It was 35 years ago when potter Nancy Klotz opened her store at 95 Watch Hill Road in Westerly. “It was simply called Sun Up to begin with,” Klotz says of Sun Up Gallery, which, in following tradition, she originally named after the land on which she placed her pottery. “My studio is in a place that used to have the plot name of Sun Up Heights,” she explains. After five years in business, a customer told her that since she was having so many shows and ‘meet the artist’ events, she should call her space a gallery. And so she did. “I still have that old Sun Up Pottery sign, too,” Klotz says with a laugh.
Sun Up Gallery still hosts shows and artists’ events, allowing customers to get up close and personal with the fine artisans who craft the glass, jewelry, furniture and – of course – ceramics that bedeck the shop, from ceiling to floor. This summer, Klotz is particularly excited to welcome Jay LaCouture, a soda ash fire potter who is a professor of ceramics at Salve Regina. “Jay’s a wonderful artist,” she says, “and an inspirational potter. He recently spent five weeks in China, and he’s come back with all kinds of new techniques to share.” His work will be on exhibit in the gallery all through July.
Sun Up Gallery will hold many other trunk shows and special events this summer, including their big 35th anniversary party on June 28, featuring Alberto Parada, who is known for his sustainable fine jewelry. “I’ve been following his career through some other galleries, and he just seemed like a good fit for us,” Klotz explains of her choice to bring him on for the special event. “He uses a lot of rose gold and has won all kinds of awards. He’s very personable and will be here for the weekend [of the 30th] from Virginia.” She and her trusted staff haven’t taken on a new fine jeweler in several years due to the fact that gold has been so expensive; Parada’s work is clearly very impressive.
As for Klotz’s own favorite piece of bling, which she wears currently and has sold in her store, “I love my white topaz ring. It looks like a huge diamond and was done by a jeweler named Patty Daunis who’s from Maine.” Klotz pauses. “It’s the kind of ring where you could walk into a car dealership and they’d say, ‘We’ll trade you a car for that ring.’”
One place Klotz might be caught wearing that ring is Sunfire, Sun Up Gallery’s paint-your-own-pottery and mosaic studio, located right next door. “I opened Sunfire... as a way to get kids to start enjoying the craft. Kids are fearless; they know no failure,” she say. In addition to painting platters, frames and mugs, kids and adults can come in for occasional sculpting and throwing workshops and summer classes. A full schedule can be found online.
“It’s been 35 wonderful years of interesting people doing beautiful things,” Klotz says proudly. “There’s so much talent here in this little state.”