For artist Carolyn Duke, the transition from life in New York City to her mountaintop studio in Sullivan County has been a journey of creative discovery. She and her husband, photographer Dana Duke, fell in love with the area in 1986 during a weekend visit. After buying an old farm, they began renovations and within five years had decided to live upstate full-time. Like so many making this move, it required some reinvention. In addition to a photo studio, the Dukes built Big Twig Recording Studio, a state-of-the-art digital/analog facility. And in 2003, Carolyn started Duke Pottery in their renovated chicken coop.
Duke Pottery now has an art gallery and gift shop that features her pottery alongside Dana Duke’s photography and the work of chairmaker Peter Galbert. There is also an eclectic array of jewelry, paintings, textiles, books and maple syrup produced by local artisans and farmers for sale. As an “info-asis” of the Sullivan County Visitor’s Association, a helpful selection of guides, maps and promotional brochures for the area is always available.
Duke’s work focuses on pinch pots, one-of-a-kind handmade vases, bowls, cups, platters, plates and trays that are inspired by the patterns and rhythms in nature, especially the beautiful spring-fed ponds and stands of pines on her property. “When I am not building with clay,” she says, “I am drawing or walking and watching nature, always watching.” Although simple in form, every piece captures an astonishing amount of energy. Duke’s firing techniques include raku, horsehair, pit firing, smoking and high-fired stoneware.Another constant source of inspiration is the optimism of her fellow entrepreneurs. “It takes hard work and commitment to open a restaurant or shop in our county but, again and again,” she marvels, “people keep arriving with a dream to do what they love and add to what is already here.” Duke is proud to be part of this small upstate business community. “We all share a passion for what we do, and that connects us.”
855 County Rd. 93, Roscoe NY