AA moment in time, a memory that brings a smile, a person remembered with intensity: these and more are what Brian Burkhardt provides and more. Brian is a ceramic artist. Brian creates memories of events, people, places and experiences that his customers have shared with him. He also offers specialty souvenirs of holidays and activities experienced. The joy Brian’s art provides puts all of this in a piece of art that can be both useful and/or displayed. Art was not Brian’s lifelong passion but a talent he just wandered into as a high school student.
When Brian was in high school he found himself as do most younger students find: being forced to select classes from what the upperclassmen left after filling the more popular electives. Brian selected ceramics as an elective to fill his schedule and discovered he found a hobby he loved. The process of creating a pottery piece on the pottery wheel then designing the art, firing it and then completing the process of glazing to a finished product fulfilled a part of him he never knew. Brian found a mentor and instructor, John Kantar, who brought Brian’s love for hands on creating to life. Mr Kantar’s strong suit was his ability to serve constructive criticism positively. Brian then continued past the necessary hours to enjoy taking the class all through his high school years. Knowing that artists are not called “starving artists” for nothing he took college classes for a more stable career but always keeping pottery art in his heart. Brian attended SW college where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a minor in Art. Mr Patrick Beercamp, his professor, continued the love of art for Brian. Mr Beercamp was instrumental in his continuing education. Brian was hoping his degree in kinesiology would provide the meat of his financial needs so he could pursue art part time. This proved successful but he still yearned to” turn” that ceramic art into a career.
His College degree provided him with a lucrative profession as a personal trainer and also a stint in the corporate health and fitness world. He enjoyed his time and experiences in that world but still he desired to return to ceramic art fulltime. And his next chapter was emerging as his journey took him to his destiny.
Pottery keeps Brian alive. He finds a connection in nature and finds inspiration in landscapes, the human form and the outdoors. According to Brian, “My work is a constant evolution of form, color and technique that all starts from turning a lump of clay into a piece of use-able art. I enjoy following the traditions of traditional craft potters. While using the potter’s wheel and kiln to enhance each piece, and Pushing the limits of form and plasticity and using the kiln to its fullest potential bringing out extravagant colors, are constant sources of satisfaction to me and are found in every piece of pottery that I create.”
He has always put his all into everything he has done but he always comes back to his pottery. Pottery is his center and keeps him focused on whatever life throws him. . As his next chapter was emerging his journey took him to his next adventure in life. Brian decided to take a journey sabbatical and travel a bit. He landed in South Padre where he experienced the life living on the beach, visiting wineries, camping, and just finding his purpose. He met the love of his life there-his beautiful wife and soon their life brought them to Boerne. In 2009 They found their own bliss on a property that gave them room to build a studio and adding their own 2 precious budding artists. Hill Country Pottery was born. Brian worked diligently creating, building and processing his art. Brian has never taken the time nor desired to win awards or prizes, he celebrates his creativity inside his gallery where he showcases his work for display and sale. His children have a small corner where they display some of their creations for sale as well. Brian and his wife are teaching their children to be entrepreneurs and encouraging them to be craftsmen of their own making. Brian’s wife handles some small ceramic projects of her own in the gallery and maintains the sales of each piece in the gallery. This is definitely a family of artists.
Brian stays busy in his studio and gallery creating on his own. He is an early riser preferring the solitude and sanctity of the early morning before the world wakes and goes about its day. He goes into his studio, turns on his radio to some motivating music and begins creating. One of his go-to musicians is Monty Montgomery. He has other favorites but he always comes back to the similarities Monty provides with his lyrics that seem to mirror Brian’s art. Brian enjoys the feeling of “throwing clay” and the lump evolving into a piece of quality art that he shares with his customers who shop his work or request a specific set or piece such as a recent set of dishes that he created for a client to have as their dinnerware. Brian is very intuitive in creating a useable yet decorative work of clay or pottery art. He invents every piece with individuality and precision of care. No piece is exactly alike and personality is important. Even when he is making sets of something, he instills such personality and charm. Brian loves to “create with his hands”. He enjoys making logos for companies on pieces such as mugs, cups, wine chillers and more. For any inquiry just call him(number at end of article) and he can do most anything you want to advertise or remind clients and potential clients of your business or event. Brian’s favorite go to piece is a cup or mug, it is his soothing work that is almost 2nd nature to him. He can throw multiple cups or mugs on a daily basis and the ability to produce and create many is an accomplishment for him personally. He can throw 20-30 cups in a couple of hours.
Brian teaches classes on a small scale and he hosts workshops a once or twice a year. His classes are comprised of small groups of bridal parties, girl scout groups, team building groups, girl’s day out, and any other group who desires a fun art. Brian holds workshops a few times a year that are geared for a more advanced group who have some experience in the ceramic world art. Many enjoy the use of the potter’s wheels and learning the techniques to ensure success in their desired creation. Brian and his wife have created a private haven of peace and tranquility.
Brian sells his work on his Facebook page, through his Gallery- Hill Country Gallery, and through commission work, and if one looks hard enough they can find him on Etsy. The Gallery is open to visitors Saturdays and Sundays currently but hopes soon to return to 6 days a week. Brian does some exhibition work for larger groups who want to observe his process and work in action.
Brian has done work for some wineries with his most known being Sister Creek, Singing Water Bending Branch and others nearby Kendall County.
When Brian does commission work he likes to meet his customers in person or even when he sells one of his own pieces he prefers to know the person. He likes the personal moment and the reaction to what they have chosen. Brian enjoys the vibe and feelings given from their reaction. For Brian that is satisfaction for him knowing how it impacts them. He likes the joy it gives them knowing he is the creator and it made them happy. Brian considers it a bonus gift when you are already doing something you love and your customer finds joy in it as well.
The Gallery is a busy shop employing 2 great ladies who help with the everyday responsibilities of running a retail business. Over the years Brian has mentored some interns who have gained valuable insight and traded their service around the studio in exchange for Brian’s education and experience lessons. Brian also contracts with another artist to assist in extremely busy times. A few future artists have been lucky enough to apprentice under Brian over the years.
Ceramics is a process which takes a 2-3 week period of working with the clay, firing it, decorating it and then glazing it. Brian starts with the raw clay and a potter’s wheel where he forms the clay into a desired piece of art. The next steps are firing it to harden it , then glazing where the decorating of the piece is done and then drying the piece to its final finish. These are steps in an abbreviated form. The process is more complicated and Brian is the artist to direct you to your desired end project. It can be a food grade or a decorative piece, Brian can assist you in your ceramic journey. In Brian’s words, “I am grateful that I am able to do what I love, and make pots. As some of you know, I have a great passion for food and drink. Partly for the epicurean delights, but also for the good times and friends and family that are shared around food. I make pieces of art that enhance those experiences, and I am sure my pottery will do the same for you.” If you are looking to create your own piece of art or purchase one of Brian’s for yourself or a gift then come see them at 738 FM 473 outside of Comfort or call Brian at 830-446-2957.