Exhibit To Benefit Local Habitat for Humanity

Paul Volckening pottery

Las Vegas, N.M. — The New Mexico Highlands University Ray Drew Gallery presents an exhibit and silent auction featuring renowned potter Paul Volckening’s work to benefit Las Vegas Habitat for Humanity.

The exhibit opens Oct. 6 from 2 — 4 p.m. with an auction preview and opening bids. The closing reception is Oct. 19 from 1 — 3 p.m. Volckening will be at both events at Ray Drew Gallery in the university’s Donnelly Library, 802 National Ave.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit that builds and repairs houses worldwide using volunteer labor and donations. The partner families purchase the homes through no-profit, no-interest mortgage loans. Each family also provides 400 hours of sweat equity in building their home.

The Las Vegas Habitat for Humanity affiliate started 22 years ago. It has built 22 homes and completed a number of remodels for needy families with the help of dedicated local volunteers.

“Habitat for Humanity stands for two things: providing families with decent, affordable places to live and call their own, and offering the support those families need to stay in their homes,” said Curtis Sollohub, immediate past president of Las Vegas Habitat for Humanity. “It’s so wonderful to see local children and families be able to live in a safe environment where they feel the pride of ownership. Habitat offers a hand up, not a hand out.”

Volckening is a nationally known ceramic artist and leader in the American Studio Pottery Movement. He was a Highlands University fine arts professor from 1960 — 1972 and again from 1984 — 1987. The Fulbright scholar lives in Santa Fe.

Volckening’s ceramic pots are in major public and private collections from New York to California. He donated 40 pieces for the Habitat for Humanity benefit, including vases, bowls and jars ranging from about seven inches to 14 inches in height.

“What sets Paul’s work apart is his unique ability to harness form, shape and natural glazes into a beautiful piece of ceramic art work,” said Bob Read, the curator for Ray Drew Gallery and the university’s fine art librarian. “Each piece is so pure, with elegant classical shapes. Paul strives for excellence in every piece he creates.”

Read said the silent auction is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for people to see and purchase Volckening’s art work at reasonable prices. His ceramic pieces command prices from the hundreds and much more in the art market. The starting bids for the silent auction are from $30 – $75.

Volckening, who is 85, said that from the beginning, he loved the time he spent at the potter’s wheel. He produced pots for 57 years.

“I enjoyed the earthiness of the clay and the firing of kilns — they’re like living, breathing things of fire, air and gas combined to create heat to harden the clay and glaze,” Volckening said. “The challenge for me over the years was to make large pottery forms.”

Recalling his Highlands days, Volckening said: “My personal mantra as an art student was ‘do more, do better’ and this became my teaching philosophy. Teaching art at Highlands was the best teaching experience of my life. The 60s were a very exciting time for art and our classes were large, with enthusiastic students who spent long hours in the pottery and other studios.”

Before joining the Highlands faculty, Volckening taught at Humboldt State University, San Francisco Art Institute, and more. He earned his M.A. from Mills College and his B.A. from California College of Arts and Crafts, both in the Bay Area of California.

Volckening’s reason for donating pots for the Habitat for Humanity benefit is simple. 

“A lot of people need a lot of help and if I can make a small contribution, I’m happy about that,” Volckening said.

“We at Habitat are very grateful for Paul’s time and generosity of spirit,” Sollohub said. “It goes far beyond donating 40 pieces of his striking pottery. We’re also very thankful to Highlands for making this Habitat benefit possible, and especially to Bob Read for spearheading this effort. Without his hard work and expertise, it wouldn’t have been possible.” 

For more information, contact Sollohub at 505-425-8552 or curtisuae@yahoo.comor contact Read at 505-454-3338.

Ray Drew Gallery is open Monday — Friday 8 a.m. — 5 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 1 — 5 p.m.