Aldona Bird

Bringing the community together through art

By Aldona Bird

This job gives me an excuse to learn more about local artists’ (and other creatives’) inspirations, processes and all the rest that goes into making and doing cool things.
Visiting work spaces to interview makers in their comfort and creative zones is particularly exciting.
Last week, wearing my journalism hat, I visited with potter Jen Allen in her studio, and talked to her about an event coming up this weekend, which will allow the public the privilege to see her work space, and those of three other local artists and eight guest artists.
The Mo’town Studio Tour from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday is “a self-guided tour, there are no tickets or anything,” Jen explained.
“I’ve had this vision for a long time,” Jen said. She’s participated in studio tours throughout her professional career, and gained inspiration from others. Until last summer, Jen was making pottery in her basement studio, from which she created art to ship across the country.
Now, with a publicly accessible studio on her home property, Jen decided it was time to open her doors and show her work to the Morgantown community.
Planning this event, Jen enlisted Lisa Giuliani, of Lock House Studio. Together, the two potters reached out to local artists Jamie Lester and Bryn Perrott, who agreed to open their studio spaces as well.
They opted to keep the one-time event stops of the tour limited to studio spaces, because “being able to bring people into our spaces was important to us,” Jen said.
Jen said they also put thought into the number of participating artists, so as to keep it manageable for those organizing the event and for people taking the tour.
Each of the four hosts picked artists to join them at their studios. Jen will host Brett Kern — a ceramist who makes fun and whimsical sculptures, Shalya Marsh who creates art installation pieces, and Erika Broas, a jewelry metalsmith.
Christopher Guffey, who works with Jamie Lester, will set up his own art work at Jamie’s studio along with ceramist Brooke Millecchia. Handyma’am Goods will share functional workwear for women at Bryn’s studio.
At Lisa’s pottery studio, Miles Holbert will showcase his own ceramics, along with Amanda Blake with her paintings.
Jen said they were careful to include artists who work in a variety of mediums. She hopes this event will bring the creative community together and build arts in a way that hasn’t been done yet here.
“We are trying to make it a regional attraction, in the future,” Jen said. She’s already started lining artists up for the Mo’Town Studio Tour next year.
Jen is excited not only to show her own work for the first time in Morgantown, but to debut her new line of earthenware pottery. Previously, she worked mostly with porcelain, which reminded her of her home state — Alaska. She said living in West Virginia led her to wanting to work with darker, earthier clays.
In addition to her artistic business, Jen teaches one class per semester at WVU and teaches workshops. She said she’s happy to open “my [studio] door for more exciting things to happen,” such as teaching classes and workshops locally.
I hope to see you at the tour, so we can share the opportunity to see the works and workspaces of these local and regional artists.
Participating studios
-Jen Allen, 117 Marie Lane
-Lock House Studio, 36 Morgantown Lock Road
-Vandalia Bronze, 306 Bull Run Road
-Bryn Perrott, 512 Arch St.