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Gerry Williams, state’s first artist laureate, dies at 88

Longtime Dunbarton resident and renowned potter Gerry Williams died this week after a battle with Parkinson’s disease. Williams was 88.

For years, Williams ran a studio out of his Dunbarton home. Then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen named Williams the state’s first artist laureate in 1998.

“He constantly re-created his pottery,” Williams’s daughte,r Shelley Westenberg of Dunbarton, told the Monitor in 2011. At that time, she co-curated an exhibit of his art called “Gerry Williams Retrospective: A Life in Clay” at the Sawyer Fine Arts Center.

“I have pieces in my house that he made in the ’50s that bear no resemblance to what came seven years after that. And those pots bear no resemblance to what came four years after that. It’s such a variety,” Westenberg said.

Williams took his first pottery lessons from master ceramic artist Vivika Heino at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen in the late 1940s. He became a juried member of the League in 1952. In 1999, the League gave Williams the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“He was a remarkable craftsman and was so passionate about his work,” said the league’s executive director, Susie Lowe-Stockwell. “He will be greatly missed.”

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