By Katie Benfield
Toni Carlton began her gallery in 1982, marking this year as the 35th Anniversary of the Carlton Gallery, which was voted “Best of the Best Art Gallery” in Watauga County for 2017, here in Boone. Celebrating 35 years of being a renowned artistic presence within the High Country can highlight not only community support but all the changes that have occurred as well.
“I’m so grateful that we’ve made it to 35 years – grateful towards artists, employees, community members and our friends,” Toni Carlton said. “Things have changed, grown and evolved since I first began. It’s exciting to have a business this long and watch it grow always and forever changing. It’s really exciting.”
Carlton graduated from ASU with a double major in art and a minor in business. When she first started her gallery, her main focus was on looms and fiber-work, reflected in her studio’s title Woven Works. Fresh out of college, she needed a place to hang all of her works – large wall-hangings and fiber pieces. Carlton’s ancestors were involved with looming and fibers before Carlton, influencing her talents and skills as her grandmother also used a loom.
However, as the years passed, and Carlton began experimenting in other media, she realized she needed a larger venue and some change in order to accommodate new projects and new artists.
“After a couple of years, the gallery became more of a fine art and handmade gallery, and it has just kept growing,” Carlton said. “I’ve been in the current building for nine years now.”
With the change in buildings and names came a change in art and media. The Carlton Gallery began holding workshops for local artists, and through these workshops, Carlton herself was able to gain more expertise in multiple artistic fields. While she began with looming and fibers, she is now skilled in painting, drawing and calligraphy as well.
Regardless of the different venues and artistic media, Carlton is constantly excited and grateful for the amount of support and love that the community shows her and the gallery.
“I just really want to thank the whole community, especially all of our clients and friends,” Carlton said. “The amount of support for the arts and this gallery has been amazing.”
A heartfelt thank you is offered to those artists who the gallery has represented for many years– Warren Dennis, Debbie Arnold, Vae Hamilton and Andrew Braitman to name a few.
Over the years, Carlton has become great friends with the artists and clients who have taken part in her gallery. Through this, she has been able to everyone each year, connect with them and get to know aspect of their lives and families. Recently, they had a young man do a summer internship with them.
“This young man just happened to be the grandson of one of my first clients,” Carlton said. “It’s amazing to see generations grow and still be connected with the gallery.”
Although she started out with fiber works and basketry, Carlton’s work currently focuses on calligraphy and painting, and her works have been shown all over the globe, being featured in places like China, Korea, Switzerland and Italy.
“My work, although it has changed over time and over many years, it has always been about showing that there is a connection with all through our hearts,” Carlton said. “When things are happening in the world, I use my art to represent something that brings light and joy and more meaning into people’s lives.”
On Saturday, July 22, there will be a 35th Anniversary Celebration at the Carlton Gallery at 10360 Highway 105 South. The event will last from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. with an artist reception from 2-5 p.m. Throughout the day, there will be music, a demonstration by plein air artist Linda Apriletti from 11:00 – 1:00, door prizes and delicious food that are sure to make the whole day full of fun. Carlton says, “It is my life’s great joy and a blessing to be an artist and have an art gallery for 35 years.”
An Artists’ Reception from 2-5 affords an opportunity to meet some of the gallery artists whose art work covers many media. Music will be by the Rob Falvo Jazz Trio while Egidio Antonaccio plans a painting demonstration from 2:30 to 4:30 during this event which is a part of the monthly Tour de Art and is free of charge.
There will also be a special highlight feature of Andrew Braitman, Kevin Beck and Egi Antonaccio, three artists whose interpretation of the landscape ranges from abstract to realistic to impressionistic. The paintings exhibited in “Landscapes, Treescapes and Waterscapes” by Andrew Braitman, Kevin Beck and Egidio Antonaccio display their great talent and the ability to capture on canvas a sense of mystery and mood that is ageless.
The gallery is located 10 miles south of Boone; 7 miles from Blowing Rock and 7 miles from Linville and Banner Elk on NC 105 south in the Grandfather Mountain Community near Seven Devils. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 to 5 and 11 to 5 on Sunday. For additional information on artists, exhibitions or workshops, call (828) 963-4288 or visit www.carltongallery.com.