Jan 142011

Erin Jones is a potter practicing her craft at Gallery 1279 in the Pendleton Street Arts District in West Greenville.

Create Greenville: How did you end up in Greenville? How long have you been in your current studio?

Erin Jones: I grew up in Greer, SC and attended Greer High and Fine Arts Center for theater, and attended the Governor’s School for the Arts summer program at Furman University. After graduation, I attended Stetson University in Florida, where I double majored in theater and visual art, and received top honors in both fields. I came back to the upstate to attend Clemson University for graduate school where I received my MFA in 2003. I moved to Greenville after school, and I have been in my current studio at Gallery 1279 in the Pendleton Street Arts District for almost 5 years.

CG: What’s your background? Were you educated in art? Did you study ceramics specifically?

EJ: I grew up in a very artistic family, and was encouraged creatively all my life. In college, I began as a theater major, and took a clay class my sophomore year, and realized that ceramics was my true calling. I then attended graduate school at Clemson University for my MFA with a concentration in ceramics. I taught art at the college level for a couple of years, taught pottery on cruise ships, waited tables on an island in Maine, and worked in a health food store, during the years after school and before starting Erin Jones Studios 2 years ago.

CG: How much time do you spend in the studio?

EJ: I average 40 hours/week, but as ceramics (and running a business) has different cycles, sometimes it’s less, sometimes more. That time is broken up into many tasks- I spend about half my time teaching lessons, then another half working on my artwork, marketing, and general studio work like loading/firing kilns, cleaning, pricing, display, etc. I would like to spend more time actually creating, but there are so many tasks demanding my attention, it’s difficult to carve out the uninterrupted time.

CG: Does your work have any recurring themes? What motivates you? Any favorite artists you follow or look to for inspiration?

EJ: Like many artists, I look to the natural world for inspiration. The body and mechanical forms are also reference points. My work tends to be process oriented. Many times, just the process of making the work is it’s own motivation and inspiration. It has a sort of snowball effect, and one piece informs another. Often, I will discover a new technique, or acquire a new tool which leads to a different direction. In a practical sense, I am motivated by a productive week in the studio, by sales of my artwork, by a show deadline. Artistically, looking at artwork by others is inspiring for me, and I try to keep abreast of the latest trends by reading magazines, blogs and other media related to my field. I look to many of the historically important ceramic and sculptural artists who came before me for inspiration, as well as the ancient pottery artifacts of early people, such as the Pre-Columbian civilization.

Another major influence for me is sharing a studio with my partner and boyfriend, artist Jason Hall. Jason was also educated at Clemson, where he received his BFA in ceramics. Our constant contact and shared passion for clay and art has been transformative for my career. We are continually encouraging and supporting each other in our goals, as well as evaluating and critiquing each other. This type of support is rare for most artists, who tend to work in solitude.

CG: Where is the Greenville art scene going? Have you seen it change since you’ve been working here? What can we do to make the Pendleton Arts District grow positively?

EJ: I see the arts in Greenville growing quickly. It seems to be gaining momentum especially in the last several years, as it becomes nationally recognized for it’s art scene. I have been working in the Pendleton Street Arts District (PSAD) for almost five years and have seen artists come and go for the district, but there is a continual energy there that the artists are creating. The amount of artists working in the district has more than doubled in the time since I have been there, and the Pendleton Street Arts Business Association (PABDA) meets every month to promote the artists of the district. We work with the city to draw attention to the district, clean up the area, organize events and generally promote ourselves. The more Greenville becomes aware of the PSAD, and visits regularly during events like First Fridays, the more the district will continue to grow.

CG: Anything else you want to say?

EJ: Please visit Erin Jones Studios online at www.erinjonesstudios.com, or in person at Gallery 1279, 1279 Pendleton St., Greenville, SC 29611. Please call Erin at (864)350-9420 for an appointment.

Sep 042010

Doug Young is a sculptor who also splits time between drawing and graphic design, among other things. You’ve probably seen his “Shoeless” Joe Jackson if you’ve spent much time downtown. Other than that, he’s just a regular guy who interprets for a for a deaf student at Greenville Tech’s Aircraft Mechanic’s program. He also is the director of the Pitchhitters, an a Capella men’s singing group. He teaches art classes, is a member of MAC and UVA and is the “unofficial mayor of the Village of West Greenville.” And amazingly, Doug still finds time to act as president of the Pendleton Street Arts District, the host of the upcoming West Greenville Arts Festival.

Create Greenville: What is the West Greenville Arts Festival? How did it come into being?  How many artists are involved?

Doug Young: The West Greenville Arts Festival began last year. When Upstate Visual Arts decided to remake their popular festival “Art in the Park” and bring it to the arts district, we were very excited. The idea was to hold an arts festival and invite artists to set up display tents like a regular festival. The unique twist was incorporating the local artists who have studios here in the village. So, there will be 35 art booths and 40 artists who will open their studio doors to the public. That’s 75 artists displaying their work! Once the weekend festival is over, there will still be 40 artists remaining. The idea is for people to “Visit the Village. See what West Greenville has to offer.”

CG: What can festival goers expect to experience there?

DY: Oh, besides the art, there will be music (Celtic Cache, Mac Arnold and Plate Full ‘O Blues, Ralph Rodenberry…), TimTV and the Tumbledown Cirkus, kids area, food and fizz.

CG: Where are things taking place?

DY: The best thing is, you don’t have to travel far to attend. It’s just about one mile from downtown Greenville. Just take Pendleton Street out of town, cross Academy and you’re about to enter the arts district.

The center of the festival takes place at Pendleton Street and Smith and explodes in all directions for a few blocks. If you know where the Village Studios & Gallery is, then you’re in the right place. Or, Tucker’s Soda shop (now Coffee 2 a Tea). Anyway, just watch for the signs and follow the cars.

CG: What are your intentions with the festival?

DY: Once people start visiting, I think they’ll see that Greenville’s burgeoning arts district is becoming a destination, just like Greenville itself. Did you know that one of the recent destination gifts on “The Price is Right” was a trip to Greenville, SC. Yep. That’s right! They showed the Liberty Bridge, Falls Park, gave a night or two in one of the hotels… I’m telling you, most of us don’t realize what we have here.

Do your part, buy local art!

Come out and support the local arts community. Visit www.westgreenvilleartsfestival.com for more information.