In 1974 Norman Ringdahl, owner of The Prints and the Potter Gallery, was a recent graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in painting. Having worked in a gallery and frame shop in Rochester, NY, Norman returned to Worcester and was hired by the photography department of the Worcester News Recorder, a weekly newspaper. In addition, he taught art courses in the Night Life program. In this position, he met Jim and Linda Winegar and Lou D'Amico, art instructors with the Worcester Public Schools. The Winegars were creating their own line of art pottery, and together with D’Amico they were renovating an old barroom on Chandler Street into a studio and showroom where they could produce and sell their work.
Norman joined forces with these three, and when renovations were finally complete, they opened for business in November, 1974. Their gallery was originally called Chandler Street Crafts and displayed their own work, as well as that of other local craftspeople. In addition to craftworks, Norman developed the custom framing aspect of the business. Although they were small, they began a series of regular, changing exhibitions featuring functional and sculptural pottery, paintings, prints, photography, fiber, leatherwork, jewelry, batik and woodwork. Live musical performances and multi-media events were often staged to accompany the exhibition openings.
As Chandler Street Crafts continued to develop, it was soon evident that the gallery had reached its maximum potential at that location. In 1977, the gallery was moved to Park Avenue and Ringdahl became the sole proprietor of the shop, while retaining the active participation of the Winegars and D'Amico, whose studios were moved to their homes.
With the move and interior renovations ongoing, a new name emerged: The Prints and the Potter Gallery. The new gallery continued to operate under the same principles that were established at the Chandler Street location, with a growing business in custom framing and increased representation of painters, printmakers and original works crafted by American artisans.
The show schedule at The Prints and the Potter continued with regularity, and press coverage and community support were encouraging. Exhibitions varied widely, from artwork produced by local individuals and talented high school teachers to a showing of the woodblock engravings of Winslow Homer.
As additional space became available on Park Avenue, the Prints and the Potter literally broke through the wall, doubling the gallery's display area in the process. Along with the added space they achieved greater visibility with three large display windows.
Economic growth continued at a steady pace, bringing with it increased artistic representation and once again precipitating a move. In 1980, the current location at 142 Highland Street was chosen, as it offered still greater visibility and stability. Owner Norman Ringdahl recalls their success, especially in the face of the idea that "if you can succeed in the arts in Worcester, you can succeed anywhere."
In 1989 the Collector's Gallery was formed in a building adjacent to The Prints and the Potter. This gallery also adopted a constant and ongoing show schedule, with changing exhibits every six to eight weeks. A diverse range of artistic styles and media was shown with each exhibition, including "Pastoral Visions," an exhibition of color etchings by English artist Jo Barry. The Collector's Gallery's next exhibition was "That Was Then... and This Is Now," a twentieth anniversary retrospective of The Gallery. The opening took place on November 27, 1994, and it was viewed as a springboard for the years to come.