New Work
Kay Brathol Hostvet & George Lowe

Working primarily in soft pastel, Kay Brathol Hostvet renders regional landscapes infused with her affection for and fascination with her Midwestern home. Each painting is inspired by a specific place and time, serving as visual record of the landscape it depicts often suggesting the deep history these bucolic scenes hold. Iowan ceramicist, George Lowe, creates hand-made functional work that emphasizes ceramic’s inherent tactile nature. Though he is inspired by ancient pottery and traditional folk art, Lowe strives to create work that is designed to invite contemporary use and enhance daily life.

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Artist Statement: Kay Brathol-Hostvet, PSA
The works I've created for this show are meant to highlight our Threatened Midwest—an increasingly vulnerable environment, as well as a vanishing way of life for our family farms. Using soft pastel on panel, I've focused on the beauty and diversity of our waters, meadows, woodlands, and croplands. Out-dated farm structures and ancient trees are symbols of loss.

Progress is inevitable, but we shouldn't have to endanger our environment in the process. Large-scale farming is replacing small, often multi-generational family farms. Wisconsin lost 638 dairy farms in 2018—and the trend continues. While family farms are fewer, the number of cattle concentrated on “factory” farms has increased dramatically—and with that, an increase in manure contamination of our waters. Additionally, some of these large-scale operations have been tapping into groundwater at an alarming rate, over 100,000 gallons per day. During the previous administration, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approved permits for high-capacity wells with little regard to studies that proved these wells have devastating impacts on ground and surface water. In particular, the Central Sands region of the state has seen lakes and streams drying up or vanishing, and homeowners' wells running dry.

Wisconsin is blessed with over 15,000 lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. Water is a precious resource often taken for granted—until something goes wrong: industrial and farm pollutants making it unsafe to drink, ruptured pipelines and chemical and manure runoff destroying aquatic life, flooding caused by man's short-sightedness, or aquifers drying up due to high-capacity wells.

The good news is that there are people working hard to remedy these issues. To learn more about protecting Wisconsin's most precious resources, visit the websites of Clean Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, the Aldo Leopold Foundation, and the Sierra Club—John Muir Chapter.

Artist Statement: George Lowe
Within the realm of handmade pottery, it becomes possible to speak of sacred things.  The energy of process and shaping of clay into form can create a vessel full of spirit and metaphor.  Spirit brings life and soul into the work.  It is this quest to find deeper meaning that inspires me to spin the clay into useful shapes that can bring simple pleasure into the world.  I practice over and over the dance with the clay becoming vessel.  I enjoy the physical nature of wet clay and the transformation into a vitrified object.  After 34 years as a potter, I am still excited about the potential in making the next piece and cannot resist peeking into a hot kiln load of fresh work.

I work alone in my studio and produce all of the work myself.  I want my work to be relevant, connect to the past but still current.  I am inspired by ancient pottery styles and folk pottery traditions.  I love to create shapes that are intended to be used and handled. I want the work to be inviting and tactile.  I try to create glaze effects that have a wide variety of subtle variation and textures to create interest and detail.  Handled forms and lidded forms encourage interaction.  Pouring vessels suggest a gesture of giving and the action of serving.  Lidded forms invite one to look inside.  Bowls, cups and plates, enhance the meal which sustains life.

The world needs art.  I am happy to be a part of this wondrous activity as a potter.  If I can add some pleasure to the world transmitted through my hands into a meaningful object then I have been successful.

524 East Main Street • Stoughton, Wisconsin 53589 • 608-845-6600 • Located just southeast of Madison