Artist Bob Hackney, The Man At The Wheel

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Meet the Artist: Bob Hackney
By Kelly Romo, Contributing Writer

Artist Bob Hackney in his Studio

Bob Hackney is a seasoned artist and a treasured part of the local community. With his wealth of experience and unique perspective on art, he offers invaluable guidance to many aspiring artists. Interacting with Bob, whether in an informal chat or a more formal class environment, enhances the artistic journey of his students.

As a child living in Wisconsin, Bob always found joy in creating beautiful works of art. When he was a sophomore in high school, his passion translated into one of the greatest gifts — a full scholarship from the local women’s club to attend an Art Camp at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. Though his original intention was to study painting, something about ceramics spoke to Bob, which led him to choose that course instead — which ultimately changed the entire trajectory of his future. In his junior year in high school, he discovered his passion for pottery and practically lived in the studio. He graduated high school a year early and attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and River Falls, where he studied under some of the best in the field, such as Don Reitz, Paula Rice, Kurt Wild.

After graduation, Bob worked as a landscape gardener and stone mason for over twenty years. He always loved horses, and when his last horse died, he was forced to confront who he was as an adult without his beloved companion. That is when he returned to pottery and enrolled in a continuing education class at PCC. Eventually, his interest and efforts led to a position as an instructor and manager of the pottery studio at Valley Art.

Bob’s dedication to his craft is evident in his meticulous preparation for each class he teaches. Recognizing the unique mentality of each artist, he encourages them to observe other potters, identify techniques that resonate with them. He then provides guidance on how to implement those methods. Bob also encourages artists to focus on what brings them joy, as this will reflect in their work.

When the rainy days come, Bob joins a dedicated crew that engages in wood firing at East Creek Art. This unique technique, revered by fellow potters, involves carefully stoking a wood kiln around the clock for over five days to create beautiful and unpredictable designs on the pottery pieces. The flames and ash interact with the glazes in such a way that each piece is essentially a unique canvas for the flame work. Opening the kiln post-firing is akin to unwrapping Christmas presents — the anticipation and excitement are palpable, and each revealed pottery piece is a delightful surprise. It is also a chance to engage with a community of friends who share a common passion for the art as they create memories and bonds that last a lifetime.

Bob teaches about 50 students of all ability levels at Valley Art. Being part of Valley Art is not just about supporting the local art scene: it’s about nourishing a community hub that has been extraordinary for Forest Grove. If you want to see some of his work or your artistic side is calling, visit Valley Art. And who knows? Your journey may lead you to cross paths with Bob.

Visit Valley Art at 2022 Main Street in Forest Grove. Call (503) 357-3703 to learn more or visit their website at: