Read below to see Asher Gallery’s top artist picks for unique holiday gifts. Please note: some items have limited availability.
Through her unique perspective as both a dancer and choreographer, Tana Acton combines air, movement and light to create pieces that are at once delicate and solid. Her jewelry pieces are contemporary, lightweight and affordable–they can be worn as either casual or formal accessories. She has progressed to graphic artist, choreographer and dance teacher, painter and eventually fashion designer to some of New York’s leading knitwear and house wares manufacturers.
Born in Birmingham, Michigan, Acton has lived a life focused on creative and artistic expression. She earned an Antioch College BFA in painting and completed the Parsons School of Design Fashion Design program. In Florence, Italy, she studied with Tomaso after studying silversmithing in Haystack’s high-school program with Glenda Arentzen.
Above: Tana Acton, “Orange Multi Cuff” and “Bumpy Pearl Wave Cuff.” Mixed media and pearl. Photo by HCCC. Acton’s bracelets range from $200 – $320.
Artist Michael Murphy passed away in 2010, but his wife Gabriele carries on his legacy by continuing to design hand-painted silk fabric, which is then made into one-of-a-kind wearable art in the form of scarves. Gabriele works out of her studio in a remote and scenic mountainous area in Washington State. Her travels and the serene and peaceful backdrop of nature are reflected in her original and distinctive art work.
Each piece is dyed by hand one at a time. Starting with white silk, stretched like a canvas, the designs are applied using brushes, stamps and hand tools. The dyed silk is steam set to ensure color fastness, then washed. The silk is then cut and sewn into high-quality ties and scarves.
Above: Gabriele Beyer Murphy, Aqua Tie. Silk. Photo by HCCC. Beyer-Murphy’s work ranges from $110 – $139.
“Although my technique and style derive from a variety of backgrounds, my work breaks out of the traditional mold. I use classical and traditional glass techniques as a foundation to work from. Color, shape and conceptual form play an integral role in my work. Learning the tradition of glass working coupled with contemporary art glass concepts has kept my work in a fluid and constant evolution. This evolution stems from both expected and unexpected results that come from hours of experimentation. The development of couture glass derives from my concept of art as fashion. This work allows me to explore and enhance the relationship between us and glass. To create form from air and beauty from fire.”
“My passion for painting met my passion for glass in 1993, in a studio in Oakland, California, when I started flameworking borosilicate glass with a team of aspiring glass artists. My enthusiasm, interest and drive for this new medium inspired me to push myself to build both a strong technical and artistic foundation. The fusion between my love of color and the need to create form has driven me to expand the limits of glass flameworking over the last 14 years.”
Above: Jay Bridgland, assorted “Disc” necklaces. Glass. Photo by HCCC. Bridgland’s work ranges from $125 – $350.
Pinzette Glass / Bill Burch
Bill Burch finds there is nothing quite as exciting as shaping and forming molten glass, a material that cannot be touched, despite the tender and intimate relationship the artist has with the medium. No piece is ever quite reproducible or predictable, which adds to the excitement and mystery of glass. Burch’s work emphasizes the process of blowing and forming hot glass using design elements that can be incorporated into the molten material. His challenge is to add these designs and still maintain the integrity of the process by capturing the beauty implicit in the simplest form, line and color.
Above: Bill Burch, “Creamer,” “Wabi-Sabi Vase,” and “Large Pitcher.” Glass. Photo by HCCC. Burch’s work ranges from $38 – $88.
Using ceramics and mixed media, Christina Carfora creates engaging narrative sculptures that explore the mind and human relationships. Through the use of imagery and symbolism, such as people, animals and organic forms, she tells stories about triumphs, failures, opinions or revelations that everyone has experienced during their lives.
Using slab and coil construction, as well as altered wheel-thrown forms, Carfora explores a variety of techniques in her work, including colored slips, glaze, salt-firing, raku and cold finishes. She begins each piece by deciding its title and then creating a series of sketches to decide which visuals communicate the narrative. Paying particular attention to the subtle nuances in the face or the posture of the form, she completes the story in the details. She says, “I leave the story open ended to create a setting of dialogue with the viewer. It is my hope that the viewer may be able to personalize the experience and become psychologically involved in the work.”
Above: Christina Carfora, “Self Contained.” Ceramic. Photo by HCCC. Carfora’s work ranges from $2,200 – $3000.
