Feb. 29, 2012 11:02

Gallery brings together art and design — and artists

Grey Pascal and Carolyn Owen credit Jordan Green

Ron Curlee sat behind a laptop in the back room at the Studio and Gallery fi nishing up some work early Saturday afternoon as the closing reception for the space’s HeartAche exhibit got underway.

He apologized to guests and asked a friend to set them up with mimosas — champagne and their choice of orange or grapefruit juices. Grey Pascal, who described himself as an “obsessivecompulsive sculptor,” was in town from Wilmington for the reception. Pascal also writes short stories and philosophical treatises, and shoots photography. His sculpture, “Psycho Nut #5,” hung from the ceiling.

Constructed from Styrofoam packing peanuts, it resembled a spinal cord misshapen by disease or a gigantic, malignant strand of DNA. A trio of Pascal’s photographs hung next to the open doorway. One of them, entitled “Last Kiss,” was particularly arresting. It’s hard to say whether the greenish light gives it a noir-ish or extraterrestrial effect, but the two adult forms intertwined 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 place in 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 what would happen that New Year’s Eve, but knew he wanted to break up, that he needed to be honest with himself and let his girlfriend get on with her life. It was the right time for change. 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 reasons that we were together is that I thought of this woman as saving me from homosexuality, which was completely unfair to her. I even went to seminary for one semester and planned on going into 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 western fringe of downtown Greensboro, he envisioned it as a place to nourish a community of artists.

The space, situated on the second fl oor of a North Cedar Street four-plex next door to the Greensboro ABC headquarters, also represents a marriage of art and design. For Curlee, those are two sides of the same coin. He works for Fine Furniture Design, which operates a factory in Shanghai and maintains its North American headquarters in High Point.

Curlee selects fabrics to go with the frames of particular pieces, and every Thursday evening he confers with his counterpart in Shanghai by phone to look at samples and determine if modifi cations are needed before going into production. Curlee charges a modest membership fee to artists in exchange for displaying their work. Each month he selects a different theme — “Reincarnated,” in March, naturally fl ows from February’s meditation on the dark side of love — and selects work from his membership directory that fi ts.

Each show has a complement of new home-furnishing pieces, including sofas produced by Fine Furniture Design, one-off armchair samples, hammered aluminum tables, rugs and lighting. 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, she entered the room like an electric charge, greeting Pascal with a hug. She showed him a bamboo wind chime piece that she’d picked up in the driveway, and later presented him with a cardboard box of cardstock packing material.

Then, she corralled the young men to carry her sculpture pieces — panels of distressed metal implanted with shards of glass and super-sized fl owers fashioned from cast-off industrial materials — 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.