A visit to Ann Metlay Art, her small gallery and studio tucked into a strip of a few businesses just off 89A in Cottonwood, is to enter a world of whimsical creativity. Ann, the artist, exudes enthusiasm and spirit.
“I have been a writer all my life,” Ann explains. “When, as I aged a bit, words became more difficult to find, I discovered a long-hidden passion for ceramic sculpture. The words and thoughts I do not have immediate access to show up when I mold and shape the clay.”
Ann’s facility with words jumps off her art. Some pieces sport poems on their sides, or on the bottom. Small pieces, ready to hang near a door or in an alcove, display a blessing or a word. On their backs is the poetry. Bowls holding sprouting pinecones are inscribed with a few words of gratitude for the seedling.
“I am exploring the confluence of written thought, and the lines and shapes which accent those thoughts,” Ann affirms.
Colorful wall hangings, abstractions of the scenery found in the Verde Valley hang on her walls. One side of her gallery displays whimsical figures. The other side holds what Ann calls “scenery.”
“Look.” She points to a twelve-inch square vase, “This ‘quatric’ depicts this photo here, the broken tree. See how I carved the lines from this tree into the clay.”
I could see its relationship to Ann’s photo on the wall. A landscape photo became a four-layered sculpture with a poem on its back. A green-peaked abstract shape was clearly local hills and trees.
“I do my ceramics at the Reitz Ranch for Ceramics out in Sycamore Canyon. I drive over there regularly. Each day, as the panorama of trees, brush, water and dirt unfolds, I feel awe. I then set an intention to reproduce the patterns of erosion of a hill or the silhouette of distant mountains against the sky in the studio.
“Here.” Ann points to a photograph of a broad-branched Cottonwood. “This is my ‘Tree-Ego.’ She sits right beside the road. I greet her daily.” And, the photos of her appear over and over in Ann’s art.
Ann leads me to a stand with three chunky pots. “These are wedding pots. See how they have two spouts leading into a large single vessel?” She gestures. “They are for weddings, or maybe anniversaries. They each have a theme and a poem celebrating the commitment it takes to be married.
“See. This one features two hands, and the poem says, ‘We walk together hand-in hand. And this one has stars and a poem about sharing stars’ sparkle.”
A number of Ann’s unique pieces are priced well under $50, suitable for small gifts.
“Oh, yes.” Ann exclaims. “Each piece is different. I can never make the same thing twice. See these angels. I have made more than 50, and not one is a copy of another. “
Ann then points to a congregation of small blue forms. “These are my angels. Like everything else I create, I never set an intention before creating one of these forms. Disconnecting my brain from the process, I simply bend and twist the clay into a shape that somehow, to me, resembles as angel. Like the rest of my art, I never make the same angel twice.
“These, I believe, are my prayer for peace and civility. I do not like the place where our country has evolved, everyone mistrusting everyone else, hearing, believing, even fighting for “facts” nobody else believes. When I get disturbed by the events of the day, I grab a few pieces of clay and infuse my prayers into each of them.”
“I am a local artist. My drive to my gallery on 6th in Cottonwood and then out to the studio in Sycamore Canyon, then back home to Clarkdale, is a 25-mile circle. I rarely veer from that path. Everything I create is inspired from some location on that circuit. Look around, as you acclimate yourself to my vision, you will discover the beauty around us!”
Welcome to Ann Metlay Art!
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"