Category Archives: Member Announcements

Announcements by members of the NMPCA

President’s Letter – Lee Akins

For this President’s Letter, I wanted to tell you a little about myself.

I have served on NMPCA Board for about 5 years and as President since 2015 . My pottery career started with teaching Ceramics for several years in grades K-12 and then teaching in craft centers and on the college level for the past 38 years.  My wife and I built our current house and studio in an old apple orchard in the little village of Rinconada outside of Dixon. 

I joined NMPCA to get to know more clay artists around the state and have the opportunity to participate in workshops and exhibits.  Perhaps you also joined to be able to participate in workshops and shows; if so, we have both coming up soon.

Our annual Celebration of Clay is coming up September 1-2. (See details) Hopefully, you will all enter to have the opportunity to show along side the rest of our membership.

Lee Akins reviewing the results of Tin-foil saggar firing session. Lee led the session at the Ghost Ranch workshop, New Mexico Connections.  From left to right:  Leonard Baca, Lee Akins, Jacquita Beddo, Judy Nelson-Moore.

We also have a full slate of workshops coming to Ghost Ranch. Some of you have been able to come and help get the new temporary space ready. (See details)  The workshops offer something for everyone; plan to attend at least one and maybe more!

Our Annual Meeting in Albuquerque in June offered the chance to share food and images of the membership’s work. We want to welcome three new board members:

Judith Richey, Mike Thornton and Sheri Kotowski.    The group said a fond farewell to Judy Nelson-Moore.  Judy has served on the Board for 13 years and is taking a well-deserved break. We will miss her computer skills and endless dedication to the organization.

Lastly I want to continue providing programs that meet the interests of all the members. NMPCA is a volunteer run organization so if you want something to happen, jump in and help us. We would like to have more informal social get-togethers so let us know if you have any ideas about where and how to have them.   

Hoping to see you at one of our summer activities,

Lee Akins

Bill Armstrong Grant: New deadline, March 15

by Daisy Kates

The TurquoiseTrailSchool_StudentPreparesTileForMuralBill Armstrong Grant, named after a late member of the NM Potters and Clay Artists, is an annual grant of up to $1000 that supports ceramic art education. Over the years awards have been given for funding workshop instructors, supplies, equipment, mural projects, etc.

For example, in 2015, the Dixon Elementary school received a grant award for a cultural enrichment, hand’s-on program, “Pueblo Pottery of the Region”, and the Silver City Clay Festival received assistance with staffing for a Jack Troy salt glaze workshop. In 2014 the award paid for a clay drum-making workshop for the q-Staff theatre group in Albuquerque, and in 2013 the grant monies contributed to the fabrication and installation of a tile mural at the Turquoise Trail Charter School and to the purchase of glazes for a high school ceramics program. In the past we have provided funds for a new potters wheel for a non-profit arts organization, workshops for special needs populations and many other worthwhile projects.

All applicants need to have 501(c)3 status or be an educational institution in New Mexico. The grant application process is not complicated and details can be found on the NMPCA website, Click on Programs…Grant. Site visits are made whenever possible to research the proposals and final decisions are made by the Board. A new deadline of March 15 is now in place, and the decision for the award will be made by June 30.

Please let any organizations or schools that you think might benefit from funding related to ceramic art education know about this grant. You can refer them to the NMPCA website for information.

Notes from the Editor:

Daisy Kates and Penne Roberts have served for many years as the Armstrong Grant Committee.  Their role is to evaluate and prioritize the applications, and make recommendations for award to the Board and membership.

To give you an idea of the kind of programs supported by the Armstrong Grant, here is a list of several years of past awards.

The winner of the 2014 Bill Armstrong Grant was the q-Staff Theatre in downtown Albuquerque. They requested $500 for the materials, tools and firings needed to hold a workshop in making clay drums which will were then used in various theatrical performances. The drums were designed in such a way that they can also be used as wind instruments. The participants will be theatre group members as well as associated group members.

There were two awards provided for the 2013 Bill Armstrong Grant. The primary recipient was the Turquoise Trail Charter School (on North 14, south of Santa Fe). An award of $1,000 was given to the school for the fabrication and installation of a mural in an outdoor courtyard titled “Our Natural Environment.”  A secondary award was granted to the Atrisco Heritage Academy High School in the South Valley of Albuquerque. They received $300 to assist with the purchase of glazes for their ceramics program.

3 organizations received awards in 2011  Tarnoff Art Center, Rowe, New Mexico for the purchase of a potter’s wheel.  Off Center Community Arts Project, Albuquerque, New Mexico for a handbuilt clay class.  Manzano Mountain Arts Council, Mountainair, New Mexico for a handbuilding class.

