This week, the University of Montana marks its 30th annual Art Annex sale and juried show, which raises money to pay for scholarships, student trips and more.
Ceramics professor Beth Lo took the lead in starting the sale three decades ago, after an accident in the Art Annex.
A student firing a kiln overnight feel asleep and the insulation around the chimney caught fire. The blaze was extinguished in time, but the ceramics equipment was temporarily moved to the Schreiber Gym.
Lo, then in her second year of teaching, decided to raise some money while demonstrating the program's strengths.
"Let's show that we can do good stuff in adversity, so we decided to have this dual event, which is a show and a sale," she said.
She wanted to emphasize that they weren't "cranking out cheap pottery to sell," she said.
With a juried show, they could put their best work on display and also provide affordable pieces to the community through the sale portion.
"This year I felt like the university is also in difficult straits and we wanted to show that the School of Art is very vital and we're doing good work," she said. "We just wanted to put a positive face on the situation."
The sale typically raises $10,000 each year. The profits are split between the UM Emerging Ceramic Artists group and the students themselves. It pays for scholarships, student trips to conferences and wood for kiln firing.
However, the sale tables will be occupied with hundreds of pieces from a broad array of students and faculty: art majors working in sculpture, ceramics or both; printmakers' T-shirts, cards and other materials; non-art majors from the foundational classes; plus faculty members like Lo (a ceramic artist who's shown around the world), visiting professor Chris Dufala (a former Archie Bray Foundation resident), sculptural ceramic artist and program technician Jonathan Fitz, and Julia Galloway, a functional potter.
Lo said the faculty pieces are priced lower than a typical gallery show.
"We usually put things in at sale prices because we want to support the students," she said.
The student work in the sale portion, meanwhile, is typically sold for between $5 and $150, with most below $50, Lo said.
Pieces that are accepted in the juried show likely will have higher price tags, which are set by the students with advisement from the faculty.
The juror for the show is Lauren Gallaspy, an Archie Bray Foundation resident who works in sculptural ceramics and makes vessels.
The sale takes place Thursday through Saturday in the Off Center Gallery in the UM Art Annex, located next to the Adams Center's auxiliary gyms and the Grizzly Pool.
On Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m., there will be an opening celebration with live jazz by Trio Noir and an awards presentation at 5 p.m.
The sale continues Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.