By Liesl Greathouse
MONTROSE-During the day Dr. Paul Wiesner is an Ophthalmologist in Montrose. But during his off hours, you can find the doctor throwing clay and creating unique pottery pieces for his friends and family.
While Wiesner chose to pursue a medical profession, art has been sprinkled throughout his life. He took a pottery class in high school, has pursued photography throughout his life, learned to play the guitar, and created stained glass with his wife before they had children. But pottery came back to the forefront in January of this year (2014). “[Local potter] Bill Wilson and I are on the Master Swim Team, and I have always loved his work,” Wiesner explained. “This year I started taking Fridays off, so I mentioned that I wanted to try to make sets of pottery dishes for my kids. I started working in Bill’s studio and he mentored me, teaching me techniques and how to do glazes. I was able to take an entire set of dishes to my daughter in October, but have another set for my son on hold.”
Even though pottery is not something Wiesner wants to do for a living, it is still something that he greatly enjoys from the gift-giving aspect. “I do not like to go out shopping and buying things for people,” he said. “I like to give others something that I have made, something that has a part of me in it, something that had me thinking of them while making it. When you share something that you have created with people, that makes it meaningful.”
Wiesner says that his pottery has been influenced by the people who have taught him, especially Wilson, but his work still carries its own unique flare. “I make my pieces in different shapes, including designing my own shapes for my plates,” he said. “Glaze patterns are always unique to the potter, so I like to experiment with different glazes, and I use ones that Bill has never done before.”
The glazing side of pottery is what Wiesner enjoys the most. “My favorite part would have to be experimenting with glazes and seeing what types of patterns and colors I get from mixing. Bill makes all his glazes from scratch, so everything that we make is all made here. We get to be mad scientists.”
Having a background in the medical field does give Wiesner a different perspective on working in pottery. “In the medical field, you have quicker learning curves,” he explained. “When you do something new, you go at it hard, working hard to accomplish a goal, as most medical positions are goal-oriented. That has really helped because pottery can be frustrating, especially in the beginning.”
Wiesner will be showing some of his pottery for the first time at the Art on Trout Road show, which he has attended for years. “It features four different artists, with each year creating a different mixture of people,” he explained. “They are all local artists, with everything original to Montrose.”
He is excited for the show, although he considers himself the amateur of the show. “I look forward to seeing the reaction of people to what I’ve made and to see what they possibly buy,” he said. “Plus, a lot of people have lived in Montrose so long that they consider the show a pre-Thanksgiving thanksgiving of the great things we have in Montrose and the talents we have here.”
Wiesner believes that art in whatever form is unbelievably important to the local community, especially in schools. “All of my kids were in marching band and we have a great pottery program at the high school,” Wiesner said. “While I am a physician and have a science background, I’m also into pottery and my family was into music. Both sides enhance each other. I think it is good to have a foot in both worlds. Using the creative part of my brain helps with medicine as it helps me connect with people and gives me a different perspective. I want to do art for art’s sake as an outlet for the creative side of my life.”
Wiesner believes that to see how artists benefit the local economy, just look at Main Street. “Artists add so much to the local economy,” he said. “They live here and buy here. Buying from a local artist is like buying from the farmer’s market; you are recycling your dollars in the community.”
Wiesner is greatly appreciative of the Montrose art community. “It is great that we have people like Wilson here, who are willing to put up with people like me who want to learn art,” he said. “We have a strong art community that gives people the opportunity and access to artists with experience, the equipment and who are willing to take others under their wing. It is a great enhancement to the health of the community.”
Art on Trout Road is at Bill Wilson’s pottery studio (68408 Trout Road) Nov. 22-23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 970-249-4293 for more information.