Art Galleries

THE ENDLESS MOUNTAINS SPIRIT: M.C. Richards & Paulus Berensohn

Suraci Gallery
Mar 21, 2015 - May 08, 2015

A synergetic nexus of the arts occurred in Susquehanna County when clay artists and teachers Mary Caroline Richards and Paulus Berensohn lived and worked in Northeast Pennsylvania. During that time an influx of artists, dancers, writers, and actors visited and worked at the Endless Mountains Farm, a cooperative and a place of creative energy. Iconic books are associated with the Farm –– Towards Wholeness and The Crossing Point: Selected Talks and Writings by M.C. Richards and Paulus Berensohn’s Finding One’s Way With Clay. The exhibition documents that place and time in our region, many of the people involved with examples of their work in clay, and a lasting legacy of creativity.

The exhibition is a collaborative project between Marywood ceramics faculty, Matt Povse and Skip Sensbach, and Sandra Ward Povse, director of Marywood Art Galleries, along with Laurie Graham and Larry Wilson, current owners of The Endless Mountains Farm. Throughout Matt Povse’s tenure in the Department of Art at Marywood University, he would hear snippets about Paulus Berensohn, M.C. Richards, various artists, friends, and the Endless Mountains Farm: “Over the years living in Northeast Pennsylvania and being a part of the art community, I’ve learned of a rich history of creative energy right here in our backyard.” Together the group decided to document that period of time, and according to Matt Povse, “…with what seems to be a lingering energy from The Endless Mountains Spirit, we have been able to sew together a brief history and document the creative and communal haven just down the road from here.”

In 1965 Paulus Berensohn found property in the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania and bought 100 acres with an old farmhouse and a barn to live and work as a potter. In 1968, Richards moved to the Farm after she was mugged and robbed near her home in NYC. The exhibition focuses on the life–long dance between Berensohn and Richards, and the land. Through the combined synergy of these two artists, the Endless Mountains Farm became a melting pot of both the creative and human spirit, bringing together individuals from various backgrounds to create a special place and time in ceramics history. 

During the time that Richards and Berensohn owned the Farm it became a creative haven for many friends and colleagues. Artists would spend time at the Farm’s studio to create their own work. Some would stay for short amounts of time while others stayed longer and used the Farm as their studio space. The environment instilled in the Farm by the relationship of Berensohn and Richards made it possible for others to share in the creative spirit. Although Berensohn left the Farm in 1972, his association with the Farm did not end there. Berensohn, who now lives and works in Penland, NC, still returns and stays at the Farm. Richards continued visiting her friends Graham and Wilson up until her death in 1999.

Following Berensohn’s departure, the Farm was set up as a cooperative ownership between Richards and three regular visitors: June Ekman, Burt Supree, and Remy Charlip, who had all met Berensohn through the New York dance scene. Ekman came to New York to dance with the Martha Graham School of Dance. Supree was a dancer, writer and the Dance Editor for the “Village Voice” in New York City. Charlip was a dancer, choreographer, and founding member of Merce Cunningham Dance Company. This cooperative arrangement made it possible for everyone to visit throughout the years and maintain their connection to the property. As people left the Farm, the shares changed hands to fewer principals and eventually was sold to longtime caretakers and stewards, Larry Wilson and Laurie Graham, who had lived and worked at the Farm throughout.

The exhibition is accompanied by a small catalog, The Endless Mountains Spirit, written by Sensbach with photography by Marguerite I. Fuller. The catalog text is based on interviews, historical accounts and archives, and ceramic objects made by Berensohn, Richards, and many of the artists who lived and passed through the Farm in the late 1960s–early 1980s. In 1968 the Farm hosted a ceramics workshop that included many of today’s prominent ceramists including Anne Stannard and Karen Karnes. The catalog concludes with Jordan Taylor’s residency from 2002–2010 at the Endless Mountains Farm, the last ceramic artist to work at the Farm. The work that Taylor created there connected him to the legacy of ceramic work that the Farm has born witness to for nearly 50 years. 

Reception: April 18, 6–8 PM

Gallery Talk: April 22, 3 PM

Film Screening: April 29, 5:30 PM – TO SPRING FROM THE HAND: The life and work of Paulus Berensohn by Neil Lawrence, Swartz Center, McGowan Community Room

Please Note: Exhibition hours for May 4–8: 9am – 4pm

Paulus Berensohn at the Endless Mountains Farm, May 2014

Image: Marguerite I. Fuller

M.C. Richards, courtesy of the Estate of M.C. Richards

Child's Play from Finding One's Way with Clay, both by Paulus Berensohn

M.C. Richards, Brown Flameware Casserole, Signed: Nov 3, ‘79

M.C. Richards, Thunder Dance, ca. 1971 (pictured in The Crossing Point, p. 38)

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