A potter and a pianist: John Devlin Exhibit in MCC Ray Frederick Gallery begins Jan. 23
Le Grand resident, John Devlin is the next featured artist at the newest exhibit in Ray Frederick Gallery, room 306, on the Marshalltown Community College campus. The exhibit opens at 9 am on Wednesday, Jan. 23, and will be on display through noon Friday, Feb. 15. This month’s exhibit will feature ceramic work.
“My main medium is white earthenware clay,” says Devlin, who is a retired music teacher. “I imprint leaves and grasses into wet clay as my artistic statement. I started creating ceramics in 1970 during the summers, and I’ve been doing it ever since. “
Devlin grew up in Denver, CO, and received his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and Bachelors of Music in Piano at the University of Wyoming. He moved to Iowa in 1966 where he received his Masters in Piano performance at the University of Iowa. Devlin taught instrumental music at LDF and East Marshall for 37 years. He retired seven years ago, and has since moved his focus to pottery, piano and organ.
“Before retiring, I built a pottery studio above my garage,” says Devlin. “This allows me to work on my pottery full-time, not just in the summer. The shop is fully insulated by three electric heaters, and large windows for the sun’s light to enter. I have about 175 flowerpots in my shop, so I will have enough leaves to use on my artwork throughout the winters.”
Devlin attributes his artistic ability to his mother, who he says was a talented artist. “My mom won a scholarship to the Chicago Art Institute. Growing up during the Great Depression, this was a very big deal. However, her father didn’t let her pursue it because he felt that art was ‘frivolous’.” But she never gave up. When John’s father became ill, she made a living making custom stationary and eventually ceramics.
Devlin’s ceramic work consists of vases, coffee mugs, pitchers, bowls, plates, chalices, and tea sets. He says he can create, depending on size, from two to a dozen pieces in a day. He also does some sculpture work. “It takes about 2-3 days for me to complete a sculpture, and I work on these projects every 3-4 months.” His sculptures are similar in size to his functional pieces.
“John’s ceramics are so beautiful to look at,” says MCC Art Professor Tim Castle. “Like his other admirers, I have always enjoyed the fusion of the organic with the clay forms and every single piece has its own stamp of individuality. His works have an elegance and a sensitivity that is all John’s own.”
The ‘piano man’ turned ‘potter’ has been going to various national art fairs since his retirement.
“Most of my sales are made at various art fairs around the nation,” says Devlin. Some of the fairs include Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Louisville. Devlin says the fair must be ranked in the top 100 for him to consider. “If I sell three dozen pieces at a fair, then it is a successful fair. The two best fairs I’ve been to recently are at the Chicago Botanical Gardens Art Fair and the Kansas City Irish Fest. Both had crowds of over 100,000 people.”
Devlin’s work is available in Marshalltown at The Perfect Setting and in Ames at The Octagon Shop. If you’d like to see samples of his work, you can visit his website at
Visitors are reminded that the Ray Frederick Gallery is open on weekdays from 9 am – 5 pm.
PHOTO CAPTION: Here are examples of what you might see at John Devlin’s Art Exhibit on display from Jan. 23 to Feb. 15.