Firing The Reitzagama
Reitz Ranch Center for Ceramic Art, Clarkdale, AZ
Chris Gustin and Matt Long
November 16-23, 2017
In early 2017, Sheryl and Ted Davault purchased the Reitz Ranch from the Reitz family to champion Don Reitz’s dream of opening a ceramic arts center. In keeping with Don’s vision and to kickstart the Reitz Ranch Center for Ceramic Arts, Sheryl invited a small group of artists to come out to Arizona in the late fall and fire the Reitzagama.
Artists came from around the country to honor Don’s legacy in what was the first firing of the anagama kiln since Don’s death in 2014. With the help of Ted and Sheryl Devault and some of Don’s past assistants, we celebrated the opening of the new Center by spending ten days in Clarksdale loading and firing the kiln that Don loved.
This firing was special in so many ways, not the least of which was to spend time with Ted and Sheryl Devault. Their generosity and spirit is the wellspring for the future of the Ranch. I can’t thank them enough for their support in making this firing happen and for helping me bring one of Don’s pieces from the Lost Works Project out from Massachusetts to be part of this firing.
Both Matt Long and I spearheaded the firing, with Ben Roti and Mat Rude (Don’s past assistants) taking care of so many of the details and support needed to make this event happen. Donna Reitz, Don’s daughter, made shirts for us all and was there throughout to help and do firing shifts. Dexter Woods, one of the resident artists at the Ranch, and John Domenico, who was a student from ASU at the time, were incredibly supportive with their help, as were all of the friends and family who came out to make meals, toss wood and tell stories. It was a grand time for sure, the firing culminating with many staying over at the Ranch to celebrate Thanksgiving with Ted and Sheryl. Don would have absolutely loved it!