If pottery is your cup of tea, one place to sample the wares is in Franklin County, Pa.
John Bell, a 19th-century potter, is the most well-known name associated with pottery-making in the area. The potter’s shop burned down in 1899, but, thanks to the gift of a Bell descendant, the Renfrew Museum and Park in Waynesboro, Pa., has the nation’s largest private collection of Bell pottery and molds on display.
Bell blended European and American styles in redware and stoneware.
One item of particular interest is the shop’s rooster weathervane, which survived the fire and now has a place of honor in the visitor center that is housed in a Victorian period barn. The pottery exhibit also contains examples of everyday and decorative pottery from potters in the Cumberland and Shenandoah valleys.
You also can tour the property’s farmstead and restored outbuildings. The museum at 1010 E. Main St. reopens for the season April 22.
Waynesboro is a hub for modern potters and other artists. A program called Destination ARTS, sponsored by the Arts Alliance of Greater Waynesboro, has situated galleries in former vacant storefronts to stimulate downtown business. Gallery 50 at 50 W. Main St., and 42 West Arts Co-op at 42 W. Main St., are two of the galleries that feature pottery for sale.
Another is Nicodemus Center for Ceramic Studies at 13 S. Church St. Here, 35 guild members can come into the large building to pursue their art at any time of the day or night. Both seasoned potters and beginners working in various styles participate.
“The energy in this studio is amazing,” said the center’s Mary Ashe-Mahr in a website video.
There are many demonstrations with live music, workshops, and classes. The retail shop that sells their work is a favorite for gift-seekers. It is open Friday through Sunday.
The center also has a presence at the Penn State-Mont Alto campus in the General Studies building.
Another place to shop for pottery by local artists is The Foundry in Chambersburg. Artists from the Cumberland Valley have banded together in a co-op to display their works at 100 S. Main St., Thursday through Saturday.
Watercolors and books
Two major art exhibitions are on tap in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art opens a landmark exhibition March 1 tracing the growth of interest in watercolor painting in America from the 1860s to the 20th century.
American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent brings together more than 170 works from public and private collections. It is the museum’s most comprehensive loan exhibition in more than 40 years.
The works, which focus on art by Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent, include landscapes, still lifes, genre scenes, illustrations, and designs for ceramics and stained glass. The exhibition runs through May 14.
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington has opened an exhibition called 500 Years of Treasures from Oxford, which displays 500 manuscripts and early printed books from the 10th to the 17th centuries. The works, many of which have never been publicly displayed, are making their first appearance in America. The collection hails from the library of Corpus Christi College of the University of Oxford, England.
Among highlights are an illuminated copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in Middle English, and books on astrology and astronomy, including the medieval zodiac; Galileo’s first observation of the moon by telescope; and Sir Isaac Newton’s observations of Halley’s comet. The exhibition runs through April 30.