LEESBURG, Va. — On the football field, Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley likes to throw his body at defenders, as he did on a go-ahead touchdown Sunday at Jacksonville. But in his suburban house, he prefers throwing pottery — that is, making bowls, mugs and vases.
“Be really careful — they’ll break,” Cooley told a recent visitor who touched a clay bowl that was drying on a table in his basement studio.
Most pieces go to his new gallery here, but this bowl was part of a gift set for his wife, Christy, a former Redskins cheerleader. Until the clay is cooked in a kiln, it is too delicate to handle.
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Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has a new title: Professional potter.
Fans flooded the sidewalk in front of the football player’s art gallery, The Cooley Gallery, at its Dec. 3 opening in Leesburg.
“Art’s been something that’s always meant a lot to me,” Cooley said.
Cooley’s best known for catching the pigskin on the football field. But, before becoming a professional football player, he studied art at Utah State University. He was drafted into the National Football League in 2004 and has been elected to the Pro Bowl twice—in 2008 and 2009. Now, he’s returned to his creative roots – using his hands to mold clay into shapes from vases to serving bowls.
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The Cooley Gallery, located at 12 South King Street in downtown Leesburg, is owned by Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley and his wife Christy, who live in Leesburg with their three dogs and two cats.
The Grand Opening was held on Friday, December 10 at 6 pm. Normal business hours are Wednesday - Sunday, 11 am - 6 pm.
The Cooley Gallery will regularly feature ceramics, painting, photography, and artwork in other mediums. Much of the work will be Chris’s own pottery and painting but the gallery will also feature other artists.
Cooley was an art major at Utah State, where he played football. He was drafted in the third round in 2004. Chris was elected to the Pro Bowl twice, in 2008 and 2009. Though football has been Chris’s primary occupation for the past seven years, he has kept alive his interest in painting and pottery. The Cooleys recently built a large pottery studio in their home as well as a wood-burning kiln where his work is fired over a period of 10 to 12 hours to a white-hot temperature of 2350 degrees F.
“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to operate an art gallery in downtown Leesburg,” said Chris. “Art has always been a major interest of mine and for the last couple of years pottery has become more of an obsession. I can’t wait to get the doors open and really give everyone a chance to see my work and the work of other regional artists.”