HOT SPRINGS – Mars Hill hosted an art gallery in September 2021, and now Hot Springs has one too.
Gallery 339, located in the old Biker Depot building on the ring road, held its grand opening ceremony on April 16, according to owner Terry Thirion.
“It’s exciting, but it’s also scary because I’m asking, ‘What am I doing? What’s my best way? What do people want? How can I get people here?’ “, said Thirion. “We just have to see what happens. Hopefully something good will come out of it.”
Thirion, originally from Belgium, has owned a home on the Laurel River in Hot Springs for 25 years with her husband, Bob Fitzpatrick. The couple moved permanently to Madison County from Charlotte last May.
The gallery currently features three artists – Thirion, Jennifer Boylan and Swannanoa resident Elaine Lacy.
Thirion calls herself an “experimental painter”, as she uses Impressionist, Abstract Expressionist and even mixed media styles in her work.
The owner said some of her favorite subjects include frogs, birds and moths.
“I see birds everywhere,” Thirion said. “Butterflies and moths, they move easily. Birds too. They can just join us when we are in pain.”
Lacy also draws a lot of inspiration from nature, she said.
“My love for ceramic art stems from the deep joy I feel when I touch the earth and observe some of its most beautiful features, especially the trees, birds and flowers,” she said. stated in his artist statement on his website. “Creating a work of art from soft clay acts as a form of meditation and a way to express gratitude for the profound beauty that surrounds me.
“While my initial artistic training was in drawing, oil painting and photography, I enjoyed depicting elements of the natural world on a ceramic ‘canvas’, both for display and for everyday use.Each hand painted piece is made with the hope that it will delight those it lives with and bring appreciation for the magic of the world we live in.
Boylan makes sheep’s wool rugs and is also a painter.
“Rugs are a passion of mine,” Boylan said. The rugs are made from wool only, with no skin, which means no sheep are harmed. I buy wool from local farmers when possible. The way I make them is a process called felting. It’s laborious. This involves hot soap, water, and rolling. This helps to bind the fibers. I started to make rugs to meditate on and it became an ecological decorative object.”
Boylan said she had been making rugs for 10 years but painted most of her life.
“I think my style of painting can be described as ethereal and whimsical,” she said. “I love to paint and am a self-taught artist. Many of my paintings are inspired by poetry, myths, fairy tales and music. I like to think of myself as translating life through a magical lens or another world when I paint.”
The gallery operates on commission, Thirion said, adding that she hopes to bring in other regional artists to feature.
“The ideal situation would be that there would be a few artists who wanted to be here in the gallery, showing their work, and they would work one day a week, and that would be their payment,” she said. “They could work here too. I would like that. That way I could stay open more days.”
The gallery is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Thirion’s work is also featured at 362 Depot in the River Arts District of Asheville.
Thirion reserves half of the building for a studio, where she led several workshops for the public, including a composition course in March.
“We all need composition,” the owner said. “One of the things that people have learned is how to see composition in a different way. It’s all around us, really, composition. If you take your camera and look here, you can find the composition here. (In class) were talking to us about how you are going to divide your space – is it going to be a grid? Where is the horizon – is it going to be up or down? low? What’s the vibe of the painting or artwork you’re doing? Why are you doing it? You know, things like that. People have to ask themselves the question.”
For the owner, who previously worked as a life coach, teaching others offers an equally exciting opportunity.
“I want to have my own thing,” she said. “Students need to develop their own style. I constantly encourage them to develop their own style, not do my style.”
Thirion said she plans to offer the workshops once a month and is looking for other artists to come and teach classes as well.
In the near future, portrait artist Nan Sherry, a Marshall resident, will be offering a full two-day workshop, according to the gallery owner.
“I want to offer more workshops, especially if it can be affordable for the community,” Thirion said.
For now, the gallery owner is excited to be open and operating in Hot Springs.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to says, ‘We’re so glad you’re open,'” Thirion said.