Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Day 163: Yurts for the Arts

The Pottery Yurt

The Glen Echo Park Yurts are quite an interesting sight to behold.  These little brown circular buildings are centers for art, calligraphy, pottery classes and galleries at Glen Echo Park.  So why yurts?  Well, apparently in 1972 they were created for an 18-month habitat exhibit at the National Mall that never materialized so the yurts were brought to Glen Echo Park.  They were an ideal resource for the needed classroom and studio space for the Park’s new focus on the arts.  Don’t they just smack of the 70’s?!   They should be equipped with avocado colored appliances and shag carpet in my opinion.

Yurts can be found around the world and have been traditionally used by the nomads of Mongolia and Turkey for hundreds of years.  They are built in such as way as to be easily packed up and moved by horses or other animals and they are able to withstand all kinds of weather conditions.  Traditional yurts consist of a circular wooden frame carrying a felt cover made from sheep’s wool.  Today, you can find yurts used all over the world for various peoples and purposes, and in Glen Echo Park, they are cleverly used as classrooms and galleries.  The site upon which they stand in the park was the one where, in days gone by, the Tunnel of Love (the World Cruise) once romanced the people of Bethesda and DC and thrilled others with The Whip and the roller coaster.

Feather Tree Hill Yurt

Alana Hunter of Feather Tree Hill offers calligraphy courses in one of the yurts.  Since 1998 this Chautauqua Artist-in-Residence has hosted summer camps, classes, workshops and art parties.  One of her most popular classes is the “Project Funway Wearable Art Camp.”  Check out more details on her blogspot.

You will also find the opportunity to enjoy pottery and ceramics at the yurts.  Visit the gallery on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 – 5 PM, April – December.  Summer pottery classes for middle and high school students are being held this summer on Tuesdays (June 21 – July 26) and Thursdays (June 23 – July 28).  There are also classes for adults too. Get your hands into the clay and enjoy the unique opportunity to create using this wonderful medium.  To register for classes, visit the Glen Echo Park website.   Jeff Kirk is the director and artist-in-residence for the pottery program since 1975.  As artistic director – and as a resident artist and instructor as well – his  goal is to foster the spirit that enables students to give shape and meaning to their unique visions, according to the Park website.

Whether or not you take classes or visit the gallery at the yurts, you should at least stop by and take a look at these fascinating and unique structures at Glen Echo Park. I can hear the Pink Floyd music in my head every time I see them!      ~Amy

Leave a Reply