Westside Studio Clayarts
Watching hands create pottery can be meditative and hypnotic, as clay mixed with water is formed into a recognizable shape with a purpose. You get the sense you have stepped back in time to the origins of human history, when ceramics were essential containers for food and water. And while the form may follow the needed function of cooking and preparing food, the art of such creation is indeed present in each step of the process.
The significance of handmade ceramic objects is evident in a visit to Westside Studio, home and workshop of Toni DeWitt and Bob Heim. Collaborating for over 35 years, these two potters/clayworkers consciously carry on the tradition and practice of studio pottery, with the limited production of handmade ceramic objects. “We design our pottery for serving fine food and daily fare, with the intention of adding beauty and enrichment to every meal,” said DeWitt. The art of everyday living can be seen throughout their park-like studio environment.
Local and regional are not just buzzwords for DeWitt and Heim, as they intentionally live a low carbon footprint lifestyle. Their art is integrated with their daily activities, whether it is working with clay on the wheel or sowing seeds they have saved from previous seasons. Their studio sits just outside their home, alongside the garden growing much of their food. Kale, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, Seminole pumpkin and sweet potatoes, many of them heirloom varieties, are part of the bounty they cook and serve in their ceramics.
If indeed we eat with our eyes first, food served on pottery from Westside Studio is an artful way to satisfy a culinary and visual hunger.
Westside Studio pottery can be found at the Old City Farmers' Market on Saturdays at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.