To Top

Meet John Roberts of Callanwolde Fine Arts Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Roberts.

John, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve been a working clay artist/instructor for the past 23 years. I landed in Atlanta, in 1998, to complete my Master’s degree in ceramics at Georgia State University, and I haven’t left since. During my time in this city, I’ve worked at many ceramics studios around the metro area.

My longest time spent in one place was at Chastain Arts Center where I worked as a Project Coordinator from 1999-2015 (16 years). After that, I was a Visiting Artist Lecturer at Georgia State University teaching Ceramics Classes and 3-D Design. In 2017-present, I took the job as Ceramics Program Director at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center.

Has it been a smooth road?
As with any job being an artist/educator/art administrator, there is always a struggle to find time to work on artwork. Past experiences were fairly limited to allow for the freedom to do extra projects, but I’ve finally worked my way to a studio that provides the support I need to do all of those jobs efficiently.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center story. Tell us more about the business.
Callanwolde, the magnificent Tudor Revival style home of the Charles Howard Candler family, was completed in 1920. Howard Candler, the oldest son of Asa Griggs Candler (founder of The Coca-Cola Company), was the President of The Coca-Cola Company from 1916 to 1923. Callanwolde remained the Candlers’ home for 39 years.

To save Callanwolde from possible destruction, a fund-raising drive was led, first by an ad hoc committee of the Druid Hills Civic Association, and later by The Callanwolde Foundation that formed from it. The property was purchased for $360,000 in 1972, with a matching funds grant from the open spaces program of the Federal Housing and Urban Development Department. DeKalb County contributed $40,000, accepted ownership of the property and agreed to maintain it.

Callanwolde was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center was opened under the supervision of the DeKalb County Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Affairs Department. In 1983, however, the non-profit Callanwolde Foundation accepted responsibility for the operation of the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, although DeKalb County continues to maintain the house and grounds.

Callanwolde Ceramics Studios was first established with Rick Berman. Then the department was run by Glenn Dair, who ran the studio for over 35 years. In 2017, Glenn retired, and that’s when I was hired on. I would definitely categorize myself as a potter, or an artist who primarily does clay work on a potters wheel.

Currently, I am mostly known for my functional pottery, but I am developing a series of sculptural work as well. The studio I work in provides the unique ability to offer atmospheric firings in soda, salt, and gas reduction, which sets Callanwolde clay studios apart from other studios in the metro area.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Currently, Callanwolde Ceramics Studios are overflowing, and we’re working on ways to expand. We will also be building a smaller gas kiln in our kiln yard very soon. This will not only prepare us for the eventual deconstruction and rebuild of our big gas kiln, but also serve as a training kiln for my assistants.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 980 Briarcliff Road NE
    Atlanta, GA 30306
  • Website:
  • Phone: 4048725338 ext.226
  • Email:
  • Other:

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. rick berman

    September 19, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    Great job John! Always a PRO.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in