The St. Croix Valley of Minnesota and Wisconsin is home to dozens of regionally and nationally known ceramic artists. The roots of this clay culture started with Warren MacKenzie, a potter who established his practice in Stillwater, MN in the 1950s. MacKenzie was an influential presence, teaching for decades at the University of Minnesota. Many of his students (and students’ students!) are renowned potters in their own right, and have established studios in the St. Croix Valley region of Minnesota and Wisconsin. During Take Me to the River, these potters will open their studios to the public and invite guest artists to display and sell their work too. Visitors shouldn’t miss the opportunity to meet these women potters, learn about ceramics in the St Croix Valley and snag some beautiful handmade pieces!
Jan McKeachie Johnston of River Falls, WI is known for her distinctive baskets, boxes, and folded vases as well as plates and bowls that are perfectly scaled for the table. Jan’s pots are strong, decorated simply with bold brush strokes, earthy glazes or the rich effects of the wood kiln. With her spouse Randy Johnston, Jan is one the hosts of the Western Wisconsin Pottery Tour at their idyllic home and studio.
Marjorie Wade (Afton, MN) has been making pots since 1998, when she immersed herself in the clay culture of the St. Croix Valley. Since then she has established Spiritworks Pottery, which is inspired by pottery from Africa and prehistoric Japan. Marjorie’s work practice demonstrates the communal and collaborative nature of ceramics, as she frequently participates in large scale wood firings at Jan McKeachie Johnston’s studio.
Find Jan and Marjorie’s work at McKeachie-Johnston Studios:
N8336 690th St, River Falls, WI
Sept. 21-22, 10 AM – 5 PM and Sept. 23, 10 AM – 5 PM
Ani Kasten’s ceramic pieces have a gritty, deconstructed quality. Stripes and ridges feature prominently in her cups, bowls, jars and boatlike vessels. Often white and black with occasional pops of color, Kasten’s work takes cues from sculptural traditions as much as pottery traditions, with other materials such as wood and metal appearing in the work. Ani is based in Shafer, MN.
Sarah Dudgeon’s bold patterns shine brightly on her warm, wood fired functional pots. Playful plant motifs and spirals decorate stout lidded jars, tall mugs and footed planters and vases. Her studio is located in a turn-of-the-century general store in Amery, WI, which she established in 2001.
Find Ani and Sarah’s work at the Peter Jadoonath Backyard Pottery Sale:
30208 Tern Ave, Shafer, MN
Sept. 21-23; 10 AM – 5 PM
Olivia Jenson (White Bear Lake, MN) has the distinct experience of working in the studio with Warren MacKenzie, who continues to make pots every day. Her wheel thrown pots take cues from MacKenzie’s style and aesthetic—lovingly nicknamed “mingei-sota”—referencing the Japanese tradition of mingei crafts, which emphasize the beauty in everyday objects.
Alana Cuellar is from Caracas, Venezuela and has lived in the St. Croix Valley since 2016. While she has only been making pots for a few years, Alana grew up with a potter father and has been using and looking at ceramics her whole life. She enjoys playing with textures and incorporating some hand building elements into her wheel thrown, functional pots. Alana’s studio practice is based in Shafer, MN, where she works with her father Guillermo Cuellar.
Find Olivia and Alana’s work at Guillermo Cuellar’s Fall Sale on the St. Croix Trail:
18855 263rd St, Shafer, MN
Sept. 21-23; 10 PM – 5 PM
Women potters can be found all across the valley during Take Me to the River:
- Mary Jo Van Dell Studio – Judd Street Exchange: Andrea Leila Denecke
- Zac Spates Studio: Liz Pechacek
- C. Rolf Studio: Kristin Pavelka
- Wayne Branum & Mark Pharis Studio: Candice Methe Hess
- McKeachie-Johnston Studio: Lisa Buck, Kate Fisher, Rhonda Willers