Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Pohle carries on her mother's tradition

Elizabeth Pohle shows her hand-painted ceramics at this weekend's Ketchum Arts Festival.

For the Express

This year's Ketchum Arts Festival includes the painted ceramic work of Ketchum local Elizabeth Pohle, who now spends half of each year in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

After many years of hard work, her signature designs have taken off through representation with the Vanguard Group and sales to Home Goods and T.J Maxx stores. "I even have a rep now, so it really is great," she said. "I can stay home painting and coming up with design ideas and they take care of the manufacturing and sales."

In addition to manufacturing for retail sales, Pohle also makes original, hand-painted ceramic dinnerware for sale at art shows around the country and through stores in Ketchum. Her designs include farm animal scenes sold at Antiques and Country Pine (next door to Tully's) and at the Summer Store at Janet Dunbar Interiors. She has also developed a trout-fishing line for Silver Creek Outfitters.

Originally from northern California, Pohle came to Ketchum in the 1970s and attended the Community School in Sun Valley when its campus was still visited by Sun Valley Center for The Arts denizens like ceramicist Jim Romberg.

"Ketchum was a very different town then," she said. "Everyone got invited to all the parties together. Now it is by invitation only and there might be security involved."

Pohle studied graphic design at Long Beach State College in Los Angeles before pursuing a degree in the Fine Arts through Parson's School of Design in Paris and Italy. After returning to Los Angeles, she found work in the textile design business before calling it quits and moving back home to Ketchum in 1994. As a hobby, she began painting ceramic cups and plates at a do-it-yourself pottery shop called Local Color and selling the pieces at her mother's store, Dunbar Interiors, in the Galleria Building.

"Pretty soon people were ordering entire dinner sets," said Pohle, who bought her own kiln in order to keep up with business.

"I feel like this career chose me. I gave up a good job in textile design to move back to Ketchum," said Poole. "Now I am doing the same kind of art, only on plates."

Up until the late nineties, Pohle and a number of other local artists sold their work at the Sun Valley Arts & Crafts Festival. In 1999 Poole's mother, Janet Dunbar, with the help of jeweler Sarah Berquist and clothing designer Kelly O'Neal, founded the Ketchum Arts Festival.

"My mother is one of the most supportive members of the arts community in Ketchum. We pride ourselves on having an art-minded town. Many people travel to Sun Valley to buy original work from local artists. At the Ketchum Arts Festival, we are not handpicking artists who are from the professional art show circuit. If you go to the festival, it's just like the old days in Ketchum."

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