Vermont Portraits I: the Raku Pottery of Richard Foye

Rural Vermont proudly proves that nature and civilization can meld in a harmony only dreamed of in most American suburbs, if it is considered at all. I speak as if from experience, but truthfully I was only there five days. One can see deeply, however, when one has the best of guides. My host, Catherine Dianich Gruver, owns an art gallery in Brattleboro. Effervescent, well-connected, and generous, Catherine whirled me from studio to farm to dinner party with such joyous welcome that my native reserve was no match for my delight. I'll tell you more about Catherine soon, but I'll commence with one of the first places she took me: the pottery studio of Richard Foye

Richard Foye's pots are an unforgettable example of that fusion of rural life and art that I mentioned. In fact, they're quite literally a fusion. Raku is a Japanese tradition in which a glazed pot is pulled from the kiln without cooling. The quick change in temperature creates surprising patterns in the glaze. After removing the hot ceramics, Richard encloses them in grass, pinecones, or other combustable elements from his land. Their terroir is thus smoked right into their surface. 

Richard lives in an old New England farmhouse, surrounded by flowers, a swimming hole, and his notable collection of vintage vehicles. The patina of the latter reflects that of the pots. When Catherine and I arrived, Richard handed me the best pickle I've ever tasted, and we sat awhile on the porch. He tripped me up on his dry wit at least once, though I'm normally hard to trip; Richard was a philosophy major. He is also remarkably photogenic, a fact which I saw immediately but would not have done anything about if Catherine hadn't encouraged me. It is hard to be shy with Catherine at the helm, so in an absolute departure from the norm, nearly all my Vermont photography is of people. I loved it. 

If you would like to read more about Richard Foye, click here. That link also provides contact information for Richard; I'd encourage anyone interested in his work to get in touch. His prices are quite manageable, which means I had a not-so-manageable carryon bag when I left Vermont.