Kat Cole has an interest in the anti-aesthetic aspect of a place: the abandoned buildings and factories, scrap yards, piles of trash and detritus found in the streets. This is the evidence of human inhabitants, both past and present. Using found materials in her work allows her to create a direct connection between art, object and place. The tins, rusty bolts, scraps of plastic and metal are transformed in conjunction with vitreous enamel and steel to make jewelry and sculpture that is distinctly of a place and time.
Above: Kat Cole, “China Red Catalog Necklace.” Vintage Tin. Photo courtesy of the artist. Cole’s jewelry ranges from $85 – $750.
“I don’t remember when I did not look to animals as a source of beauty and inspiration. Including humans, I’ve made them subjects of toys and sculpture for three decades and have put most of them on wheels. I combine inspiration, a vision of gesture and memory, with the physicality of wood and paint. The building part is a place of transition where everything snaps together, an intoxication of pure flow.”
“I often use ancient Egyptian cosmology as subject matter. In using myth as a context, there are lots of stories to tell as these grand beings flap back and forth between animals and human. Some of my pieces become sophisticated toys, while others are about nature and rhythm and color. My objective is simple: to have fun. I want adults to have toys also, to give in to being playful.”
Above: Dona Dalton, “Chipmunk.” Wood. Photo by HCCC. Dalton’s work ranges from $66 – $200.
”Let my pieces speak to you.”
Born in Kyushu, Japan, Teruhiko (Terry) Hagiwara came to the U.S. in 1969 and to Houston in 1981. Though he enjoys a day job as a research physicist in the petroleum industry, he has been passionate about ceramics since he began taking classes at Houston’s Glassell School of Art in 1989. He is inspired by that which is almost, but not quite, symmetrical, delighting in the element of chaos a slight skew brings to the order and control of symmetrical forms.
Terry works with high-fire stonewares and sometimes wood fire, but more often with raku firing. With raku, he uses glazes, whether metallic copper or crackle white, in simple geometric surface designs. He also uses a process he calls “jade finish,” during which he omits any glaze and instead burnishes, applies slip, then removes the slip after raku-firing.
Above: Terry Hagiwara, “My Cubism in Red.” Ceramic. Photo by HCCC. Hagiwara’s ceramic work ranges from $200 – $350.
Hudson Beach Glass
Hudson Beach Glass Studio has casted functional and sculptural objects for over 20 years. John and Wendy Gilvey, Michael Benzer, and Jennifer Smith founded Hudson Beach Glass in 1987. Hudson’s main studio is located in a renovated ice house in the Hudson Valley of New York state. The space features fine cast and blown glass, an artist-run retail space, and a funky second-floor gallery space for installations.
Above: Hudson Beach Glass, “Grey and Green Tripod.” Glass. Photo by HCCC. Hudson Beach Glass’ work ranges from $38 – $230.
“I primarily work in precious metals and combine them mostly with found objects. I utilize a variety of traditional metal and silversmithing techniques, including fabrication and soldering, as well as many others. All of my jewelry, functional objects and small sculptures are fabricated by hand. I prefer to do one-of-a-kind pieces; if I choose to duplicate a previous design, there are always subtle differences in the subsequent work.”
“My artistic journey began as a small child and throughout my growing up as I experimented with beading, glass, painting, sculpture, music and more. I have always had my art as a foundation to create and outlet to ground my otherwise busy life.”
“My jewelry and small sculpture is known for its clean, uncomplicated and contemporary lines. The imagery tends to be scaled-down replications of objects I am familiar with (such as vehicles), and many I invent in my mind (aliens and other creatures). Again, bold lines and an up-front whimsy prevail. I love the intimate scale that this work provides both as the maker and as a viewer. I love watching the reaction of discovery when others notice the tiny and unexpected details within my pieces. Humor is important in my work and my life–a very direct humor that is slightly bemused. What I like best is creating something that has never existed before.”
Above: Kristin Lora, “XL Dragon Earrings.” Mixed Media. Photo by HCCC. Lora’s jewelry ranges from $50 – $170.
Neogranny / Molly Reilly
Molly Reilly’s process stems from years of collecting, photographing and looking. She bases her drawings on her collections and laser cuts designs out of birch wood, leaving lovely embossed renderings to stand against bright hand-painted enamels. Neogranny designs are light weight, water proof and sturdy. Reilly has travelled around the country, taking road trips and teaching at various colleges, with an insatiable habit for collecting second-hand goods. Having acquired and relinquished many treasures along the way, her designs are like, “good thrifting days, with a trunk load of favorites.”
