Alison Palmer was born and raised in New York. After graduating high school she attended Kansas City Art Institute as well as the California College of Arts and Crafts where she received her BFA in ceramics. Alison then returned to New York where she implemented a “treatment through crafts” program at Four Winds Psychiatric Hospital in Katonah. While teaching at Four Winds, Alison began her own studio at a converted old schoolhouse in Croton Falls, New York. She met and married musician Steve Katz. Together they created a company called Ashes to Ashes which produced funerary urns for animals. The urns were to be designed and handmade by Alison while Steve did the sales and marketing. The pressures of dealing with grieving clients, however, were too much for the couple and so they concentrated solely on Alison’s handcrafted ideas. By 1986, Alison was exhibiting her work at a few of the finer craft galleries in New York City and elsewhere. The recognition her work received at the major wholesale and retail shows was overwhelming and so Alison and Steve had to cope with the challenge of learning the “business” of crafts while at the same time exploring new areas of Alison’s creativity. Today, Alison concentrates her talents on one-of-a-kind stoneware pieces, both functional and non-functional. Much of her time is spent hosting workshops for some of the finest potters in the world, and overseeing the firings, both soda and wood, that take place on their property in Kent.
Steve Katz studied guitar with Dave Van Ronk and Reverend Gary Davis. There were many other young musicians around Greenwich Village during this time who were as obsessed with American roots music as Steve. Many would look for a common ground in which to play music together and they found the common ground in “jug band” music. Steve and some friends formed the Even Dozen Jug Band and were courted by Elektra Records for whom they recorded an album in 1964. In 1965, Steve joined The Blues Project. They recorded three albums while together in their first incarnation. After the demise of the Blues Project, Steve and a few friends put together Blood, Sweat & Tears. Their second album is still a classic, almost 40 years after it was recorded. The group won three Grammies and sold millions of records worldwide. In 1972, Steve began a relationship with Lou Reed that culminated in his producing two of Lou’s albums, both of which went into Billboard’s top ten. After a short stint in the group American Flyer, Steve went on to become Vice President of A&R at Mercury Records where he produced three albums by the seminal Irish band Horslips and then became Managing Director of Green Linnet Records. He then married his one true love, Alison Palmer. Steve’s memoirs were published by Lyons Press in 2015. He is still performing solo concerts and doing book talks around the country. Alison and Steve live in Kent, Connecticut with their kilns, their dogs Paco and Frankie, their African Grey Parrots, Tutu & KuKu, and the remains of their guinea pig, Sid.
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I’ve always been drawn to ancient ceremonial vessels. My work is about the celebration of life and the natural world. Animal imagery in clay has always been my chosen expression. One of my first pottery teachers told me that I was working my clay to death. I interpreted that to mean that I might be able to resuscitate it if I added a nose. That decision dictated the path I would follow for forty years. Sometimes I make pots into animals and sometimes animals out of my pots. My search is to find the balance between pottery form and animal form and make them fit as one. I strive to achieve a lighthearted meld of the human and animal form. These anthropomorphic figures are developed by throwing and altering the stoneware clay and wood-firing and/or soda-firing them to cone 10. The fire and ash contribute to the spontaneous and unpredictable finish which gives the pieces a primitive, elemental look.
© alison palmer 2021