Not Just Your Ordinary Art Gallery!

July 1, 2015 in Editorials

Visiting different art galleries certainly doesn’t make me an art expert. However, visiting many of the local galleries across the Southeast has gained me some very valuable experience. Large galleries in larger cities seem to be pleasant, but very quiet with soft music and seldom do you make a comment and if you have a question. You may not get answers till your tour or exhibit has ended. The smaller local galleries are very friendly and unique with what they offer being extra ordinary, especially the art gallery called Gallery on Main Fine Art & Gifts located in Historic Downtown Sweetwater, Tenn.

I found some of the most gifted artist with many techniques of painting using many different mediums to achieve their desired work of art. Some of the artists use a variety or mediums such as water color, acrylic, pen & ink, oil, graphite, alcohol inks, and pencil and even pebble art. I enjoyed numerous very exquisite fine photography selections framed and ready to be taken home. Other artists use their hands to shape and form wood selections from means of wood turning to carving; each piece being as amazing and beautiful as you will see anywhere. And still others use their hands to mold perfect pottery or build unusual models from salvaged pieces of string, wood, metal, wire and other materials.

The owners and hosts of Gallery on Main, Vickie and Paul Saladin, are both artists and like all of their exhibitors, their credentials are outstanding. Vickie has been an artist for over 30 years and is known for her pencil drawings, water color and acrylic paintings, as well as being certified to teach ceramic art for 10 years. She now has found a love for designing jewelry, particularly native designed. She teaches a very unique class called Viking Knit where you learn to knit a gold or silver necklace with your fingers. Vickie uses rose gold and argentium wire with sterling wrapped cob stone to make genuine necklaces, bracelets and earrings and this art is known as Zetirazine.

Vickie’s husband Paul has taken her around the country through his jobs, and when they landed close to Sweetwater, she said she was ready to stay put. Paul adds wood-turned pens and pencil sets, letter openers, as well as stylus for the tech savvy to the gallery.

The artists at Gallery on Main are not ordinary at all! For example, Carolyn “Sam” Macklem has necklaces and earrings made by stitching sea beads by hand. These tiny pearls and crystals make the most beautiful pieces imaginable. Joy Merckson, a graduate of Ringling’s School of Art, offers painting on silk, and she is one of the many gifted artists teaching classes in the gallery.

Local artist, Sylvia Stark, from Dayton, Tenn., has been in the art field painting and sculpting commercially to sign painting, and has worked with stained glass for over 30 years. Judy Carlson, from California, designs much of her jewelry from glass beads that she fires and creates for her selections. Judy has designed special pieces for Oprah, former stars of Dynasty, Drake Hotel, and other celebrities.

Artist Diana Ferguson has won numerous awards nationally. She transforms materials such as watercolor paper that she patterns with her digital art and collage with anodized aluminum and other alternative metals. Her achievements and awards are all for outstanding creations using her own created techniques and mediums. She has designed two-toned chains and other jewelry. Her biography is a must read as well.

Just to mention a few other artist’s work you will enjoy on your visit to the gallery; Debbie Redding Smith, Carolyn Koup, Cathy Barnes, Deborah L. Kowalezyk and Chuck Schwaner all create and design from water color to acrylic, pencil and charcoal to pen and ink; and some use designer beads or sterling silver for handmade jewelry. Sheila Chesanow, Robert Burleson and Wayne Setser are just a few of several photographers; each have their favorite views of what they like and each are very gifted in what they shoot. Phillip Pugh and Dean Irving add to the wood carvers displaying. Dean loves carving gnomes and I fell in love with his “old man in a shoe”. Phillip adds lots of detail to various sculptures such as the fire fighter, ships and houses he carves. He uses various woods that gives detail and makes his characters look real.

There’s still others whose art helps to make this small town gallery in Historic Sweetwater one of the most sought visit. Few leave without something that really caught their eye, and sometimes just took their breath away. The talent and experience is a thousand hours over when one adds the time to teach and to create. Vickie told me that one of her artists said they could take anyone that’s never been an artist, teach and show them they have talents, and when used, they can become an artist. Classes are ongoing weekly at the gallery, so just call Vickie Saladin for details.

I cannot begin to paint you a picture of the mass of gifts of talent in this one gallery. You will have to add Gallery on Main, 109 East Morris Street in Sweetwater to your bucket list to visit very soon. Vickie’s says she loves anything that sparkles, so find her in the shiniest area of the gallery and let her know you read about them in The Busy Bee Trader.

By Maxine B. Jones, Ocoee, Tennessee

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