“My life hasn’t changed, virus or not,” says Wesley Anderegg. “I never get off the ranch.” We caught him on his landline during lunch hour, smack in the middle of another grueling workday on his 22-acre property in the Santa Rita Hills of California. The day before he’d spent the morning weeding the vineyard (“It was 4 hours of hoeing!”), and the afternoon adding mulch to the vegetable garden and mowing a field. Anderegg’s wife, Donna, has had her hands full tending their goat herd, which welcomed four kids this spring. Oh, and then there’s the business of making art.
Wesley Anderegg, Road Runner Running, earthenware.
“Between the grapes and the studio work and the property, it’s pretty busy,” says Anderegg. He and Donna are both ceramicists—her work is functional, his is figurative—so they’re more accustomed to solitude than most. “Being a studio artist, it’s pretty lonely,” Anderegg says. “You’re in the studio all the time. When you see someone, you get excited, ‘Oh my god, I gotta talk to somebody!’”
Suffice to say that the nationwide lockdowns haven’t messed up their flow. What is Anderegg’s advice for the rest of the world? “Get a hobby,” he says. Read on for more pithy thoughts from Anderegg on ranch life and his studio practice, and then explore his artist page to discover works from his new solo exhibition Critters. This is part of a series of weekly studio releases, following Thais Mather and Todd Ryan White, and Matthew Mullins. Please consider supporting these brilliant artists if you’re able!
Wesley Anderegg, East of Tucson, earthenware.
How are you faring during the pandemic?
My life has not changed, virus or not. I never get off the ranch.
What’s your ranch routine right now?
It’s like me versus the weeds. We have 22 acres, but only one acre in grapes, which is plenty. Between the grapes and studio work and the property, it’s pretty busy. In between all of that, I’ve been making cups. That’s about it!
Wesley Anderegg, Blue Chameleon, earthenware.
Wait, you’re making functional ceramics now?
I’m doing something that I haven’t done, just for fun. It started last year, when I made some espresso cups. I wanted to see if anybody would buy them, but nobody in America drinks espresso. They all said, “Can you make it bigger? I need a 16-ounce cup for my coffee!” I decided not to get into selling them, so they’re just for me. I’m drawing on them and it takes forever.
You’re an espresso drinker?
I used to have a cup of black coffee, but about five years ago I decided it needed to be stronger. I started doing two-ounce espressos. I shoot two of ‘em every morning, and it takes me about two minutes. Donna gets up and goes, “You’re already done with your coffee?” I go, “Yeah, I’m ready to go!”
Wesley Anderegg, Desert Politics, earthenware.
A lot of people are struggling with the solitude of lockdowns right now, but it sounds like you two are doing okay!
That’s the way I’ve always lived. Being a studio artist, it’s pretty solitary. You’re in the studio all the time. When you see someone, you get excited, “Oh my god, I gotta talk to somebody!” But Donna’s always here with me, so it never gets too lonely.
Any advice for folks who aren’t used to solitude?
Get a hobby.
Wesley Anderegg, Horney Toad at Camelback Mountain, earthenware.
What else have you been making lately?
I’m firing a piece, or parts of a piece. It’s going to be a guy on a flying dog, and they’re flying to Phoenix. There’s going to be a jackrabbit on the ground, looking up at him.
Does this mean you’re homesick for your birth state of Arizona?
Yeah, maybe. I’m never homesick for Phoenix after April. Arizona is always so beautiful when I see pictures of it on Instagram, but it’s so frickin’ hot in person.
Wesley Anderegg, Scared of Snakes, earthenware.
How are the goats doing?
The goats are great, they’re lovable. This year we had three boys and one girl. The boy goats will just lay on me while I feed the girl. They’re like little dogs.
Your solo show at form & concept is inspired by animals that you see on the ranch, or that you remember from Arizona. Have you had any recent animal sightings?
Just the usual lizards. No horny toads yet, they’ll probably come out when it gets a little warmer. Oh, and the snakes are everywhere! I ran over two mowing the other day, and I was walking up to the studio and almost stepped on this big ol’ thing. They’re just gopher snakes, thank goodness.