It has been 10 years since Linda Gossett and Rocky Gibbens teamed up. At first a not-so-likely match – he more left brained, she about as far right as you can get – their combined talents and shared goals have served each other well over the years.
“Rock was doing construction projects in Fair Park and Deep Ellum at the time,” Gossett says. “He was building a table when we met, and I remember thinking: I’ll take that one,” she says with a giggle, referring to Gibbens, not the table.
“I had only been throwing pots for about six months.”
They’ve been partners ever since. As a student at the University of North Texas, Gossett pursued humanities, with a focus on dance, but soon decided she “didn’t want to starve for ballet”, she says. With Darren Stephens (of Betwitched fame) as her role model, she was off on the yellow-brick road of advertising.
“I thought I’d be an illustrator…until I found clay. I knew I had to find a way to combine them,” she says.
And she does just that, quite successfully: No starving artist story here. An immense passion and talent, combined with first-rate study (she has studied with local greats Randy Broadnax, Jeff Oestrich and Terry Sibert, to name a few) and a sense of creative wonder, she makes it happen, right in her backyard.
Gossett loves working in her Lakewood neighborhood, she says. Each morning, between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., she leaves her home and walks about 25 feet to her backyard studio. (Gibbens turned a two-car garage into a studio, office and kitchen shortly after she purchased the Sondra Drive duplex about five years ago.)
She puts on her gray bib apron and stands in the middle of her studio as though surveying her whimsical kingdom. She talks about a current project, surrounded by the tools of her trade: jars of paint and stain, a large kiln, her potter’s wheel – silent for the moment – and shelf upon shelf of clay objects in varying stages of creation.
At a table, Alice Alvarez, Gossett’s assistant, sits painting a wreath-like ceramic.
“I’m a good paint-by-numbers person,” she says.
On a nearby table, several upturned, dainty ladies hands, a little ceramic catch-all to top a dresser or desk, await painting.
“That’s been a good seller,” Gossett says. “Alice helps with production, which allows me to do more of the design work,” she says as she moves to the computer and, with an equal sense of pride, brings up an accounting program.
“Rock got me this secretary in a box so I could get more organized,” she says.
It’s that right brain, left brain stuff, again. Gossett credits Gibbens as “the main reason I’ve been able to do what I do.” His contribution with a hammer and a drill has been essential in providing the things every artist needs – a studio and portable display walls to take the product out on the road. But there’s more.
“He has not only done things for me, he has taught me how to do these things,” she says.
Gossett boasts she can cut boards on the power saw, shape metal (for clay forms) and weld, which is a recent endeavor.
“I want to do more sculpture, and I needed to learn how to make wire forms. I just finished making a gate in a welding class I took at the Creative Arts Studio.”
Yes, she means a real metal gate, a gate that swings open and shut, which will be placed in the yard “as soon as Rock puts the rest of the fence up,” she says.
It’s Gossett’s original passion for clay, however, that has taken her from throwing pots in the front window of her Deep Ellum studio/warehouse/apartment to seeing her work featured in the Neiman Marcus catalog. Success after success, in a relatively short period of time, have brought Gossett recognition from her peers and clients to her door. Corporate accounts such as Jimmy Dean Sausage, American Airlines and Hyatt Hotels are a lucrative part of her business, she says, with Chili’s being one of her first big clients.
It’s really pretty easy to recognize Gossett’s work in ads and brochures. The Chili’s restaurants use her functional tableware pieces in their promotion and employee incentive programs.
She does about five art shows a year, with fall being the busiest season. October starts with Cottonwood, which is held annually in Richardson. She recently returned from the Texas Clay Festival 2000 in Gruene, Texas. The invitational showcased 37 top clay artists from throughout the state.
What does Gossett do when she’s not throwing clay?
She plays with dogs Katlin, a 13-year old Shar Pei, and Bandit, a mix of pit bull and boxer. She practices yoga and says it helps her focus, “which is important at the wheel.” She loves to cook and garden, and tends an herb garden she planted last year.
She also likes to entertain: “One good thing about living in a home that is under construction is guests feel really comfortable.”
And that’s the impression her work gives off…comfortable. Although it consists of wild shapes, bright colors and, frequently, a twist of humor, her art makes for a smooth, comfortable ride.
When once asked what goals she had for her art, Gossett answered: “I didn’t know I was supposed to have any.
“I make it because I have to.”
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