Grovewood Gallery is Home to a Unique Array of Art

Russell Gale is manager of Grovewood Village and Ashley Van Matre is marketing director.

A furniture maker who appreciates fine-crafted works, Russell Gale manages the Grovewood Gallery and other properties in Grovewood Village next to the Omni Grove Park Inn.

Walking through the gallery filled with an astounding variety of glassware, ceramics, sculptures, handmade furniture, paintings and jewelry, Gale points out that many of the works are created by regional artists.

“We love having local work,” Gale says. “We also try to have a nice, interesting array of works,” he adds.

With new works coming into the gallery on a regular basis, the inventory changes along with the artists, Gale says.

“We have artists for three days—or 20 years,” he remarks.

Among perennial favorites are the kinetic sculptures of Josh Cote who uses woven wire and other elements to create whimsical shapes of rabbits. At the entrance to the gallery is a reclining rabbit in a come-hither pose.

“People just love his work,” Gale says.

With the abundance of exhibits, people can easily spend half a day at the gallery, says Ashley Van Matre, Grovewood Village marketing manager.

“We like people to just come and shop,” she says.

Van Matre estimates that nearly 50 percent of people who come to the gallery are area residents who visit regularly.

“We have a lot of Ashevillians who have been coming here a long time,” she says.

People who come to the gallery appreciate seeing so much work in one place, Gale says.

The furniture on display is functional and made to use, he adds. Much of the second floor of the gallery is dedicated to furniture designed for dining rooms, living areas and bedrooms. The styles range in design from sleek modern to traditional Appalachian created from walnut and cherry woods.

Some of the artists whose works are displayed at the gallery have resident status, and visitors can watch them working at given times in their studios next door. Among these artists are Rick Eckard who creates hand-blown art glass, painter Suzanne Dittenber, ceramic artists Lisa Gluckin and Helen Purdum and fine furniture maker and wood artist Brent Skidmore.

Every third Saturday of the month from May to October, the resident artists open up their studios to the public, allowing visitors to gain insight into their creative process and view their most recent works. The free, self-guided tours take plan from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The workspaces in which these 11 resident artists work were originally built to house the weaving operations of Biltmore Industries, an arts and crafts enterprise that flourished in the early 20th century. At the height of its success, Biltmore Industries had a total of 40 looms in steady operation, producing bolts of handwoven wool fabric. Customers included Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Helen Keller and several American presidents and first ladies.

The Grovewood Galley is part of Grovewood Village, an 11-acre property, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, where Golden Fleece Slow Earth Kitchen, the Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum and an antique car museum are located.

“A lot of people think we’re connected to the Grove Park Inn,” Van Matre says. However, Grovewood Village is a separate entity owned by a local family.

One Grovewood Village shop, Gallery of the Mountains, is located inside The Omni Grove Park Inn in the Sammons wing. This gallery features handmade American crafts by more than 100 local and regional artists of the Southern Appalachians.

The Grovewood Gallery at 290 Macon Ave. is open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit the website at www.grovewood.com or call 828-254-5068.

By Sandra Barnes