Zenclay Cafe is hosting its Spring Artists Reception Saturday evening featuring work by local artists.

Aside from serving gourmet dishes like Greek quesadillas and moo shu pockets, Zenclay Cafe also functions as a pottery studio and an art gallery.

Shari McDermott, a Morgantown resident, is a self-taught photographer who believes "to capture a unique shot of anything is the best form of art."

She will be showcasing a variety of her photos at the upcoming exhibit, which include shots of macro flowers, water droplets and vacation spots.

As an arts enthusiast, McDermott appreciates the opportunity Zenclay Cafe gives to local artists but also enjoys the multipurpose restaurant for simpler reasons.

"I really enjoy the atmosphere, great food and friendly faces at Zenclay," McDermott said.

Jeff Ryan will also be showcasing his work at the exhibit and plans to show a variety of tile mosaics at the event, which he likes to call "forced mosaics" due to the technique he uses to create them.

He begins by cutting large slabs of clay and then colors them with slips and Engobe ceramic tiles before firing them. He completes the mosaics with black grout, which becomes a drawing medium for the pieces.

Ryan, who is originally from Wheeling, W.Va., studied pottery at West Virginia University, has worked with ceramics in China, Armenia and Afghanistan but appreciates the local art scene as well.

"I feel very fortunate that my craft has taken me on adventures around the world," Ryan said. "However, Morgantown has a strong ceramics community based around WVU, and people should take advantage of the visiting artist series and galleries provided by the College of Creative Arts."

Despite his admiration of Morgantown's art scene, he realizes that financially it is not the best location for a working artist, but has other motives for continuing to pursue his career locally.

"Morgantown is a small arts community and it will probably never be a place to sell artwork – not that people don't buy art here, it's just that as an artist it's a very tough place to make a living," Ryan said. "I enjoy making my mosaics, but to just make them is not enough. My exhibit is a way to let others enjoy what I create."

According to Sue Ping, Owner of Zenclay Cafe, the restaurant has been exhibiting art for the past seven years of the 11 it's been open.

Ping hopes this weekend will allow a new audience to experience what her business is all about: relaxing and appreciating the arts.

"I hope that we can continue to give people an opportunity to learn about art and explore it for themselves," Ping said. "But most of all, it's about providing a relaxing environment, good food and teaching others about art, while at the same time allowing local artists to share their work."

Attendants will have the opportunity to meet with the showcased artists and get hands on by creating their own pottery.

Artist Scott Harper will also be showing an assortment of wood sculptures and Mim Miller will be exhibiting functional ceramics.

The exhibit reception begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Zenclay Cafe, located at 2862 University Ave.

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