If you’re like me, you decided a long time ago that there are a lot of fine arts that are not your forte. Sure, I’m creative, but somewhere along the way, I decided that I was no good at drawing or painting… which means I took one art class freshman year of high school and decided to pack it up.
When adult coloring books came along, I wasn’t even sure I could color in the lines, and I sure as hell never tried to sit down at a pottery wheel. I know I’m not the only one with creative aspirations, and questionable skill. But this isn’t about me. It’s about all the people like me. And more importantly, it’s about Ernesto Gonzalez, a ceramics teacher and potter who is making art accessible in our neighborhood, thanks to his work at Barro BK.
Hailing all the way from California, Gonzalez moved to Brooklyn in 2013 and more recently to Greenpoint in November 2020. Gonzalez began making pottery when he was fifteen years old thanks to a highly influential art teacher, and though he bought his own wheel after school, he continued to craft simply as a hobby.
While working elsewhere as an experiential host, Gonzalez also began teaching one-off pottery classes to share his skills with folks who expressed an interest. As the demand for these one-off classes kept growing, Gonzalez realized he could better help his students by opening a studio.
Barro BK got its start in Bushwick and now occupies a lovely intimate studio in Greenpoint on West Street, with a beautiful view of the water. Here, Gonzalez sells his artwork and teaches in-depth courses such as The Fundamentals of Throwing and Intro to the Pottery Wheel.
The Fundamentals of Throwing
This six-week course is an extensive education for anyone looking to get better at throwing. It covers introductory knowledge, implements different tools, and goes over the process of trimming, decorating, and glazing. It’s designed to assist multiple levels and caters to all skill sets. He even assured me that having no knowledge of pottery is not a non-starter.
“They [beginners] are perfect candidates for taking my class. This is something you’ll leave realizing you are more creative than you thought you were.”
At the end of the 6 weeks, Gonzalez’s goal is that you will be able to rent a wheel and throw without further instruction. He also offers firing services to those who have their own wheel and just need a place to rent a kiln. You can sign up to take the 6-week course in June either every Tuesday, every Wednesday, or every Thursday. Check out the website for more specific dates.
Greenpoint Terminal Market
Gonzalez plans to be at Greenpoint Terminal Market on Sunday, May 23rd & Saturday, June 26th where he will be selling his work and discussing his courses. Plus, he also intends on doing demos with his wheels and potentially providing small outdoor classes!
Gonzalez believes that art should be demystified. It’s too subjective to be considered “difficult.” Even he does not set out to make “art” every time he sits down to create. In addition to just enjoying the cathartic activity, Gonzalez just enjoys taking a piece of clay and seeing where it takes him. Instagram: barrobk
Surely my freshman year art class doesn’t stand a chance against the instruction that Gonzalez provides. I’m hoping to take a seat at the wheel soon.