“It’s great that we can share the language of art together,” says Mike Rygg. He and Rosemary Hultman have shared that language as partners in life and art since 1975 when they met in a meditation class. They are the creative team of Clam River Pottery and their work is on view at the Passage Art Gallery in Webster.
Both found their way to pottery by wandering into a demonstration or studio during their college days. “That was it. I was hooked immediately,” said Rosemary. But earlier in her life, she explored a totally different art form. As a five-year-old, she visited a neighborhood artist who painted in his yard. “I would go over there with my cardboard and crayons, sit down next to him and draw,” she recalled.
Like her, Mike happened on a pottery demonstration at the community college he attended. “[It} sparked a desire to learn pottery, which I did by taking some classes,” he said. “Working with clay on the wheel is what really drew me in.”
Rosemary started focusing on pottery at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, saying “Once I stepped into a pottery studio, it was all I cared about. Under the tutelage of instructor Jim Grittner, she set up a pottery business, “which was pretty amazing since art wasn’t my major or minor.” That changed as she pursued a bachelor of fine arts degree at the University of Minnesota, where she began drawing and painting, and then worked for many years at the Grand Marais Art Colony “with a truly gifted artist and mentor, Hazel Belvo,” she added.
After Mike’s start with pottery in community college, he worked with other potters on different projects. He also worked in production studios and in his home studio gaining more skills and experience. He managed the pottery studio during his nearly two years at the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.”There I learned a lot about the power of arts for language in design. I am not a Native person, but working there really helped me find ways to express my inner life through art.”
Rosemary and Mike grew up in Minneapolis and St. Paul respectively. “Before we were partners, we both had a dream of living in a dome,” she said. “I have always loved the outdoor life,” he added. Then, in 1974, Mike came upon a property in Wisconsin, which for them “has grown to become home sweet home.”
Nature is Rosemary’s muse, especially trees. She works with pastels and gouache (a type of paint made from pigments bound in water-soluble gum, like watercolor, but with the addition of a white pigment in order to make it opaque). “My hope is for the viewer to see the magic and beauty in nature,” she said. “I love the immediacy of pastels and touching the pigment.”
“These days, my artwork is mostly for the joy of being in the creative process,” Mike reveals. I draw a lot of creative inspiration from my many years of practicing yoga meditation. That’s a creative process Rosie and I do together.” He went on to say “Art can be, and is to me, an alignment to natural creative rhythms and that feels good when involved in the flow of the creative process.”
As members of the Burnett Area Arts Group (BAAG). Both artists’ works are on exhibit and for sale at the Northwest Passage Gallery located one mile south of Webster at the corner of St. Rd. 35 and North Bass Lake Road. The Gallery operates in partnership with BAAG, showcasing local artists’ work in many mediums. Hours are Friday-Saturday 10-3, Sunday 10-2. For additional BAAG and Gallery information, visit baag-wi.org or nwpgallery.org. For Clam River Pottery, visit rihdesign.com.