Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa

Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

October 27, 2016 Featured - Local artist finds inspiration in nature and whimsey
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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Jim Andersen spent much of last week in his

basement preparing for a weekend sales in Des Moines. Area residents will have a chance to view his art ware Dec. 3 and 4 at a thieves market in the University of Iowa Memorial Union Ballroom.

Mother knows best. At least for a young Bob Andersen, the test of time has proven her right. Having enoyed art classes herself as a young person, she urged him to take an eighth grade art class. Now more than a half century later in Kalona, Andersen is a well known artist, mostly for his pottery.

It wasn’t long in the high school art class that the instructor noted his young student exhibited a natural talent in art. He encouraged the gift and upon graduation from West Waterloo High School in 1962, Andersen received an art scholarship to the University of Northern Iowa. It was here he met his future wife, Connie Peterseim from Kalona.

Still not exclusively settled in with pottery, The UNI student focused on jewelry, sculpture and drawing before going onto teach high school art in Eddyville and later in Ames from 1969 to 1989 – where they raised three children.

It was while also teaching at the Des Moines Art Center as an artist in residence that Bob became involved with the entire process of pottery, from conceptualizing, throwing the wet clay and creating various glazes.

It was after moving to Pella that he became a full-time artist specializing in pottery. Though Bob enjoys drawing initial sketches for statues or paintings, he observed that he can take a 3-pound ball of clay and begin immediately playing with the medium. They also al come out a little different.

A bit of whimsy finds its way into many of his pieces. His rural Regional Collection features Midwestern flights of imagination, including motifs of pigs with wings, holy cows or even silo-shaped tea pots with corncob shaped handle. Cindy related how her husband once took a mold of a plastic toy cow to use as handles for a cow pie pan.

As someone working with clay, textures play into his works and consciousness. Bob says that absently mindedly noting footprints in the snow or competing patterns of live and dead flowers in a garden feed into his memory that then surface during the creative process.

Bob also adds with a smile that though he likes doing large three-dimensional pieces, pottery can be made quickly and sold quickly as compared to larger types of art works.

Besides being the business manager, Connie also comes up with many of the inspirations for her husband’s subjects. It was while vacuuming that she thought of the silo teapot.

The Andersens and their studio, Sunflower Pottery, moved to Kalona baout 2 years ago. Its various collections include Organic, Regional, Terra Cotta, Pinecone, Garden and Arts & Crafts. The silo teapot in their farm inspired pottery caught the eye of U.S. Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who bought one as a present for then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton.

They say their Arts & Crafts line is inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement that reached its height between approximately 1880 and 1910. This collection celebrates the works of influential Arts & Crafts practitioners and use rich jewel-tone hues of blues, greens, oranges and browns. The highly collectible pieces include cups and bowls, plates and platters, vases and wine chillers, goblets, birdhouses and custom items.

Muted earthtone glazes over evocative relief and pressed images drawn from nature make up their Organic collection. Sunflower Pottery literature explains that this line is for “those who love both the physical and the metaphysical world. Black, glass-like interiors and sensuous exteriors are a visual treat and delight to hold and use. These thoughtfully shaped pieces combine an almost oriental simplicity with a Midwestern sensibility that celebrate our place in the natural world.”

The Pinecone Collection is what it sounds like – pottery for a cabin in the woods – or for those who wished they lived in the woods. Hues of dark browns and greens are perfect complements for the pinecone motif that characterizes this line of functional dinner ware. If you do have a cabin in the Northwoods, it’s really not complete without place settings, bowls, mugs, pitchers, or wine coolers from the Pinecone Collection.

The Garden Collection includes “purely decorative pieces that will complement table settings and flower displays alike...ceramic pumpkins, tomatoes, eggplants, and, yes, even rarer vegetable like rutabagas, all carefully handcrafted and glazed to make you wonder why you didn’t plant okra this year.”

And last, the reds of terra cotta are featured with the clay pots traditionally used by gardeners.

The number of shows they attend has drastically dwindled since both suffered heat attacks, says Cindy. But anyone wishing to see their works can call for an appointment by calling 405-708-2994.

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