For Ric Lamore, working as a potter is everything he could have hoped for.
“It’s almost living the dream,” Lamore said. “It’s a lot of work, and it’s difficult at times, but I’m doing what I always wanted to do. I’m doing what I wanted to do when I was ten years old.”
Lamore is one of 23 artists presenting at the Midwest Fire Fest, an annual smoke and fire-inspired art festival happening July 27 and 28 at Westside Park in Cambridge.
The two-day event includes a vendor show, live music, a farm-to-table dinner, on-site art demonstrations and a Saturday night sculpture reveal. Midwest Fire Fest is in its fourth year, hosted by the Cambridge Arts Council.
Lamore has been living and creating pottery in Cambridge for more than 35 years. He opened his own business, Broadwing Clay Studio, in 1982. He also throws for Rowe Pottery.
“That has kept me extremely busy,” Lamore said.
All art at the festival is created using fire, featuring crafts like iron-forging, knife-making, glass works and barrel-charring.
Ceramics are a staple of the festival, with Lamore and the seven other members of the Clay Collective, a local potters’ group, displaying work.
Lamore will lead a live-art demonstration of one of his artistic specialties, a “primitive firing technique” called pit-firing. In this process, Lamore builds a kiln out of a pit in the ground and fills it with pottery pieces, sawdust, wood and paper. Covering the pit with a metal top, he fires pieces overnight and reveals the pottery 24 hours later.
The demonstrations add value to the festival, Lamore said.
“The fact that we’re showing people how things are done helps enrich their lives,” he said.”If they do buy a piece… they have something to say about it.”
Education has been a key pillar in Lamore’s career. Before moving to Cambridge, he taught art in New England.
“If I can add something other than the presentation of my own work, that shows people how things are done, that’s part of the key issue here. People are pretty amazed at what it takes to do any project like this. I think that education to the public is really key,” Lamore said.
Laurie Struss, organizer of the Midwest Fire Fest and president of the Cambridge Arts Council, agreed.
“Today, people aren’t collecting things as much as they’re collecting experiences. That’s why we’re doing an art fair that is interactive. People don’t just want something done for them; they want to be involved,” Struss said in an interview in April.
“The future of this event is providing an experience, an opportunity to interact with art and understanding how art is made. If people understand how it’s made, they value it more,” she continued.
Cambridge has rich pottery tradition as an arts community. Local stoneware companies like Rowe Pottery Works and Rockdale Union Stoneware drew talent to the area in the 1980s, when the demand for early American or country aesthetic pottery was high.
Local potter and Clay Collective member Mark Skudlarek said when that demand began to fall, many potters opened their own studios.
“Potters either left or stayed here and started making their own pots,” Skudlarek said in an interview in April.
Lamore is one potter that stayed local and kept throwing pots.
“The trail has been a long one for most of us,” Lamore said. “We’ve done a variety of things in our lives.”
Lamore began creating art at age four. He loved to paint and draw until discovering pottery in college. He describes his style as “utilitarian,” recently prioritizing outdoor decorative pieces as well as housewares.
“In the world of ceramics, I had a great vehicle to express myself,” Lamore said. “I continued to develop my skills in my particular medium… It has fulfilled everything I ever wanted to do.”