TORRINGTON — For Susan Matz there is always a new door to open and a new artistic discovery to be made. She is vibrant and positive and the magenta streak in her gray hair indicates that she is very much her own person. That is how she came to create Water Street Potters, an affordable studio where artists can rent a workspace, make use of the facility, and create to their heart’s content.
“I’ve always wanted to have a studio,” Matz explains. “When this space, owned by Torrington Downtown Partners, became available, I snapped it up, with the intent of sharing the space with other artists. For $150 a month, a person can set up a space and make full use of the studio and my equipment. It’s also a great venue for artists to show and sell their work.”
Matz takes no commission, she is just happy to be able to encourage artists. At the moment, in addition to herself, there are two artists using the space. Iden Sapse is studying for a doctorate in Biology at Columbia. He is taking a break from his studies to pursue his fascination with clay and has been experimenting with making his own glazes. Kent Madia is enrolled at Northwestern Connecticut Community College and after taking some ceramics classes he fell in love with the process and is now pursuing his new passion.
“I would love to attract a few more artists,” Matz says. “I have a kiln and four wheels. There is a firing fee and they have to pay for their own clay. But they get to work in a pleasant space and create whatever they choose.”
Matz herself has done quite a few things in her life and has always been interested in the creative arts. In addition to being a mother, she was a schoolteacher, and worked as a controller/administrator for a law firm. When she retired she began painting.
“As a child, I was always interested in learning how to draw. And I remember when my kids were very young I would try to do little paintings. Then when I moved back to Queens I got back into ceramics and took a lot of classes at the Art Students League.”
Matz followed up those classes with additional ones at a branch of the YMCA in New York and enjoyed them. She started up again while on a trip to California.
“I found a studio near Balboa Park and the owner let me work there while I was there visiting and I decided that I wanted to get into ceramics again,” Matz explains.
She has a voracious appetite for learning and while pursuing painting she had the privilege of taking a master class at the Art Students League given by legendary abstract artist Knox Martin. But she has her own philosophy about the world of art and artists.
“I paint what pleases me,” Matz says. “I am not one of those people who believe you are painting your emotions. I don’t call myself artist. Other people have to do that if they like what you do. I think it’s a bit pretentious to elevate myself to such a level. I fool around with paint and clay and have a great time. I’ve never had my work shown or been represented by a gallery. I was always so busy learning! And putting yourself out there subjects you to criticism and I don’t know if I’m ready for that. I do art because I enjoy it. Maybe now that I have this space I will display some of my paintings and my ceramic pieces.”
Matz is pleased to be part of the transformation occurring in downtown Torrington. Five Points Gallery and various other galleries have brought art to Water Street and developed a following. New restaurants are opening and drawing more people to the area.
“I think it’s exciting and I want to do what I can to encourage potential artists,” says Matz. “This is a wonderful space and we may hold openings for resident artists to sell their work. I would also entertain having the space used for events, as long people are respectful and clean up after themselves!”
For now Matz is busy with her studio, but still manages to play tennis, take various classes and work on her art. She divides her time between New York and her home in Lakeridge.
Lakeridge is a very special place and allows me to work here in Torrington. I couldn’t be happier.”
Water Street Potters is located at 39 Water Street.
Anyone interested in renting space may visit www.watertreetpotters.com or call 917-952-9660