Abe Cohn originally (b. 1925) began his study of fine arts at the University of Wisconsin, Madison as a painter. He decided to take a simple clay course for an easy three credits. In so doing, he met professor, author and nationally recognized potter F. Carlton Ball who influenced the direction Abe Cohn would take for the rest of his life.
When Ball left Madison after Abe’s first year working with him, Abe moved to California. There he enrolled at Kentfield Junior College because of their open studio policy - students could work as much as they wanted in the ceramics lab. Abe would often spend sixty hours a week working with clay and glazes.
After a year out west Cohn returned home to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Here in 1953 Abe opened a basement pottery studio and began accepting students while working in the Layton Art School supply store. Soon he had over fifty students a week and Ginka Vogel was one of them. They met in the fall of 1953 and they were married in the spring of 1954.
The Cohns decided to establish a pottery in the tiny village of Fish Creek in Door County, Wisconsin in the summer of 1956. Their landlord would not allow Abe to work with clay inside the house, however, so the potter build a simple shelter and threw pots outdoors. Later they acquired land adjacent to the highway just north of the town near the high school and established their Potters Wheel Gallery. For many years the Cohns maintained a Milwaukee studio and spent summers in Door County. In 1994 they moved up to make Fish Creek their permanent home.
Over the years a number of residents of the county as well as aspiring potters from other areas of Wisconsin and beyond came to Fish Creek to study with Abe. Ultimately Abe and Ginka founded the Door County Potter’s Guild in 1976 and it has been a tremendous help to the other potters in Door County. Indeed the entire county has become a thriving arts center with resident artists in many fields along with professional organizations such as the Peninsula Music Festival (est. 1953) and the Peninsula Players (est. 1935) in summer residence.
The Potters Wheel Gallery still thrives today with its resident potter, Abraham, and its manager, Ginka. In addition to Abe’s pottery, the gallery features the works of at least thirty-five other potters. Abe counts many awards among his accomplishments including the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award in 1958, a 1961 Purchase Award by the Smithsonian Institute for its Seventh Annual Exhibition of Ceramic Art and in 1964 Cohn had the first one-man show by a craftsman at the new Memorial Art Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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