Category Archives: Pottery

Pottery, ceramics and objects by Philadelphia ceramic artists

Mae Downs & Co. Shoppe Grand Opening

Mae Downs & Co. Grand Opening, fine home decor, interior design, antiques and vintage

Mae Downs & Co. Shoppe Grand Opening, fine home decor, interior design, antiques and vintage.

Mae Downs & Co. has been operating out of the artist studio building 1241 Carpenter Street for years but now they have taken the leap to opening a lovely shop at 1118 Pine Street in Philadelphia. The studio shared by Brian Campbell, the dish and pottery collector/connoisseur and Kevin McLaughlin, the fabulously creative fabric artist was inviting and inspiring but hard to find in the maze of studios.

Now, with a simply gorgeous storefront window decorated with vintage pottery such as Clarise Cliff pots and Kevin McLaughlin‘s own aspirational handmade pillows, the duo have staked a claim for elegant home decor among the galleries, restaurants and antique stores along Pine Street.

Mae Downs & Co. Grand Opening, fine home decor, interior design, antiques and vintage

Mae Downs & Co. Shoppe 1118 Pine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Quirky yet homey the collection of elegant china, fun vintage finds and handmade pillows and sachets creates an aura of fine living Philadelphians have longed for after existing too long with Swedish flat-packed furniture. The collection isn’t old fashioned at all with a mix of mid-century modern, art deco and 21st century craft proving good design is timeless and desirable.

Mae Downs & Co. Grand Opening, fine home decor, interior design, antiques and vintage

Mae Downs & Co. Shoppe

Kevin McLaughlin‘s handmade strawberry shaped sachets are made with vintage fabrics and stuffed with luscious lavender. Each piece is unique and have even been sold at The Philadelphia Museum of Art gift shop. When DoN visited the workshop during a Philadelphia Open Studio Tour a few years back, Kevin chatted while not missing a stitch as he assembled each berry from fine flannels, linens, wools and re-cycled knits. The sachets are so popular that design maven Brini Maxwell even featured the fine sachets on her popular webpage and YouTube channel.

Mae Downs & Co. Grand Opening, fine home decor, interior design, antiques and vintage

Mae Downs & Co. Shoppe

Each of these gorgeous pillows are handmade by Mae Downs & Co. Shoppe proprietor Kevin McLaughlin and are affordably priced in the low three figure range. Considering the time and effort lovingly put into each piece, these pillows will need to be re-stocked as Philadelphians discover the beauty of these fine American made products.

Mae Downs & Co. Grand Opening, fine home decor, interior design, antiques and vintage

Mae Downs & Co. Shoppe

DoN had the opportunity to chat with shop co-proprietor Brian Campbell and asked about the challenges of opening a small business in these harsh financial times? “Well, the economy has certainly been a challenge. I started by collecting pottery and turned to china, and I started collecting obsessively. And then I found I had too much stuff so I started selling it on ebay and then opened the studio to keep it all and sell. I share the studio with Kevin McLaughlin of Mae Downs and Co., so we had his shop and my storage and we would have open houses but it wasn’t a retail space with little foot traffic.”

Mae Downs & Co. Grand Opening, fine home decor, interior design, antiques and vintage

Mae Downs & Co. Shoppe

Brian Campbell explained, “We wanted a place where people could come and get to us easily. And we found it. ebay worked out when I first started doing it but after America tanked after 2007, sales started going down. The last year or two it’s been on the rise again, there’s definitely, um, people are paying more for things. So, that was kind of a clue that maybe it was time to start thinking of opening a shop. Whenever I go to a shop I ask them, ‘How’s business?’, because in the back of my mind I was always thinking about opening a shop.”

