Van Briggle Festival Coming to Colorado in September
The lives of Artus and Anne Van Briggle will be shown among pottery presentations, demonstrations, and tours of his memorial building during the Historic Van Briggle Festival & Tour, coming to Colorado Springs this September.
Pottery enthusiasts and collectors can get a tour of the Van Briggle Memorial Pottery Building, view presentations from historians, potters and pottery collections experts, and learn about the tragic and short life of Art Nouveau artist Artus Van Briggle at the Historic Van Briggle Festival & Tour, Saturday September 14th at the Van Briggle Pottery Building from 9am to 3pm.
Tours are $15; free for children under 14 accompanied by an adult. The tours will leave every 20 minutes – timed tickets go on sale on Friday, Sept. 13 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Van Briggle Pottery Building. Proceeds fund WES scholarships and scholar programs at Colorado College.
At the Van Briggle Festival & Tour, attendees can:
- Hear Anne Van Briggle’s account of the founding of Van Briggle Pottery.
- View artifacts found on-site and learn about the history of the architecture and its preservation after the purchase by Colorado College.
- Step into Anne Van Briggle’s studio where Van Briggle collectors and experts will display and discuss work produced by the studio. Patrons may bring their Van Briggle Pottery pieces for review; we will not authenticate pieces this year.
- Bemis School of Art potters will have a wheel throwing booth ($5 for a 10-minute lesson) staffed by Bemis students and members of the Colorado College Collaborative Clay Club. The experience is a child-friendly event, complete with an archaeological dig and a sculpting area where folks can get hands-on with clay!
- The Horticultural Arts Society Fall Bulb Sale will be held in the Heritage Gardens, adjacent to the pottery.
- Festival partners will have information tables – visit with representatives from the McAllister House, the Manitou Springs Heritage Center and the Friends of Monument Valley Park. The Women’s Educational Society will have a table with Van Briggle literature for sale and a silent auction is being planned.
The Women’s Educational Society of Colorado College is co-presenting the festival with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College Bemis School of Art.
About Artus Van Briggle
Born to an artistic family in Ohio, Van Briggle was taken under wing by the owners and decorators of Rookwood Pottery, who sent the young man to Europe to further his studies, where he was introduced to the Art Nouveau style which was to influence his subsequent designs. He returned to Rookwood in 1896, but fell prey to tuberculosis, prompting him to move to Colorado Springs in 1899. His fiancé, artist Anne Louise Gregory, joined him in 1900, and supported them as a high school teacher. After two years of experimentation, his first successful pieces emerged from his brick kiln in August of 1901.
Anne and Artus were married in 1902, and became working partners as well. Sales of their early pottery, tiles and terra-cotta enabled the couple to hire as many as fourteen staffers, but their hard-earned success suffered a daunting blow when Artus died just two years later at the age of 35. Despite the hardship, Anne assumed management of the firm, guiding it to further success, capped by a new, expanded pottery in 1908, the same year that Anne remarried. Despite her best efforts, the pottery slid into bankruptcy in 1913, after which it went through a series of owners. Nevertheless, it remained an active pottery until just a few years ago.
Part of the reason for their continued operation lay in the fact that the firm utilized molds to duplicate their most popular forms, including many of Artus Van Briggle’s earliest designs. Naturally, those which can be documented through shopmarks to have been created prior to his death in 1904 are considered the most desirable, often commanding five-figure prices.
Production in their three-person pottery began in late 1900, but by the fall of 1903 the deadly disease had effectively ended his career. With Anne at his bedside, Artus Van Briggle died in their Colorado Springs home on July 4, 1904. He was just 35.