Taupe Gallery is a local shop and gallery in downtown North Wilkesboro run by Jim Lyall – a designer with an eye for contemporary craftsmanship and artists . His background as a graphic designer, interior designer, and floral designer give him a special eye for color that often leads him to curate a variety of glass pieces from varied and unique artists in the region. On a recent shopping trip, I couldn’t help but notice these various pieces and Jim was kind enough to elaborate on a few of these talented glass artists.
How Jim Lyall of Taupe Gallery fits so many great artists into one small space, I’ll never know. Your eyes are exhilarated by all the pattern and color in the shop, and I love seeing all the glass pieces that are so unique. Urns, vases, “dwellings” and creatures – Bowls, veggies, bottles and fruit – Matte, shiny, iridescent and intricate patterns – everywhere your eye lands, it is dazzled. Taupe Gallery prides itself on the ability to showcase established and emerging artist working in a variety of media. What also is striking is the amazing amount of glass talent in the Western North Carolina region. Jim can ship anything from Taupe nationwide, in case you see something you love on his Facebook page.
Kenny Pieper was born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in the mountains of North Carolina. He began his craft career in high school when he studied at the Penland School of Crafts. Initially, he studied pottery with Norm Schulman and Cynthia Bringle. Later, he found his passion for glass under the tutelage of Richard Ritter. He subsequently received his B.F.A. from California College of Art and Design, Oakland, CA, then spent the next 16 years working as a glassblower in the San Francisco East Bay area.
Pieper’s career came full circle when he left California and moved back to North Carolina. While constructing a studio there, He worked at Penland School and managed the glassblowing and lampworking studios. It was during this fruitful time that he developed his expertise in the tradition of Italian glass. Kenny now resides in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Reflecting the harmony and beauty of his surroundings, Kenny produces an exquisite line of glass vessels and sculpture.
Scott Summerfield currently resides in Western North Carolina with his wife, Liz Summerfield and daughter, Roby Leigh. They both work from their studios located at their home in Bakersville, North Carolina. Scott grew up on Sunset Beach, a barrier island located on the coast of North Carolina. Much of his inspiration comes from his close proximity to the sea. Scott studied glass blowing at the renowned Appalachian Center for Crafts in Smithville, Tennessee.
According to the artist, “My process involves hand blown parts, which are later cut, ground, polished and assembled. Although my larger works are titled as recognizable familiar objects, such as bottles or teapots, they are purely sculptural forms. The intention is not for a bottle to function as a vessel, rather to stimulate the viewer through its movement, color, fluidity, and grace.”
Scott is a current member of the Southern Highland Crafts Guild. He sells his work nationwide through exhibitions and galleries. You may also purchase his work or custom order directly from him through his web site.
John Geci was born and raised in rural Litchfield, Connecticut. He attended Hartwick College in upstate New York where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and first worked with and realized his interest in glass. After college, Geci studied at Penland School of Craft: first as a student, then as a studio tech, and teacher’s assistant. At Penland, Geci was able to study and work with glassblowers from around the world, and learn many different styles and philosophies of working with glass.
In 2001, Geci became the first resident at the Energy XChange, a glass studio which utilizes the methane from a dormant landfill to power the glass furnaces. It was here that Geci was able to develop his unique line of glassworks. In 2007, Geci completed building his glass studio located in the mountains of western North Carolina near Penland School. His studio sits atop a hill above Courtney Martin’s pottery studio, their house, and gardens.
“Each piece I make captures my focused time and thoughts, ” stated Geci. ”Glass is often described as a frozen super-cooled liquid. I prefer to think of it as static motion. With my work I try to have each form serve as a canvas to display the inherent beauty and simple elegance of the glass.”
To own a unique piece of glass is an honor. It’s a labor of love and science, patience and kismet,….and it’s something that is timeless that will never go out of style. I so appreciate Jim Lyall of Taupe Gallery for bringing these amazing artists to our attention.