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So-Hi artist to display pottery at festival

New York City-born Sally Hare Leibold lives high on a hill in the foothills of So Hi with her artist husband, Richard, and a dog named Alfie.

For the past 27 years, this is where Leibold has created the unique pottery she sells in galleries and art shows throughout the Southwest.

The sprawling home with studio and kilns against the backdrop of the wild and untamed desert has inspired Leibold for 27 years.

The forms she uses are organic, reflecting an interest in, and sensitivity to, shapes in nature and the environment.

Leibold began her artistic endeavors in New York, studying drawing, painting and art history at the Art Students League in New York City and Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.

But in 1958 her life took a different direction when she moved to Arizona and attended Arizona State University, where she became interested in ceramics.

After college she began working in varies aspects of ceramics and teaching art at a Phoenix high school.

It was during this period when Richard Leibold, fresh from graduate school, met Sally for the first time.

"I was doing some ceramic work and didn't have a kiln," Richard Leibold said.

"One of my professors suggested I call Sally about using hers.

"The first time I met her I was smitten."

For the next 40 years the Leibolds made beautiful art together.

She taught high school and college art classes and continued to develop her art while Richard continued his flourishing art career.

Before moving to So Hi, the Leibolds built a house northeast of Kingman in a beautiful and isolated area.

A labor of love, the home was without amenities and life was quite primitive and educational, inspiring many of the techniques and materials Leibold uses to this day.

Sally has exhibited her unique ceramics at galleries throughout the Southwest, including Sedona, Tempe and Las Vegas, although she tends more toward art festivals now.

"I like meeting the customers," she said.

"It is nice to see how people treat your work.

It is encouraging."

Meeting people also keeps her mind open to new ideas.

"You have to stay flexible.

You can't grow as an artist unless you look at things with a critical eye," she said.

Leibold uses a variety of textures for her vases and figurines, including Colorado River sand, local clay, powdered metal oxides, slip glazes and even fabric and beads.

Pieces are created by the slab method or are wheel-thrown, or are a combination of the two, with relief shapes and textures carved or added.

The material is high-fired stoneware clay, fired to 2,350 Fahrenheit, in an oxygen-reducing atmosphere.

"When I am getting ready for a show I just keep working until I fill the kiln," she said.

"Then I fire it up."

Leibold recently purchased an electric kiln, although she has not had a chance to use it yet.

Sally and Richard (who does copper relief work) often exhibit their work together at the bigger art shows, although their dog Alfie prevents them from attending every show together.

"It helps a lot to have a husband who is an artist," she said.

Leibold has had her share of honors for her art throughout the years and was nominated for the Governor's Recognition Award in Art.

Much of her work is part of private collections around the country.

Most recently, a piece was donated to the Sun City Art Museum in Phoenix, she said.

Sally and Richard both exhibit and sell art at the Festival of the Arts, a yearly event that has taken place every year for 25 years, always on Mother's Day weekend.

Sally's artwork is featured on posters advertising this year's festival to be held from 10 a.m.

to 5 p.m.

Saturday and 10 a.m.

to 4 p.m.

Sunday at Metcalfe Park.

Sponsored by the Mohave Community College Foundation the festival is an annual self-supporting event used to raise scholarship funds for Mohave Community College students.

However, before the foundation took over sponsorship duties of the festival five years ago it was the Mohave Artists and Craftsmen's Guild, and Leibold, who organized the yearly event.

"She is the featured artist for the 25th annual festival to recognize all the work she did for the first 20 years," said Dan Messersmith, the Dean of Student Services at Mohave Community College.