Revisiting works of a pair of potters

Posted 7/8/10

In 1968 a pair of longhaired hippie potters, Macy Dorf and Larry Paul Wright, graduates of Southern Illinois University, purchased a Littleton Main …

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Revisiting works of a pair of potters


In 1968 a pair of longhaired hippie potters, Macy Dorf and Larry Paul Wright, graduates of Southern Illinois University, purchased a Littleton Main Street storefront from Maynard Tischler, a DU ceramics professor.

Soon, with a kiln in place, they opened the Two Potters Shop at 2516 W. Main Street, which became the community’s go-to place for gifts and handmade pottery for the home, a place where adults and kids could learn to create pottery and the beginning of a focus on Main Street as a place where the arts thrived.

The original Two Potters sign, made by Mark Rankin in 1968 hangs at the gallery entrance, introducing an imaginatively displayed “Two Potters Revisited: a Retrospective Exhibition,” at the Littleton Museum. The exhibit continues through Aug. 22 and includes works by three of the four potters who were associated with this long time Littleton Main Street shop until it closed in 1995: Macy Dorf, Larry Paul Wright and Frank Gray.

Works by the three are blended together, beautifully arranged, in cases on walls. Items range from functional mugs, teapots, bowls and platters to large decorative pieces and wall-hung sculptural works. They are for sale.

Each artist has the strength to create really big pots on the potters wheel, the knowledge to vary the finish and the imagination to move into massive sculptural works — three dimensional and relief.

At the side of the gallery is an array of pottery on Gray’s old wooden wagon, a trademark store fixture during his stay on Main Street.

Macy Dorf lives in Littleton and owns Artists on Santa Fe gallery and studios at 747 Santa Fe Drive in Denver. He taught for a year after receiving his MFA in ceramics from Southern Illinois University, then came to Littleton with Wright and started Two Potters. His work has been exhibited and sold for more than 40 years throughout Colorado and the United States.

His artwork is created via several techniques: wheel throwing, sagger firing, hand building and slip casting. An extruder was used in his “Ruins” series, which reflects time spent in Utah’s Red Rocks country.

In 1973, Dorf left Two Potters for an apprenticeship in La Borne, France, a famed community of potters. He then moved to Durango, Colorado, and began making the functional pottery that has been his “bread and butter” through the years. Returning to Denver, he set up his studio at 747 Santa Fe Drive and eventually purchased the building, which has studio space for about 25 artists as well as a front gallery.

Larry Paul Wright is a musician and ceramic artist, who now lives and works in Venice, Calif. He also studied at Southern Illinois University and speaks of “the severe and lean influence of my mentor, the British ceramic artist Nicholas Vergette” as a check and balance against his own inclination toward flamboyance. (That inclination certainly is apparent in some of his work.)

For 25 years, his career in pottery was shared with music and a career as a Denver firefighter, from which he retired in 1998 to focus on art. His work has been shown throughout the midwest and Rocky Mountain region.

Frank Gray first learned to make pottery at Denver’s East High School — “when I signed up for sculpture and was given ceramics instead.” Clay clicked for him and he took lessons around Denver until 1976, when he entered Loretto Heights College for a BA in ceramics, followed by an apprenticeship with David Blakslee in Lafayette. In 1981, he and his wife Sue bought a house in Brighton where he made useful stoneware until 1990 when the bought Two Potters, where he sold his work and that by other area potters until 2005.

Early influences were Asian, then English and Middle Eastern works were of interest. He has balanced his work between simple, useful, affordable pieces and more experimental works in centuries-old Raku technique.

In the meantime, Sue realized a dream of hers with the purchase of a bed and breakfast in Woodland Park and in 2005, Gray sold the Littleton building and moved his studio south, where he teaches, has business interests in Manitou Springs and helps with the B&B operation. He has recently cooperated with daughter Audrey on a series of wall pieces, which are represented in the show.

A brief history of ownership is posted in the exhibit.

1968- Dorf and Wright bought the building from Marnard Tischler, DU ceramics professor.

1973- Dorf left, selling his share of the businees to Wright and his wife Anney.

1975-The Wrights divorced and she operated the shop.

1976- Anney Wright sold the business to potter Sarah Molyneaux, who operated it until selling.

1990- Frank and Sue Gray purchased Two Potters and operated it until 2005, when Ruth Graham of Ancient Arts Healing bought the building to house her practice.

The building was designated a Littleton Historic Landmark in 1993.

If you go:

“Two Potters Revisited: a Retrospective Exhibition,” includes works by three of the four potters who were associated with this long time Littleton Main Street shop: Macy Dorf, Larry Wright and Frank Gray. The exhibit will run July 2 through August 22 at the Littleton Museum, 6028 S. Gallup St., Littleton. Admission free. 303-795-3950.


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