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Now he has a clay job

Kyle Patterson, a ceramic artist who teaches at The Clay Connection in Spokane, sits with some of his creations, most of which are whimsical characters. (Jesse Tinsley)
Kyle Patterson, a ceramic artist who teaches at The Clay Connection in Spokane, sits with some of his creations, most of which are whimsical characters. (Jesse Tinsley)

Artist’s flair for ceramics began at young age

Kyle Patterson fashioned his first pinch pot in kindergarten. In the first grade, he made a pinch-pot pig. After that, his imagination was set free: He made robots, buildings and cars out of paper, and, on snow days, he steered clear of the typical snowman. Instead, he sculpted the snow into otherworldly creatures, adding color with a spray bottle filled with food coloring. Among his inspirations were television producers Sid and Marty Krofft, who created characters in shows such as H.R. Pufnstuf and the Banana Splits.

At Lewis and Clark High School, Patterson, now 36, excelled in ceramics. In his senior year, he studied studio art, ceramics and wood shop. For his senior project he built a love seat with ceramic inlays.

After high school, Patterson moved to Seattle where he worked odd jobs for five years and art took a back seat. In 1999, he moved back to Spokane and began working at Lindaman’s restaurant on the South Hill, where he reunited with an old girlfriend. She suggested he reconnect with his creativity and urged him to take a class at Spokane Art School.

He did, and his imagination was reawakened. He began teaching ceramics.

“I believe there are takers and leavers in this world,” Patterson said. “I decided that I want to be a leaver through my art.”

His work can bring out the child in any viewer. His sculptures are endearing creatures with strange appendages. His vessels are hivelike dwellings with tentacles, and his masks contain curious meanings. “Meanie Eatin’ a Greenie” is a smiling sunlike face with an arm dressed in green protruding from the teeth and the hand at the end of the arm forming a peace sign.

Even his functional pieces contain whimsical elements. “After years of trying to throw perfect pots, now all I want to do is twist them, bend them, contort them, and pull them from that otherworld, imaginary spot I pull my sculptures from.”

Patterson has shown his work at the Fox theater, the Davenport Hotel, Avenue West Gallery and Goodworks Gallery, and he has been a featured artist at Pottery Place Plus. He has participated in the Town and Country Art Tour and the Mud and Spirit show in Coeur d’Alene. His prices are reasonable, and he sells well.

He quit his day job recently to play in the mud full time at the Clay Connection, 714 E. Sprague Ave., and he is converting a barn into a studio at his home on the Little Spokane River.

“I enjoy the interaction between me and the clay,” Patterson said. “Sometimes I swear it can talk. Often I start one of the thousands of ideas I have and I get halfway through and it tells me or shows me it is something else. I listen and often it is better than I had anticipated.

“I love the process and can’t wait to see what I will be doing next.”

The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. If you know an artist, dancer, actor, musician, photographer, band or singer who might make a good subject, contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue by e-mail at