- Associated Press - Thursday, June 13, 2019

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - It was a chance encounter that caused David Shack to develop a new passion for making pottery.

Shack, an 80-year-old Farmington resident and retired psychologist, was strolling by Philip David Jewelers in West Hartford 13 years ago when his eye caught a display of pottery in the window.

He had long been a collector of pottery, but up until then had never made it himself.

What he was looking at was pottery made by art students at Irving A. Robbins Middle School in Farmington.

“We were walking by and we noticed this pottery,” Shack said. “I got really excited about it. They were very different. You don’t usually see stuff like this. I wanted to know more about.”

Pamela Rosin, owner of Philip David Jewelers, which has been in the family for 65 years, has with some regularity put work from Irving A. Robbins students on display, as a way to encourage the arts.

“I was brought up to appreciate the arts,” Rosin said. “That’s where our business focus is, in handmade artistry and workmanship and materials and imagination. It’s about supporting local talent that needs a spotlight. These are young eighth graders, so it’s about encouragement.”

Rosin told Shack about the work and where it came from. He was so enamored by the work that he decided to take a pottery class that summer with Ann Trambert, the teacher at Irving A. Robbins.

“That began my pottery career 13 years ago,” Shack said. “I had an interest in art pottery, but I didn’t have any skills or training with it. Ann convinced me to try it.”

This year’s window display could be the last. Rosin is retiring at the end of the year and is looking to sell the business.

Because of that, this year’s display features works made by students over the last five years. And there’s a special addition in the form of a piece of pottery made by Shack’s granddaughter, Jasmine Shack, for his 75th birthday when she was a student at Irving A. Robbins.

“We value that piece more than any other piece we have,” Shack said.

Shack and Rosin hugged as they said goodbye. Shack was thankful he was inspired by a simple window display and Rosin was happy the display encouraged someone into creating art.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Rosin said. “Art can be contagious in a good way. It’s gratifying really.”

“It led to a passion,” Shack said. “It’s so important for everyone to have a passion to be happy about. For me, it turns out to be making pottery. Who would have thought?”

That brings Shack to his basement studio, where he said he works every single day on new pieces of pottery, each displaying unique characteristics.

“This is the most fun to create,” Shack said. “Each piece is different and means something to me. What gives me the most pleasure is opening up the final kiln and seeing what’s inside.”

He has no interest in selling his work. Most of it remains on display in his studio. Some is given away to family and friends. If he ever does sell a piece - which is rare - he donates the money to charity.

What he wants most, though, is to have his work on display somewhere outside of his own home. He’s still working to achieve that goal.

“I have tried to get my pieces into art shows and I’m not able to do it,” Shack said.

Even so, the amount of pleasure he gains from working away in his studio is enough to encourage him to keep working towards that goal, even if he never expected to be doing this.

“No,” Shack said laughing, referring to never thinking he’d be an artist. “I’m a psychologist for God’s sake.”

Online: https://bit.ly/2K8UQBb


Information from: Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com

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