Barbara Michelena, owner of the CRAFT Gallery, has gathered together four major female Maine ceramicists to show their work at the gallery, 12 Elm St. Autumn Cipala, Jody Johnstone, Gail Savitz and Diana Thomas offer a range of style and technique that shows a sensitivity to form, line and proportion without complication.

Cipala maintains a studio practice in St. George, after residencies, apprenticeships and graduate study at Alfred University, Haystack, the University of Nebraska and Morocco. Her interest lies in making functional ceramics with historical connections using porcelain clay and delicate transparent glazes that do not hide the perfection in her forms.

Johnstone apprenticed in Japan, where potters at the time traditionally were men whom she  emulated during her training with master teacher Isezaki Sensai. She learned how to build the Anagama tunnel kiln that she uses at her studio in Swanville. Recently, her work has broken away from the earlier exposure to a male-dominated art form in Japan to her own more curvy and softer forms that are truer to her own nature.

Savitz makes functional and one-of-a-kind pieces in stoneware, porcelain and terracotta in her waterfront studio in Belfast. She studied with Peter Voulkas in California during a time when pottery making there also was dominated by men, influencing her early style and technique. She, too, finally gave way to her own interests in surface pattern, decoration and whimsy. Frogs, turtles, lizards and rabbits are among the menagerie that stand on their own or trim teapots, candlesticks and bowls.

Thomas works as a full-time ceramic artist in her Bog Pond studio and gallery in Phillips.  Her forms are simple cylinders, spheres, rectangles, squares and ovals. Bold and architectural in nature, they are softened and enhanced by beautiful colored glazes. The combination of flame and salt brings the crackling and flashing slips to life after being wood fired in her Norigama kiln and provides contrast to the smooth glazes that Thomas loves to experiment with.

CRAFT is located in the Elm Street courtyard, next to Caldbeck Gallery. For more information, call 594-0167 or visit craftonelm.com.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.