“As I started getting better reports from small shop owners, I thought, ‘OK, maybe it’s time?’, and this kind of fell into our lap. We saw it in the City Paper and we met with the realtor. I stopped in early on my way to work, I have a job at The Mural Arts Program, and we loved it so we applied and they loved what we do and felt really good about what we were doing. And that it would be a good fit for the street. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, we found the space in August, we took the lease beginning September 1st. All we really had to do was paint the floor and then move stuff in, we still have some work we want to do but we want it to be open so people can walk around and not feel like they’re in a museum.”

Mae Downs & Co. Grand Opening, fine home decor, interior design, antiques and vintage

Mae Downs & Co. Shoppe

“I was trying to describe to someone what the feeling was like and the line came up, “Where Sister Parish meets Dorothy Draper“, said Brian Campbell before he was drawn back into the shop to answer questions about the eclectic merchandise by excited shoppers.

Written and Photographed by DoN Brewer

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Peter Cunicelli, 915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

Peter Cunicelli, 915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

Peter Cunicelli915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

Peter Cunicelli, 915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

Peter Cunicelli915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

915 Spring Garden Art Studios hosts an artist’s open studio tour in the Spring and during Philadelphia Open Studio Tours in the Fall. Spike the bikerJeff the photographer and DoN visited the artist’s studio building on a sunny but chilly Sunday afternoon, starting on the fifth floor and working our way through the studios that were open. Frankly by the time we got to the third floor we had been there three hours and we found respite in the lounge area near the old timey caged elevator.  Our art crawling trio realized this was more than could be accomplished in one visit, there is just so much to see and DoN loves interviewing artists which made our visit take longer. But DoN doesn’t like to just pop in and out of studios without engaging the artists in conversation.

Peter Cunicelli, 915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

Peter Cunicelli915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

As a veteran of Philadelphia Open Studio ToursDoN is aware of the extra work required to host guests in your workspace, the least DoN can do is talk to the artists.  And as this series of blog posts attests, there are lessons to be learned.  With a bit of renewed energy the art crawlers went to the first floor to visit the inspiring studio of long time 915 Spring Garden Art Studios, Peter Cunicelli.  Peter is one of the first artists DoN blogged about on DoNArTNeWs way back in October 2008.  Since that time the ceramics artist has moved his studio from an upper floor to the first and the extra effort our weary art crawl crew summoned to visit his art space was well worth it.

Peter Cunicelli, 915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

Peter Cunicelli915 Spring Garden Studio Visit, photograph by Jeff Stroud

Peter Cunicelli, 915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

Peter Cunicelli915 Spring Garden Studio Visit, photograph by Jeff Stroud

Peter Cunicelli explained, “Everything here is hand built, everything’s slab form built, including other than the stand-up vases, that’s much more random.  The vases are more precise, they’re templates.” DoN noted how unique each piece is an asked if the artist ever makes a series of popular styles?  “…some of them, I might do a lot of them, I’m not crazy about the glaze on that one but I might redo it with a more matte glaze.  Sometimes I’ll do multiples just to do multiples, you know, each one gets better.  And other times I’ll do a one off, sometimes they’re too involved and I don’t want to do another.”  The space is beautiful with the aspirational ceramics everywhere, DoN wondered if the artist gets inspired by his own creations?  “I do, I don’t want to sound narcissistic, but a lot of those are pieces I could never sell.”

Peter Cunicelli, 915 Spring Garden Studio Visit, photograph by Jeff Stroud

Peter Cunicelli915 Spring Garden Studio Visit, photograph by Jeff Stroud

“Sometimes it’s because there’s something wrong with them, whether it’s the glaze or a crack, or like the glaze on the green one chipped off.  But I like having them there, it reminds me I keep having to like what I’m doing.  There’s a lot of form up there (referring to a high shelf loaded with various vases) that I like, so I try to reuse it or do something with it.  The really original stuff, almost twelve years old, I would never sell.  I also have them at home, I just like being surrounded by them.  I was never formally trained so I just ran with it. Do you know Doug Herren? He’s Philadelphia, his work is amazing. When I started he was doing very functional work, thrown work and a combination of thrown and hand built.  I love the fullness of his forms and crisp lines, so I started trying in my own way to mimic that, that’s how I ended up developing my own style.  Now he does stuff that’s very industrial, it’s all sculptural, really beautiful work.”

