When Jim and Sarah Young began thinking of leaving Santa Fe, NM, they focused their home search on the shorelines of North and South Carolina and Virginia. Sarah, who Jim affectionately calls a “waterbaby”, was hoping to include more blues and greens in their landscape view.
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 just north of Highway 12, and Van Hollow Pottery relocated to Northwest Arkansas. Today, some 15 years later, they have created not only an impressive local legacy of work and recognition for their creations, but also a place for individuals to try their own hands at making art.
Jim received training in art at the Roycroft near Buffalo, New York. The historic artist community was influential in the development of what eventually turned into the Arts & Crafts movement in the late 19th 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.
Pottery classes are offered to the public in 6-week blocks. Each class lasts three hours, and the only item a student is required to bring is a pair of willing hands. Jim says that the number of pieces created by students in class can vary widely. Some students sign up for multiple class sessions in a year, and work on several larger pieces, while others create many more small pieces over the same span of time. Different techniques are taught, including slab, hand-building, wheel, and pinch.
September 2014 saw the marking of a significant milestone for Van Hollow Pottery when Jim opened the 400th kiln of his 42-year career. He estimates he has fired approximately 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 indication that his palette changed when they left Santa Fe. There many more blues and greens on the sample board now. He is also experimenting with more free-form shapes in his pieces.
Sarah, who volunteers as a Docent at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, adds her own impressive talent to the Van Hollow Pottery team by creating videos highlighting Jim’s teaching 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 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 they could serve wine in. Although they are small, 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.
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 Rogers’ beauty is inspiring them to create art that is loved and appreciated across the country.
To view and purchase Van Hollow Pottery, you can visit one of the following locations:
Poor Richards Art
101 West Walnut
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art – Store
600 Museum Way
19 Spring Street
Eureka Springs, Arkansas