Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Van Briggle

The local PBS station is running a documentary tonight about Artus Van Briggle, a leading Art Nouveau potter of a century ago whose short, brilliant career ended when he died in Colorado Springs of tuberculosis. (The studio and factory built around the time of his death is now the Physical Plant headquarters building for the Colorado College.)

His wife, Anne, was a designer too and kept the business going for a few years after his death. The new owners moved to a highway location and made it all quite touristy, but the current owners have toned down the "gee whiz" stuff and returned, at least partly, to the roots. New designs continue to come out "in the spirit" of Artus Van Briggle.

About 25 years ago, I opined that if you were a true Colorado Springs Witch, you had your grandmother's Van Briggle candlesticks on the altar. Well, I did. Gods, the things people can find to be snobbish about.

Today's Van Briggle staff seems to be an interesting mix of longhaired or dreadlocked artistans, old ladies who have been there for thirty-plus years, and bluecollar guys who have found an offbeat factory job that they like.


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