Peter Cunicelli, 915 Spring Garden Studio Visit, photograph by Jeff Stroud

Peter Cunicelli915 Spring Garden Studio Visit, photograph by Jeff Stroud

DoN asked where Peter Cunicelli exhibits?  “Right now, Show of Hands, 1006 Pine Street, but this year I want to get out there, get into some galleries.  It has to be out of my zip code but, Show of Hands has an amazing salesman.  I always admired his eye, he always has amazing stuff.  I went in one day, I was with a friend of mine and I went up meekly to him and asked if knew of any craft shows or does anyone ever bring you work?  He said he does but sometimes artists have delusions of grandeur.  I thought, ‘Alright, I’m going for broke now’, he asked about my work and I said I have a website.  So he went to the website and pulled up one image and went, ‘Gasp!’, and I wanted to say, ‘Delusions of grandeur, eh?'”

Peter Cunicelli, 915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

Peter Cunicelli915 Spring Garden Studio Visit

“So he said to me to bring six pieces, then I got a call asking for nine pieces, and then ten.  I think I brought in eleven pieces the first time, he’s a salesman, a really good salesman. Most of the pottery he has in there is very traditional, so mine sticks out.  And I like having that, I like it being different. I don’t want to be the best, I always say I want to be the bottom of the barrel because I want to be surrounded by greatness, but the ceramic work there is very good and very traditional.  Which is nice, and I think it’s one of the reasons he’s able to sell it, it’s a good place, he’s got good craft.”

Peter Cunicelli told DoN that he has yet to sell anything from his website, using it as a portfolio of his work.  He also used social media, like e-mail newsletter and FaceBook, to advertise the open studio.

Read more about 915 Spring Garden artists:

Katya Held 

Anne Saint Peter

Eric Hall 

Laura D. Adams

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted

Thank you to Contributing Photographer, Jeff Stroud

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Kevin Lehman, The Need for Fundamental Change @ University of the Arts, Hamilton Hall Public Arts Initiative

Kevin Lehman, The Need for Fundamental Change @ UArts Hamilton Hall Public Arts Initiative

Kevin Lehman, The Need for Fundamental Change @ University of the Arts, Hamilton Hall Public Arts Initiative, Broad and Pine Streets, Philadelphia.

DoN walked past the sculpture vitrines in front of the University of the Arts and it appeared one of the sculptures had been pulled loose.  It was January 3rd and the Mummers Parade crowd can get pretty rowdy, generally Philadelphians are art friendly but you never know.  DoN felt anger and disgust that someone had damaged a public art piece, especially since some very beautiful and ephemeral pieces have graced the vitrines over the years with no vandalism.

But, this piece looks like it was moved across the plaza.  In the light of day the reality of the installation came together – the sculpture had actually pulled itself loose from it’s mooring near the grand stairs to the Temple and crawled to the garden wall leaving a trail of wire and debris behind.  In the garden, pod-like ceramic pots are birthing televisions and computer monitors, while the master motherboard hovers nearby protecting the brood.  Smaller pots have already invaded the farther reaches of the Japanese-ish stone garden connected by umbilical cords of red wire to the mother pods.  Kevin Lehman‘s studio is in Lancaster PA.

Kevin Lehman, The Need for Fundamental Change @ UArts Hamilton Hall Public Arts Initiative

Kevin Lehman, The Need for Fundamental Change @ University of the Arts Hamilton Hall Public Arts Initiative.

