“Pots by the Pound” has become an institution at the Commonwheel Artists Co-op. Or maybe “mania” is a better word. “They actually put up police tape one year so no one could get into the gallery area early,” says Wendy Daniels-Gillam, who helped organize this year’s sale.
The idea of a post-holiday sale isn’t new. The twist at Commonwheel’s sale is the pricing: Depending on the color of its tag, the pottery — by artists from Commonwheel and other invited artists from the region — costs anywhere from $1 per pound to $10 per pound. “It’s cheaper than cheese,” says Gillam. But price is only part of the story. Manitou Springs is known for its ceramics, and Commonwheel is known as the best place to get ceramics in Manitou Springs: The co-op’s ceramic artists include Jean Jennings, Jean Latka, Ken and Tina Riesterer and Arlene Wood. The quality as well as the bargains inspire people to brave the frigid January weather. Sometimes the artists just want to clear out inventory so they’ll have space for new work. (Pottery can fill up an artist’s studio fast.) Other pieces are seconds. “Maybe the glaze didn’t come out quite right, or there’s a little crack,” says Gillam. “The potter may consider it a second, but you may consider it a perfect piece of pottery.” For Gillam, the sale’s most dramatic aspect is the sheer volume of ceramics. “The gallery space we have is fairly small, but it’s stacked full,” she says. “There are shelves and shelves of pottery.” Gillam compares the experience to a treasure hunt. You might be able to pick up that pot you’ve had your eye on, but you’ll be happier expecting the unexpected. She has only one piece of advice for shoppers — the same advice her husband gives her when they go out to a crowded club. “Get out your New York elbows,” she says. details
Commonwheel Artists Co-op “Pots by the Pound” sale When: Opens today; regular hours 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; through Jan. 22 Where: Commonwheel Artists Gallery, 102 Cañon Ave., Manitou Springs Admission: Free; 685-1008