Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Paul Allen Counts Blown Glass at Smith Galleries

Paul Allen Counts

Most artists can tell you either a teacher or an experience that changed their lives; that put them on road to becoming the potter or glassblower they were meant to be. For Paul Allen Counts this pivotal event was when he was introduced to the art of glassblowing in 1978. As he says, “I was young, full of energy and still searching for my educational direction in college. One day I watched a glassblower work and this experience changed my world view.” From then on Paul’s affection for art became a passion for glass.  In 1983 he received his BA in Glass/Ceramics and in 1985 his MA in Glass, both from California State at Fullerton. He then worked in several California glass studios as a production glassblower and studied with Dick Marquis and Lino Taliapiatra at Haystack in the early 1990’s. Today Paul divides his time between his glass studio and sharing with college students his love for and knowledge of art.
Vase by Paul Counts

Paul is known for his colorful furled murrine vases which take a great deal of strength, determination, and skill to create. “I work at art for myself; I offer the fruits of my endeavors as a token of thanks for the life of an artist.” Paul says that his reward is the process of
Bowl by Paul Allen Counts
creation and that the finished piece is a bonus.  We are the fortunate recipients of that “bonus” for the beautiful pieces he creates reflect his passion for what he does. See more here.

Smith Galleries is located in suite J11 (second level) of the Village at Wexford at 1000 William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island, SC. Gallery hours are 10 - 6 Monday through Saturday. 800.272.3870

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cynthia Webb...Pewter Gifts With Meaning at Smith Galleries

Cynthia Webb
Poets do it; songwriters do it; even greeting card authors do it. Either with their words alone, or in combination with an image, they pull at our heartstrings. They touch something within us that causes us to tear up, to bring to mind a person, a memory, or an occasion that is significant. Cynthia Webb is a California artist who plucks our heartstrings with her handcrafted fine pewter framed assemblages. “I’m inspired through the creation of what I call art that also tugs at the heart,”she says. With her enduring themes of
Entwined in My Heart
faith, family, and spirit; she combines a cast pewter image with just a title or phrase and evokes a memory that touches something within us.

Cynthia is formally trained in architecture but began creating original work in jewelry classes in London. For the last 25 years she has been working out of her San Diego studio and showcasing her work throughout the United States.  She began with making small pieces such as pins and
Perfect Union
ornaments, but more recently has focused on larger pieces, especially framed art. Each piece is individually signed and may be hung or displayed on a tabletop. She takes great care with both the pewter pieces and the framing.

Her collection grows each year with her designs ranging from a
Home is Where There is One to Love You
woven heart to a complex angel to words of inspiration. Each design begins with a sketch which she uses as a guide as she carves the design in jeweler’s wax and then signs and titles the original. From the original a mold is made, allowing for the piece to be duplicated. Each piece is then hand-finished, oxidized and polished, and finished with a thin lacquer coating. The casting is then mounted on mat board and framed as a piece of art.
Home is Where Your Story Begins

“I hope my work serves to commemorate that special person or occasion or place in our lives, that gets us closer in touch with what’s truly important, and is a source of quiet joy for those who give it as a gift, receive it, or simply bring it into their homes.”  As you look at her work I am sure that at least one piece will speak to you.

Smith Galleries is located in suite J11 (second level) of the Village at Wexford at 1000 William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island, SC. Gallery hours are 10 - 6 Monday through Saturday. 800.272.3870

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Vitrix Art Glass at Smith Galleries

Thomas Kelly making a
Heechee Probe.
When one looks at a finished piece of wheel-thrown pottery or hand-blown glass, it is difficult to believe that both of them essentially began as a blob of raw material. In the case of pottery, one watches the potter slap a ball of clay on the potters wheel, start the wheel spinning, and start pressing on the clay. After it is centered, the potter starts pulling, pushing, adding water, and with various moves shapes the blob into a vessel. In most cases you have an idea of the finished product when it comes off the wheel, although there are many changes it has yet to go through before it is a completed piece of art.
Heechee Glass Sculpture

In the case of glass, one watches a glassblower gather a glob of a molten liquid on the end of a pipe and with the aid of a few tools, begin to turn it and shape the glob into a form that as it spins becomes recognizable as the object it will become. And in the case of glass, one can most often see the finished colors as well.

Celestial Geode Sculpture
They make it look so easy! That’s part of the fascination of watching both the potter and the glassblower at work. Their skill and artistry is such that you think, “Well, I could do that!”  Talking with any professional potter or glassblower will soon dispel you of that idea. They will tell you that it takes years to hone your skills until you feel qualified to offer your work to the public for purchase.

Thomas Kelly is the owner of Vitrix Hot Glass Studio. Tom
Scalloped Bowl
learned the art of glassblowing under the tutelage of Alex Brand and Thomas Buechner who had two distinctive styles. As his skill grew, so did his aesthetic sensitivity continue to develop until he was ready to take over the Vitrix studio when Buechner was ready to move on.  Watching a video of Thomas Kelly making one of his Heechees is like watching a magician at work. The way he manipulates the liquid glass, adjusting the shape, adding pieces and color, is intriguing. Speaking about his work Tom says, “Hot glass challenges me constantly. I don’t think I really control the molten glass, I just influence it.”

