Gallery brings together art and design — and artists

by Jordan Green

Ron Curlee sat behind a laptop in the back room atthe Studio and Gallery fi nishing up some workearly Saturday afternoon as the closing receptionfor the space’s HeartAche exhibit got underway.

He apologized to guests and asked a friend to set them upwith mimosas — champagne and their choice of orange orgrapefruit juices.Grey Pascal, who described himself as an “obsessivecompulsivesculptor,” was in town from Wilmington for thereception. Pascal also writes short stories and philosophicaltreatises, and shoots photography.His sculpture, “Psycho Nut #5,” hung from the ceiling.

Constructed from Styrofoam packing peanuts, it resembled aspinal cord misshapen by disease or a gigantic, malignant strandof DNA.A trio of Pascal’s photographs hung next to the opendoorway. One of them, entitled “Last Kiss,” was particularlyarresting. It’s hard to say whether the greenish light gives ita noir-ish or extraterrestrial effect, but the two adult formsintertwined on a jungle gym are blurred, almost ephemeral.“It’s a 30-second exposure of my girlfriend and I kissing,”Pascal said, explaining setup of the shot, which took placein the last 15 seconds of 1999 and fi rst 15 seconds of 2000.

“Right after that I came out to her, and we broke up.”Pascal recalled that he hadn’t consciously planned whatwould happen that New Year’s Eve, but knew he wanted tobreak up, that he needed to be honest with himself and lethis girlfriend get on with her life. It was the right time forchange. Now, Pascal was glad to report, his ex-girlfriend is“happily married and has three kids.”“I came from a super-conservative background,” he explained.

“My dad was a Baptist minister. One of the reasonsthat we were together is that I thought of this woman as savingme from homosexuality, which was completely unfair to her. Ieven went to seminary for one semester and planned on goinginto the ministry like my father. It didn’t take, obviously. Otherwise,I wouldn’t be stringing together packing peanuts.”When Curlee opened the Studio and Gallery on the westernfringe of downtown Greensboro, he envisioned it as a placeto nourish a community of artists.

The space, situated on thesecond fl oor of a North Cedar Street four-plex nextdoor to the Greensboro ABC headquarters, also representsa marriage of art and design. For Curlee, thoseare two sides of the same coin.He works for Fine Furniture Design, which operatesa factory in Shanghai and maintains its North Americanheadquarters in High Point.

Curlee selects fabrics to gowith the frames of particular pieces, and every Thursdayevening he confers with his counterpart in Shanghai by phoneto look at samples and determine if modifi cations are neededbefore going into production.Curlee charges a modest membership fee to artists inexchange for displaying their work. Each month he selects adifferent theme — “Reincarnated,” in March, naturally fl owsfrom February’s meditation on the dark side of love — andselects work from his membership directory that fi ts.

Eachshow has a complement of new home-furnishing pieces,including sofas produced by Fine Furniture Design, one-offarmchair samples, hammered aluminum tables, rugs andlighting. Everything is for sale and changes each month.Around 2 p.m., artist Carolyn Owen arrived at the gallery.

Dressed in a yellow knit hat, fl annel shirt and overalls, sheentered the room like an electric charge, greeting Pascal witha hug. She showed him a bamboo wind chime piece thatshe’d picked up in the driveway, and later presented him witha cardboard box of cardstock packing material.

Then, she corralled the young men to carry her sculpturepieces — panels of distressed metal implanted with shards ofglass and super-sized fl owers fashioned from cast-off industrialmaterials — up from her van for the next installation.Change, indeed.

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his girlfriend get on with her life. It was the right time for sents a marriage of art and design. For Curlee, those change. Now, Pascal was glad to report, his ex-girlfriend is are two sides of the same coin. “happily married and has three kids.” He works for Fine Furniture Design, which oper-

“Reincarnated,” featuring artists 6 to 10 p.m. at the Studio and Ron Curlee, Carolyn Owen and Gallery, located at 109 N. Cedar St.Carol Hunter, opens Friday from in Greensboro.