Introducing Featured Artist Cathleen Lerew
and the Under the Horizon Pottery & Arts Studio
by Lisa Cadigan
“Close your eyes,” she was telling her student as I walked into the studio. “If you close your eyes, you can ‘see’ the wall of the pot better.” I watched Cathleen Lerew work with a young woman during a private lesson at the potter’s wheel for a few minutes before she realized I was there. By the time she took notice of me, I already knew this was going to be a great interview. The feeling that this was a very special place was tangible in the space between and around us.
Cathleen hit the ground running in November of 2011 when she opened the doors of the Under the Horizon Pottery & Arts Studio (UTH), welcoming over 150 people who showed up to celebrate the Grand Opening. The studio is the culmination of a dream she has had since she was 18, when she purchased her first kiln — a small piece of equipment about the size of a crock-pot. She will never part with that kiln, even though it has never actually been fired – it has too much sentimental significance. “It’s always been a symbol of what was to come.”
Fast-forward 15 years to January 21, 2011, when Cathleen and her husband Jamey settled on the purchase of the property that would become UTH. Eyeing the vacant building and acreage for years prior to that day, she always “just knew” it would be hers. She described a moment two years earlier, when she stood behind the building, 2.5 acres of green and trees before her, and she closed her eyes overcome with the sensation that she was on the brink of something great. At that moment, her daughter approached her from behind and said, “This is it, isn’t it? It’s perfect.”
Cathleen and Jamey and other members of their family worked tirelessly in the months between January and November, bringing the building up to code, installing larger kilns, acquiring equipment, and making the space comfortable for the public to come to work on their own art projects and/or take classes. The result is a space charged with creativity – inspiring quotes are jotted in marker across many of the walls. “You don’t need to be formally trained to be an artist,” Cathleen explains. “I am not looking for the next Van Gogh. I just want to help instill creativity in people.” And she does that. She provides a space where she not only teaches, but also learns new things from her students all the time, an active participant and provider of the creative process.
UTH has been open at this location for eighteen months, offering pottery, sculpture, drawing and painting classes as well as private lessons, open studio hours, paint-your-own-pottery sessions, summer camps and other special events for the Adams County community. Students range from age 6 to over 60. This summer they will host three concerts, making UTH an arts venue for “all creative souls.”
Cathleen is a member of the Adams County Arts Council, where last spring her work was featured in their teachers show. She has also had her own show at the Adams County Winery, and will share an exhibit of her work there again this July. Her work can be purchased at two locations in Gettysburg: Subterranean Soul and A & A Village Treasures. She is most certainly a creative soul across mediums, but working with clay is her favorite. “Clay is in my veins,” she says. “It just makes sense to me.”
Having a space like UTH in our community makes sense to me, too. It is just one example of how a little vision, some hard work and the willingness to follow creative impulses can make a positive impact in a community, one person at a time. For more information about the studio or Cathleen’s work, visit her website at http://www.underthehorizon.net/ or find her on Facebook.