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Article in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News on July 20, 2013

Posted by on Jul 20, 2013 in Announcements | 0 comments

Creating a new identity

Newspaper picture

Geoff Crimmins/Daily News

By Holly Bowen, Daily News staff writer | Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013 1:00 am

Moscow’s paint-your-own pottery shop has gone through some big changes in recent years, with a crosstown move and a transition to its third set of owners.

But Wild @ Art’s new owners, Mark McLaughlin and Jeffrey A. Dodge, say they plan to stick around for the long-term and expand the studio’s partnerships with other local businesses.

Dodge and McLaughlin moved to Moscow last summer from the New York City area after Dodge accepted the position of associate dean of students and administration for the University of Idaho College of Law. They said they are enjoying the change of pace and are settling in here, having recently bought a home in Moscow.

“It’s been a huge change going from millions of people to not even 100,000,” said Dodge, who is originally from Orange County, Calif. “It’s been a really refreshing change, though, to just have space and quality of life. People here are so kind. That’s kind of what drew us out here from the big, bad city.”

McLaughlin, who grew up in a small town in Virginia and served in the Coast Guard, said New York was “never my favorite place in the world.” He now runs Wild @ Art on a day-to-day basis while Dodge works on campus.

Dodge and McLaughlin took over ownership of Wild @ Art on June 27 and re-opened the business on July 5. With the studio located in the back of One World Cafe, they set out right away to forge a more distinct, approachable identity with the addition this week of a new door on Sixth Street. Although the business can still be accessed from inside One World, the new door means Wild @ Art now has its own address – 108 W. Sixth St.

McLaughlin said he and Dodge had always been interested in owning a business, especially in a small town like Moscow. He said Wild @ Art was an opportunity that had “more of the artistic slant we’re after.”

“It’s a perfect business for this area, being known as the ‘Heart of the Arts,’ ” he said of Moscow’s tagline.

Dodge said he feels the surrounding businesses, combined with Wild @ Art, make up kind of a “creative block” in downtown Moscow.

McLaughlin said they’ve been in contact with the business’ founder, Joan Alexander, and have so far heard from numerous people who say they’re happy the studio is remaining open.

Alexander originally opened Wild @ Art in the Eastside Marketplace, then moved the business to its current, smaller location behind One World. It was purchased earlier this year by Rodney and Celena Wolverton, who sold the business to Dodge and McLaughlin last month.

McLaughlin and Dodge are continuing the studio’s mobile nature, taking clean, white pieces of pottery and multicolored paints to birthday parties and group events by appointment. Wild @ Art also has walk-in hours from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays.

The new owners have already been reaching out to other local businesses, introducing themselves and seeking opportunities to collaborate.

“The sky’s kind of the limit with that,” McLaughlin said.

They’re envisioning partnerships like date night packages with local restaurants, theaters and wineries, and they’ve already been in talks with Moscow Brewing Company to facilitate the creation of custom beer steins.

No matter if the pottery pieces are painted in the studio or on-location at a party or gathering, McLaughlin and Dodge take care of the glazing and firing, meaning pieces are totally finished and ready to go home in a week.

They said they’ve just been starting to play around with the art medium, which they said is accessible to everyone.

“I just did a semi-hideous, semi-attractive chip-and-dip plate,” McLaughlin said.

Each blank ceramic piece in the studio – including dishes, mugs, pitchers, vases, frames, figurines and much more – is marked with an all-inclusive price, so customers know what they’ll be paying before they even start painting.

“We try to keep it at a price a normal person would pay for a finished piece,” Dodge said.

Wild @ Art is offering several different discount nights for those who are looking for a deal.

From 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays, customers who bring in children to paint pottery will receive 20 percent off. And from 4-7 p.m. Thursdays, for “date night,” groups of two people – whether it’s a husband and wife, parent and child, best friends or other pairs – can take advantage of a buy one, get one half-off special.

Dodge and McLaughlin also plan to start up a student appreciation discount night when school gets back in session.

Wild @ Art can be reached by phone at (208) 669-2425. Information and examples of completed pottery pieces are available online at www.moscowwildatart.com and on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/MoscowWildAtArt.


Holly Bowen can be reached at (208) 883-4639, or by email to hbowen@dnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @DailyNewsHolly