Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Jonathan Kaplan: Artist Interview and Studio Inspiration


Black birds

Plinth Gallery’s website:

More info about Jonathan:

Jonathan’s artwork is impeccably designed with a commitment to craftsmanship and attention to detail.  His work combines so many different types of building, thrown, hand built, and slip casted.  Hopefully, you made it to his show last month, a Four Decades in Clay, A Jonathan Kaplan Retrospective.  He exhibited work from his undergrad days, to the pieces he is currently making. 

Jonathan is the owner of the stunning Plinth Gallery, in Denver Colorado.  I am extremely honored to be able to have a show there in 2011. 

Tell us a little about yourself!

I have been fortunate to work in ceramics for 40 years. I needed a few credits to complete my high school education and took a ceramics class. For a graduation present, my parents sent me Alfred University for summer session. At that point my career path in medicine was derailed! I studied architecture for a number of years at Case Western Reserve University and then completed my undergraduate education at Rhode Island School of Design and then earned my graduate degree in ceramics from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. My first pottery studio was outside of Reading Pennsylvania during the phenomenal growth of the craft industry in the 1970’s and 1980’s. After moving to Colorado to begin a new career to the ski and bike industry in Telluride and then Steamboat Springs Colorado, I returned to ceramics and started Ceramic Design Group, a contract design and manufacturing studio. We worked with many clients and produced a large quantity of ceramics during that time. In fact, I authored an article in the current Studio Potter magazine about my experiences during those years. I moved to Denver in 2006 after 15 years as a ceramics manufacturer working for others and now work for myself and curate Plinth Gallery. (

Gone Fishin'

What is your inspiration for your pieces?

I have a healthy respect for ceramic history and find that to be an unlimited source for ideas. My interest in architecture and design also keeps me fueled.

Blue Fish

What do you create? Where do you get your inspiration for your ceramics?

 My work has always been rooted in the vessel form and the infinite possibilities of it’s interpretation. My current work references the Moche Culture, 100-800 C.E., from the Northwest Coast of Peru

Birds Out

What is the most important thing you’d like people to know/understand about your work?

 I want my work to engage the viewer on many levels. Perhaps the most important one is that of content. The work must be visually interesting and made with out compromise in craftsmanship. With the plethora of ceramics available, I want my work to provoke questions, not so much about how the work is made but what is it about, and why?

JK birdw_stirupspout1

What keeps you motivated?

 My desire to always make new work that exceeds my expectations. I want to surprise myself. Those small bits inspiration that yield an

“Ah-Ha!” moment for me are incredibly gratifying and present new ways of seeing.

JK fish_birdw_stirupspout3

What or who inspires you?

I like the work of Kristin Keiffer, Alleghany Meadows, Sam Chung, Sam Harvey, Lorna Meaden, Blair Meerfeld, Elizabeth Robinson just to mention a few of the many ceramic artists making intimate objects for daily use. I enjoy large scale clay work by Stephen deStaebler and Jun Kaneko, and the large scale steel/iron construction by Richard Serra. Other ceramic artists I admire are Dan Anderson, Marek Cecula, Kathy Erteman, Hayne Bayless,and William Daley.I find the architecture of Frank Gehry inspiring.

JK fishw_stirupspout2

Are you a full-time artist?

Yes I am a full time artist and attempt to devote 5-6 hours a day in the studio. However, life does get in the way and there are certainly many times that I cannot devote that daily schedule in the studio. I recently renovated an old warehouse in the River North Arts District( in downtown Denver and while the renovations have been completed, there is always work to do! The gallery is a full time job and my wife Dorothy has taken it to task and is doing a wonderful job with all the minutia of the business of running Plinth Gallery.

Green Luggage

Tell us about your Gallery? When and why did you decide to start your business?

 I moved to Denver in 2006 and immediately observed that Denver needed a gallery that is devoted solely to ceramics. Plinth Gallery is a pristine venue for the sculptural ceramic vessel offering works by career and upcoming ceramic artists. We feature 9 monthly one person exhibitions by artists that have not shown in this area. The gallery also represents work by approximately 12 ceramic artists the Plinth Gallery Collection. We provide both an exhibition space as well as an educational venue for the community to bring exceptional work to existing collectors and those interested in acquiring ceramics as new collectors.

Innuendo Cup

What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?

Follow your muse. Get whatever education you need for the creative aspects and do not neglect the business parts of whatever it is that you are doing. Prepare yourself to make many mistakes but understand that this is all part of the educational process necessary for you work smart and avoid working hard. These are very challenging times for artists and demand challenging, insightful, and non-linear thinking. Think outside of the box and try not to become discouraged. If you wish to succeed, keep your eye on the prize and always keep it in sight.

Thanks Jonathan, great interview.

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3 Responses to “Jonathan Kaplan: Artist Interview and Studio Inspiration”

  1. jim Says:

    beautiful work all the way through the interview. i appreciate jonathan’s use of the plinth in his own work too. lovely interview.

  2. Susan Podlog Says:

    To: Mr Jonathon Kaplan

    I have a ceramic labeled c 1970 KAPLAN 237/ 500. There is also a KA etched into another part of the clay. The piece is a of Jewish tailor sitting cross legged on a cushion sewing a piece of fabric.

    The style seems very different from work depicted. Is this item possibly your work?

    I am trying to determine who the artist is.

    Susan Podlog
    Calgary, Alberta Canada

  3. Connie Says:

    Hi Susan
    I will forward this on to Jonathan.