In early 2016, Tom and Kathy Banfield were walking through downtown Forest City. Both potters, Tom and Kathy had just finished a successful weekend pottery festival and were taking some time to reflect. Owning a gallery had long been a dream of theirs, a gallery that could showcase not only their own work, but also the work of their friends. As luck would have it, Tom looked across the street, saw a small, cluttered storefront and wondered aloud, “I wonder if they would rent us that space?” Kathy replied, “Let’s go ask!” In late spring 2016, Banfield Pottery and Friends opened in that 500 square foot space. It quickly grew and, in late 2017, they moved up the street to the current location as Banfield Gallery.
The Banfields’ own work is focused on developing and mastering a 12th-century technique called Obvara. In this technique, pieces are heated red hot, pulled from the kiln, and immediately dunked into a bucket of whisky mash. As the pieces come out, they are still so hot that the liquid immediately scalds (Obvara means “to scald”) the piece and a chemical reaction takes between the acid in the mash and the base of the clay, leaving distinct colors and patterns.
Visitors to the gallery will find work from more than 40 artists in ceramics, wood, metal, oil painting, acrylic painting, and watercolor painting. All work is original and one-of-a-kind. Tom and Kathy may be found out front on the sidewalk, working on a new piece. On a Friday or Saturday evening, visitors may be fortunate enough to not only enjoy the amazing art, but also the beautiful music played on their 1928 Chickering Brothers grand piano.
Thursday–Saturday 10 am–8 pm