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VCPG History

We are an organization with a long commitment to promote studio pottery and ceramic arts both for our members and the broader community. Founded in 1957, we have built an ever growing and expanding non-profit organization. We dreamed. We, collectively, made dreams a reality. 

For the past 60 plus years we have held an annual Pottery Market in Ojai, usually in June in concert with the Ojai Music Festival. In 2010 we opened a Gallery in the Ventura Harbor Village. Here the public can find a vast array of work created by our members.

We are still dreaming. We would like to open studio and classroom space for those wanting a place to work, a class to take or a local spot for potters to purchase supples and materials. We are still dreaming. We want to support and mentor young potters, recent graduates and those finding the joy of working with clay for the first time.

This page tells our story looking backward. If you would like to be part of our dreams going forward, please consider becoming a Patron or member of the guild. Come dream with us. 

History Intro

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In November of 1957 a group of ten potters joined together to form the Ventura County Potters’ Guild in affiliation with the Ventura Arts and Crafts association. Ventura college instructor William B. Winterbourne was chosen to head the group as “master potter.” Mrs. Doris Kahn of Moorpark was secretary, and Mrs. Connie Tviet of Ventura, Treasurer. The other founding members were: Louis Anderson, Camarillo; Paula Follett, Oak View; Helen Fowler, Oxnard; Walter Knecht, Ventura; Frank Noyes, Ojai; Isidora Parsons, Carpinteria, and Jessica Prescott, Ventura.


Those ten charter members pledged to maintain high professional standards, and to bring before the public examples of contemporary pottery through exhibits and local sales. They agreed to submit three pots a year to the other members of the guild for critique and analysis of craftsmanship and artistic merit, and new applicants to the Guild were also required to submit their work to the general membership for critique and were accepted only after an affirmative vote of the members present.

The guild had its first exhibit the month of its founding, exhibiting at Ojai Book and Contemporary Art Shop in Ojai. Other exhibits followed in galleries, libraries, gardens, department stores and municipal festivals. In 1958 they established what became their principal show – a Fall Show held in Ventura at a member’s garden nursery.

In the Spring of 1959, the guild was invited by the Ojai Music Festival to exhibit in conjunction with its activities. That sale at the Ojai Art Center featured exhibits presenting pottery beginning a week prior to the actual event with an opening that featured tea served by guild members donning white gloves. That Ojai show became the Guild’s second principal annual show for the next decade and our longest running show to date.


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Historical Chronology 1950s


By 1960 membership had grown to 16 and would increase slowly to the mid-20s over the next decade. Members were all residents of Ventura County and all were displaying and selling their work at guild events. As part of the goal to educate its members and the general public about contemporary ceramics the guild began an “educational program” in 1960 and invited well established ceramic artists to speak at program meetings which were well advertised and open to the public. The guild also sponsored outside potters to conduct workshops and discussions at Ventura college and local recreation centers. Among those who spoke in the 1960s were many recognizable names: Paul Soldner, Vivika and Otto Heino (then directors of the Chouinard institute), Hal Riegger (national authority on the raku process), F. Carleton Ball (professor of ceramics at USC), Bernard Kester (Ceramics instructor at UCLA), Sheldon Kaganoff (Ceramics instructor at UCSB), Tom Ferreira, John Burton, Ward Young, Laura Andreson (professor at UCLA), Kenneth Starbird (asst. professor of art at Los Angeles State College and chair of the Southern California Designer Craftsmen), Robert L. Glover (ceramics instructor at Otis Art Institute).

As the guild conducted more sales and exhibits, some members felt that displays should be standardized. Plans were circulated to cut a round and a rectangular table from a single sheet of plywood and the tables were then all painted the same color.


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The 70s began with the 23 members and the decision to incorporate as a non-profit organization. The purpose remained to promote interest in pottery-making and appreciation of the ceramic arts. The guild sponsored two annual shows, a Fall Show in Ventura, and a Spring Show in Ojai, and they generated income that when combined with dues and workshop fees sponsored demonstrations, workshops and slide presentations by recognized artists and specialists in different aspects of ceramics.

The Annual Fall Show had been held at Knecht gardens through the 60s but after the death of founder Walter Knecht (owner of Knecht Gardens) subsequent Fall shows in the 1970s changed locations from year-to-year, being held in the gardens of members Genevieve Gruell, and then Daisy Hassall, followed by the Imperial Savings and Loan, Ventura County Museum of History and Art, Ventura Fairgrounds, Palm St. Livery, American Legion Hall, Clocktower Inn, Bank of America Levy headquarters, and Guthrie Hall at Ventura College.

In the early 70s, ceramists Vivika and Otto Heino moved to Ojai after purchasing the McAndrew Road residence of Beatrice Wood.

A Scholarship Program was established in 1973 to encourage college students to pursue a serious study of this ancient but very modern art form. Meetings were held at Foster Library in Ventura on the 4th Monday of each month September-May.


1977 Ojai Group
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1980s and forward will be coming soon.

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