The name on the sign of the new art and event space at 370 Lizard Creek Road reads “Artists of Elements,” followed by “The Gathering Place.”
The secondary part of the moniker captures the vision of what founder Ellen Newbauer wants Artists of Elements, which celebrated its grand opening earlier this month, to be: somewhere that Lake Gaston locals and visitors can meet to celebrate, and purchase art of all sorts.
“There are an enormous amount of talented artists in this area,” Newbauer said. “We have a few venues, but there’s not really a place where people can just come and gather. I want to get the conversation started, whatever that is.”
Newbauer, a Montana native who moved to the area last year to be closer to her grandmother, started the conversation about creating a place like this with herself, on a long drive to Florida to deliver a piece of her own commissioned artwork.
“I went, ‘Oh, my God,’” Newbauer said. “Maybe I ought to open a gallery.”
She did, and drew a big crowd to the ribbon cutting ceremony put on by the Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Some of the visual artwork of John DuVall, Lakeland Cultural Arts Center’s managing artistic director, was on display that day. He said every community or neighborhood deserves a place where people can meet and experience art on a small scale.
Newbauer, whose speciality is woodworking, said she expects to partner with Lakeland on teaching classes like painting (including for kids) and wood and pin turning. Wine and painting nights could also be in the works.
Newbauer is working on a venue behind the building to eventually allow live music both indoors and out, to complement other events like poetry readings and book signings.
To start, Artists of Elements will open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday and Tuesdays and Wednesdays by appointment.
Newbauer said the pieces for sale in the gallery can range in price from $2 to $5,000.
“We’ve got, I think, eight artists on board right now,” Newbauer said. “We’ve got anything from oil paintings to wood carvings to custom wood boxes to pins, jewelry, books, cards. I’ve got some guitars I’m working on. We’ve got just a variety of stuff.”
The stuff, as Newbauer alluded to, also includes her own work. She has a degree in electronics and computer engineering, but taught herself woodworking after working to remodel a ranch in the state of Washington. She then landed a cabinet job, without knowing precisely how to build cabinets, before buying a book and figuring it out.
Newbauer owes some inspiration for Artists of Elements to Robin Kelly’s Lisa’s Custom Framing art shop in Fayetteville, N.C. Newbauer’s work had been featured there and Ellen called Artists of Elements “Robin Kelly’s thing on steroids.”
Kelly’s business is located in a city of more than 200,000 people, within a county of more than 300,000.
DuVall, who has been in the area for two years, said the Lake Gaston art community may be smaller in numbers, but it’s “mighty.”
“I was shocked at the amount of local artists that are on the lake and the quality,” he said. “Just look around; there’s some beautiful stuff... There’s some talent on the lake.”