I think you’ll agree that his influence over the glass produces exquisite results. Creative shapes,
Vertical Heechee Sculpture
vibrant color, and consistent artistry combine to give his glass lasting beauty and value.

Smith Galleries is located in suite J11 (second level) of the Village at Wexford at 1000 William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island, SC. Gallery hours are 10 - 6 Monday through Saturday. 800.272.3870

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Santa Fe Stoneworks Knives at Smith Galleries

Having worked with or around tools for most of my adult life, I can not underestimate the importance of having tools and equipment of excellent quality. It doesn’t matter whether you are working with heavy equipment or hand tools, your work will be easier and better when what you are working with is well made. Perhaps it is being married to a man who has used various types of equipment and
tools working with clay, working with wood, doing framing, taking photographs, working in the yard as well as working in the kitchen, that I have increased my appreciation for good quality tools. And all other qualities being equal, I choose tools that are beautiful to look at.

Around our home and business, we use a lot of different kinds of tools, but the one item we use more than any other, day in and day out is a knife. Wally carries one in his pocket every day because he never knows when it will be needed. I think this is true of many men, and with Father’s Day just around the corner, I think this is a good time to look at the beautifully made knives by Santa Fe Stoneworks. Set in the shadows of the Sangre de Crosto mountains, the artisans at Santa Fe Stoneworks handcraft art knives of rare beauty in a century-old adobe ranch house. From one of a kind custom designs to popular, affordable collections of pocket knives,
men’s gifts and accessories, each Santa Fe Stoneworks collectible is a unique example of the cutler’s art. Whether it is the design of the knife, the metals used for the body and the blade, or the various stones, woods, and fossils used on the handle; care is given to design and function so that each knife  is a marriage of fine steels with gemstone, shell, or intricate marquetry. Each knife has completed a journey of countless painstaking steps before it leaves the Santa Fe Stoneworks studio.

So if you are looking for something other than a tie or a pair of socks for Dad this Father’s Day, consider giving him one of our beautiful and functional Santa Fe Stoneworks knives. It may bring back memories of simpler times  when all the boys carried a pocket knife, even to school!

Smith Galleries is located in suite J11 (second level) of the Village at Wexford at 1000 William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island, SC. Gallery hours are 10 - 6 Monday through Saturday. 800.272.3870

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Betsy Frost Jewelry at Smith Galleries

Betsy Frost in her studio.
What do a women’s ice hockey player, a Service Dog Project volunteer, and a metalsmith have in common? In the case of Betsy Frost, they are one in the same person. Being a girl in a family of boys may have had something to do with Betsy’s learning to play ice hockey, but she loved it so much she plays year round on a women’s over 40 team. Her Service Dog Project involvement is also a year round commitment. Her family owns two female Great Danes, Scarlet and Mischa, whose puppies are donated to the project and trained as service dogs.The whole family is involved in the non profit organization. In addition to her personal involvement, Betsy has designed a line of jewelry specifically for the SDP and donates half of her earnings from that line to the project.

Sand Dollar Necklace & Earrings by Betsy Frost
So how does Betsy have time to produce jewelry for galleries, and how did she become interested in jewelry making to begin with? At some point in their lives, most artists have a mentor who either introduced them to the love of their craft or encouraged them in their pursuit of it. In Betsy’s case there was the neighbor, a master metalsmith, who allowed her to hang out in his workshop and watch him work. But it wasn’t until Betsy reached the age of 30 that she focused solely on pursuing her dream. Betsy Frost grew up in North Bennington, Vermont, the eldest daughter of 10 children. She always thought she would be a doctor, as her father had been taking her along on his surgical rounds from the time she was six. But after a discouraging glimpse of the pre-med rigors at Williams College, Betsy majored in psychology instead.

Betsy with Scarlet and Mischa

After graduation from Williams in 1987, Betsy waited tables in St. Thomas, danced her way around the world with "Up With People," and studied silversmithing in Sweden and at Skidmore College. She later moved to Boston to be trained for a "real job" by enrolling in a master's program in Counseling Psychology, while still continuing to take classes in silversmithing. It didn't take her long to discover that she really wanted to design jewelry, so she quit the master's program and began studying at the Massachusetts College of Art, where she graduated with a BA in Metals in 1996.

Necklace and Earrings by Betsy Frost
Today Betsy has a custom studio in the basement of her home where she and her assistants design, make, and market her jewelry collections. Her location provides part of the inspiration for her designs, and daily life also provides ideas.  Betsy is inspired by such artists as Matisse and Degas, but also gets many of her ideas from her immediate surroundings--the shape of a flower or shell, or the "line" of a piece of furniture. Living near the water in Massachusetts influenced the sea life collection. Shells, sand dollars, and other sea life combined with a beautiful selection of stones form an outstanding collection of nautical jewelry. A keen eye for observing everything around her gives Betsy ideas for her sculptural pieces. A night owl, Betsy confesses that some of her best design ideas come when everyone else is sleeping.

