Wherever I travel, I enjoy visiting historic artists’ homes and studios. While in New York last summer, I had a opportunity to go one better, when I was invited to visit master potters Jim and Lala Howard in their home studio, and observe Lala at work. Jim and Lala have lived and worked together on the woodsy outskirts of Croton-on-Hudson, New York for more than thirty years. Their joyful collaboration—in life and in art—is an inspiration.
Working in harmony
The artists have very different, but complementary styles. Jim was originally a sculptor, and he has a sculptor’s sensibility in his specialty, making raku ware using the ancient Japanese technique. German-born and trained Lala apprenticed in the salt-glaze pottery village of Adendorf on the Rhine, and likens the German word ‘ton’, or sound, to her work with clay. She is always seeking “the magic of tone”.
As Lala puts it,” the mountains came down to us and through friction, force, heat, cold, water and time became clay. Now we potters are raising it back to the mountains.”
“We’re in a new phase now,” Jim adds, “getting richer in colors, using more glazes, creating different feelings.”
Still, it’s the humanity that shines through in both Howards’ work. “We’re developing toward making a good pot” Jim says—one that represents the whole human being.”
Living with nature
After breakfast, we stepped out onto the deck overlooking the garden and took in the quiet vista. As we stood there, an enormous hawk swooped from a high perch and strutted his stuff before us in the grass. It was a magical moment, one that the Howards treasure and were happy to share with their guests.
Private shows and public exhibitions
A year ago, I was fortunate to attend Jim and Lala’s annual pre-Christmas invitational. Now, having spent time with these folks on their home turf, I feel doubly blessed to know them and their work.