-like carved designs. She recently opened The Handle Factory in Shelburne Falls. Earp is a Massachusetts Cultural Council “Keeper of Tradition.” White's work bears traces of atmospheric firing with salt, soda and wood. Fagella’s work is influenced by her love of food and gardening.

Per tradition, each artist features the work of a few guest artists.

Guest artists include Julie Wiggins, of Charlotte, N.C.; Sam Taylor, of Westhampton; Kristen Kieffer, of Baldwinsville; Gabrielle Schaffner, of Boston; Tilla Rodermann, of Sommerville; Brenda Hornsby Heindl, of Liberty, N.C.; Arthur Halvorsen, of Chelsea; Cara Taylor, of Easthampton; Steve Theberge, of Florence; Rebecca Verrill, of Portland, Me.; Julie Crosby, of Trumansburg, N.Y.; Doug Peltzman, of Shokan, N.Y.; Jennifer Morier, of Gulford, Vt.; Ben Eberle, of Conway; Michael Kline, of Burnsville, N.C.; Liz Rodriguez, of Easthampton.

The trail, named for a fertile stretch of the Connecticut River valley, annually welcomes visitors from throughout the region and across the country, according to a press statement. Visitors get a behind-the-scenes look into the creative spaces and processes of nine members of the area’s tightly-knit community of potters; to participate in the more personal economy of the handmade; and to be inspired by the sights, sounds and tastes of this culturally vibrant swath of Western Massachusetts.

“I do a lot of traveling to show my work and give workshops and I love the flip side of having people here in my workspace, and in the town and landscape that forms the backdrop for what I make,” said Shelburne Falls potter Mary Barringer about the annual trail. “Each year, the visitors seem to bring a little more energy to the weekend and I think we feed on that.”

On a typical year, the self-guided pottery trail winds along the scenic byways and through the bustling college towns and historic village centers of Western Massachusetts, with distinctive yellow Trail signs guiding visitors to studios clustered in three areas: Northampton and Amherst; Greenfield and the northern valley; and the Mohawk Trail village of Shelburne Falls.

Andy Castillo can be reached at acastillo@recorder.com.

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