Apex PRD pottery program flourishes in new home

The Apex PRD pottery program started in 1980, when Standard Oil closed its gas station at 58th Ave. and Garrison Street, then donated the building to the former North Jeffco Park and Recreation District. More than three decades have passed and the little structure on the corner no longer exists. However, the program is still going strong and it was recently transplanted to a new home at the Apex Simms Street Center, 11706 W. 82nd Ave.

Instructor Judy Iannacito has led the program since 1981, and she is still inspired every day by her students. “They are my heroes,” she says of them. “They are doing something to break out of the routine, get the creativity flowing and bring out the artist inside.”

Judy emphasizes the personal creative process and the sense of artistic community. She has a devoted following, some of whom have studied with her for decades. For example, one student, Irene Gimeno, “retired” from pottery classes just last year. Irene will be turning 90 years old this October.

Students also give of themselves to support the activity, Judy says. The most recent example was the relocation. “Needless to say, it was a daunting project to moving a pottery studio and all the equipment and supplies. Students volunteered their time to help out, and that was much appreciated.”

Another aspect of the Apex PRD pottery program is its inclusive philosophy. “Art is for everyone,” Judy says. “It’s not something to put on a pedestal; everyone can benefit from its creative value, as well as therapeutic and social value.” During a recent class, Judy demonstrated this idea by giving students their own creative space while helping with technique, direction and support.

Although the former gas station served its purpose well, the new studio is a big improvement. Lighting, use of space and building security have all taken a step forward. Judy also helped determine the room’s layout during the renovation of the current facility. Since the studio is in the same building with the gymnastics, dance and cheerleading programs, Judy says plans are in the works to add more youth pottery programs. “Right now we’re offering Parent/Child Clay Playtime, an activity for parents and siblings of kids attending other classes,” she notes.

Other upcoming summer youth programs include parent/child pottery, Wheel Throwing for Teens, Clay Creations for ages 6-12, and a multi-media Kids’ Art Camp. There are also plans in the works for classes in beading and fused glass. Meanwhile, beginning and intermediate adult pottery classes are offered during daytime and evening time slots.

“Now that we’re in the new building, we are planning to increase participation and awareness about the program,” Judy says. “User friendly” is now she describes the classes; beyond that, it’s a wonderful, hands-on way to explore and enjoy creativity and be part of a unique art community.