By Chris Easterly,
If calculus had come easier to Frankfort-based artist Jody Jaques, she might not be renovating the Broadway Clay pottery shop downtown for a new generation of artists.
“I was planning on going into chemical engineering, and I got into calculus and I was so lost,” Jaques said. During the second semester of her senior year in high school in Bedford, Indiana, she dropped calculus. “I had taken ceramics the first semester of my senior year and was good at it,” she said, so she signed up for a second ceramics class.
After high school graduation, Jaques attended Asbury University, still intending to become a chemical engineer. She quickly realized that was not her calling. She signed up for ceramics classes at Asbury and learned that her professor was from her hometown in Indiana. This connection seemed serendipitous, and Jacques loved ceramics, so she graduated with an art education degree.
Jaques went on to teach art at West Jessamine High School, and to earn a master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University. When her husband got a job as a firefighter in Frankfort, they moved to the capital city. Jaques started teaching art part-time at Capital Day School, where her three young children attended.
“I have always had a business on the side,” Jaques said. “Ceramics, jewelry, lessons…” Jaques’ stepfather in Indiana collects old pennies from a local banker, then sends them to her so she can create jewelry from them.
“I love circles and I was looking at a penny one day and thought, ‘this is perfect,’” she said as she pointed to a pair of purple earrings she was wearing. “These are made from old copper pennies.”
“I don’t have a business background,” Jaques said. To remedy that, five years ago, she signed up for an online class on the business of art. She learned how to promote using social media, how to do taxes and other practical matters. “You have to be profitable,” she said.
Jaques’ passions for art, teaching and business coalesced a few months ago when she learned that her friend Megan Sauter was buying Broadway Clay, the Frankfort pottery studio owned and managed by Les Greeman for the past decade.
Jaques met Sauter when she taught at Camp ArtyFact, a summer arts program hosted by the Kentucky History Center, where Sauter is the museum programs manager. “Megan is always nice, always kind, incredibly organized, and really talented,” Jaques said.
Greeman’s longtime partner, pottery artist Anne Elliott, will step away from the day-to-day operations of Broadway Clay. Greeman will continue to teach adult classes and mix glazes.
“Les knows just about everything there is to know about pottery and he loves to chat with people and that’s such a wonderful thing to have down here,” Jaques said.
Sauter will perform administrative duties and manage the gallery. “I want this place to thrive and it’s hard to find people with an expertise for a ceramic studio in a fairly small town, but Megan has that,” Jaques said.
For her part, Jaques will create and teach classes. “I really love people and I love teaching,” she said. “My whole goal in teaching is to create kids who are adjusted and love to learn and can be successful no matter what they do, and art is a way that I do that.”
Locals can rent space to work on their own pottery or trade time for space at the studio. “We are trying to make really good spaces for learning,” Jaques said. “We want to impact the community in a positive way, and we want to give people a place to create, a place to meet — to create community.”
After finding her calling in ceramics and teaching for 24 years, Jaques said she enjoys being part of Frankfort and seeing the transformation that has happened downtown over the past 15 years. She hopes her new venture at Broadway Clay contributes to that transformation.
“We want to create something that has a lasting legacy,” Jaques said. “It’s a place to learn. And, yes, you come in here to learn about ceramics, but I’m more concerned about you leaving here as a better person.”
For more information on Jody Jaques, visit www.jaquesartstudio.com/bio/.