Catherine Hoke, Executive Director

Recent Posts

2 min read

What Makes a Great Workshop Instructor?

By Catherine Hoke, Executive Director on 02/12/2020


Participating in an art workshop is a tremendous way to acquire information, add to your skill set, get out of your comfort zone, and learn from inspiring artists.

But what makes a great workshop instructor? We recently posed this question to our community on social media, and here's what they had to say:

Knowledge of the media and technique, plus the ability to communicate and be organized. - James M.

It's not enough to be a master artist. A great workshop instructor has a plan and the capacity to lay out information in easy-to-understand and practical ways. There's also a fine line between sharing information and techniques, and overwhelming you with superfluous information. A good teacher has a knack for making complicated things seem simple and approachable.

Topics: Faculty
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4 min read

Five New Year's Resolutions for a Creative 2019

By Catherine Hoke, Executive Director on 12/26/2018

Feel like you start the new year ready to reinvent your life, only to find that, a month later, those aspirational resolutions have gone by the wayside?

Maybe the problem isn’t you. Maybe you’re just tired of making and breaking the same resolutions over and over again. You know the drill: lose weight; eat better; work less; exercise more. It’s no wonder you’re uninspired to keep them going past January.

So why not break the rut this year? Try a new resolution. Do something fun, creative, interesting.


Looking at art not only elevates your mood, but it can boost cognitive growth as well. Make a habit out of getting up close and personal with art (not just on the screen).

  • Make a resolution to visit a different gallery or museum each month.
  • Find a listing of public art and galleries near you and take a year-long art tour. Reference the list often, spend a few moments investigating new parts of your community and look a little more closely at those places that you know well.
  • Go to gallery openings (there’s often music and free food — yay, date night is covered and you can share the experience with your loved one!)
  • Make it a family affair. Museums and many galleries are kid-friendly and offer activities and Family Art Days for the littlest creatives.

There’s a trap that a lot of creatives fall into, and it’s that you have to succeed and do things on your own. While that’s possible, a great resolution for those who want to branch out is to meet and network with other creatives. Connecting with other artists allows you to learn through others – this could be technical skills, or simply learning about a material, or piece of equipment that improves your creative process. It can also provide critical feedback on your own work, helping to move your work in new directions or get you “unstuck.”

With technology and the growth of maker spaces and shared studios in many communities, there are lots of places to network and make connections, including:

Make it a goal this year to meet or connect with other creatives once a month.


Learning fuels our creativity. Ideas can come from making connections between seemingly unrelated things, so learning something new in one area of our lives can trigger ideas in another. Curiosity and creative thinking go hand-in-hand.

Maybe you have always had an interest in printmaking, handmade pasta, pottery, or history. Why not take your interest further by learning more about it? Your resolution could be to:


It was artist Paul Klee who said, “a drawing is simply a line going for a walk.” His quote aptly captures the simplicity of sketching — an art form so beautifully uncomplicated it requires only a piece of paper and a writing utensil. You don’t have to be a successful early 20th century painter to excel at the technique.

A sketchbook is a great place to keep track of creative ideas and get in the habit of regular drawing. Not every drawing you do needs to be a finished work of art. You can use a sketchbook for rough notes, thumbnails and “lightbulb moments.”

So much of our lives are spent rushing from one thing to the next, plugged into some sort of technology. In the new year, disconnect and reconnect with the world around you. Put a sketchbook in your pocket instead of your phone on the next walk you take, and instead of taking snapshots to post on social media, take out that pencil and paper and draw what you see.

If you like to collage, try filling a box with inspiring paper scraps that you keep in a space that you like to create in. Find some good paper glue and fill the sketchbook pages with paper creations.

Do you need a deadline-based project to motivate you to create? For a small fee, The Sketchbook Project will put your sketchbook in the Brooklyn Art Library, where anyone can read it.


Being receptive to different ways of doing things can open your mind to new possibilities. If you normally believe that your way is the right way, then you may never realize that there is a better option.

Once you become more accepting of new ideas, you’ll find yourself exploring other ways to solve problems. The phrase “think outside the box” may just become a part of your life. You might try to come up with different methods rather than what you are used to doing.

Open-mindedness adds to your creativity and allows you to discover something out of your ordinary. Make a resolution to:

  • Talk to a stranger every week
  • Say yes to everything for a day, week or even a month
  • Throw a dart at the map and take an impromptu road trip
  • Host a dinner party once a month and cook or share a new cuisine

While New Year’ resolutions may not be a magic bullet, consider creativity is a journey. It's a way of seeing, a way of approaching the world around you with curiosity, and looking for the connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Here’s to a creative 2019!

