Otto Hagel Photo (used by permission)
Photo by Otto Hagel (used by permission)
Marguerite Wildenhain was the first woman to receive the designation as Master Potter in pre-World War II Europe. She was the first female master at the Weimar Bauhaus, working with Walter Gropius. A French Jew, Marguerite left Germany in the late 1930s and eventually accepted an invitation from Gordon and Jane Herr to help create a 140-acre experimental art colony in Guerneville. Although the art colony did not survive, Marguerite purchased the land and buildings at Pond Farm and retained a life estate in the property after DPR’s acquisition of the 5700 acre site which became Austin Creek SRA.
Within the ceramics field, Marguerite is an acknowledged master, as central to the understanding of 20th century pottery as Walter Gropius is to 20th century architecture. High standards of artistic excellence in art and teaching provide an important legacy, mission and “brand” for Pond Farm.
Photo by Otto Hagel (used by permission)
Over a 30-year period Marguerite produced work now recognized as masterpieces. Each summer she led a 6-week intensive, highly disciplined ceramics summer school for promising ceramic artists. Many of the over 300 Pond Farm students became leaders in 20thcentury ceramic arts.
Pond Farm consists of three original buildings, the Barn/Studio, Wildenhain’s house and a guesthouse and an 8-acre garden and landscape. The Barn/Studio retains the small, Bauhaus-style potters’ kick-wheels, which are still in operable condition. Since MW’s death in 1985, DPR has maintained the historic property using a policy of “arrested decay.” Once rehabilitated, this significant historic resource can return to active use, and Wildenhain’s legacy can help shape the mission and character of future uses.
In 2012, a partnership was formed to oversee the restoration of this significant cultural resources. Stewards and California State Parks are honored to be working with two dedicated non-profit partners in this effort. The National Trust for Historic Preservation chose Pond Farm Pottery has one of its "National Treasures" in 2012. The California State Parks Foundation has chosen Austin Creek SRA and Pond Farm as a "Model of Excellence."
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has funded cost estimates for the restoration effort. The California State Parks Foundation has funded a Business Plan, including an analysis of reuse options for the site. In 2013, Proposition 84 funds were awarded to State Parks to aid in the first phase of stabilization.
Pond Farm Pottery was put on the National Registry of Historic places at the National level of significance on June 17, 2014.
Pond Farm 1959, used by permission
The Pond Farm Preservation and Revitilization Project is managed by a strong partnership consisting of California State Parks, the California State Parks Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods.
The partnership has successfully achieved the following in 2015:
"Pond Farm – as a place, a history, and a crucible of ideas – is widely significant and compelling. The arts offer a path forward for Pond Farm’s future use and as a model for struggling historic sites throughout California State Parks and across the country. Bringing artists to live and work at the site again can ensure the vision of Pond Farm is not lost, as well as provide dynamic engagement with park visitors and the broader community."
SFO Museum Exhibit - A Potter’s Life: Marguerite Wildenhain at Pond Farm: An exhibit of Forest Merrill's collection of Marguerite Wildenhain's work will be on display at the SFO Airport Museum to open on December 18 2016 in Terminal 2 and go until October 2016.
Healdsburg Center for the Arts - Full Circle: Pond Farm Revisited: An exhibit and sale of Pond Farm Student art. Opens on March 10 and goes until April 10. Opening Reception on March 12, 2016. 5-7pm
130 Plaza Street, Healdsburg, CA
Special Event: Walk-through with Artists - March 19, 1:00 to 2:00 pm.
Artist in Residencies at Historic Sites - National Trust for Historic Preservation
Roy R. Behrens, Recalling Pond Farm: My Memory Shards of a Summer with Bauhaus Potter Marguerite Wildenhain. Dysart, Iowa: Bobolink Books, 2005.
Marguerite Wildenhain and the Bauhaus: An Eyewitness Anthology. Dean and Geraldine Schwarz, eds. Decorah, Iowa: South Bear Press, 2007.
The Letters of Gerhard Marcks and Marguerite Wildenhain, 1970-1981: A Mingling of Souls. Ruth Kath, ed. Ames and Decorah, Iowa: Iowa State University Press and Luther College Press, 1991
Marguerite Wildenhain, Pottery: Form and Expression. Photos by Otto Hagel. Palo Alto, CA: Pacific Books, 1962, rpt. 1973.
Marguerite Wildenhain, The Invisible Core: A Potter’s Life and Thoughts. Palo Alto, CA: Pacific Books, 1973.
Marguerite Wildenhain, …That We Look and See: An Admirer Looks at the Indians. Decorah, IA: South Bear Press, 1979.