For the first time in nine years, Pottery on the Hill will not take place at Hill Center. The annual fall event has showcased potters from around the United States in an art fair, expo-style environment since 2012. Due to concerns over the global COVID pandemic and in an effort to remain compliant with DC laws governing public health, the 2020 edition will take place virtually. A benefit auction will kick-off on November 5 followed by the virtual event on November 13. While virtual in format, the event will maintain its recurring theme of exhibiting functional handmade pottery produced by some of the nation’s most renowned professional ceramicists.
Benefit Auction: November 5-15
Like many cultural institutions around the globe, Hill Center has faced a number of operational challenges as a result of its temporary closure which began in March at the outset of the pandemic. While Hill Center has slowly bounced back with the help of virtualized programming and events limiting the number of in-person attendees, Pottery on the Hill provides an opportunity to raise funds for the center.
Each potter participating in the year’s virtual event has donated a work to Hill Center’s benefit auction. Works include everything from shot cups to large vases. Hosted on Auctria, an online auction platform, buyers can place their bids as early as November 5. During the ten day auction period, bidders are notified if they’ve been outbid given them the chance to place a higher bid. The auction closes on November 15 at which time the winning bidders will be notified.
Also beginning November 5, Dan Finnegan, Pottery on the Hill’s curator since event’s onset, has created 100 mugs which he has donated to the fundraiser. Finnegan’s commemorative mugs will be sold for $100 apiece.
All of the proceeds from both the auction and the sale of Finnegan’s commemorative mugs will benefit Hill Center.
Pottery on the Hill: November 13-15
“Since we had no limitations to the number of potters who could be involved in the show, we decided to invite all the potters who have previously participated in Pottery on the Hill over the years since the first show in 2012,” said Dan Finnegan, potter and show curator.
And herein lies the silver lining with this year’s event—in year’s past, Hill Center could only accommodate a limited number of participants, usually fewer than 20. This year, thanks to virtualization, Pottery on the Hill will feature 45 potters. In previous in-person editions, only ticket holders who paid in advance could attend opening night offering them first dibs on the potters’ work. This year, anyone can login from anywhere and access the virtual event on the first day at no-cost.
“Moving Pottery on the Hill online is just another example of how, as a small arts and culture organization, we’ve been able to adapt our programming in this new COVID era,” says Diana Ingraham, Executive Director of Hill Center. “The virtual show allows us the opportunity to support the ceramics community who has been critical to making Pottery on the Hill one of the premiere shows in the nation.”
This year’s event is analogous to 45 potters opening their stores simultaneously. From Friday, November 13 at 5pm through Sunday, November 15, visitors will have the opportunity to logon and visit each of the potters’ stores and purchase work. Access is granted through the event’s main website PotteryontheHillDC.org beginning November 13 at 5 p.m. Each potter’s online stores uses a separate sales platform like Etsy or Square to process sales so each store will have a slightly different look and feel.
The following master potters participants who have shown in past editions include:
Bandana Pottery (Naomi Dalglish & Michael Hunt)
Bulldog Pottery (Bruce Gholson & Samantha Henneke)
Gertrude Graham Smith
Emerging potters are up and coming potters who are newer to the field and have been apprentices of the more established master potters listed above. In the last few editions of Pottery on the Hill, attendees may have noticed smaller collections of emerging potter’s work displayed at the expo entrance. This year, emerging potters’ online stores will feature a wider array of work than previously exhibited alongside their mentors’.
Emerging Potters invited to participate this year include:
In past editions, Pottery on the Hill organizers featured live raku-style firing of ceramic objects in outdoor kilns and other types of demonstrations. Since this year’s edition is completely virtualized, social media will play a central role in providing information about the ceramicists and their process. The organizers are planning on doing live demonstrations mainly via Instagram and will also feature studio tours and artist chats.
Events will be held on the following dates:
Pottery on the Hill 2020 | Online Show and Sale | November 13-15
Online Silent Auction and Benefit | November 5-15