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Celebration of Fine Art

Jake Potje and Susan Morrow Potje connect artists and collectors By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

For almost 30 years, the Valley has hosted one of the country’s premier art events: the Celebration of Fine Art. Sprawled under white tents in Scottsdale from January to March, this juried, invitational show and art sale showcases over 100 artists from around the country, who continuously create and sell their pieces from within personal open studios. Patrons are free to wander about, chat with artists and experience the artistic process while seeing new pieces come to life. The creativity is entrancing; even artists agree, saying the collaborations are fulfilling. Visitors can also learn about the inspiration, techniques and stories behind mediums during the Friday afternoon one-hour Art Discovery series, from blown glass and jewelry to steel sculptures and impressionistic influence. Arts & Antiques Magazine called the Celebration of Fine Art, “One of the West’s Premier Art Events” – and much of these accolades come from the work of Susan Morrow Potje, the second-generation owner of the Celebration of Fine Art. Along with her husband, Jake, she’s increased the annual revenue to over six million dollars and is known for her unique approach to connecting artists and their customers. We talked with Susan about the origination of the Celebration of Fine Art and what defines the Arizona art scene. Woven glass artist Mark Lewanski is a first-time participant who quickly learned the effect he and his peers have on guests who walk through the 40,000-square-foot space. “A guy broke down and cried when he saw my weaving,” says Lewanski, a Michigan native. “People see my weaving and sometimes think of a rug, which I understand. I don’t take it in a bad way, considering the size of the fibers and the color. “But a man saw my weaving and it brought back such a strong memory of his grandmother making these rugs. It brought him back. It was such an emotional response and a moving moment.” He was referred to the show by his friend and fellow artist, Carlos Page. “We’ve been friends for 12 years now, so I trust him,” he says. “It’s completely lived up to all the promises he made. It’s been really good. Usually, your first year in the market, you have to establish yourself. But we hit the ground running, really.” Anthony Barbano is another newbie to the Celebration of Fine Art. Barbano, a Tempe resident, is so well regarded that Potje wears one of his glass pieces on a chain around her neck. Jake Potje and Susan Morrow Potje pose in the studio of artist Kathleen Hope. (Photos by Kimberly Carrillo)

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85086 | MARCH 2019

Profile for Times Media Group

85086 March 2019  

85086 March 2019  

Profile for timespub