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Artist Talk focuses on potters

By Staff | May 17, 2019

Phil Berneburg shares information about the Washington Street Studio during the monthly Artist Talk held at Charles Town Library on April 9. Toni Milbourne

CHARLES TOWN – The Charles Town Library, which regularly hosts Artist Talks, featured an event last Thursday focused on potters, with Phil Berneburg as the key speaker.

Berneburg, a studio potter, has been practicing the art for over 20 years. He and his partner, Dennis Stark, opened Washington Street Studios in Bolivar, to serve as studio space for artists in the community without a space to create their art.

“We purchased it in 2017 – it’s like a gym for potters,” he said, explaining that artists can pay membership fees to access the studio at any time, similar to a gym membership.

The facility, located at the corner of Taylor and Washington streets in Bolivar, currently has 14 members. The membership is available for experienced artists ages 18-and-older, and offers 24-hour access to shared wheel, hand building and surface decoration studios, as well as bisque firing, and access to the kitchenette, library and lounge.

Berneburg also said an outdoor work space has been added to the studio.

“Our goal is to provide an opportunity for people to continue to grow,” Berneburg said. “We want to provide an environment where people are never bored and never fail to learn.”

The studio offers workshops and space for artists. The classes, Berneburg said, are for all levels of learners. The studio also presents a Potter’s Roundtable on the second Saturday of each month, open to the public. Each of the roundtables focuses on the ceramic arts with topics specific to potters. Topics for upcoming discussions can be found on the studio’s website, www.hfclay.com.

In addition to speaking about the Washington Street location, Berneburg also talked about the goal of providing resources charitably in the community.

“I thought about an organization I wanted to start to help people like teachers,” Berneburg said, mentioning the organization, Artworks for Good, will soon be a 5013 tax exempt organization that serves to assist education and the arts.

According to Berneburg, Art Works for Good sells donated ceramic pieces from various artists to create a fund to support art educators. Proceeds of sales will go toward funding art supplies in local public schools.

“I think that’s excellent,” said Judy Chesley, retired Jefferson County art teacher, who attended the Charles Town Library session.

The work of several potters and sculptors is on display at the library. Those artists include Joy Bridy, Lisa Kovatch, Anne Rule-Thompson, Ren and Pam Parziale, Evie, Lotze, Joan Bontempo, Annette Verna, Joe Campbell, Joan Johnston, Denise Kupiszewski, Loraine Strait and Marianne Cordyack. There is also a special exhibit of the work by potter Kate Brown of San Lorenzo New Mexico.