Cultural Center opens holiday expo featuring variety of artists

Dec 5, 2022

The Dartmouth Cultural Center opened its final show of the year on the evening of Friday, Dec. 2 as the Padanaram Holiday Stroll rolled out just down the block.

The expo includes 140 works from 45 local members of the South Coast Artists group, making it one of the center’s most diverse shows of the year.

Gallery Director Jill Law said that the large show was no coincidence and is intended to give holiday shoppers a variety of gift options from local artists.

During the opening, visitors got the chance to speak to some of the artists who volunteered to help host the event.

One such artist was Wayne Fuerst who contributed two hand-turned, wood-fired clay vases to the show.

Fuerst explained that wood-fired pottery differs from pieces finished in typical electric kilns in several ways. One big difference, he said, is that while an electric kiln takes only a few hours to do its work, a wood kiln is much larger and slower.

The whole process can take nearly a month, he said, with almost a week dedicated just to loading the enormous oven. Once full, he said potters have to work in shifts to maintain the fire for another week, before slowly cooling it over two weeks to keep the pieces from cracking from thermal shock.

Once finished though, the wood-fired works are imbued with special qualities that cannot be recreated in electric kilns.

“When we’re firing, the ash actually covers the work and changes the color of the clay,” he said.

He demonstrated how one of the speckled-brown vases could appear pink and purple in spots as the light hit it from different angles. He added that it was not even necessary to glaze the clay, as it would naturally become smooth and shiny during the process.

“It’s very special,” he said. “It’s got kind of a lightly sugared surface.”

The holiday exhibition will run through Dec. 18. The gallery is open Thursday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.