Meet Linda and Barry Lane from Drift to Clay

Unusual names usually mean unusual stories, and “Drift to Clay” is no exception. The name means a great deal to Linda and Barry Lane. After all, has anyone ever met potters who snorkel for wood sunk possibly for eons in icy cold New York’s Finger Lakes? Or sculpts pottery to fit the feel of a scuba dive off the coast of California? Or designs a bowl specifically to match a recipe for pasta … or fish … or Thai noodles? Meet Linda and Barry Lane, the guest artists for Alliance Art Gallery’s 2nd Saturday reception, 5 - 8 PM, November 12th.

Linda began a Rochester, NY career in marketing and advertising when one day she noticed a sign promoting a pottery class. Mud. Hmm. Being left handed, she got assigned a left-hand wheel only to find out that, in this instance, she throws pots right handed. After the inevitable thousand-pots destined for trash, she eventually found her signature style. Moving to California, she renewed her passion for scuba diving, and realized her pottery reflected swimming underwater.

As Linda explains, “I love feeling that movement underwater, diving through kelp forests, seeing all these giant fish and sea otters, having dolphins swim next to you.” For her, pottery had to embody the ocean, the waves, the colors. So her pots are anything but static. They flow both in form and glaze. No two pieces are alike because she carves her pieces, never using stamp molds or rolled impressions.

Now Barry, her husband, began his creative life as a high-school dishwasher in an Italian restaurant. One day, the assistant chef walked off the job in a pique of culinary rage. The chef, seeing only this 14-year-old kid, yelled, “Hey, get over here.” Thus began a culinary career that traversed the country from California to New York City’s famous Serendipity 3, to a 200-year-old inn and a restaurant on Cayuga Lake.

When Barry reunited with high school friend, Linda, love (in the Midwest where Linda’s aging parents lived) blossomed and they married, uniting five children from their previous respective marriages.

If anything, cooking and working with clay are tactile arts. The transition from stove to kiln proved to be easy. Soon Barry began throwing pots, but his real passion soon turned to hand glazing vibrant colors onto pieces. Sometimes he envisions a recipe: “I have something in mind, like a Thai dish, and now I see it being served on a certain plate or bowl.” Together they create it, a vibrant feast of clay and color.

And where does the Drift come in? In addition to functional pieces, they meld wood to clay to create beauty for the sake of beauty. As Linda says, “I am very nature, very ocean, outside rather than inside. There’s a bit of beauty in everything.” As Barry puts it, “From the earth, through our hands, to you,” sums up their passion. And she and Barry capture that in Drift … and Clay.