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Get Your Clay On 

This weekend, the Tucson Clay Co-op will host its second Clay Festival and Clay Olympics.

"It is a kickoff for our capital campaign. We are looking for more storage space for our members and room for new wheels," said Tucson Clay Co-op member Cynthia Jones.

This year's event is dedicated to the memory of Maurice Grossman, who was once the head of ceramics at the University of Arizona. He was a major part of the Tucson ceramic community and a close friend of the Tucson Clay Co-op.

The co-op offers a variety of pottery classes, provides a professional working environment for all levels of clay artists, and supports the work of local and visiting potters by renting affordable studio space. They also have a clay gallery where pieces are available for purchase.

Since the first Clay Festival and Clay Olympics several years ago, the Tucson Clay Co-op has moved and expanded. The studio, now located on Dodge Boulevard just north of Fort Lowell Road, has a larger space—but members still hope to create even more space.

Maxine Krasnow and friends began the clay co-op and have been encouraging the potters in our community ever since.

"Maxine loves the community and created this space to give people in the community a place to celebrate their energy," said clay artist Joni Pevarnik, a clay artist (and a second-time Clay Olympics juror).

According to Pevarnik, the Clay Festival and Clay Olympics offers a great way to experience the joy of pottery and meet other like-minded people. Pevarnik resides in Vail, where she owns her own pottery complex with her husband, Steve. She received her BFA in ceramics from Northern Arizona University, where she was inspired by one of her ceramics professors. Pevarnik is also currently the director of the Artists' Gallery in Flagstaff.

"I love pottery. The beautiful thing about the art community in Tucson is that everyone is very supportive and very close," said Pevarnik. Her work can also be found at the Tucson Museum of Art and Old Town Artisans.

In addition to judging the Olympics—which consists of eight different events, all involving making or sculpting something out of clay—Pevarnik will also be putting on a clay demonstration, as will other talented Southern Arizona clay artists.

"I am going to make a very large pot and then a few other little things on the wheel," explained Pevarnik. Other artists who will be holding demonstrations include Hirotsune Tashima, Jim Jones, Barbara Kobler, Paul Waldron, Susheel Jones, and April Newman.

The Clay Olympic events will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. and are open to attendees of all skill levels; people can sign up at the event.

The day will also host live music by local jazz singer Susan Artemis and guitarist Elise Levy. Additionally, Mustang Two will be performing a set of their country folk music. There will be children's activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the festival will end with the memorial for Grossman, who passed away this year.

"Maurice Grossman was a good friend, a wonderful clay artist and a beautiful example of living life to the fullest for all of us in Tucson," said Pevarnik, who used to teach with Grossman. "He made quite an impression on all of us. I am so happy I had the chance to do the last Clay Olympics with him. He had so much energy and joy in life."

The memorial, "We Remember Maurice," will take place at the end of the event, from 6 to 8 p.m., and will include a video and a chance for people to share their memories.

"He was quite an icon in the community," Pevarnik said.

More by Kelsey Merkel

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