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Landrum Wanderings: The Millstone Gallery, a Landrum gem

If you think “pictures” when you hear about a gallery, then you haven’t been to Ron Robbins’ Millstone Gallery tucked in Landrum’s Collective. Ron’s goal is to create a place where varied artists and artisans from the surrounding areas can show their work.

Ron was born in Trinity, N.C. on Christmas Day. He laughs, “This seemed like a double blessing—it was Christmas and it was in a town named Trinity!” His Dad taught him that if you want something done, you do it yourself. They cut their own trees for lumber and built their house. If something needed fixing, you learned to fix it yourself.

Ron graduated from University of South Carolina School of Law in Columbia. He and his wife liked the Carolinas and decided to stay. “I practiced law in a large firm in Columbia, but now I’m semi-retired. I’m enjoying being a ‘small town’ style lawyer where I get to know and assist people in the community with the necessary legal issues, sort of like a small town doctor.”

“We scouted around the Carolinas to discover where we wanted to live. The mountains, the natural beauty, the interesting equestrian activities, the people,  drew us here. I describe it as ‘a place to make dreams come true’,” he reflects.  “You can create your own environment. There are no big box stores. You have the qualities and opportunities of a small town life.”

Following his father’s direction, Ron cleared property at Lake Lure and built his own house, which promptly burned completely to the ground. “That was it,” Ron shakes his head. “I didn’t rebuild. But I do love to work with wood. One day I went into the forest, picked up some wood and began to whittle. My dad used to whittle. I began to sit by the fireplace and carve bowls, spoons, and other interesting pieces.”

Ron continues, “I like to study the different types of wood, the colors, the grain, some are softer, some hard woods. Dogwood is a very hard wood. It was used to make wagon wheel spokes. I enjoy creating functional art that you can use, like the bowls. I made a guitar and I do play guitar.” Ron speaks Chinese and writes some Chinese music that is played in a Chinese Christian Church. “I’ve studied a lot about cultural anthropology,” he explains. He is a man of many talents!

The artists represented in Millstone Gallery are as wide-ranging as Ron’s interests. Of course Ron’s own creations are available. Don Blackwell, Tryon Artist of the Year, does wood and leather carving. He teaches at Isothermal Community College as does Mark Henneberry, another wood carver showing at the gallery. Ron’s wife, Kathleen, also an artist, will eventually add her talents to the mix.

Nan Jacobsohn’s whimsical clay sculpture of three dogs entitled “Homeland Security” immediately draws my attention when entering the showroom. Dogs are a popular subject. Several paintings by Karen Killian of Tryon showing well-loved dogs, cover one wall. I’m especially drawn to a smiling dog relishing a joy ride in a convertible.

The equestrian community is represented by Linda Evans’ charcoal drawings of horses, and New York professional photographer Monica Stevenson’s stunning equine photographs.  Ron’s pecan wood carved horse head adorns a shop post, along with one of his inimitable, craggy faces. Equine veterinarian Dr. Sean Eastman’s pen and ink drawings are available framed and unframed.

Doug Dacey’s porcelain pottery is displayed. Doug is a member of the Highland Pottery Guild. Jerry Drew forges his own knives. Susan Wilson offers organic, creamy, all natural soaps and lotions, made with essential oils, coconut oil, shea and mango butters. Her natural deodorants are created using baking soda.

As Mark Henneberry, a wood carver from Brevard, described the gallery, “It feels like a New York City gallery with artists from around the country. There’s always something new coming in. It’s always fresh.”

A review by Don Blackwell, Tryon Arts & Crafts Artist of the Year, reads, “A true feast for the eyes, Millstone Gallery is a warm delight. From Folk Art to Fine Art, Ron and Kathleen Robbins have made this Gallery a “must see” destination for visitors and local folks alike. Their genuine welcome and hospitality make you know that “Southern Charm” is alive and well.”

TripAdvisor rates the gallery #3 under things to do in Landrum. Some of the comments on the site include “Millstone Gallery – A Must Visit place”, “Great spot for all sorts of things!”, “Lovely shop with incredible quality local crafts and goods!”, “If you pass Landrum S.C. And didn’t stop by you may regret!”, and “Stupendous works in here.”

If you’re hunting down a unique gift for a special occasion, spend some time browsing in Millstone Gallery. You’re sure to find a gift that will be treasured and bring years of pleasure to the recipient, who might turn out to be yourself! Stop in the Collective on Trade Street and visit with Ron. Also check out the website themillstonegallery.com.