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November Issue 2003

Wilkes Art Gallery in North Wilkesboro, NC, Features Works by Bill Johnston and Kelly Royall

The Wilkes Art Gallery in North Wilkesboro, NC, is pleased to host a special exhibition featuring the work of two of Wilkes County's own. The work of Bill Johnston and Kelly Royall will be featured through Nov. 18, 2003.

Of his own unique pottery, Wilkes native and current resident of Rockbridge Baths, VA, Bill Johnston writes, "When you see the pots l am making for the Wilkes Art Gallery show this month, you will probably know right away that they are truly my pots, particularly if you have ever seen any of my work. I still make twig handles, acorn knobs, and leaf decorations, and my glaze colors are still mainly turquoise, green, gold and brown. My primary focus continues to be making decorative functional stoneware for my own use, pots that please my eye and serve me well. Yet I still take great pleasure in seeing people respond to my work usually with a smile and a chuckle, and sometimes remarking 'You made this?' or 'You made this?' I am delighted that some of you may want a handmade pot of your own and delighted that I can make it for you."

Johnston continues, "Although my pots have a familiar look, there are a number of new designs and some things I have never made before. Finally, after seven years of studying the clay arts, I am no longer intimidated by the intricacy of the teapot form. A good teapot needs a lid that fits and doesn't topple out at the slightest tilt, a spout that allows fluid to flow smoothly with little turbulence, a lip that cuts off the flow and doesn't drip, and a handle that is close to the center of gravity for ease in pouring a pot full of hot tea. In addition, the spout opening must be higher than the lid opening to keep the tea inside the pot until you are ready to pour it in your cup. Finally with all these requirements in balance, you still have to make it look good, too!"

After spending my spring and summer this year out in the garden, Johnston has been back in his studio this fall making teapots like crazy: small ones, large ones, coffee pots, ewers, some with leaves and acorns and twig handles and some that look like tree trunks. He has just unloaded my first kiln firing for the Wilkes Art Gallery show, and he can't wait for visitors to the gallery to see it!

Besides the teapots, you will see bowls and coffee cups, acorn and gourd canisters and a lot of pitchers that look like leaves or acorns. There are bowls altered to resemble a peach. Johnston has a new group of leaf dishes made from wheel thrown bowls that he carves and sculpts into leaf designs. His inspirations come from Thai restaurants, sushi bars, and Crate and Barrel stores, although some of his friends say these pots are right out of Lord of the Rings!

Says Johnston, "Serving hors d'oeuvres on a leaf dish, pouring a cup of tea out of a spout that looks like a hollow twig and holding a lid by its acorn knob may seem like something out of a fantasy. Maybe that's why I make them! Your dreams do come true."

In addition to the special pottery of Bill Johnston, original artwork by local artist Kelly Royall will be on display. Royall works in a medium truly his own. His images, mostly of familiar scenes from around Wilkes County and the surrounding region, are brought to life through his own technique involving hand enhanced oil monoprints highlighted with 23-carat gold leaf. Scenes that will be on display at the Gallery throughout Nov. include many local churches like First United Methodist Church in North Wilkesboro, The North Wilkesboro Presbyterian Church and St. Paul's Episcopal Church; historic sites of past and present in North Wilkesboro including Turner & Lankford Oil, the North Wilkesboro Train Station, Forester's Nu-Way and Amy's Café on 100' Street; and other area places of historic significance and interest such as Bell Brother's Produce, the Brushy Mountains, Grandfather Mountain and Jack's Drive-In.

Royall is generously donating a portion of his commission from the sale of his work to the Rainbow Center for Children, Inc. at the conclusion of his exhibit.

For more information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings or call the gallery at 336/667-2841.

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