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175 Years of Pottery by the Owen/Owens Families at the North Carolina Pottery Center

Posted on 01/23/09

Contact:  Paulette Badgette

The Opening of the Family Business: 175 Years of Pottery by the Owen/Owens Families at the North Carolina Pottery Center on January 17th, 2009 drew two hundred people. Collectors, potters, and community members came out to a wonderful opening event highlighted with a live music performance by Bolick and Owens family members.

A color catalog is available for purchase, documenting this family and exhibit. With over 100 pieces of pottery, many family photographs, and biographical stories of over thirty potters, this exhibit takes us from the early pottery work of J. J. Owen and Manley Owens, descendents of Joseph Owen, through the work of all potters in this amazing Moore County pottery family. The pieces in this exhibit tell individual stories of family and the continued tradition of pottery making through six generations. "The practiced hands of these Owen(s)' perpetuate the work of generations, permitting them to live in the still self-sufficient world of the maker who is his or her own boss. Each of them has experienced loss and challenge, frustration and annoyance, the pride of success and the distress of failure. Their work and their success challenge other makers, historians, collectors and critics," said Charlotte Brown, the exhibit's curator and author of "The Remarkable Potters of Seagrove"

There are a number of state and nationally recognized potters in this North Carolina pottery family. A family tree maps out the potters in the family from Seagrove to Blowing Rock where Bolick Pottery, owned and operated by Lula Belle and Glenn Bolick, and Traditions Pottery, owned and operated by daughter Janet Bolick Calhoun and her husband Mike, are side by side. These shop create and sell the pottery of two generations of Melvin Lee Owens descendents working in clay. Forming the heart of the wonderful, show stopping musical program at the exhibit's opening was the whole Glenn Bolick family along with Nancy Brewer on guitar and all of her sisters singing bluegrass music and hymns. Janet Bolick Calhoun, potter and granddaughter of M. L. Owens said, "we live in the Mountains and our music reflects our heritage from both sides of the family, but the shapes of our pottery have come through our Owens lineage."

M. L. Owens opened his shop on the site of his father J. H. Owen's pottery in the Westmoore Community of Seagrove. He along with wife, Marie Owens operated M. L. Owens Pottery which was sold to their son Boyd in the 1970's. Boyd owns and operates Owens Original Pottery, where he works with sister Nancy Owens Brewer. Vernon Owens, Recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship, another of Melvin's sons, owns and operates Jugtown Pottery in the Westmoore community of Seagrove, along with his wife Pam, brother Bobby and son Travis, the first potter born and raised at Jugtown. They have established a Jugtown Museum and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Billy Ray Hussey is also featured in the exhibit; he is the great grandson of J. H. Owen and has established himself as a figural maker and pottery historian. Billy Ray and wife Susan operate the Southern Folk Pottery Collectors Society, which holds nationally attended auctions and openings.

Ben Owen III, carrying the name of his grandfather, Ben Owen I, both award winning potters, is the only working pottery descendent of Rufus Owen. Ben works on the site of his grandfather, Ben Owen's Pottery shop. He has established a museum of his family's work and has built a high tech contemporary studio and gallery.

"I have looked at the exhibit and read the catalog and am amazed at how much I have learned about this family," said Jennie Keatts sister of Pam Owens. The exhibit will run through April 3, 2009 at the North Carolina Pottery Center.

For more information you may contact the NCPC at 336-873-8430 or visit our website at http://www.ncpotterycenter.com/

Exhibitions are made possible through the generosity of our membership, the Randolph County Board of Commissioners, the North Carolina Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Covington Foundation, and the Cooke Foundation. Thank you!

The mission of the North Carolina Pottery Center is to promote public awareness of and appreciation for the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina. The Center is located at 233 East Avenue in Seagrove, NC. For more information, please call 336.873.8430 or go to www.ncpotterycenter.com.

 

 

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