Issue No. III January 2000
As we enter a New Year and a new millennium, I want to express a few thoughts as the outgoing Wisconsin Pottery Association (WPA) president and to propose a toast for the New Year. First of all, it was a pleasure to serve as both vice-president and president of the WPA. I know that members hesitate about committing to a two-year stint as a club officer. I had my doubts too. What made the experience pleasurable was the support that I received from the membership, especially the other officers, and key committee members that work very hard to see that the projects we work on succeed. Luckily I found the work to be a 'shared' experience, with everyone working towards a common goal. It was a very rewarding experience.
Secondly, I'm very proud of what was accomplished by our association this past year. Beginning in December 1998 we established the WPA web page at www.wisconsinpottery.org through the help of Tim Zinkgraf who continues doing a great job of updating it and giving us access to our own piece of the 'net'. I can't think of a better advertising method for our organization. In the spring, we published our first newsletter. Kari Kenefick has done a terrific job taking on the duties of editor and has provided us with another vital communication tool to reach our membership. In August, we had our most successful pottery show and exhibit ever and in the last newsletter we discussed key WPA members that made this event successful. This fall, we've seen a growth in our membership to nearly 90 members. That's a long way from the group of 12 that met informally for the first time at David and Betty Knutzen's house back in the winter of 1993. In addition the past year saw interesting speakers on a wide array of topics, thanks to the diligent work of the program development committee.
As we look forward to the year 2000, I believe that we will continue to grow as an association. We have many projects on our burners, one being our August 26th Pottery Exhibit and Show. The positive press and word of mouth advertising we've received about last year's show should propel us to further success this year. (Don't forget that we're looking for Illinois Potteries for our 2000 exhibit!) On-going projects include continued work with the Arts Council of Edgerton on the Pauline cabin relocation and historical marker project, development of a traveling exhibit, oral histories on potteries such as Pittsville, and last but not least, further development of our web page and newsletter possibilities.
We've been fortunate these past few years to have had the support of two influential groups, the Wisconsin State Historical Society and the Ceramic Arts Collector's Association. Both have helped us to achieve our successes. Many thanks for their continued support!
Although it came down to the final hour, I'm pleased that we have had two excellent members step forward to become president and vice president; Barb Huhn and Kari Kenefick. We also have Scott Grant contributing as secretary and Janet Walbarger in training for the treasurer position. Good luck to all the officers. They deserve our support.
Lastly, to all the members, please join me in a toast to the New Year and the new millennium: "To continued growth and excitement for the WPA, to continued good fellowship at our meetings, to exciting finds for our members (whether they may be the Show and Tell heart-stopper type of thing, or that scratch-your-head piece destined for the mystery table). Happy 2000 to you all!"
Jim Riordan, outgoing WPA President
I'm writing today because I want to help demystify the holding of offices for president and vice-president in the WPA. We are very fortunate this year in that Kari Kenefick has accepted the nomination for vice-president, ascending to the presidency next year. Last year the situation was more serious and there were discussions of disbanding the offices of president and vice-president. If no one would accept the position it would significantly change what we could accomplish with our current structure. The discussion occurred this year as well, before Kari accepted the nomination, leading me to want to share some thoughts with you.
The first is that making the two year commitment is not as ominous as it sounds. This year we had 8 regular monthly presentations, a tour of the Ephraim Pottery, the picnic, the show/exhibit and the holiday party. I would have attended these events whether serving as vice-president or not. In addition to these club meetings, we held (only) monthly executive meetings. Various committees meet, such as the Program Committee and Exhibit Committee, and just like any regular member, the VP or president are welcome but not required to attend these additional meetings. When I was first asked to to be the VP I initially declined. "I only know about English pottery," "I'm new to the club", "I don't know more than a handful of members", and "I don't think I have that much time to spare", were a few of my reasons. Having stepped down from the presidency of a community board of a different organization, which required several nights per week, fundraising, maintaining a hired staff, etc. , I was not ready to jump back into the fray. One-by-one our friend Jim Riordan put my fears to rest. Don't get me wrong-a great deal of work is done in the WPA every year. There is a small core of members who readily volunteer to do the vast majority of it. Many times during my tenure as VP this year I've thought "Is this it? Is this all I have to do?" Offers to assist are more often than not declined by the core workers [you know who you are : )] who have been doing the work for years. As VP my main responsibility has been to call for volunteers to serve at the exhibit and sale and this duty practically took care of itself, as people readily agreed to fill one or more slots. I've taken 4 or 5 photos at every meeting for the scrapbook and met with the membership committee informally after our monthly meetings. I spent the year watching Jim and I have already outlined a similar schedule for next year's agenda/meetings. Whenever I had questions or concerns the core group was right there to answer them. Nine out of ten times whatever it was had automatically already been done by one of the core group members.
What I have received from this year as VP has been invaluable to me as a member and beginning collector. I've been privy to an insider's view of the history of the club and it's members. As executive meetings are held in a round robin manner I've enjoyed visits to member's homes and glimpses of amazing collections I might not have otherwise had the opportunity to see.
Lastly, may I remind past presidents that they can serve on the executive committee again and I encourage you to think about doing so. Ideally, the VP's and presidents should alternate between longtime and newer members, combining a fresh eye with the wisdom of the original vision for the club.
In the future please consider serving as a club officer. Take a chance and you may find yourself, like me, pleasantly surprised by your own experience as a WPA officer.
Barb Huhn, WPA President-Elect