In 2010, no organizations applied for the Armstrong Grant.  Instead, the organization sponsored two attendees to the NCECA Symposium on Critical Ceramics in the fall of 2010.  One student and one adult were chosen from applications for the scholarships.

Grant Recipients were  1) Placitas community mural project entitled “Protect Our Wildlife Corridors” by Pathways for assistance with a large ceramic wildlife mural; 2) McCurdy School Art Department, and School for ceramic art supplies and equipment for their art studio; and 3) Potters’ Guild of Las Cruces for a workshop.

The 2008 Bill Armstrong Grant was awarded to Ghost Ranch for improvements to the ceramic workshop space. This grant was used to create a level flooring surface in the Pot Hollow work area.

The 2007 Bill Armstrong Grant was awarded to The Camino de Paz Farm School. The school was awarded $500 to hold a six-week (once a week) micaceous pottery workshop that was taught by local artist/potter Camilla Trujillo.

Access Art Studio at The Art Center at Fuller Lodge, Los Alamos

Pojoaque Boys and Girls Club for purchase of wheels. NMPCA coordinated purchase, receiving a special price on two new wheels.

NMPCA President’s Letter

The President’s Letter has been a long standing feature of the NMPCA Slip Trail newsletter and serves to keep members informed as to NMPCA activities and requirements.  Here is the latest edition by President Leonard Baca:

Hello fellow potters, artists and connected souls!

2015 Annual Meeting of NMPCAAfter a busy winter, I just got into the studio last month, and look forward to having more time to be creative. Talking to fellow members and following them on facebook, everyone’s schedule is in full swing, with special projects, creating new work and getting ready for summer shows.
Check out the calendar to see what we have coming up this year. If you have been keeping up with the eNews, you know that The Celebration of Clay is August 14 – September 19, so get ready! Gloria Gilmore-House is this year’s coordinator, and Judy Nelson-Moore has graciously offered to be the co-coordinator. Check out the wonderful articles about this event in The Slip Trail! I hope every member will display a piece in this year’s show. I have enjoyed helping out in the last three show, and will continue to support our members.

Last year we did not have a V-camp workshop at Ghost Ranch, and the regulars who attend, (myself included) felt something was missing. Giving back through volunteering is an extremely rewarding experience! Barbara Campbell has set up the V-camp this month from May 15-17. It was a big hit the first week it was posted in the eNews. Check the website for available openings soon, as they are filling up quickly!

Also this year, we’ll be having our fall workshop at Ghost Ranch, September 11-13. Debra Frits will be this year’s presenter, sharing with us her incredible techniques that make her work so unique and special. Participating in the workshops and being with other members is one of the events I especially enjoy each year, and one of the main reasons for becoming a member.

What else would you like to see? I, for one, would like to see other types of social events, to get together to talk and share, one in Santa Fe and another in Albuquerque. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them. Let’s brainstorm and make something happen!

One of the big changes in The Slip Trail this year is that it has become an online blog. The format is different, but you can still print articles to read and take with you. You can search and view past articles, and the photos just seem to pop out at you! As members, this is your group. We want to know what you’re doing, what gallery shows you attended, and what amazing works you have seen, so please share! Last summer, Sara D’Alessandro had a talk about her sculptural work at CNM. It is amazing to see what she has accomplished, and to witness the changes and inspiration in her work as it has evolved. Please tell us what you have going on, and always be sure to send us your announcements so we can share them with other members.

If you missed last Month’s Clay Olympics, you missed a good time! Casey Pendergast and Andrew McCollom did a great job facilitating this event. I will be posting some photos on the upcoming eNews, as well as on our facebook page, so stay tuned!

Before I close as year has passed by and and on June 6th is the annual meeting. I plan to make some call this week and see if any members would like to join the board. The annual meeting will be in Albuquerque at Business Printing Service, 4316 Silver Ave SE, Time is 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, We will have a full write up on the eNews and post it on facebook.

Leonard Baca does No Hands Throwing at Clay Olympics, 2015, NM Clay
Leonard Baca does No Hands Throwing at Clay Olympics, 2015, NM Clay

Leonard Baca, President


Coming Out of the Art Closet

I never thought to be doing this…coming out of the closet, but finally I have decided to confess my secret.  So, here on the blog, and witnessed by my fellow NMPCA members, I am going to reveal my story:  I don’t sell much clay work.  And, I don’t feel this lessens my work or my stature as an artist.  I have been thinking about how and why I find myself in these circumstances for quite a while and have decided to set down what has led me to this state.

For several years now, I haven’t had regular gallery representation, just a few pieces here and there.  I used to be in a few galleries and had good success.  I also used to do temporary shows/sales events and had success there, as well.  Despite these previous circumstances, a confluence of events over the last several years has led me to a place where I don’t sell much of my clay work.  I hope that by telling my story I will help other artists who don’t sell much, either.

So how did this happen and what is the effect on my art?