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1 min read

Everyday Gifts

By Catherine Hoke, Executive Director on 12/13/2017

Time and again I am amazed to find how accessible and giving the artists in the Door County community are. Peninsula School of Art is located in the heart of Door County, its location a metaphor for the regard these artists have for the organization.

This devotion became evident recently while I prepared for the upcoming SOUP! project, which benefits both our outreach programming and the needs of a partnering nonprofit. Using a clay project as a vehicle for the community to create saleable objects, this year we created tiles instead of bowls. It seemed a simple transition. I soon discovered that although we were utilizing the same medium, tiles and bowls are two very different "animals." I came to rely heavily on the help of the members of the Door County Potters' Guild.

What could be different? For one, the inherent warping of a flat tile if the clay is not handled correctly. Other issues included a specific method of glazing and the preparation of the tile before both the bisque and glaze firings. Another particularly trying problem for me was to get air bubbles out of the clay through the wedging technique. I couldn't do it, but Ellison Bay Pottery's John Dietrich volunteered to help me out -- wedging over 100 pounds.

Reneé Schwaller, of Off the Wheel Pottery, and Jeanne Aurelius, of Clay Bay Pottery, instructed me in the decorative techniques of sgraffito and knife-and-slip, respectively. Schwaller and Aurelius, as well as Tony Staroska from Juddville Clay Studio, shared with me their techniques on how to keep a tile flat as it dries. I also sought the advice of "Thor" Thoreson from Gills Rock Stoneware regarding successful handling of the tiles.

It has always taken a village to make the SOUP! project a success. But, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the sharing of the Guild in this year's project. It truly could not have been accomplished without them.

When thanking Thor for his help, his reply was typical of those of the other Guild members, graciously calling to mind the late mentor of the group, Abe Cohn, whose example promotes a pay it forward attitude of giving.

"We are more than happy to help, just as Abe Cohn gave to us," he said.




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1 min read

Tiles are Hip to Be Square

By Catherine Hoke, Executive Director on 11/10/2017

When a tradition is in place for a dozen years, any change might be met with trepidation. Such is the case with the humble, handmade ceramic bowls associated with our SOUP! benefit. For the past 12 years, PenArt has hosted SOUP! on the first Saturday in February to raise funds for both our outreach program and the needs of a partnering nonprofit. Up until now, each year, the Door County community, including school groups, has created 500 ceramic bowls to be sold at SOUP!. The event includes a complimentary and bountiful soup-and-bread buffet for those who purchase a ceramic piece.

This year, we took the risk of replacing the popular bowls with 6" square ceramic tiles. School groups only have 45 minutes to complete their project and the tiles seemed a great way to make the best use of the kids' time. Freed from forming a bowl, the design of the tile, as well as learning new surface techniques, takes center stage.

To gauge the results of our new project, informal polls were taken with each classroom we've visited so far. The result? The kids were engaged in the process and created some very fun designs. You could have heard a pin drop.

The art teachers were only too happy to prepare the students with information on decorating/carving techniques and had the kids sketch their designs on 6"x6" squares of paper in a previous art class. This year, we are partnering with the Northern Door Children's Center in Sister Bay. The theme for the tile making is Nature's Toys and Joys. The idea is for tile makers to think of the ways that nature is our playground.

Tomorrow night's Hip to Be Square tile making event for adults will help to solidify if our new project has the support of the community for future years. Check out our tile slide show. What do you think?

All adults 21-years-old and older are invited to attend Hip to Be Square on Wednesday, November 15, from 6-9pm. The event includes materials for tile making, as well as food and libations. A $5 goodwill donation is encouraged.



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1 min read

Artists' Best Friend?

By Catherine Hoke, Executive Director on 10/12/2017

Silly, protective, patient, loyal, cuddly−how would you infuse these canine characteristics into a piece of clay or the stroke of a brush? That's the job of the seven invited Featured Artists in the exhibition Man's Best Friend, on view October 20- December 30.

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2 min read

Fire Fuels the Art of Celebration

By Catherine Hoke, Executive Director on 09/28/2017

The climax of our annual Iron Pour benefit is the spectacle of the pouring of molten iron; glowing red-hot as it cascades into tile molds from a cupola, tossing fiery sparks in the air. It got me thinking about the correlation between fire and celebrations.

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