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Mudslinger celebrates 36 years of art

Kevin P. O'Hara has been an artist for 36 years and his business, Mudslinger Pottery & Gallery in Afton, makes it so he can do what he loves every day. Staff photo by Amber Kispert

Kevin P. O'Hara has been an artist for 36 years, ever since he was a freshman in high school.

"In high school they have the different groups, the jocks, the freaks, the nerds and I didn't really hang out with any of them, I just hung out in the art room," he said. "I think it was just intrinsic that I wanted to do art, so that's why I hung out in the art room, and then I started getting good at it."

After graduating with a degree in art from Illinois State University, O'Hara has gotten very good at art, which is why he is now the proud owner of Mudslinger Pottery & Gallery in Afton.

Through July 3 O'Hara will have an assortment of his work on display in Faribault, Minn. at the Paradise Center for the Arts.

"It's a retrospect of all of the things I love," O'Hara said.

On display in the show are O'Hara's many pots and sculptures, as well as paintings and drawings, totaling around 140 pieces.

"I had to chose the pieces that spoke to me," he said.

It has been a difficult road for O'Hara, who didn't see eye to eye with his professors or classmates in his college classes, but he is now feeling like he has finally reached his place in life.

"I've never felt comfortable inside of a box, I'm always outside of the box -- the questions is 'How do you fight the beast of the world that wants to keep you caged?" he said. "The answer is to embrace the beauty of imperfections and now, I feel like I'm right on the verge of blooming."

It was two years ago when O'Hara took the biggest risk of his life when he left his job at Comcast to pursue what he believes to be his true calling.

One of the scariest things I ever did was quit my day job but I felt like I was chained to a wall and nobody will let me out," he said. "I have beautiful things to make, but I couldn't."

Even though O'Hara has dabbled in all areas of art, clay and pottery has always been his passion.

"Clay was always my first love," he said. "Everybody is good at something, I've always felt a connection with clay -- creativity, the clay, the sculpting, and the pottery, it's just an extension of my hands."

O'Hara said he really doesn't look anywhere for inspiration, he simply sees what his art wants to become.

"There's a shape inside of it that it wants to be and it will let you know if you're open enough to see it -- things let themselves known."

Sometimes O'Hara's art wants to be beauty to the eye, but other times it wants to speak to the world.

"Sometimes with my pastels and my paintings I just like the color, I just like blending colors, sometimes I'm just playing with color and balancing different colors and making them pleasing to me," he said. "But a lot of times the high art has to communicate, it has to talk, it has to say something --that's what brings it up a level from craft to art."

For O'Hara, the fact that he can share his love of art and creating with the world, is a wonderful feeling and one that he's going to hold onto.

"My license plate says 'Do Art," he said. "And that means whatever you do put your heart into it,"

Kevin O'Hara's artwork will be display through July 3 at Paradise Center for the Arts, located at 321 Central Ave, Faribault, MN 55021.

Mudslinger Pottery and Gallery is located at 3032 St. Croix Trail South, Afton.

For more information on the gallery or to register for classes, visit

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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