The Swell Art Gallery

The Swell Art Gallery in Frisco is starting its first full season this year under the ownership of artist and singer April Trueblood. This creative gal was running Indian Town Art Gallery, also in Frisco, before moving her business to the new location last August and creating a new name.

Trueblood brings to her gallery an art education from East Carolina University, and Abilene Christian University with the focus on 3-D art. She is the singer for the popular ’80s music band Raygun Ruby, which plays locally.

When the prior owner of Indian Town Art Gallery decided to sell the business, Trueblood, who was working there at the time, decided to take the helm. She enjoys the perks of the job. “I can make my own projects like the Tiny Art Show,” she says. “It is probably the best received thing I’ve done in my life.”

Trueblood refers to a fundraiser art show that’s in its sixth year and is held annually in October. Between 250-300 tiny works are donated and sold to help raise money for a Cape Hatteras Secondary School student scholarship. The endowment is in the name of the late-Wayne Fulcher, an island artist who used to demonstrate painting and exhibit his work at Indian Town.

From tiny works of art to sizable original paintings, The Swell Art Gallery is the perfect stop for fine art, crafts and gifts galore.

Visitors wanting fine art or crafts will have choices between paintings and photographs, pottery, metal work, fiber art, and handcrafted jewelry.

Souvenir hunters also will discover a wide variety of offerings from coastal art, T-shifts, beach bags, candles, soap, and mugs with humorous sayings emblazoned on them.

Outer Banks artist Stephanie Kiker meets the needs of art, gift, and souvenir seekers alike by printing her colorful coastal imagery such as waves, turtles, seahorses, mermaids, herons, and whales on functional objects, including coasters, floor mats, prints, coin purses, ceramic tiles, I-phone cases, switch plates, and wall art.

Fine art takes the lead in the work of the late Glenn Dodenhoff who painted in Los Angeles during the Abstract Expressionist movement. His nonobjective paintings are on display, as well as his realism — paintings and prints of beach goers and fishermen. Trueblood has a cache of his original art, if you wish to see more of this highly collectible work.

Sharing space with Dodenhoff’s art are the prints and paintings of his wife, Lisa Copper, who spent decades painting side-by-side with her husband. The visual artist paints coastal scenes and fauna and iconic architecture including a stunning rendition of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Her work looks so real, it appears like photographs, but with painterly warmth

Five jewelry cases contain unique metalsmithing works by a variety of jewelry designers. Mary DeMarco handcrafts necklaces combining sterling silver images of turtles, shells, fish, and seahorses with brilliant aqua stones to create regal pieces. Erica Stankwytch-Bailey designs and creates angular, elegant necklaces and earrings — right down to the earring wires - out of sterling silver. She encrusts her metalwork with rough gemstones — beryl and apatite.

Fun and funky metal garden stakes that resemble Venus flytraps catch the eye along with the vibrant pottery of Matt Gibson, a Rocky Mount art teacher by day. These blue, orange, and cream beauties include bowls, dishes, covered dishes, vases and creamers. His delightful bowl with a fish design in the bottom is reminiscent of the bowls found in China Town districts whose painted fish design represents the sentiment, “May your bowl never be empty.”

That’s a great way to describe The Swell Art Gallery. It is an unending offering of creativity and craftmanship to add to a fine art collection or for fun, quirky finds to fulfill your gift or personal wants and needs. You’ll also find convenience at the gallery. Purchase a print, and the gallery can frame it for you — and, if creativity strikes you while at the beach, you can pick up art supplies here.

Something to look forward to this month at Swell, the addition of stained-glass work by Rebecca Berthiaume, an artist from Mystic, Connecticut.

Mary Ellen Riddle has been writing the Coast’s art column for more than 20 years and brings to her work a BFA in painting from East Carolina University and a profound passion for the role the arts play in society.

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