The Peninsula Pulse has teamed up with the Door County Art League (DCAL) to reprint portions of interviews conducted by Randy Rasmussen, a DCAL Member-at-Large, with various artists. Featured in this issue of the Pulse is an interview with potter Chad Luberger. To read the interviews in their entirety, to sign up for DCAL’s monthly newsletter or for more information visit http://www.doorcountyartleague.org.
Randall Rasmussen (RR): Chad, how did you become an actor? (Chad Luberger trained as an actor at Carnegie Mellon University.)
Chad Luberger (CL): I think it was the first art form I was exposed to…I remember in first grade. It seemed to be a good fit for me.
RR: Where were you born?
CL: I was born in Pompton Plains, New Jersey and came to Door County at age two.
RR: No pottery in your formative years through high school?
CL: Sixth grade acting and singing in high school was my exposure to the arts.
RR: This is a question I enjoy asking all the working artists I interview. Did you enjoy math?
CL: No, math was not my favorite subject.
RR: One more example of right brain dominance. When was your first exposure to pottery?
CL: It was in Homer, Alaska in my friend’s kitchen. (Luberger has traveled, lived and worked in many areas including China, Alaska, and Los Angeles.) I was impressed by my friend’s handmade bowls…amazed that she had actually made with her hands something that was so beautiful and functional. I was so impressed I took a pottery class. This started my journey to learn and create.
RR: So you realized almost immediately this would be your medium.
RR: How far artistically are Homer, Alaska and Los Angeles from Door County?
CL: That’s a good question. Homer reminds me of Door County – a goodly number of artisans with a summer tourist season. Winter is a time to regroup and think about the creative process. Los Angeles, where I worked as an actor and formed a production company, is filled with people following a dream. It is as though the city is floating on a layer of dreams, drifting along. It was interesting for a time but not a place that felt comfortable for what I wanted to do long term.
RR: Did I read that you were, at one time, considering law school?
CL: Every time I doubted my path I thought about attending law school. I think, knowing what I know now, I would be an unhappy lawyer.
RR: How have Abe and Ginka Cohn influenced and helped you in your career path.
CL: I know I wouldn’t be where I am without them. I was introduced to Abe and Ginka by my grandparents. Immediately, I was struck by their interest and their willingness to help me, and they were instrumental in my learning process. For 53 years they have been pillars in the Door County art community. I really can’t thank them enough.
RR: Your studio-gallery is on Plum Bottom Road. If I could come up with the perfect name for a road on which a gallery would be located it would be “Plum Bottom Road.”
CL: I think it’s a great location. It’s the lowest area in Door County. I don’t know the origin of the name.
RR: What do you see as problems for the Door County artistic community?
CL: I think the major problem for developing artists in Door County is the price of land. Land values go up and it becomes impossible for the struggling artist to purchase a place in which to create work. I have an idea of creating a space for artists working in the fired arts. It seems that creativity feeds creativity. The escalating land prices in this area I think may discourage other artists from moving here to the detriment of the creative process.
RR: You work in different clays. I was interested to see your work in porcelain. Is that different than regular clay?
CL: Porcelain has no iron and no grog. It is white and smooth and fires “tight” – a different feel.
RR: How many potters are working in Door County?
CL: There are nine pottery shops but many more potters, some of which wholesale their work. We have some very accomplished potters in Door County.
RR: What was it like working with Cynthia Bringle? (Luberger was selected to work with Bringle, an internationally known potter, at the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina.)
CL: What I learned from Cynthia Bringle allowed me to open my gallery. I learned the “day in and day out” information one needs to have to open a gallery. It was a tremendous experience. I will always be grateful for the knowledge she passed on to me.
RR: What would you advise students who want to follow your path into pottery?
CL: Just do the work and then work some more, anything to improve your abilities. We are fortunate to have so many receptive artists in Door County. Many of them have been instrumental to my development. I would like to invite you to stop in and meet them sometime; they’re a friendly bunch.
RR: Finally, what do you think is the importance of art in our lives?
CL: I don’t think any of us can live our lives fulfilled without artistic expression. Artists are a vital part of the community. Door County is unique in the great number of creative people who reside here and enrich our lives. Our lives are filled with tangibles – homes, cars – but art goes beyond these things to the intangible and unexplainable, which is so easily forgotten but of value as well.
Chad Luberger’s handcrafted porcelain and stoneware creations are on display at Plum Bottom Pottery, located at 4999 Plum Bottom Road in Egg Harbor. This studio-gallery nestled on 20 acres in the heart of the Door Peninsula is open Friday and Saturday up until Memorial Day Weekend, at which point it will be open daily from 10 am – 5 pm. For more information on Luberger’s work visit http://www.plumbottompottery.com or call 920.743.2819.