Kevin Lehman, The Need for Fundamental Change is the artist’s MFA Thesis Exhibition through January 15th, 2012.  For more information on the Hamilton Hall Public Arts Initiative contact jgirandola@uarts.edu

Kevin Lehman, The Need for Fundamental Change @ UArts Hamilton Hall Public Arts Initiative

Kevin Lehman, The Need for Fundamental Change @ University of the Arts Hamilton Hall Public Arts Initiative

Kevin Lehman, The Need for Fundamental Change @ UArts Hamilton Hall Public Arts Initiative

Kevin Lehman, The Need for Fundamental Change @ University of the Arts Hamilton Hall Public Arts Initiative

Photos by DoN Brewer

Kodak Store

www.DickBlick.com - Online Art Supplies

Dunedin, Florida

Dundedin Florida

Steven L. Spathelf created a mural sensation in Dunedin, Florida when the long-time muralist started painting oranges on garage doors late at night ala graffiti tagging or Obey stickers.  Soon the artist started noticing signs on garage doors asking for an orange to be painted there; the community recognized his contribution to the reputation of the art enclave in North Tampa and commissioned the “Welcome to Dunedin” mural.  Currently, Spathelf is working on undersea scene murals for a children’s hospital and managing the artist studios at 608 Vine Avenue, an art center with gallery/studio space for local artists similar to Spring Garden Studios in Philly, The Goggleworks in Reading or the Banana Factory in Bethlehem.

Steven L Spathelf

Mural by Steven L. Spathelf, Dunedin, Florid.  The artist is working on three separate panels simultaneously to be stretched and framed for exhibition in a children’s hospital.  Steven & DoN chatted about how important and calming art is for kids (and grown-ups) who are being wheeled into hospital exam rooms.  Spathelf is very familiar with Philly’s Mural Arts Program since he’s done private and public murals in Florida for decades, it’s not surprising Philly has a good reputation for public art.

Steven L Spathelf

Steven L. Spathelf‘s studio in Dunedin, Florida housed on the second floor of an office building with many solo and shared studios throughout the large art space.  The art scene in Dunedin is integrated into the community just as much as the Baseball Spring Training season with Second Friday events, lectures and art events happening though out the village.

Dunedin, Florida

Steven L. Spathelf of Sterling Art Studios, 668 Vine Ave., Dunedin, Florida.

Dunedin Fine Art Center

The Dunedin Fine Art Center is the hub of the art scene with workshops, galleries and exhibits in a modern, thoughtful art center designed to draw the community together with art.  The center has galleries for special shows, faculty exhibits and most importantly student show spaces with professional lighting and installation.

Dunedin Fine Art Center

DoN regrets he doesn’t have the artist info on this piece but it reminded him so much of work by the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers with the use of old bundt pans, their memetic nostalgia vibrating with the wacko sculpture.  Visiting the art center in Dunedin really made DoN homesick but a studio/gallery near the Gulf of Mexico is really attractive.  The artists DoN spoke with all praised the support they’ve received from the public and their community; art is the glue that holds a town together, creating conversation, developing personalities and opening lines of communication.

Dunedin Fine Art Center

Jo Schmidt, 3 Feathered Friends, acrylic @ Dunedin Fine Art Center.

Dunedin Fine Art Center

Mary E. Haas, The Dream, stone @ The Dunedin Fine Art Center.

Dunedin Fine Art Center

Barbara Kampe, Tu Jest Przyjemny Widok, acrylic and Carol Y. Bardes, Incan Kitchen, colored pencil in the hall of the Dunedin Fine Art Center.  The art center used all viable space to exhibit art without seeming crammed.

Dunedin Fine Art Center

Student gallery @ Dunedin Fine Art Center.

Dunedin, Florida

Carol Ann Loven, River Rock, fiber and Stephen Decaire, In The Drink, mosaic @ The Dunedin Fine Art Center.

Bill Renc - The Painted Fish Gallery

Bill Renc of The Painted Fish Gallery  paints dreamy tropical landscapes from plein air and memory as well as managing a large gallery & frame business.  It’s a wonder the gregarious artist gets any work done since he’s more than willing to chat with all the customers wandering through; even though it was a Monday afternoon there was steady foot traffic through the art district.

