By Jenny Rebholz   Published Oct 17, 2005 at 5:06 AM

{image1}Ceramics have been a passion for Nicholas Rostagno for most of his life, and he has spent years studying and perfecting his art. His studies and work have even taken him around the world. Now he is ready to settle back home and open a studio where he can share his love for pottery with the rest of the city.

Rostagno will open Dark Star Galleria & Studio at 605 N. Broadway during Gallery Night on Friday, Oct. 21. The space will showcase ceramics by Rostagno as well as a hand-selected group of experienced eye-catching artists with complementary work.

"Everyone I will be showcasing is an accomplished artist," says Rostagno. His list of artists includes: glass art by Audrey Handler and Eggert Glass Art; paintings by Mark Geisheker, Joy Hartl and Carrie Runte; sculpture by Andy Schumans; silk art by Laura Livermore; jewelry by Suzanne Leberman and Barbara Cord and photography by Linda Merkel.

He finds that his life as a working artist makes other artists interested in what his gallery has to offer.

"As a working artist, I can relate to artists better. They are willing to participate with me. I am not just sitting back and running a gallery. The most important thing to me is my personal work, and they can appreciate that."

While he supports other artists, he also appreciates other local businesses such as Murray Hill Pottery on the East Side.

"They have helped me keep my hands in clay since I have been back in town," he says.

While part of the space is dedicated to the gallery section for purchasing art from this distinguished group, there is also space for a fully operational pottery studio with a gas kiln.

Rostagno will explore his passion for ceramics through his continued work, while sharing his expertise and space with other enthusiasts. During the day, the studio will be open to other potters looking for a place to perfect their skills. On nights and weekends, Rostagno will teach a variety of classes from beginner to advanced. In addition, he will offer glazing classes and teach people how to fire a gas kiln.

"I want to show the interesting glazing effects that can be achieved with a gas kiln," says Rostagno.

Rostagno has 12 years of experience, a B.F.A. from UW-Madison, an M.A. in Ceramic Work from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, a M.F.A. in Ceramics with a minor in Sculpture from the University of North Texas, and a Ceramic and Paint Restoration Certificate from Lorenzo de'Medici Art Institute of Florence as well as work experience and gallery shows in Texas, Lake Como, Italy and Wisconsin.

Rostagno hopes to provide an artistic atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. With help from his friends at the neighboring Ardor Pub & Grill, he plans on hosting gallery nights once a month.

"This is an artistic vision come true," says Rostagno. "We will be exploring a lot of collaboration projects with various artists."

With his personal work, Rostagno hopes to continue to explore sophisticated yet elegant shapes with smashing glazes.

"I am always evolving and want to push shapes and forms as well as work on a line of crystalline glazes. I am always exploring new ways to use my skills."

Rostagno's work can also be found at Mio Bella in Brookfield, and co-owner Julia Jaegersberg says, "Our clients are attracted to Nick's work because he is a master at achieving rich intriguing glazes, especially in red tones. He also reaches for perfection in form on every piece. He continually teaches us about his techniques and processes, which we in turn share with our clients at Mio Bella. Nick's passion for his art shines through in every piece of pottery he touches."

As he opens the doors to Dark Star Galleria & Studio, Rostagno will share his passion with Milwaukee.

"I've always appreciated the Milwaukee art scene and feel privileged to be involved in it," says Rostagno. "None of this could be possible without my family."

For more information on the gallery and its opening night activities, contact Rostagno at (414) 403.5853 or via the Web site at the link below.