Above: Molly Reilly, “Mermaid” and “Diver” necklaces. Wood. Photo by HCCC. Reilly’s jewelry ranges from $11- $34.
“I have a BA in art history and a MA and MFA in painting, so I’m not qualified to be a folk artist, but my work is generally referred to as folk because that is what it looks like. I don’t mind how people label me as the ‘Whistle Lady.’ This gives me a category all my own, and all of my sculptures do have a whistle somewhere in them. I have loved woodworking ever since I was a kid messing around in the garage with my dad and older brother. I have equally loved things that are humorous, from Mad Magazine to Monty Python to the evening news. I believe that the essence of good art is that it is attractive enough to draw you in for a closer look, yet has sufficient content to make the time you spent with it worthwhile.”
Above: Connie Roberts, “Shakespeare in Globe Theatre.” Carved wood. Photo by HCCC. Roberts’s work ranges from $10 – $2,200.
Caitie Sellers received her BFA in craft/material studies from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. After graduating, she spent the summer of 2008 teaching jewelry-making lessons to women in isolated regions near Xela, Guatemala. Upon returning to the U.S., Caitie moved between Montana and North Carolina, developing her own jewelry; working professionally as a floral designer; and assisting artists, such as Joanna Gollberg, Natalya Pinchuk, and Amy Tavern. Caitie’s work is informed by her observations of the many places she’s lived, from rural Virginia to Central America. She is interested in themes of urbanization, architecture, and social development.
Above: Caitie Sellers, “Brooch #1.” Mixed media. Photo courtesy of the artist. Sellers’ jewelry ranges from $140 – $550.
Craft is a struggle between trying to lead and trying to follow…a passionate dance at best. Janet Taylor’s work has been a process of listening and following. After years of learning about textiles, cultures, techniques and art making, her work seems to be a melding of all of the above.
Textiles have always been opulent, intriguing, a sign of royalty, elegance, setting women and men apart. It is with all of those things in mind that her work evolves, providing enjoyment every step of the way.
Janet Taylor, a recognized artist, speaker, and educator for more than three decades, received a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA from Syracuse University’s School of Art. Upon receiving her degrees, she simultaneously began a career in teaching and a career as an exhibiting artist.
Above: Janet Taylor, “Purple and Green Scarf.” Fiber. Photo by HCCC. Taylor’s textiles range from $65 – $110.
Matt Thomas (Thomas/Work)
Matt Thomas was introduced to woodworking by his father when he was 14. A few years later his parents urged him to participate in a jury session at Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia’s retail gallery. Jeff Fetty, a Tamarack juror and local blacksmith, invited Thomas to apprentice at his shop from 1998 to 2002. Thomas slowly increased his skills and responsibilities, eventually contributing design ideas.
Matt launched Thomas/Work in 2002. Each of his designs begins as a sketch, then is adapted to three-dimensions on the computer so he can view it from all angles. From there he creates a prototype. Successful pieces are added to one of his three lines: the traditional inspired line, the contemporary line and the hybrid line refers to pieces that merge wood with iron. “I want people to appreciate and enjoy timeless design.”
Above: Matt Thomas, “Small Serving Board with Bowl.” Wood and metal. Photo by HCCC. Thomas’ woodwork ranges from $11 – $250.
Vetro Vero Glass / Michael Schunke & Josie Gluck
Vetro Vero is the collaborative design and glass-blowing studio of makers Michael Schunke and Josie Gluck. The idyllic setting of their repurposed dairy-farm studio is just the place for Michael and Josie to envision and create their signature designs, which are revered for their exceptional quality and meticulous craftsmanship. Each hand-blown glass object is made through practicing the core values that brought them together: honest work, pure materials, fresh designs, and respect for the skilled glassmaking tradition in which they were both trained.
Above: Vetro Vero, “Petite Flat Pitcher.” Glass. Photo by HCCC. Vetro Vero’s glassware ranges from $265 – $720.
Watson Woodworks / Eugene Watson
Eugene Watson began Watson Woodworks in 1990, in an old 1200-square-foot loft just outside of Chinatown in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to woodworking, Watson designed the electronics components for the black boxes in airplanes. Watson holds a Bachelor of Science in Electronics Technology from Southern Illinois University. He chose to pursue woodworking over an electronics career because he loves expressing his creativity with his hands and designing innovative pieces in a relatively short period of time.
Above: Eugene Watson, “Trapezoid Box.” Wood. Photo by HCCC. Watson’s woodwork ranges from $36 – $300.