Bill Renc - The Painted Fish Gallery

That’s Bill Renc on the left, his colorful painting of the quirky Dunedin street signs is available as print and cards, the informative and fun sign posts point in all directions at once.  The variety of interesting and colorful object, especially all the bright color which feels so alien to DoN‘s city eyes, comment on the lifestyle of the Tampa Bay area.

Bill Renc - The Painted Fish Gallery

Bill Renc of The Painted Fish Gallery in Dunedin Florida.

Ira Burhans - Clay & Paper Gallery

Ira Burhans ceramics at Clay and Paper Gallery of Art are award-winning collectibles with avid clients, the ceramicist sells his work wholesale!  Yet also manages a lovely gallery and interacts with his collectors.  Burhans was familiar with the Philly art scene since he comes to trade shows here but the warmth and clear light of Dunedin is a great place to make art.  The gallery represents about 25 local artists as well as Ira’s beautiful pots.  If you’re ever in Tampa, DoN recommends visiting this enclave of art culture in the midst of beach life, it’s a great mix.

199 “Small Worlds” @ The Plastic Club

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Sibylie Pfaffenbichler, Sailor on Leave, oil.  The artist explained to DoN her inspiration came from the forties and the famous images of sailors returning home.  The painting is so exuberant, vibrant and distinctive it really makes you wonder why we don’t dance in the street when our soldiers make it home.  Pfaffenbichler is chair of The Philadelphia Sketch Club‘s Annual Flower Show.

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Paul Davis Jones, Enigma, acrylic.

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Gail Morison-Hall, The Burning Bush, mixed media & Elise Arnold, Untitled One, acrylic.  With 199 works of art, Small World @ The Plastic Club would have been even bigger if more artists understood that presentation is half the battle, the exhibitions committee refused several pieces (DoN spotted a few suspect entries who passed muster).

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Nick Brown, Orange Juice Cup & Mug, stone ware.  Brown brings unfired pottery to life study workshops at The Plastic Club and sketches directly onto the clay, often you can hear him scratching grooves into the design to prevent the glaze from spreading when applied.  The resultant objects are like ancient vessels found at an acheological dig – future meets ancient.

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Lee Mamaluy, Popping Blooms, oil, Kathryn Russo, At Ease, mixed media and Jeanne Chesterton, Dots, oil.

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Robert Stauffer‘s photograph, Thorazine Can Kill The Human Spirit, with broken glass in a mirror lined shadow-box frame is like a history of modern art all mushed up like DuChamp meets Warhol meets Ansel Adams.  The broken glass reads like disaster, the desert scene feels like being stranded and the infinite reflections on all sides have secret hidden images to uncover.

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

 Alden Cole, Now n Then #3, Mother & Child, wax/clay, 2010 & 1964.

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Bob Makoid, Avian Capers,markers.  Makoid told DoN this drawing is extra special to him because his kids surprised him by having the design made into a stained glass window.

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Michele Jenkins, New Glasses, oil.  DoN LoVeS this painting!  Timeless, super-fun, nostalgic, funny, happy and executed with aplomb.

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Anders Hansen, Earth Goddess, ink/watercolor, Lois Schlachter, Queen of the Night, acrylic and Joseph De Fay, The Cafe’, ink-jet print.

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Lois Schlachter, Balloon Release, acrylic.  DoN appreciates Lois’ combination of real & unreal, abstract & illustrative, signs & significations – cool.

Small Worlds @ The Plastic Club

Alan Clawans, Small Shed, photograph, DoN Brewer, light being (Farrah Fawcett), photograph (it’s not DoNArTNeWs without some DoN news), Sylvia Schreiber, White Flower, acrylic, Susan Wierzbicki, Saim, acrylic and Elise Arnold, Cats, acrylic.  DoN is so pleased to have his entries placed so strategically in the beginning, #3, and the end, #196 – the magic of 3.

Photos by DoNBrewerMultimedia Photography.