It was a name I read in “Art Pottery of the United States” by Paul Evans that sent me on a journey. That name was Lois Marion Swart and the reason I read it several times is that she had exhibited at the Syracuse Ceramic Nationals in 1954 from my hometown of Carmichael, California. It was the middle of the 1990’s and I just started dialing the phone book. A man picked up the phone on my second call to a Swart family. I told him that I was seeking to speak with a Lois Swart, as I collected pottery. That person was one of her two sons. He said he would pass on my information to his mother. A couple days later, I received a call from Lois Swart. At this time, she was living in Placerville, California, and it was just a few days later that this name in a book was in front of me at her home. She proceeded to show me her pottery. Lois still had one of her old display cases with a few examples of her work for sale. She told me if I wanted to buy a pot that she was interested in selling her work. She spoke from her heart and proceeded to tell me about her pottery making, her family and anything I wanted to know. Up to that point in my life, I had never used the word “aura” to ever describe the presence of another human being. Lois had an aura that would not quit. I met with her a couple more times and during one of those meetings she told me she wanted to be my pottery grandma. She did not have to ask twice, as I was “all in”. I knew from these meetings that I wanted to tell the world about this potter from Carmichael, and as I met more artists from the clay community, the idea of a ceramic museum became very important to me. Potters are special people. They have truly changed my life.
On April 1, 2003 I launched Vasefinder, a digital online museum, from a front bedroom of my home in Fernley, Nevada. In 2005, I started a United States digital exhibition called the Vasefinder Nationals. Within just a few years, the exhibition name was changed to the Vasefinder International as it was expanded to 7 countries and ran for a total of 9 years. Many of the artists that exhibited in the show were the same potters that were listed in my museum and had exhibited at the Syracuse Ceramic Nationals. History has always been the catalyst behind my collecting, and I have been a collector since the age of 4. In 2009, I opened the Charlie B Gallery as a full time brick and mortar business. I knew when I opened the gallery that fulfillment in this life meant protecting the history of these potters through the start of a physical ceramic museum. I will have a grand opening of the Vasefinder Museum on October 18, 2019 from 6pm to 9pm at my gallery location of 114 West Telegraph Street, Carson City, Nevada. I hope you will join me.