The rich tradition of face jugs returns to American Folk Art & Framing with the 8th Annual Face Jug Show running Thursday, April 4, through Thursday, April 18. An opening reception will be held Friday, April 5, from 5–8 p.m.
“The human face is capable of displaying many emotions,” says gallery owner Betsey-Rose Weiss. “Curiosity is what many uninitiated express when first seeing a southern face jug.” Much of the tradition has its roots in upstate SC and the mountains of NC and Georgia going back to the early 1800s when moonshine was often kept in jugs. “The faces and hideous features were meant to scare the children so they would not drink the moonshine,” Weiss says.
Twelve potters will have work featured in the show, some of them legacy potters whose families have been making pots for as many as seven generations. “Others came to the genre out of fascination, looking to honor the tradition, but to shake things up a bit too,” Weiss says.
Michael Gates creates pots based on handed-down family tradition, but he also seeks to make his creations distinctively his own. His ancestors, the Reinhardts, were some of the first commercial potters in the Catawba Valley region of NC. Gates still uses clay dug out of the same pits his maternal great-great-great-grandfather used. With less demand for functional pottery, Gates says he is free to put more decoration and whimsy into his pieces. “I have an affinity for making the traditional family pieces in the traditional way, yet I also enjoy making something that’s new and different.”
Stacy Lambert was raised in Seagrove, NC, often referred to as Jugtown, where he studied under the guidance of potter Sid Luck. With a degree in commercial art, Lambert put his graphic design studies to work in his pieces, incorporating underglaze artwork and story into his pottery. While face jugs make up a large part of his work, other creations include vases, ring jugs, coffee mugs, miniatures and teapots. For the show, he will exhibit a new pirate jug, complete with an eye patch.
Gillsville, Georgia artist Wayne Hewell is a fifth-generation potter with more than 50 years experience in his family’s business and at Craven’s Pottery. Like his fellow potters, Hewell incorporates his own personality and creativity into his pieces while respecting the heritage of the art. For the approximately 500 pieces he creates each year, he uses wild clay from Georgia, fires in a wood-fired kiln and uses ash and slip glazes. He is known for his swirl ware, pieces with a striped effect from the process of combining two different clays. Many of his face jugs have distinctive pointy ears, noses and horns and added humorous touches such as cigars.
American Folk Art and Framing is located at 64 Biltmore Avenue in Asheville. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit AmeriFolk.com or call 828.281.2134.