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Domestic poetry: Pop-up shop features unique combination of artistic concepts

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Dec 4, 2020

Susannah Buckles, of Shenandoah Junction, sips wine and browses inside of Bistro 112 on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — An appreciation for practical art and poetry led Rohrersville, Md.-based potter Hunt Prothro to develop his Domestic Poetry Weather Series. The pieces in this series feature embedded poetry and designs inspired by the Paleolithic cave sites in southern France.

“In the last couple years, I’ve been looking at a couple of layered themes of using language, embedded as script, into my work,” Prothro said on Saturday afternoon, near the end of his two-day Holiday Pop-Up Shop in Bistro 112. “The pieces in this series are all connected with real life — the difficulties of life.”

While pottery does have certain techniques that must be followed, the final result of Prothro’s creative process is always, whether it is with this or another series of his work, “unpredictable.”

“It’s chaos in the distribution of shape and form,” Prothro said of one bowl, featuring gray pebbles embedded into its exterior. “I don’t always know what the piece is going to look like when I’m making it. I have some idea, but nothing definite.”

According to Prothro, holding the pop-up shop in the former location of his favorite Shepherdstown restaurant — of which he had been a longtime patron — fulfilled a persistent dream.

Potter Hunt Prothro, left, talks with Lea Bigelow, as her husband, B. Stanley, and their eight-year-old daughter, Charlotte Stanley, look around the pop-up shop on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

“I have had shows in Shepherdstown over the years, but I’ve always wanted to hold a pop-up shop,” Prothro said, mentioning his friendship with Bistro 112’s owner, Deb Tucker, led him to consider the space as a possible shop location. “I knew Deborah and knew she was closing, and thought this venue would be the ideal place [for it]. The space is appropriate for my existing stands and work.”

For Tucker and her former patrons, opening the building back up to the public for the weekend felt something like a “last hurrah.”

“This is a one-time deal — I just did it for him, as my friend,” Tucker said, estimating she’s known Prothro for eight of the nine years her restaurant was in business.

Another of her longtime customers, who patronized her restaurant since its opening in 2011, was Boonsboro, Md.-based photographer Jason Nicholson. Nicholson spent a number of hours at the pop-up shop on Saturday, hanging out with Tucker, Prothro and other former patrons.

“I, too, met Deborah here — I met her right after she first opened!” Nicholson said, as he relaxed near the bar. “This might be the Bistro’s last hurrah, in terms of when this is sold. We don’t know if it will be a restaurant again!”

This vase is one of the pieces in Hunt Prothro's Domestic Poetry Weather Series. Tabitha Johnston

Without being on the Bistro 112 mailing list, Nicholson said he likely would have not known about the art show, to come to it. While he was glad to spend time in Bistro 112 again, he said he was also enjoying viewing Prothro’s artwork.

“I always like to help support fellow artists,” Nicholson said. “He’s very talented!”

To set up an appointment to view Prothro’s studio gallery at 20100 Millbrook Road in Rohrersville, email rhuntprothro@gmail.com.