Colorful architectural replicas are at the heart of Jenise McCardell and Mark Currier’s business, one that's found a special place in the heart of Bay St. Louis.
- Story by Lisa Monti
It’s been 35 years since ceramic artist Jenise McCardell left New Orleans, moved to Bay St. Louis and opened her own working studio at 220 Main Street.
She and husband Mark Currier’s house is right behind the art deco building that also is home to Gallery 220, a popular artists co-op that has never stopped evolving since the couple opened it in the front part of their building.
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All of the pieces are sculpted from white clay, hand-painted, and fired in kilns right on the premises. Over the years, thousands of Clay Creations nostalgic pieces have been exchanged as gifts, stuffed into Christmas stockings, decorated gift packages and walls and otherwise made their way to the hands of many a grateful recipient.
Clay Creations and Gallery 220 are longtime favorites for everyone who visits Old Town’s shops and stores and both hold a special place in the open door tradition on the Second Saturday ArtWalk.
That’s because after Hurricane Katrina roared through in 2005, Jenise and Mark were the first business to revive the Second Saturday tradition just a few weeks after the storm. With all of the destruction and disruption caused by Katrina, residents saw the return of Second Saturday as a welcome relief from the chaos and a chance to reconnect with the community. The couple even turned the monthly Second Saturday into a weekly gathering at their studio for several months.
Not surprisingly, in 35 productive and successful years, Clay Creations and its owners have been featured in news stories, on television and even in a mini-documentary about Bay St. Louis. Click here to see it on Youtube!
Jenise said that after 35 years, she’s seeing a new generation of customers collecting their own memories from among Clay Creations’ colorful inventory. “They’ll say, ‘My mom collected these,’ so they want to have their own memories for their children.”
Since the storm, the Old Town business district has been steadily revitalized, Jenise said, and there is more traffic in the area, which is good news for the city. “It’s so exciting to see all this vibrancy happen,” she said. “Everybody got on board and did it together.”
Jenise said Clay Creations is “going forward” in the future. “It’s been a really great ride, and we have enjoyed it. It’s our passion.”