The Gallery: Where Art and Artist Collide

Dorothy Kelley, Curator, 573-783-5609

The Gallery located at 101 E. Pinckney Street, just off Whitener Street behind The Reagan Hotel, was born out of the need for a venue to promote the work of Nature Photographer, Kevin Ward. Kevin, who has staged successful shows at Marbles Gallery in Lafayette Square, and The Nature Center in Cape Girardeau, has an impeccible eye for flora and minute details that most of us walk past every day.

After staging several exhibits of his work, the team of Ward & Kelley discussed the need to promote the work of other local and regional artists to showcase the unbelievable impact Visual Art can have on one’s existance, and the region in which one lives. Today, exhibits rotate every 2-3 months, and the venue has been home to the work of Textile Artists, Sculpturs, Artifact Collectors, Photographers, Painters, Jewelry Craftsmen, and even Children’s Art. Themes have ranged from Indian Artifacts, to Wedding Photography & Ensembles Past & Present – featuring well known local Photographer Russ Middleton, to Modernism portrayed by Artist Abril Borrego, to the exceptional Watercolor & Oil works of Kathryn Breitenstein, to “Ebru” The Art of Turkish Marbling by Trey Copeland, Amazing Photography by Channel 12’s Weatherman, Brian Alworth, the work of Multi-talented Teacher and Artist, Jan Chamberlain, Landscapes of the Ozarks by Butler County Artist, Michael Phelps, and The Seasons of Flowers by Marble Hill native, Dodi (Ricketts) Conrad, who closed the 2011 Season at The Gallery with her amazing work. And the list goes on…..

With natural light pouring into the vaulted room, the space is captivating to Art enthusiasts of all ages. Regardless of the medium the exhibit is supporting at the time of visit, you are sure to capture the true aesthetic value. The Gallery is FREE of admission and commission. 100% of all sales are returned to the artist. Each exhibit is complemented with theme appropriate furnishings and Objects de'Art.

The Potter & Her Pottery: The ARTistry of Karen Mohan

“It was out of sheer boredom and curiosity that I walked into Raven Mad Pottery Studio in Palmer, AK in 2003, rented a pottery wheel and sat alongside the owner, Johnny, and one other potter named Georgianna,” explained Mohan as she delivered boxes filled with her creations to The Gallery. “I spent a year there, learning the wheel, attempting to pull a pot, compress a rim and trim a foot. A great deal of the clay I worked with ended up in a recycling pile, but I could even then sometimes surprise myself,” she said with a chuckle.

As an avid collector of stoneware and pottery, needless to say I was more than intrigued by the ARTistry of Karen Mohan; The Potter and Her Pottery. Through reading her bio, I learned that Karen next enrolled in a six-week long “wheel” class that was advertising in a local paper while still residing in Alaska. This was in the winter of 2004. An excerpt from her bio, which reads like a page from a cherished diary, gives a detailed accounting of that experience: “I drove what seemed like miles and miles in the dark along desolate, snow-covered roads to a wide spot with ten parked cars. The area is a boreal forest: wet, swampy, treed, and heavy in the winter. The walk was a raised wooden path that led toward a lit, primitive building hidden deep in the trees. A wood-burning stove was used to heat water in a large tub that was perched atop it’s radiant frame. The water would be needed for the class. Inside the room, there were both electric and foot powered potter’s wheels. The instructor was a giant man, with a mud-covered apron and beard to match. It was at this studio that I threw the largest bowl I have ever thrown in my potter’s career. I failed, however, to compress the rim enough, so there is now a crack in the vessel. I love that crack, as it reminds me of how far I have come.”

In 2005, another physical move brought Karen and her husband, Jim, to Farmington, MO. She landed, as an Artist, on her feet with her needle tool, wire loops and sponges in hand, along with an extreme curiosity about Slab-built Pottery. At this point in her creativity, Karen could see no horizon. The possibilities held by the clay seemed endless, and proposed no limitations for a creative mind, while in fact there were many dead ends, most of which she found the hard way through trial and error. It was at this crossroad that Mohan needed to define her personal tastes and bring them into her work. In her bio, she states: “I have a love for modern lines, geometric shapes, and most things funky, plus an eye for asymmetrical balance, and I will always be chasing the talent for glaze, surface decoration, and texture in the objects I create.”

At this stage in her creativity, Mohan notes that she spent some time in the presence of the late Ron Aubuchon in his pottery studio, and took some classes at the Craft Alliance in St. Louis, MO, but mostly, she says, “I’ve just played in the mud!”

When asked about her fascination with tea pots, Karen commented: “The first teapot I made was from a picture in a book. It turned out pretty good, and since then my imagination has grown a lot of confidence. I get some of my inspiration from modern buildings. You see, buildings hold people.. have entrances.. and have roofs, where teapots hold water... have spouts… and have lids. So, you see, building a teapot allows me to forget about function, and focus creatively on form.” When asked what else inspires her teapot design, Mohan noted that she also finds elements of modern furniture inspiring, especially the finite legs and base of pieces from that period.

The Gallery, located at 101 E. Pinckney Street in Marquand, will showcase the work of Karen Mohan during the months of March, April and May. Gallery hours are Friday – Sunday, 12:00 – 4:00, or by appointment (573-783-5609). There will be a “Meet The Artist” Reception on Saturday, March 18 from 1:00 – 3:00.