Arts Web Exclusive

Exhibit by Terry Gess and Carmen Grier Opens June 17 in Spruce Pine

Bringing the Outside Inside. Carmen Grier, artist

Spruce Pine’s Kokol Gallery presents Terry Gess + Carmen Grier: Together June 17 through July 22, with a reception on Friday, July 7, from 5–7 p.m. The exhibition highlights the work of these married artists who have worked on their specific crafts—Gess in clay and Grier as a textile artist and then painter—for many years.

The two met at Penland School of Craft more than 25 years ago. “I, like so many others, fell in love with the school and the area,” Grier says. She had arrived at Penland to teach an 8-week spring concentration in the textile studio. “I was fortunate to be invited back that fall (1994) as an artist-in-residence,” she says. “It literally changed my life. Not only did I meet my life partner—potter and fellow resident Terry Gess—but I found a community of like-minded creative individuals, where one’s creative practice is woven seamlessly into daily life.”

Terry Gess, artist

She was inspired to create the work shown in this exhibition by the majesty of winter trees. “When the leaves are down, the stark bare branches create the most engaging shapes as they curve and bend over and under each other,” Grier says. “I find these line drawings in nature to be an unending source of inspiration. The colors of the landscape are fairly neutral, but the sudden peek of a green water tank, an orange surveyor stick or a red vine is enough to get me started on a color palette.” She will also present a series of smaller works titled Listening with My Eyes.

Like Grier, Gess hailed from the Midwest. “Through many years of study, practice, studio residencies and related academic studio-based degrees,” he says, “I have steadily assimilated my experience into a unique approach to working with clay.”

With the onset of COVID, he found himself going larger with his pottery. “Beyond the physical challenges of working with larger, much heavier shapes, my personal artistic goal has been to make new work that embodies a personality and character that is something of a departure from the forms I have made before,” Gess says. “One of the treasures in this process is in seeing how glaze and surface can come into their own given ample space to move and interact with each other.”

After many years living and creating together on 12 acres, the two support each other in their respective genres, though they don’t often show their work together. “We are often in conversation about each other’s work and highly respect each other’s opinion,” says Grier. “We ask for it when we’re ready and know that the other person is being truly honest when giving helpful feedback.”

Learn more about Toe River Arts at Kokol Gallery is located at 269 Oak Avenue, Spruce Pine. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Leave a Comment