A Lincolnton wood turner and a Sherrill’s Ford photographer are getting in the summer spirit with the showcase of their work at the Andre Christine Gallery in Mooresville’s “Summer” exhibit this month.
Those walking into the studio are met with paintings, sculptures, photography and an array of mediums that represent the warmest season of the year, at least to gallery owner Lynn Gingras.
Gingras opened her studio in January of 2011, and is always on the lookout for fresh, regional talent. She changes her themes every month or so in hopes of keeping her audience intrigued by her selections. Now, the exhibit features pieces from 34 artists around the state, including area residents, Don Olsen and Wes Stearns.
Olsen, 73, has been wood turning since he was about 14 years old, inspired by his first metal and wood shop courses at his junior high. He makes bowls, earns and other wooden sculptures by using a lathe, a machine that rotates the piece while he uses tools to sand and shape the sample into the desired form.
“I’ve always liked working with wood,” Olsen told the Times-News Friday. “And I’ve been working with wet (green) wood for years. I’ve been green for a while.”
The Lincolnton resident moved to the area in 1993, when he retired and was able to start working on his art full time. Since his move, Olsen has joined various wood-turner groups and has been featured at various studios, from Asheville to the Lincoln Cultural Center.
He draws on personal experiences and gets the majority of his ideas from interactions with other people, he said, which is sometimes the best way to get inspired.
Going around to local groups to see what other wood turners are doing, and getting the proper instruction are crucial when starting the practice, Olsen said. His years of trial and error have landed him a slot at Gingras’ showcase, where he has had his work shown since last year.
Artist Eye photographer Wes Stearns, 52, of Sherrill’s Ford, didn’t start taking pictures professionally until about six years ago, after being intrigued by his friend’s new digital camera.
Stearns spent a good chunk of time outdoors in previous years, and enjoyed photographing his kayaking trips with disposable cameras, but hated having to wait to see the results. After being introduced to the new technology that was the digital camera, and realizing that he could see his pictures seconds after they were taken, he would later retire from his 28-year career in the medical field and decided to pursue photography on a lucrative level.
He started taking pictures of properties his wife Jenny had designed – the first time he profited from his then-hobby. Now, Stearns’ also has photos that can be seen in Gingras’ gallery year-round.
“She (Gingras) prefers to have black and white photography, so I take pictures to cater to what she likes,” Stearns said.
Hanging on the wall behind Olsen’s wood pieces are Stearns’ images – classic cars and seasonal flowers – that represent what summer means to him. Those that think of summer think of cruising in a car on a hot day, Stearns laughed.
He is hoping to expand his knowledge and use other outlets to explore photography. Currently, he is learning how to do 360-degree imaging – a technique that gives a complete, all-angled view of an area. Helping his wife shoot photographs of her buildings, nature and abstract pieces are where the local artist draws the majority of his inspiration these days.
Stearns has had his pictures in various publications over the years and is making a name for himself in the area – coming a long way from the throw-away camera days of his past.
Gingras was enchanted right away by the two men and the work they created, and couldn’t wait to recruit them for spots in her studio.
“I wanted the cream of the crop; it’s important for the public to know they’re getting to see real work from real artists,” Gingras said. “This is more than just a hobby shop; it’s a place to see fabulous talent.”
Life-sized and taller sculptures decorate the lawn in front of the gallery, called a sculpture garden, an unusual site in the mostly-residential neighborhood.
Not getting discouraged when things don’t turn out according to plan, and staying current with technology are credited for the success of the two artists.
Remember not to get discouraged, if it doesn’t turn out the way you want, you always have designed firewood, Olsen said.
“Summer” is on display until Aug. 1 at the Andre Christine Gallery, 142 Ervin Rd. in Mooresville.