The Hippo


Jul 5, 2020








Cups by Kristen Kieffer. Courtesy photo.

2nd Annual Cup Show and Sale

Where: Studio 550, 550 Elm St., Manchester
When: On view Nov. 15 through Jan. 17; informal gallery reception on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.; light refreshments provided, most pieces priced between $28 and $50
Contact:, 232-5597

Everyday art
Cup Show and Holiday Market at Studio 550

By Kelly Sennott

Decorating Studio 550 these next couple of months will be intricate, well-crafted ceramic art by artists from across the country.

There will be pottery with luscious brushwork and intricate drawings. There will be ceramic art that doesn’t even look like ceramic art, and there will be pieces that have been both traditionally and wood fired.
But each of these works of art is also a cup. You drink coffee, tea and hot chocolate from them. There’s nothing abstract about it.
“I think the cup is a really great piece to center a show around,” said Monica Leap, Studio 550 owner during a phone interview. “They’re very relatable. People see a cup, and they know what it is, even though the artist has put a lot of styling on it. Even if you don’t know or love pottery, you can appreciate it. And, if you do, that’s even better.”
The 2nd Annual Cup Show and Sale is on view at the Studio 550 gallery Nov. 15 through Jan. 17, with a reception this Saturday, Nov. 15, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
The art of each piece, Leap said, goes beyond the visual styling.
“You definitely have to hold pottery before you buy it,” she said. “We encourage people to do that in our gallery. You have to feel it before you really understand, and there are things that point to the craftsmanship and how it’s made.”
You want something that’s not too heavy; otherwise, Leap said, it’s like you’re pumping iron every time you take a sip. You’re also looking at the texture of something and noticing the feeling of it in your hand. Does it have a funny handle that’s too big, too small? Is it easy to wrap your hand around, or is it awkwardly shaped and uncomfortable?
“And then there’s the overall effect of it. Do I like looking at it? It adds to the overall experience,” Leap said. 
The day of the interview, she’d been drinking from one of her own favorites, a handmade two-finger porcelain mug with a drawing of an upside-down ax sketched on its side, crafted by Megan Mitchell.
This year’s show is curated by Jeremy Randall, a ceramic artist and art educator in New York. Randall was an adjunct professor Leap knew from her studies at Syracuse. Between 20 and 25 different potters are represented, all of whom demonstrate the diversity of what you can do with clay. 
The requisites are that they be ceramic cups and that they function as cups.
Some, like Marlon Angelica’s, are playful and dainty — some of her cups look as though they belong in Beauty and the Beast, with curly handles and willowy skirts at their base. Kristin Kieffer’s cups are simple but posh, completed in bright colors and ornate carving details. Lisa York’s submission looks tribal, and Randall’s like something pieced together from a construction site.
“I found people really responded well to the show [last year]. It’s also great for the students here, to get to see a lot of different voices and interpretations of one form,” Leap said. “It’s good for them to increase their vocabulary in pottery.”
If you can’t make it to the studio this weekend, try for next; on Saturday, Nov. 22, the Studio hosts the 2nd Annual Handmade Holiday Market, a showcase of art and artists creating handmade gifts live.
The idea of both the cup show and holiday market is to demonstrate how art can enrich your everyday life. Even if you’re not an “art” person.
Leap added in a follow-up email, “The studio is all about building a community centered around the arts. For the handmade market, it’s about bringing local artisans together. For the classes, it’s about helping non-artists experience making in a nurturing environment. … For the art shows in the gallery, we focus on functional art, so it’s more about making something that becomes part of people’s everyday life, as opposed to something that’s put on a wall and fades into the background.” 
As seen in the November 13, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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