Artist’s work shaped by nature and world cultures

nightengayles@aol.comNovember 30, 2010 

Paula Teplitz’s love of pottery began when she was a girl and saw a little clay pot. She instantly loved the form and the material. Thus began a lifelong fascination with working in clay that included ceramics classes in high school and college.

Travels to Europe and Africa in her youth broadened Teplitz’s view of life and influenced her work. She spent six months touring Europe and visited a Peace Corps friend in Gambia. In Africa, she found the people, animals and brilliant colors so beautiful, she incorporated them into her pieces.

Travel “makes you re-examine your values, gives you an idea of the conditions other people live in,” Teplitz said. “Things Americans think they need are so unnecessary.”

Teplitz, 58, of Arroyo Grande, started with throwing pots on the wheel and learned a technique for drawing on pots at Pasadena City College that she continues to use now. It’s called sgrafito. She loves this part best — drawing animals and people onto her pots — although she also loves working in the clay.

At Cal Poly, Teplitz was an animal science major but decided not to pursue that and transferred to Sonoma State to concentrate in the arts.

After obtaining her degree, she returned to San Luis Obispo County, set up a studio and developed a clientele.

After meeting her husband, Steve Stanson, marrying and starting a family, Teplitz found clay work incompatible with rearing young children. She gave it up for 15 years while living in Fort Bragg, where Stanson worked as a commercial diver and fisherman.

With the decline of the fishing industry, Stanson obtained work in Morro Bay on an avocado ranch, bringing the family back to San Luis Obispo County. Teplitz set up a studio with Heidi Petersen and Steve Weaver in Morro Bay.

In 2004, Stanson took a job as a ranch manager in Arroyo Grande, where Teplitz set up her studio in their garage and took sculpture classes at Cuesta College.

Big influences on Teplitz are nature, animals and world culture — Persian, African, Asian and Polynesian. Her colorful pieces reflect these global values.

She focuses on hand building her mugs, vases, plates, bowls and sculpture, rather than wheel work.

She began looking at sculpture more and was inspired. It’s been a big learning curve, but she loves it.

Teplitz works with red, white and black clays as well as paper clay (newspaper mixed with clay).

Teplitz doesn’t sell her work via a website but relies on word of mouth.

“I prefer to make personal relationships with people,” she said, rather than going after fame and fortune in the art world.

One of her sculptures, titled “Generation Gap,” depicts Teplitz’s mother and grandmother squished together in a chair from an old photo and the sculpture titled “Beginning the Dance,” is intended to be an ambiguous male figure.

Teplitz and her former business partner, Heidi Petersen, will host a show at Teplitz’s house, 2080 Los Berros Rd. in Arroyo Grande, on Dec. 11 and 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information and for directions, call 574-0833.

Gayle Cuddy and Cynthia Lambert write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Anyone with story ideas involving people in the South County can reach Gayle Cuddy at 489-1026 or night engayles@aol.com. Stay updated by following @SouthCounty Beat on Twitter.

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