Clay Arts Vegas (CAV) started in 2011/2012, with Thomas Bumblauskas, John Gregg (emeritus) and Peter Jakubowski organizing a group of founding artists and imaging the possibilities after the first Las Vegas Pottery tour. Organizing the pottery tour led them to discovered there were lots of folks who were interested in pottery, did not take class, and were looking for a sense of community. This had them believe there was a need for a place centrally located, providing supplies, a place to work and teach as well as buy hand-made items. This led to a search which culminated in them opening Clay Arts Vegas in the Las Vegas Arts District.
Clay Arts Vegas has been a labor of love. It is not just the owners, but a group of dynamic and invested community members. Beyond a constant core of over a hundred students, there has been team building, school trips, scouting merit badges, date nights, and private parties. We have also not only hosted regular juried shows in our Victor F. Keen Gallery, bringing in work from hundreds of artists, but have shown work for both Las Vegas City Hall, and the Clark County library system. The studio is a community hub, having grown into a major part of the Las Vegas Arts community. Participating in fund-raising for One Million Bones (a benefit for survivors of genocide in sub-Saharan Africa), The Ronald McDonald House, The Las Vegas Artist Guild, The National Mining Museum, The Center (Southern Nevada LGBTQ Center), Nevada Ballet and many others has made CAV more than an arts studio. We believe art needs to be accessible and that community in today’s world is both local and global.
The vision behind CAV has led to it becoming a ceramic hub in the Southwest. As a supply house open to the public, we carry over 60 Laguna clay bodies, glazes from Laguna, Spectrum, and Mayco, and a broad array of tools. As an instructional institution, we offer regular classes in wheel-throwing and hand-building. Classes are built on the idea of being project driven and mixing experience levels. In addition to classes, we offer specialty workshops multiple times a year from guest artists who are leaders in the ceramic field. In 2017, we add a resident artist program, which brings ceramic artists in for extended stays to enrich our community. We also actively participate in community out-reach, from isolated classes, instillation, to internships with local high school students .
In 2019, we were feeling it was time to grow in new ways. At the end of the year we moved to a new facility that is approximately 8,000 square feet, giving us room for continued growth. We now have space for two resident artists, semi-private studios, a larger gallery, and more room to offer class with beautiful natural light. We are proud to be an important part of the Las Vegas arts and cultural scene. We have guests who visit us from all over the world to buy art, take classes, and learn about what makes Las Vegas a cultural rich and unique environment. We look to the future. We look at ways we can better serve our community, grow, and share our love of clay arts.
MEET THE TEAM
This is Marcus. He’s excited to get his bio on the Clay Arts Vegas website at long last. He is usually the first to greet people at the door with a friendly, “Hello! Welcome to Clay Arts Vegas” except to our much less refined human ears, it sounds like “BARK! Bark bark bark bark!” He’s been a member of the Clay Arts Vegas family for some time and has plans to start teaching wheel throwing in the near future since his hand-building class didn’t work out so well because of his lack of thumbs.
Thomas Bumblauskas Co-owner. Wheel-Thrower & Hand Building
Thom’s work in ceramics utilizes medium-sized functional vessels and quirky figurative sculptures. His work at first blush makes one smile at the silly images, yet something dark or sinister hides in the background. Perhaps he is a bit more glass “half empty” then he will admit.
Bumblauskas’ work pulls from the things which we fear, how we remember, how we communicate, and how we carry childhood experiences into our adult lives. His microcosms explore than human traits we often hide from ourselves and others, confronting the audience and more closely examining the universal nature of life, fear, humor, and absurdity, making viewers see themselves in a new way.
His work has been featured in numerous galleries and collected throughout the country. Bumblauskas’ work has been seen at MUDFIRE’S (Atlanta, GA), 321 Gallery (Caspar, WY), Butler University, Charlie Cummings Gallery, University of North Dakota, and others.
In addition to his many other talents, Bumblauskas is also an accomplished, award-winning scenic designer with numerous theatre, opera and film credits.
Peter Jakubowski Co-owner. Hand-builder. Gallerist.
Jakubowski arrived at clay through a study of theatrical design. His work explores historical and cultural forms with nature inspired finishes and textures. He has curated over 60 ceramic exhibitions for Clay Arts Vegas in the Victor F. Keen Gallery. In addition, he has done several shows for the City of Las Vegas and Clark County. In 2019, he was part of the curation team for an NCECA sponsored exhibition, “You've Been Served,” at the National conference in Minneapolis.
As an instructor, Jakubowski focuses on hand-building. He is highly versatile and likes to use slab, coiled, extruded and sculptural techniques. Often his functional work explores sculptural ideas. He has taught workshops in Las Vegas for community groups, taught several times for ART 321 in Casper, Wyoming, and has taught a workshop for the prestigious George School in Pennsylvania. Having been an educator in university settings, he sees artistic practice and education going hand and hand. With Art 321 and Casper College in 2018, Jakubowski created the Wyoming State Clay Festival which brings artists from around the region to share ideas and sell work. It is important to him that practitioners and scholars come together.
Jakubowski is always looking for ways to combine his passions. His love of the outdoors influences his artistic voice. He is a big foodie and finds ways to combine his love of fine food and cooking with his work. He developed an annual collaboration with Backwards Distilling Company to pair artists with their spirits, to make cups inspired by the drink, then cocktails inspired by the cup. Jakubowski has done similar events with Urban Forage Winery and Cider House and The Great Untamed Meadery. He also makes plates and bowls for Esther’s Kitchen and Ada’s in Las Vegas. He takes great joy in knowing hundreds of people eat off his functional pieces each week. His work is in homes and collections all over the globe. While he contributes to Clay Arts Vegas and makes his own work, he maintains an active theatre design career, lighting shows for Koresh Dance Company, Nevada Ballet Theatre and others.
Chuck Arnett - Instructor
“One has to remain flexible!” After graduating school in May, 1964, Arnett began his working life as a delivery person for King’s Flowers. His investigations into working with clay and glaze formulation started at nearly the same time. Shortly after starting investigations with a home-made potter’s wheel, he was drafted into the United States Army and he served in Vietnam. While in the Army, Arnett continued to research and learn about techniques for pottery.
When he finished his duties in the Service, he returned to Las Vegas and again took up making pottery. During this period he assisted Wally Wallace in teaching City of Las Vegas Adult Pottery Classes at Wallace’s home, as the City had no facilities at the time. The classes exposed students to all the facets of pottery making; clay exploration in the wild, clay mixing, glaze formulation, firing techniques, as well as the “normal” pottery and hand-building techniques.
Arnett’s career lead him to Head Floral Designer and Diesel Bus Mechanic; through all of this, he has continued to grow as a potter and had rubbed shoulders with artists like: Peter Myers, Mike McCollum, Tom and Elaine Coleman, Susan Filley and so many other who have visited Las Vegas to direct workshops. Arnett was also one of the founding members of the Nevada Clay Guild in 1990.
Studio Assistants & CAV Supporters
Paula Fernandez Knight
We are ever grateful to our community of supporters: Dan Anderson, Elaine Dumanski, Aurora Gandara, Andi Goodman, John Gregg, Coni Kalinowski, Mr. & Mrs. Victor F. Keen, KK Pottery, Marc & Mary Rosenthal, Constance Stotzer, Brandy Dean