Chris and Sue Holmquist of Northfield have been making beautiful pottery together for three decades.
Husband-and-wife potters are not all that uncommon, but usually each operates in a separate sphere. He has his style, she has hers. He has her booth, she has hers. But the Holmquists have a true collaboration, jointly producing ceramic works with a distinctive artistic flair.
Their work has been described as whimsical, mirth-making. He does most of the ceramic work, she does much of the painting. The result is pottery populated with sly-looking cats, befuddled penguins, smiling dogs. The cartoon-quality animals make you want to laugh.
“We realized it was to our advantage to work together on the pottery we were making,” Chris Holmquist says. “It just felt natural for us to do it. And we have one booth instead of two.”
The Holmquists will be among 21 ceramic artists — 11 from Northfield, 10 from outside the area — to be featured as part of the first-ever Cannon River Clay Tour. The event will feature four places or studios all within a few miles of each other. Each place will showcase the work of five to six different potters. The tour runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
“We’re hoping that people will go from one location to the next,” says Holmquist. “They’re all thoroughly beautiful spots. Just a little tour around Northfield.”
The Northfield area has long been fertile ground for artists. It’s home to Carleton and St. Olaf colleges, both with strong art departments. Artists have also been drawn to Northfield because of its proximity to the Twin Cities, allowing them to enjoy small-town life within easy proximity to the state’s cultural hub.
Each October, artsy people flock to the Studio Art Tour of South Central Minnesota, which showcases the works of a wide range of artists in and around Northfield, Farmington and Faribault.
“We just have a ton of artists in this area, and this is just one of the many ways that they showcase their art,” says Lisa Peterson, Northfield’s director of tourism.
The Cannon River Clay Tour is organized along the same lines as the fall showing, except this one will focus exclusively on pottery. Organizers hope to see it become an annual event. The 10 potters from outside of Northfield come from Wisconsin, North Carolina and Kansas City.
“We’re just trying to make it an excellent exhibition of ceramic talent,” Chris Holmsquist says. “Northfield is really very supportive of the arts.”
The four sites included in the tour and the artists featured at each site include:
- Eureka Pots, 27607 Grenada Ave., Farmington: Collen Riley, Donovan Palmquist, Juliana Shibata, Becky Lloyd, Tom Jaszczak, Maggie Finlasson.
- Lessing Pottery (Larchill Farm), 31679 Dahomey Ave., Northfield: Glynnis Lessing, Kip O’Krongly, Kelly Connole, Chandra DeBuse, Megan Mitchell, Tommy Frank.
- LaChance Studio, 9860 Decker Ave., Northfield: James LaChance, Joel Froehle, Sam Johnson, Jay Jensen, Barbara Zaveruha.
- Holmquist Pottery, 11780 90th St. E, Northfield: Chris & Sue Holmquist, Peder Hegland, Linda Day, Kristin Pavelka.
“We’re going to have three other artists at our studio. It’s going to be fun just being with them and at theater studios,” says Chris Holmquist.