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When Jim and Sarah Young began thinking of leaving Santa Fe, New Mexico 20 years ago, they focused their home search on the shorelines of the Carolinas and Virginia. Sarah, who Jim affectionately calls a “water baby,” was hoping to include more blues and greens in their daily vistas.
An invitation from Sarah’s parents to visit Rogers during War Eagle Craft Fair one October caused them to do a 180-degree turn – figuratively and literally. The same weekend that the couple visited Rogers, they purchased land overlooking Beaver Lake, and Van Hollow Pottery set up shop in Northwest Arkansas. Today, two decades later, they have created an impressive body of work and recognition for their expertise.
Jim received his training in art at the Roycroft near Buffalo, New York. The historic artist community was influential in the development of what eventually became the Arts & Crafts movement in the late nineteenth century. Just as the natural beauty of Erie County, New York influenced the work that was created by “Roycrofters,” as the artists who lived and worked in the community were called, the Ozark Mountains have become Jim and Sarah’s muse for the art they create together.
Van Hollow Pottery has witnessed many significant milestones. Jim estimates he has opened over 400 kilns over his 47-year career and has fired approximately more than 10,000 square feet of pottery over that time. And, like most artists, his work has evolved. In fact, he points to the glazes he uses in his pieces as an indication that his palette changed when they left Santa Fe. There are many more blues and greens on the sample board now, to match the views out the windows of their home.
Although he has cut back on the lessons he offers in his studio, you can still find him demonstrating his art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and participating in downtown Rogers’ Art on the Bricks events the second Thursday of each month.
In recent years, the Arkansas Arts Academy located in downtown Rogers reached out to Jim to consult on the design of their state-of-the-art ceramic studio, which was then dedicated to him as the Jim Young Ceramic Studio. Last year, Jim was able to call upon his background as both an art therapist as well as a studio potter and teacher when he worked with educators and staff at Crystal Bridges participating in an in-service art workshop as part of their educational training. He also assisted with professional development for their volunteer staff.
Jim creates pieces of all shapes and sizes, but by far his biggest success is one of his smallest pieces – the Bistro Cup. The idea for the practical piece of art came from a request by owners of The Rail, a pizza restaurant and pub in downtown Rogers, who asked Jim to create something unique and durable in which they could serve wine. The result is a small piece, but the craft involved in creating the cups is no less involved than a larger piece. After throwing each cup on the wheel, Jim uses an airbrush to apply 5 – 6 layers of glaze, which melt together in the kiln to produce cups that are each one-of-a-kind. You can watch Jim make one here.
Sarah, who volunteers as a Docent at the museum, adds her own impressive talent to the Van Hollow Pottery team by creating videos highlighting Jim’s activities. She also travels extensively and records her experiences as she seeks out new and interesting ceramics and pottery on an international scale. Sarah’s videos are available for viewing on the Van Hollow website here.
Jim and Sarah Young are carrying on the tradition of scores of artists who have called the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas their home and beautifying the homes of pottery lovers around the world.
To view and purchase Van Hollow Pottery, you can visit one of the following locations:
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art – Store
600 Museum Way
The Gathering of Rogers
116 South First
Iris at The Basin Park
8 Spring Street
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The Rail: A Pizza Company
218 S. First Street
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