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The City Journals

September’s Holladay Artists of the Month combine functional with fun in their artwork

Oct 04, 2021 12:33PM ● By Sona Schmidt Harris

Steve Brown among his creations. (Photo courtesy of Steve Brown)

By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]

Occasionally, artists share the Holladay Artist of the Month award, like Robynn Whiting and Steve Brown. Strange thing, however. Neither one of them considers themselves an artist, at least in the traditional sense.

Whiting and Brown are both sculptors and potters who share booths at art fairs and other events with great success. Part of the key to their success is that Brown has a sales background and is adept at telling stories about the art, and Whiting creates beautiful glazes and intricate carvings.

“We just have a good time,” Brown said.

Whiting, who was born in Ohio but spent most of her childhood in Florida, moved to Utah in 2002. She has three children from elementary school through high school.  

Not only is she a mother of three, she has only been creating ceramics/sculptures consistently for three years. “Life is beautiful. Art is beautiful,” Whiting said. “If I can create something that puts a smile on someone’s face each day, I feel like I’ve done my job. And that makes my life even more meaningful.”

As a child, Whiting played the clarinet and piano and loved to draw. She also took a wheel-throwing class in college but stated, “I never knew how to tap into my creative side until I found ceramics as an adult.”

She also began to teach at the Pioneer Craft House at the end of 2019.

She emphasizes that her pieces are of a practical nature. A particularly fun creation is what she calls her “Schnoz Cups.” Whiting’s husband knocked his glasses off the dresser, and they broke.  Her son looked on the internet for a glasses holder and found a wooden sculpture with a nose which was created for holding glasses.

“This gave me an idea to add a nose to a cup, so that people could use it for glasses and anything else they wanted to hold. I have people put them in their office, or on a reading table for bookmarks, or in their bathroom for glasses and makeup brushes. I’ve even had a few people buy these cups for holding paintbrushes and water,” Whiting said. “They are always a great conversational piece. Each cup has a hand-sculpted nose, so no two cups are the same.”

Brown is not so much interested in “schnozes” as he is in ears—donkey ears. Brown and his wife are the proud owners of two donkeys as well as a horse. In fact, Brown named his business, Donkey Ears Pottery in honor of his equine friends.

Brown is friendly with a dry sense of humor, and his good will clearly shines through. He is a generous and patient ceramics teacher who wants others to succeed.

Born in Alton, Illinois, he made his way to Holladay about 25 years ago.  

“I was a tennis player, and so I'd played all over the country. And then decided it was time to stop. And so, I wanted to move out west,” Brown said. At first, he settled in Alpine, Wyoming and then made is way to Holladay where he met his wife, Jo. They married, and Brown has been here ever since.  

He came to his artistic career in a roundabout way. He suddenly developed epilepsy which made it difficult for him to continue working. “Things were starting to evolve artistically and in different parts of my brain,” Brown said.  

He began taking pottery classes and thoroughly enjoyed it. Still, he sees his creations as very utilitarian. “Well, I'm not an artist,” Brown said. “I like making functional things. I created a different kind of honey pot.”

To see their works please visit the following links: Robynn’s Nest Pottery: https://www.instagram.com/robynnsnestpottery/ and Donkey Ears Pottery: https://www.facebook.com/Donkey-Ears-Pottery-102148484825081/

If you would like to nominate a Holladay resident for Artist of the Month, visit https://holladayarts.org/suggest-an-artist