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Meet the Jurors! Celebration of Clay 2024

17 Jun 2024 7:36 AM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

Meet the Jurors! Celebration of Clay 2024

Delighted to introduce this trio who will determine the awards at Celebration of Clay: 50 Years of NMPCA: Jules Epstein, James Marshall, and Betsy Williams. The Taos Ceramics Center will be the showcase, running from October 5 through November 16. The trio of jurors will decide together which artist will receive … Best of Show, three Awards of Merit, Arita Porcelain Award for Beauty and Functionality, and the Coyote Color in Clay Award. The recipients will be announced at the opening on Saturday, October 5 from 4 to 7 pm. The gallery is located at 114 Este Es Road, Taos, New Mexico. 

Jules Epstein. 

Jules Epstein 

Just two years after receiving his BFA in graphic design from Penn State University, Mr. Epstein founded a brand design firm just north of Boston that grew to be a nationally recognized business with more than 25 employees. Thirty-three years later, in 2013, he sold the business and retired full-time to Taos, NM, with his wife and two daughters. In 2019, along with his wife, Georgia, he laid the foundation for the formation of the Taos Ceramics Center (TCC), a community ceramics studio, supply store, and respected interdisciplinary gallery. In 2024, the TCC was recognized by the IRS as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization. Mr. Epstein continues to be the curator for the TCC Gallery and Operations Manager of the business. He has been an active board member on the Taos Arts Council since 2018 and is treasurer of his local acequia in Arroyo Hondo.   

James Marshall. 

James Marshall

James Marshall’s education in the ceramic arts began with a pottery apprenticeship in Guatemala while serving in the Peace Corps. For two years he lived and worked with the K'iché, a Mayan First Nation tribe during his service assisting in a pottery cooperative and agriculture.

In 1977 he began his studies for an MFA at the Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  John Stevenson and Rudolph Arnheim, author of “Art and Visual Perception”, were his mentors in the research, development and production of his work in sculpture. He graduated with an MFA in 1979.

James is a multi-media artist with a concentration in clay, wood, bronze, copper wire, steel, graphite and charcoal.  Works are included in over 200 public and private collections and museums, nationally and internationally.  Additionally, his work has been published extensively in books, magazines, and newspaper articles. He presently maintains a home and studio in Santa Fe, NM.

James’ teaching experience includes the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA., University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY. In 1999 James began to foster and build the ceramics program at Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Today this program includes 12 ceramics classes that cover all facets of the ceramic process.  Currently James is Professor Emeritus in the School of Art Design and Media Arts at Santa Fe Community College and continues to teach classes.

Betsy Williams. Photo by John T. Denne. 

Betsy Williams 

Born and raised in rural Georgia, the youngest of three children, I grew up drawing. My father had a wholesale tire business and the leftover price sheets from his tire store were my unbound sketchbook.

I was drawn by a love of books to St. John's College, the “Great Books School” in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After graduating, another three years of Russian language study culminated in a summer at the University of Leningrad. Next, I moved to New York City on a whim with my friend, Robin Taylor, and got a job at a Japanese bank where I was trained as a money market trader. My co-workers at the bank introduced me to the world of Japanese ceramics, and a show of 17th century Korean celadon ceramics at the Metropolitan Museum of Art marked a defining moment in my life.

I was welcomed into evening classes at a small Japanese pottery studio in Manhattan while still working full-time at the bank. After five years, I left New York and sought out an apprenticeship in Japan, visiting many pottery studios before asking the artist whose work I admired most, Mr. Yutaka Ohashi of Karatsu, Japan, to take me as an apprentice. I studied with him for 4½ years and am forever indebted to the special people who supported and encouraged me during my time in Japan. 

Upon completing my apprenticeship, I returned to New Mexico to buy a remote plot of land in the mountains north of Santa Fe and set up my studio. I met my husband, Mark Saxe, who is a stone sculptor. Together we opened Rift Gallery in Rinconada, New Mexico, south of Taos along the Rio Grande rift valley. We also created Sax Stone Carving Workshops, a series of intensive seven-day summer classes, bringing together students from all over the world to learn from some of the best carvers in the field. Recently we founded Rio Grande Rift Institute, a non-profit dedicated to hands-on education in art and craft. We live in an adobe house on a hilltop adjacent to the Carson National Forest with our dog, Atticus Finch, turbo-charged puppy Agnes, and Mo the turtle, who came with me from Japan. 

The majority of my pieces are woodfired in a kiln I designed and built in 2001. I am building a new wood-fired kiln now (summer 2024). The wood-fired work is complemented by Tiny Plate World Headquarters, my wheel-thrown and hand-painted tiny plates, fired in an electric kiln. 

In the early days of the pandemic, I embarked on a research project of New Mexico virgin clays. This research is ongoing and has taken an increasingly prominent role in my practice. I honor with gratitude the land and its stewards who preceded me. 

We call ourselves the NMPCA!