Betsy currently resides in Ipswich, Massachusetts with her husband Jeff, sons Connor and Rowan, and dogs Jack, Scarlet and Mischa.

Smith Galleries is located in suite J11 (second level) of the Village at Wexford at 1000 William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island, SC. Gallery hours are 10 - 6 Monday through Saturday. 800.272.3870

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Loren Lukens Pottery at Smith Galleries

Loren Lukens applies surface decoration.
The functional porcelain pottery of Loren Lukens has been a part of Smith Galleries for nearly as long as we have been Smith Galleries. That says a lot about the quality of his work. After all, Wally began his career in the arts as a potter; and because of his expertise in the craft, few potters have met his exacting standards. Loren's love affair with clay began just a few years after Wally's, and I think they share many of the same ideas about their craft. There is something so satisfying about taking a lump of clay and centering it, forming it with your hands into the object of your mind's eye, and then finishing it into a vessel with both beauty and function. In speaking about his work, Loren says, "The beginnings of pottery go hand in hand with the beginnings of humankind. Of contemporary crafts, only basket making is as fundamental. The shapes of pottery are the shapes of the human body, and are named as such: lip, foot, and shoulder. They are shapes we know very well on a level beneath our consciousness."

Porcelain Bowl
Like most potters who have mastered their craft, (Wally has always said that you have to make 10,000 pots before you make a good one), Loren has out maneuvered the potters wheel and figured out how to make pieces that though they began by being round,  their finished form is no longer dictated by the wheel. "My forms are extensions of traditional pottery with contemporary variations," he says. "They're strong, sleek and sculptural with a bold painterly surface and rich glaze treatment.  The pieces have a dynamic impact when viewed from a distance as well as an intensity of detail up close." Over the span of his career, painting, or the design aspect of the pottery, has become an increasingly important aspect of Loren's work

Porcelain Platter
Loren' studio workshop is complete, with potters wheels, clay extruders,  a glaze spray booth, a slab roller, a slip mixer,  a pug mill, a casting table, and both electric and gas fired kilns in 3000 square feet of both indoor and outdoor space. It is here that he makes his wheel thrown, hand built, and slip cast porcelain pottery. Loren's work has evolved over the years, his skill has increased with experience, his vision has expanded and developed; but he has remained true to the fundamentals that first guided him to make an outstanding product. We are pleased to be included in the list of prestigious American craft galleries. that carry Loren Lukens pottery.  

Smith Galleries is located in suite J11 (second level) of the Village at Wexford at 1000 William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island, SC. Gallery hours are 10 - 6 Monday through Saturday. 800.272.3870

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New Mike Smith Paintings at Smith Galleries

Mike Smith
I think at some point in our lives we have all created our own perfect world, the world in which we would like to live. Flowers bloom all the time, apples ripen on the trees, sailboats skim across the water, doves fly around the moon, and animals frolic in the tall grass while the sun shines brightly. Scenes like this can be found in the paintings of Mike Smith.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Mike grew up in the Vancouver, Washington, and the Puget Sound area. He graduated from the University of Portland with a degree in English Literature. After a brief period working as a writer in a dental school, he returned to his first love, painting. His passion for art began at the tender age of two and lasted until he discovered baseball at the age of ten. He rediscovered his first love at 25 and has never looked back. Carving out a career as an abstract painter was unsuccessful, so he abandoned all formal “schools” of painting and developed his autobiographical approach, using what was around him for
"Back of The Studio, July 2016"
by Mike Smith
subjects and creating a dialog with them, placing them in his idea of perfect habitats which he realizes can never truly exist. Baseball may have been his sport as a youth, but it’s easy to see from his paintings that golf plays an important role in his life as an adult! It is his autobiographical paintings that have made him successful.  He has had more than fifty one man shows in several countries, and continues to enchant us with his idea of the ideal.

Mike uses a wide range of mediums including watercolor, oil, bronze, and pastels. Most of the
"Window on Trondheim"
by Mike Smith
originals you see are watercolors, but occasionally you will see the rare oil or pastel. In addition to his originals, there are  series of serigraphs and giclees. For years there were many poster editions, but those reproductions have mostly been replaced by giclees because of their superior quality.

Mike’s use of color is what first draws most people to his paintings. The bright colors invite the viewer to discover a little piece of the world that looks inviting, animals that are obviously happy and secure in their habitats, and nature at its most bountiful and productive. Soon you are swept into the image and the cares you brought with you are forgotten. You can’t help but smile. Mike Smith paintings make you happy, and that is a true gift from the artist.

Click to see the new watercolors.

Smith Galleries is located in suite J11 (second level) of the Village at Wexford at 1000 William Hilton Parkway on Hilton Head Island, SC. Gallery hours are 10 - 6 Monday through Saturday. 800.272.3870