“I’ve known Mark Lusardi for around 10 years now and I’m pleased to count him among my friends. If you ever really get to know Mark you know that he is generous to a fault. In fact, I have a story that really sheds light on Mark Lusardi.
“After I was awarded a McKnight Fellowship, I was able to buy a mid-sized gas fired car kiln from a potter in Hudson, WI. The idea was that I would take down the kiln, load it onto pallets, load the pallets onto a huge flatbed trailer and haul it back to St. Paul, where it would ultimately be rebuilt, et al. I hired a truck, the trailer and a crew of workers to help me do the job. The task proved to be enormous, far more expansive and demanding than I had anticipated. We loaded the trailer to its capacity and found that we still had several pallets of hard brick to bring back to St. Paul. Mark Lusardi had heard about my purchase of the kiln and he simply showed up in Hudson to help, uninvited. I welcomed his help, and help he did – all day long! The only thing he would let me do was buy him some lunch along with my hired crew. He refused gas money or any pay for his labor and I’ve got to tell you, Mark really knows how to get after it.
“At the end of the day, I made arrangements with the Hudson studio, allowing me to pick up the rest of my bricks a few days later. Well, a day later, Mark Lusardi calls and informs me that he’s picked up the bricks for me – HE LOADED THEM HIMSELF – because, in his thinking, he was coming through St. Paul anyway, on his way to work at Continental Clay. So he shows up with my bricks, which have pretty much maxed out the enclosed trailer he’s pulling with an SUV. He tells me matter-of-factly that that’s what friends do…
“That was in 2008. Fast forward to this past May, for an end-of-the-semester party I annually throw for my art students. For the 2nd year in a row, Mark brings his traveling raku kiln setup to my house, providing bisque, glaze, equipment, combustibles – the whole damn deal – so we can have a raku party. I know what this kind of set-up/demo/workshop costs ($1000+), and yet he does it for only $300! Again, because we’re friends, and he appreciates the fact that I put on this annual event for any of my students – current or past – who want to attend. It’s become a big event and Mark instructs these students and kids and families from my NE Mpls neighborhood, firing over and over, past midnight, until everyone gets a chance to see their piece/s through the entire process. Mark was magnificent. But I assure you, Mark did it, and continues to do this same sort of thing for his friends at Lakeview, or New Richmond, or wherever he sees the need.
“Now, Mark is doing something extraordinary for the clay community, and yet I have heard some people questioning his motives. To those who would decry Mark’s efforts in this Potters Without Kilns initiative, I say take the time to investigate this very worthy endeavor. Or, at least shut up, which is what I have to tell Mark to do sometimes, because when he’s excited about something, he can go on and on. But this is what I know about Mark: he can talk the talk, but HE SURE AS HELL WALKS THE WALK. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, I have never met a more generous man in the clay world than Mark Lusardi. Sign me up, Mark.”
Marko Fields, Minneapolis, MN
“Mark’s passion is sharing his knowledge, experience and helping others. He does this from his heart and he has demonstrated this time and time again through his teaching and community outreach, never wanting or expecting accolades and always eschewing any personal gain or benefit. Be it through the free workshops that he presents, the technical assistance that others seek him out for, residencies and internships that he offers young clay artists in his studio, fundraisers for local schools or the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser that he spearheads, Mark’s interest is in making the world a better place. His most recent initiative, Potters Without Kilns is an unprecedented effort to add to the legacy of Warren Mackenzie by opening his historic kiln for use by the wider clay community. I urge you to help support his efforts.”
Steve Branfman, Needham, MA
“I just wanted to express my support for this community effort that Mark Lusardi is putting forth from my own point of view. I have known Mark for about 7 years. In that time I have seen much evidence of Mark’s selfless commitment to the ceramics community. He is always the first to help anyone by giving his knowledge and expertise. Whether you need advice with firing, glaze tech help, or whatever it may be, Mark has been all of that at Continental Clay and beyond. He has opened his home for teaching workshops, brought in numerous clay artists and experts, gone on the road to teach and offers help within his community all geared toward furthering the ceramic arts to make them accessible for all. I have seen Mark raise money for the less fortunate with Empty Bowls and assist people who might not have the money and space to experience firing raku and high fire with his development of a community studio in New Richmond, Wisconsin. What’s important to note here is that Mark is spearheading this effort not for himself, but to open an opportunity for many others involved in the ceramic arts.
“I urge anyone with an interest in helping continue these efforts to make a donation to Potters Without Kilns. It’s a fabulous opportunity to assist in helping to build a dream that is far reaching. The legacy of the kilns will serve as a positive imprint to the potters (Warren MacKenzie, Carl Erickson) who gave them up for the greater good many others in years to come. Thank you!”
Chad Jerzak, Minneapolis, MN
“I had the privilege of taking Mark’s workshop through the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis the summer of 2014 and highly recommend his workshops to other potters. I have been a potter since the mid-80’s and have taken several raku workshops by others. I found Mark’s to be exceptional. Every piece that students fired under his guidance came out beautifully. Mark arrives with a large selection of his own glazes, which are beautiful and very stable. They do not oxidize over time. He is generous in sharing freely his techniques, firing schedule and glaze recipes. Mark is a glaze master for Continental Clay of Minneapolis and Denver and is very knowledgeable . Many repeat his workshops feeling that his price is well worth the results. Sign up early. His workshops fill fast!”
Faith Wicklund, St. Peter, MN
“Mark Lusardi has been coming to Renville County West school district for the past 3 years for a clay art residency. We have been learning about Raku firing, glaze recipes and adding texture to our pieces. While this is all great stuff, what sets Mark out from other art residencies we have had in the past, is his passion for paying it forward. He wants more than to show you how to do something, he wants you to take ownership of it and take it further after he leaves. To make this possible he has given us two Raku kilns, tools we didn’t have and countless extra hours. Since his visits we have invited other schools to come and learning about Raku. We live about 100 miles west of Minneapolis and to have this kind of opportunity was fantastic. Mark connects with the kids as well as other teachers. In addition to working with the art department he also worked with both our chemistry and shop teachers to make the recipes and learn how to turn an old electric kiln into a Raku kiln. Mark has a wealth of knowledge and if I have questions he is more than happy to talk and help me understand it better. I know of no one who has worked harder to share his passion for the arts.”
Tamara Isfeld, Renville, MN