Now an official downtown-Washington success, Lone Leaf Gallery & Custom Framing, celebrated its one-year anniversary yesterday evening with hors d’oeuvres, drinks and a new art exhibit, ‘Interruptions’ by Ben Isburg. From 5 to 8 p.m., dozens of loyal patrons and supporters stopped by the gallery to congratulate the Loughlins and see the show.
After a shaky, but well intentioned, version of 'Happy Birthday', Neil and Meredith Loughlin, owners of Lone Leaf Gallery & Custom Framing, extinguished the candle on their one-year anniversary cake--a delicious homemade mocha cake donated by Meredith's mom, Lynn Deatherage.
Since it opened a year ago, Lone Leaf Gallery has carved out its niche in the Eastern North Carolina art scene by combining a careful selection of local art with imported works from past colleagues at East Carolina University, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and from other respected artists they’ve formed relationships with over the years.
Beaufort County Arts Council Executive Director Joey Toler, who attended the anniversary celebration, said that much of Lone Leaf Gallery’s success can be attributed to its owners’ attention to networking with professional, current and progressive artists, from near and far.
“Neil and Meredith have some access to art that our other galleries do not—and that’s what makes it fun,” said Toler.
Contributors to other downtown-Washington galleries, such as David Clark and his wife (pictured above), who show their photography at Riverwalk Gallery, came out to demonstrate support for their fellow artists. The Clarks enjoy a bite of the anniversary cake while looking at 'Let's Change the Subject', a piece in the newly hung show, 'Interruptions' by Ben Isburg.
While the Loughlins try to keep the selection fresh and unpredictable, Meredith said that over the past year they have somewhat molded the gallery to suit the tastes of their patrons.
“I feel like it was mainly a really good building experience for the gallery,” said Meredith. “We’ve switched out many artists based on what we saw that people were receptive to.”
The Loughlins met the artist of the newly featured exhibit, ‘Interruptions’, while in art school at ECU. The ‘Interruptions’ series focuses on the use of xylene transfers, graphite drawings and white gouache. Xylene (xylol) is the chemical in blending markers and can be found at hardware stores. Its images are mostly light-hearted and humorous; Isburg labels them as illustrations of off-hand thoughts. There is also a great interest in the placement or movement of imagery across paper, returning to the challenge of basic design.
Of all the new work on display, Toler said he especially appreciated the message behind Isburg’s piece ‘Let’s Change the Subject,’ which is, as of this writing, still on sale for $200. The piece is a xylene transfer of a classical woman with a train engine and railcars chugging from her open mouth.
“I love that this woman—there’s a train of information coming out of her mouth—and it’s all ‘Me, Me, Me, Me’, because that’s how a lot of people are,” said Toler, with a laugh.
Lauren Coleman tries hard to resist touching her favorite piece, 'Sweet Talk.'
Washington resident and Wachovia teller Lauren Coleman loved that piece as well, but was even more attracted to a piece of the legendary Rock Hudson, talking on the phone, with butterflies coming from the receiver, entitled ‘Sweet Talk.’ The xylene transfer of Hudson’s face has the same dotted appearance as a newspaper comic, which gives the work a three-dimensional effect.
“He was a total sex symbol back in his day. I’m so bad about wanting to touch art,” said Coleman. “It looks like you can feel it with texture in the paper and everything.”
Ken Nall, a pulmonary specialist living in Washington, said his favorite pieces were the masculine and feminine counterparts, ‘Better Half’ and ‘Alpha Girls,’ saying “they’re just kind of quirky and fun.” The two aren’t being sold as a set, but Nall thought perhaps they should be. Nall recently purchased a set of original prints by Andrew Daly for his medical office.
Dr. Ken Nall and Meredith Loughlin discuss the piece 'Field Guide to North American Birds.'
Washington resident Tim Boyer purchased the large piece, ‘Field Guide to North American Birds,’ of an empty-sketch of a person wearing a white bird mask surrounded by several, small colorful birds.
Six of the seven pieces are still on sale, as of this writing. The exhibit ‘Interruptions’ will be on display until Sept. 18. All pieces are $200 and under.
In the coming year, the Loughlins’ said they are going to continue to feature a new, exciting exhibit in their gallery every month, as well as continue to bring in other new artwork for the shop. Meredith also said that she is planning to make her creative photography and jewelry a bigger part of the gallery this year.
The framing portion of the Loughlins’ business has been rolling steady since Day 1, according to Neil, who does most of the frame work. At any point in time, the decent accumulation of newly framed pieces can be seen propped against the framing table waiting to be picked up. Neil said he takes great care to frame with the eye and skill of an artist and uses premium products, while providing customers a discount price (about 20 percent less than the Greenville average).
When asked for her opinion on what would be the ideal recipe for increased economic success in downtown Washington, Meredith harkened back to the pre-Walmart era, when Main Street had a drug store, more than one bank, an electronics store, Jean’s Café, and so on. The resurrection of Mom and Pop stores, combined with the influx into Beaufort County of wealthy retirees, and the commitment from all residents to shop local (local, international corporations don’t count) just might result in a record-low number of Main Street vacancies and turnovers.
“If there would be more businesses downtown that provided practical things, like a small grocery or more good restaurants, and if people in town tried to shop local, I think it would make downtown a bigger center for life and activity,” said Meredith.
Meredith said that she and Neil hope that Lone Leaf Gallery continues to do well over the long haul, and they thank their many patrons who have financially helped them keep art alive in Eastern North Carolina.
This post appears courtesy of our sister site, Beaufort County NOW, with their expressed permission.