New gallery fulfills longstanding dream for Nelsons

Published 2:00 pm Thursday, January 6, 2011

Local portrait and gallery artist Rich Nelson is taking a break from his own studio work to fulfill a longstanding dream. He and his wife, Kim, celebrated the opening of their new Skyuka Fine Art Gallery at 133 N. Trade Street in Tryon on Jan. 1.

Kim helped launch the Red Clover gallery in Landrum, which opened with a show of her husbands paintings. Before long, the couple decided to open their own establishment.

We wanted to have a gallery that offered shows, workshops, lectures and anything that would bring folks together to enjoy art and the rich heritage and potential here in Tryon, the Nelsons said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Originally from Detroit, Mich., Rich earned his B.F.A. from the College of Creative Studies (CCS) in 1988 and Kim completed her B.F.A. at Eastern Michigan University in 1992.

It was at CCS that Rich developed his love of painting, drawing, figurative art and art history. Although portraiture is a major part of his career, Rich also paints landscape, still life and figurative gallery pieces. Working as a portrait and gallery artist, and occasional instructor since he graduated, he said his goal is to produce works with museum-quality painterly realism.

I am endlessly fascinated by people, places and things and consider it a privilege and a challenge to capture some aspect of their essence on canvas, he said.

In more than 20 years as a professional artist, Rich has completed more than 250 portraits and won a number of prestigious awards, including finalist in the portrait/figure category of The Artist’s Magazine 27th Annual Art Competition in 2010 and first place in oil and honorable mention in drawing in the Portrait Society of America 2009 Choose Your Medium Portrait Competition.

The local artist has also been featured in publications like American Art Collector and wrote an in-depth article on painting the outdoor portrait for the March 2009 American Artist magazine.

The Nelsons moved with their three young children to Tryon in 2004. Discovering Polk County on a driving trip from Nashville to Greensboro, Rich was struck by the beauty of the area. They found a house immediately and said they have been amazed ever since at how many interesting people and places they find here.

Skyuka Fine Art will specialize in traditional styles of landscape, still life and figurative painting. In addition to Richs work, the gallery features artists such as Richard Oversmith, Linda Cheek, Kelly Welch and Anne and William Jameson, as well as work by 20th-century plein air painter Jefferson Stephen Ward, grandfather of local artist Michael McCarthy. Notable artists with significant relationships with the locale from the collection of Tryon art dealer Nowell Guffey, such as Lawrence Mazzanovich, John Sylvan Brown, Homer E. Ellertson and Amelia M. Watson, will also be on display. &bsp;

Along with original artwork, the gallery will have gift items, such as greeting cards and books featuring some of the artists. The Nelsons plan to host art-related events such as workshops, lectures and performances. Their goal is to grow with the community of local galleries and businesses and help make Tryon a destination for art lovers.

Kim and I have also gotten to know many nationally known artists through my career as a portrait and gallery artist, and we hope to bring many of these friends to Tryon for exhibitions and workshops, said Rich.

The gallery held an open house on Jan. 1. Normal hours for the gallery are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday or by appointment. For more information, call Kim Nelson at 828-817-3783, or e-mail