Of course, since I don’t sell art, I have to make money in other ways.  I haven’t yet found a method of not bringing in money and still eat, dress, and have a warm, safe place to live.  I have chosen to make money through computer software work, and I am fortunate to have been able to do so for over 45 years to fuel my passion for the clay.  I used to feel like a divided person, devoting considerable energy and time to business and at the same time, considerable energy and passion to the clay work.  Increasing age has blunted the feeling of divisiveness, and I now feel a nurturing relationship between parts of my life, and I credit my art with bringing about this integration.

We refer to different “worlds” … The art world, business world, civilized world, natural world, everyday reality. We fragment and compartmentalize our lives. My art is an expression of my dreams and visions as I attempt to balance and integrate these separate frames of reference. 

I feel I am flying in the face of cultural stereotypes and conventional measures of the successful artist.  I have encountered people who think you are not a “real” artist unless you work at it all the time (to the exclusion of other money-making endeavors).  To that idea, I simply say hooey.  I am also going against the desires of marketing/gallery thinking by NOT making a cohesive “body of work.”  Instead, I make different kinds of things, sometimes widely different, when I feel moved to do so.

When I was selling work on a regular basis, I felt pressure.  I would try to analyze what it is that people wanted to buy and what price they would pay for it and try to make something to meet these expectations, and still feel good about what I was making.  I was always getting strange requests…make me another one like that only in pink.  I would also get strange feedback about the work, like “Your work is too colorful”  “not colorful enough”  “Too painterly”  “Not painterly enough” “Looks like the work of the devil.”  When receiving some feedback, I would either say I don’t DO pink, or I would dutifully struggle to make something in pink.  I never tried to get the devil out, though…actually I try to cultivate that aspect of my work.  I even incorporated into one of my artist statements these sentences:  “Pieces … are like “demons” of change. Joseph Campbell talks about how “demonic” originally meant the dynamic aspects of life…

With the falling away of commercial sales, I don’t have to worry about other people’s perceptions of my work.  I can focus on my best voice and inner demonic, and concentrate on making the work that I was put on this earth to create.  OK, so that makes its own kind of pressure and struggle, but it feels like this is the right kind of imperative.

Conventional thought would say that an artist who doesn’t sell must not be making art that is any “good.”  After thinking about this, I reject it as an absolute valuation of my work.  By external measures, I get positive reinforcement of my art:  I have won several awards for my pieces and I continually get positive feedback about my work.   By internal measures, I find my work now more meaningful and a fulfillment of my best self.  Certainly, the work that I make by my own and other’s evaluations is just as “good” as work by artists who are making more conventional sales.

I have always been somewhat of a rebel against what I am “supposed” to do.  I was “supposed” to have children…well, I decided not.  I was supposed to keep pursuing promotions in the business world until I rose to the highest level…well, despite success in the direction proscribed by society, I dropped out of corporate life to become an independent software consultant.  So, I guess it should come as no surprise that I am unwilling to do the kind of things, make the kind of work, promote myself and the art in the ways that would lead toward more conventional artist success.

This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be happy to sell my work.  I would like to find “happy homes” for my pieces.   If a buyer or gallery approached me to say that they want to buy/represent my work as it is, I would be happy to see that my communication to the world reached sympathetic viewers.    And it is true that I would like my art work to be better known…so that it is not like a tree falling in the forest with no one else around to witness.  Also, I would like to relieve the pressure on my heirs so dispose of so much work after I die.

I applaud other artists who successfully sell their work…I even buy it as much as I can.  However, for myself, I have come to a sense of peace about my current lack of conventional artistic success and bask in the mental richness of possibilities in making the art…so much clay, so many ideas!

Judy Nelson-Moore, Santa Fe,, 2008/2011

A Cornucopia of Clay

Invitation to the Contemporary Clay Fair, Fall 2010

The Albuquerque Journal North/Venue has an article about this weekend’s Contemporary Clay Fair in their North/Venue section titled “A Cornucopia of Clay: 30 Potters put on big show at Contemporary Clay Fair this weekend.”  Thanks to the efforts of Michelle Arterburn and Michael Lancaster, two participants who contributed their time and effort toward publicity, the event is well posted and has the article in the Journal North.  There is also a picture in The Santa Fe New Mexican’s Pasatiempo.  Nice publicity, Michelle and Michael! For directions and a list of participants (with pictures of their work) see the Contemporary Clay Fair website.

Holiday Open House at Rift Gallery

You are invited to join us for our Holiday Open House on December 3, 4, and 5 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) at Rift Gallery in Rinconada from 10am to 5pm each day.

Rift Gallery is located on Highway 68, the main road joining Santa Fe and Taos.  We are about 50 miles north of Santa Fe, and about 20 miles south of Taos.

For information about the gallery, visit