Friday, January 21, 2011

"Art Roamings" in The Island Times January Edition

Suffice to say that I am over the moon about this lovely article about Peg's Pots, etc. that came out in January Edition of The Island Times. For you lovers of Peaks Island, I suggest you subscribe by sending your info and $25 check to The Island Times, 120 Brackett Avenue, Peaks Island, ME 04108. Such a special treat and keeps you up on what is happening on the island while you are away! It has taken me a while to get the copy from the article to share. Here it is:

Earth, Wind, and Fire

By Jamie Hogan

“Peaks Island is the belly button of the universe,” said Peg Astarita recently, one of her many signature quips. Peaks is a community with unpredictable connections, no doubt. And a creative one, at that. The Art Walks have established over a dozen studios open to the public, allowing visitors to see where art is made. But only one welcomes people to create their own work. Peg Astarita’s website ( says “open for fun” and that sums up her approach.

“I try to be flexible for whatever people’s needs are,” said Peg. She’s hosted mosaic parties, ornament making, held outdoor barrel firings in her yard, and joined figure drawing groups with wet globs of clay. While everyone else’s pencils are shading the form on paper, Peg is fingering a form into being.

A native of West Texas, Peg and her family moved every few years, with her father in the oil business. “It’s the nature of that field, they’re always looking for new resources. I was always saying goodbye to friends,” she said.

Peg earned a business degree from the University of Texas in Austin and met her partner, Art Astarita at Sun Oil while both worked in Dallas. During the hot summer of 1980, they moved to the east coast of Borneo, staying for four years before returning to Texas for a three year stint. They lived and worked in Jakarta for the next seven years.

Art told Peg stories about Peaks Island, where his family had summered for decades. In October of 1994, the pair moved directly from Jakarta to Peaks Island and cleared land on the northern tip of the island. They camped on the land and began building a geodesic dome house.

“We were doin’ the dream thing,” Peg said.

In 2001, she took her first pottery class at Portland Pottery with two other island friends.

“I’ve been there ever since,” she said. “I take classes to have access to 50 pounds of clay and a high fire kiln, and to see other people’s work. It’s a wonderful deal. Seeing what other people do is very stimulating. You see it all there.”

Two years later, Peg and Art finished a spacious room over the garage. She received a free pottery wheel from a friend in Portland, Oregon about the same time that a kiln came her way via another friend’s uncle.

“It was divine intervention. I heard every word Divine was telling me,” said Peg. She established her pottery studio, Peg’s Pots, etc. in 2003. She began participating in island craft fairs and finding buyers for her earthy bowls, mugs, and butter dishes. She delights in all natural shapes, creating functional ceramics with an embedded spirit, such as birds, whistles, drums, fish vases, goddess figures reaching to the sky.

About five years ago, Peg started teaching a group of homeschooled children in her studio, and hosting parties. She has on hand a variety of bisqueware pieces, clay slip that has been formed in plaster molds and fired once. Visitors can paint these with glazes, and Peg fires them again after giving them a clear glaze.

Recently she hosted a dozen 13 year-old girls for a birthday party. Eda French of Portland said, “I loved working at Peg’s pottery! It was sooo much fun! Peg was super nice and very helpful. It was nice that I could choose a piece of pottery and paint whatever I wanted. I also loved Peg’s doggy!” (Peg and Art’s English sheephound, Sadie, makes regular and exuberant visits to the studio.)

Matt Barnes, who once ran a professional tile-making studio, said, “I don’t know an islander who smiles more. Peg is generous with her time, opinions, and honesty.” Matt will be using Peg’s studio to complete a recent commission for ceramic dinnerware. Now that he’s pursuing an education degree, he needs access to pottery equipment on island. He said, “A lot of people say they’re happy to help, but she really takes you up on it.”

Peg’s studio is hidden down a bumpy dirt road, not on anyone’s regular orbit. Tall pines sway around the startling architecture, guarded by a pair of Indonesian sculptures that line the driveway leading to the garage. A collection of clay masks from many cultures hangs by the front door, signaling your arrival at a place where any sort of spirit might move you. As the winter deepens with cold and snow, consider seeking out this rare haven, in which art is not just an object or product, but an experience to be shared, shaped, and given the test of fire.

Y'all come now, y'hear!

Bisqueware for the Gallactic Star Gazers has been postponed until Wednesday January 26th at the Peaks Island Children's Workshop

It is a beautiful wintery day with a snow storm that has been blessing us with snow since sometime last night.  Sadie and I had a ton of fun this morning through the deep snow.  Great start of the day for both of us.  She is now seriously napping and I am catching up, feeling very cozy since the snow covers the windows of the dome and it feels like you are in an igloo.  Off to make a cuppa hot chocolate. Ciao!

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