Linda and Jim Winegar’s relationship has always revolved around art. It’s integral to who they are, both individually and as a couple.
The Greene County couple will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on May 29. That’s also how long they’ve been working with clay, combined between the two of them.
Linda and Jim specialize in pottery and craft their works at their barn studio in Graysville. They’ve taught from elementary and college between them, so the two share a wealth of accumulated knowledge.
Love at first glaze
Jim enrolled in Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1966 to study art education. Two years later, Linda came to IUP, too, with the same aspiration of becoming an art educator.
“As art education majors at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, we met in the pottery studio. Our clay professor, Frank Ross, and his wife, Nancy, provided a beautiful understanding of how an aesthetic life in the arts and with clay would be meaningful. Our interest in clay and in each other were parallel paths,” the couple said in an interview via email.
They married in 1970, and while Linda finished up her degree, Jim went on to earn his masters in art education.
They left for Worcester, Mass., in 1972, where Jim taught for nine years while Linda worked as a substitute teacher. Despite the academic day jobs, both continued to make clay pieces, showcasing them in a local gallery that remains open today, and Winegar pottery is still one of their offerings.
Family ties started to tug on Linda’s heartstrings even before they decided to move back to Greene County in the ’80s. Linda wanted their daughter to grow up near her grandparents.
Besides attending at least a half-dozen arts and craft festivals each year, they both continued to teach. Jim taught at Right Way Academy in Waynesburg after they returned to the area, teaching troubled teens how to create art. He also instructed the prisoners at SCI-Fayette in expressive endeavors.
Family ties continue to pull at the Winegars now – they celebrated the birth of their first grandchild in 2018 and take frequent trips to visit in Chicago. Over Valentine’s Day, the family spent a long weekend together in South Carolina to visit Jean Olive’s namesake, her great-grandmother, and other members of Linda’s extended family.
For some, it’s hard to think of working alongside a spouse almost as long as you’ve been together.
“Is it difficult?” I ask.
“Yes,” they answer.
“Is it effortless?” I ask.
“Yes ... and everything in between.
“First and foremost is our passion for the arts, creativity and problem-solving. This is our glue. On a daily basis, we work side-by-side in the same creative space. There are many opportunities for discussions, collaborations and sharing ideas and opinions. Maintaining a 60-acre property and an older home and studio – vintage 1880 – presents minute-to-minute challenges that keep us on our toes.”
Pot of gold
On the horizon for 2020 are several shows and festivals, the first of which, a new show for the two, is set for the last weekend in March in Gainesville, Fla. In May, they’ll travel to Wisconsin to be guest potters in a premier potter country tour. There will also be visits to Pittsburgh, State College, Saxonburg, Newport, R.I., and Waterford, Va.
“We will be featured in a film by Waynesburg University students highlighting the history of pottery produced in Greene County in the 19th century. This project is just getting off the ground, and we’re very excited about it,” they said.
As for the secret for a successful longtime marriage and working relationship?
Perseverance, tenacity, communication and love.
“Recognize that there are good days and bad days, but in the end, a commonality of purpose wins the day. It’s important to kick back occasionally and enjoy life outside of your day-to-day, with friends, some wine and good food, and don’t hesitate to look for new adventures and take on some new challenges.”
Linda and Jim Winegar are also always happy to host visitors at their beautiful Greene County studio. For more information on the couple’s work, visit winegarpottery.com.