Throw down at Red Ox Studios

Throw down at Red Ox Studios

Throw down at Red Ox Studios
Roger Yee teaches a class at Red Ox in 2019. The studio survived COVID and currently sees more than 100 students a week at the studio. (Photo courtesy Red Ox Studio)

John NakanishiCONCORD, CA (Sept. 17, 2022) — A couple years ago, I heard about an oasis for pottery artists in downtown Concord called Red Ox Clay Studio. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a thriving community of clay artists working in an amazingly well-managed space. I spoke with Roger Yee, owner and founder of Red Ox, to learn more about him and his studio.

Yee became interested in ceramics as a sophomore at Foothill High School in Pleasanton in the 1980s. He remembers being fascinated by watching someone at the wheel, who threw a lump of clay and almost magically manipulated it into a symmetrical cylinder. That fascination started Yee on a lifetime journey into clay making. Later, as a teaching assistant at Diablo Valley Community College, Yee learned how to load and fire a kiln and make glazes, spurring on his love of this ancient art form.

Yee went on to manage a number of ceramic studios around the Bay Area as well as attain a Master of Fine Arts at San Jose State University. As Yee gained experience managing studios, first with community colleges, then public studios in Walnut Creek, Berkeley, and Mill Valley, he began to see flaws in the way others wanted him to manage their studios and became motivated to start his own.

Academic vs. hobbyist

One thing Yee wanted to address was the big disconnect between the “academic” potter and the hobbyist. The academic potter strives to develop and perfect the technique and artistry of the craft, utilizing historical knowledge and following the age-old practice of master and apprentice. Whereas the hobbyist often has little formal training; yet utilizing the current power of social media and online tutorials can create a profitable business, regardless of the quality of the product. Yee wanted to close that gap and provide an environment where hobbyists and academics could work to improve their craft.

Yee opened the doors to Red Ox in September 2017. Walking into the studio today, you can clearly see how Yee has brought his extensive knowledge and experience from years of managing studios to create a safe and inspirational space for creative artists of clay. Currently more than 100 students pass through Red Ox each week. Its four kilns (two gas and two electric) process more than 2,400 ceramic pieces a week. Besides classes and an open studio for members, Red Ox holds several workshops and public events a year.

Three necessary qualities

Several instructors along with Yee teach a variety of classes at Red Ox. Having taken classes at Red Ox, I find the instructors to be experienced, helpful, and friendly. Yee chooses his instructors as much on their personality and teaching ability as on their expertise with clay. “I believe people are attracted to the instructor first as a person, then as a teacher, and last as an artist. But these three qualities are a must to be an instructor at Red Ox.”

Instructor Rosalinda Grejsen describes her studio time as “a rewarding experience on many levels… Red Ox offers an open and friendly ceramic environment with a keen focus on organization, structure, and safety. Its simple and sound expectations keep this facility running efficiently.” Instructor Kathy Kearns adds, “It is by far the cleanest and healthiest ceramics studio I have ever worked in.”

Whether you are an experienced potter or a newbie wanting to try your hand at pottery making, Red Ox can provide the support needed to learn and improve. In Yee’s own words, “Our studio is a warm and friendly place to begin setting up for a rewarding medium that continues for a lifetime.”

For more information about Red Ox Clay Studio, go to

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John Nakanishi
John Nakanishi

John Nakanishi is treasurer of The Concord Art Association. He is an acrylic painter and a ceramic artist. When John isn’t creating art, he coaches soccer for East Bay Eclipse, a competitive soccer club based in Moraga. He is also an avid trail runner, enjoying runs from 5 miles to 50K.