Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Generosity and Creativity of Artists
While traveling in North Carolina last week, one of my planned stops was to visit with Deb Karash, an outstanding jewelry artist represented by Artful Home. Deb had said, “You have to see my studio. You have to come to Marshall. And by the way, I hope you can see my new gallery, too.” Who knew? My expectation was to see her studio and see more of her work, and what I got instead was a fabulous introduction to a high energy wealth of creativity and generosity in the beautiful, tiny town of Marshall, North Carolina, and an example of how artistic vision can change the landscape of a place.
Deb’s studio is in a building called the Marshall High Studios, http://marshallhighstudios.com/as in Marshall High School. Abandoned as a high school and slated for demolition, artist Rob Pulleyn led an effort in 2006 to save the building and convert it into studio and exhibit space. Today, the building houses 28 studios , a gallery, plus fabulous community spaces where the artists have costume balls, performances, and other joint efforts.
I have not met Rob Pulleyn, but have an admitted crush on him nonetheless. First I had heard about his vision and energy resulting in the revitalization of both this building and several in downtown Asheville. Then I saw his ceramics; be still my heart. His forms are strong and sensuous, often in painterly colors with strong calligraphic markings, evoking shapes both modern and ancient, as if dug from a excavation of the future.
Deb’s work demands, deserves, and requires attention to the detail she puts in to each piece. Working in metal with color applied with colored pencil, Deb creates miniature sculptures to wear in organic, graceful forms.
Completely new to me was the painter, Gayle Paul, whose juicy canvases pulsated with a quiet fervor. I want one. Badly! I think that Gayle captures much of what is so seductive about the south in her paintings, that blend of an iron fist in a velvet glove, strength and grace with a drawl.
In the little downtown of Marshall close to the studio, we found a terrific real general store, a really great coffee house (Zumi) up to Bay Area standards where they individually brewed cups of iced coffee, a terribly-named nail salon (Ain’t that Cuticle), and the new cooperative gallery that Deb has started (Flow) with other artists from her studio. In a time when galleries are closing throughout the country, this is no doubt a bold venture on Deb’s part. But given the mecca for craft that western North Carolina has become, and given Deb’s critical curatorial eye, zeal and passion, I suspect this could become a destination gallery, much like the fabulous ceramics gallery, Crimson Laurel, in nearby Bakersville.
Deb didn’t need to devote the better part of a day showing me around. She didn’t need to start a gallery. She didn’t need to let me in to so many talented people’s lives. But she did, with generosity, and I am utterly grateful.