Eberle Studios: Developing Artistic Vision
Pittsburgh artist Ed Eberle is well-known in western Pennsylvania and around the world. With a career spanning over 50 years, Eberle works in a variety of media, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, mixed media, and installations, but most recognizably with ceramics. His porcelain vessels and sculptures often feature abstractions, geometry, and detailed figurative painting with terra sigillata used both as “gesso” and “paint.” To further a legacy in fine art ceramics, Eberle and family are now opening artist studios and open studio workspaces in Homestead, near the Waterfront shopping center.
Ed’s son Jonathan returned to Pittsburgh to help with the 2018 NCECA conference. “Ed’s career represents what is possible for artists.” says Jonathan. “The heart of Eberle Studios revolves around the creative alchemy that my father discovered working in ceramics – as he often puts it – with uncanny motivation to create new artwork.”
“We were all inspired by the NCECA Conference,” Jonathan explains, “Our gallery and Ed’s studio were a popular venue.” The 2018 NCECA conference highlighted the community of ceramic studios and arts institutions throughout the city, with multiple off-site venues and exhibitions. “After the conference,” Jonathan says, “we decided to open up the gallery space for exhibitions.” This idea expanded to creating studio spaces for supporting emerging artists who work in ceramics and other media.
The new Eberle Studios, with its vision to “support regional art and artists with an emphasis for fine art ceramics,” will provide artist studios, a kitchen, a lounge for meetings, and shared-use workspaces on the first floor. Jonathan adds, “You do not have to be a ceramic artist to work here, but we are totally set up for that.” Ed’s studio is located on the second floor, with a kiln room including a state-of-the-art Danser downdraft gas-fired kiln, and a wonderful gallery with a garage door that opens onto 9th Avenue.
Jonathan explains: “Along with semi-private workspaces, we are exploring open studio memberships for artists who want to work in ceramics or be a part of the community, but do not need a studio. We have space for visiting artist workshops, meetings, portfolio reviews and exhibitions. The focus is on a community of artists who are building their careers. The artists here can create their success.”
Ed, who started his career teaching at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Carnegie Mellon University, has a following of former students and studio assistants who now have their own careers. “Artists, especially with ceramics, really do take care of each other,” says Ed. While getting an MFA at Alfred in the early 1970s, Eberle trained with Bob Turner and Val Cushing and was a throwing assistant for Daniel Rhoades. Eberle Studios is about continuing that heritage in ceramics and art.
“Ceramic artists are not necessarily potters,” says Jonathan. “Artists whom I have met just in the last six months, like Eve Palguta or Murjoni Merriweather – or Nancy McNary-Smith, who exhibited in our gallery in 2020 just before the pandemic – are good examples of the huge breadth of artists who work in ceramics as a medium. There are so many amazing arts organizations and artists in Pittsburgh – how can we collaborate and bring that energy to Homestead?”
In the spirit of recycling and community, the new spaces include salvage building materials and kitchen cabinetry, donated by the Society for Contemporary Craft, from their former location in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. “We are so thankful for the SCC for their support for Ed and for artists in Pittsburgh” says Jonathan. “We want to be a hub, to get artists working in Homestead and we can't wait to get started.”
Eberle Studios has an inquiry/wait list for the art studios and for open studio memberships. They are also seeking a technician to help with facilities and kiln firings. Visit www.eberlestudios.art to apply and for more information about how to become part of Eberle Studios.