Counting Love At First Sight

I’ve really been trying to stick to an art diet during these hard economic times, but my 12-step program failed me. Yes, this admitted art junkie unwittingly fell in love at first sight, again. It happened last weekend at the Midlands Clay Art Society Holiday Show and Sale at Gallery 80808. My good friend Sonia Neal, a wonderful clay artist herself (whose work also is in my personal collection), directed my gaze to the newest object of my infatuation – a cute little clay sheep sculpture (pictured) by a local artist who is new to me, Mary Lou Wu, owner of Bunny Head Pottery in Columbia.

My new woolly friend, who bears some resemblance to the puppet Lambchop (one of my favorite characters from yesteryear), is standing atop a mound of colorful wildflowers with a blue bird perched on its head.

I tried chewing gum. I waited 20 minutes to see if the craving would subside. I tried to resist, but in the end, I had to have it. For myself. Yes, me me me.

So much for unselfish holiday shopping. Oh, I did purchase several gifts from the sale, but I wasn’t supposed to indulge my own desires. So sue me. I have gifted myself early for Christmas with this lovely lamb. To hell with regret. (I am smiling at my new love as I type this. Hah!)

Now back to Mary Lou Wu. She has a shop on, that wonderful website for creative artists and crafters that I love to get lost in. Wu has produced an array of colorful, whimsical, even poetic pieces. Some are functional (like bowls, vases, and jars), while others are pure sculpture. All are fabulous works of art.

I’m always saying there’s so much artistic talent in Columbia, and it’s true. Every day we have opportunities to discover someone new whose work we can adore. Wu is a member of the City of Columbia Arts Center at 1932 Calhoun Street downtown. And even though the Midlands Clay Arts Society’s holiday sale is over, you can still browse and even purchase pieces from the artists who work out of the Center through its Backman Gallery.

And if you’re so inclined, you can take classes in clay arts - from hand-building to wheel-throwing - at affordable prices. The City Arts Center is enrolling now for its 2012 classes. If you’re interested, or just want more information about Backman Gallery, call Cultural Arts Coordinator Brenda Oliver at 803-545-3093.

Meanwhile, you can view and even purchase other works by Mary Lou Wu online at

So go ahead. Indulge your clay cravings. There’ll be plenty of time for rehab next year.

-- Kristine Hartvigsen