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Potters’ wheel of fortune: See artists up close

Randy Johnston and Jan McKeachie Johnston live and work together as a couple and as lifelong ceramic artists at their town of Martell pottery studio. McKeachie Johnston finds constant inspiration from the gardens on their property. The couple are featured in this weekend’s annual fall pottery tour. (River Falls Journal photo by Phil Pfuehler)

Summer’s over, winter looms. What’s an interesting way to spend part of your early fall weekend close to home?

Organizers of the 10th annual Western Wisconsin Pottery Tour have an idea.

“It’s a unique time of year,” says potter Jan McKeachie Johnston. “People are getting in a festive mood, it’s cooler, the leaves are changing. Our tour offers a relaxing, family outing. It’s also an opportunity to begin a little Christmas shopping.”

McKeachie Johnston’s husband, Randy Johnston, also a longtime potter and a UW-River Falls professor of art for 21 years, adds: “The tour is a chance for people to experience handmade daily objects, and the personal warmth it can generate in their lives.” 

The 2013 Western Wisconsin Pottery Tour is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The tour has four area pottery studios to visit, but many more featured guest artists are included at each site. The four sites are at:

  • Jan Jensen and Wendy Olson, 1299 Evergreen Drive (off of Hwy. 65, to county roads J, then JJ, before turning onto Evergreen), town of Kinnickinnic. Call 715-425-2334.
  • Randy Johnston and Jan McKeachie Johnston, N8336  690th St., town of Martell, east of River Falls on Hwy. 29 before turning onto 690th. Call 715-425-5596.
  • S.C. Rolf at 115 Lewis St., just off Main Street in River Falls, turn onto West Maple before turning again on Lewis. Call 715-426-7367.
  • Joe Singewald, 434 E. Maple Street, again off Main Street in River Falls, but turning east this time. Call 612-817-1290.

McKeachie Johnston Studios has been around since the 1970s. The couple there has been married for 35 years.

“I love having Jan as a studio mate,” says the 63-year-old Johnston. “It adds interest to what I do. We share studio time together and have conversations about our work as it progresses.”

McKeachie Johnston said those who partake of this weekend’s tour should enjoy finding a wider selection of pottery -- earthenware, stoneware, porcelain and more -- than they might typically find in a shop or gallery.

“I think there are times when people simply like coming in contact with the artists, seeing how and where they work, asking them questions,” she said. “It gives the artwork a more personal connection.”

For the complete story, please see the Oct. 10 print edition of the River Falls Journal.