Life in our Foothills May 2023 – 80Six Gallery – Getting to Know the Art and Artists
Published 2:46 pm Thursday, May 11, 2023
The space at 86 North Trade St. in Tryon has been many things over the building’s 100-year existence, including a bar, boutique and bookshop. In recent years, it has become home to the 80Six Gallery, which features some of the top contemporary artists in the Carolinas while also serving as the studio for owner, curator, and artist Chuck Mattern of Tryon.
Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Chuck has lived in western North Carolina for 32 years. After spending many years in Sarasota, Fla., he and his wife Pam, who occasionally works in the gallery, chose WNC to enjoy the beauty of all four seasons. Mattern ran a sign and graphics company in Hendersonville for 15 years before becoming a painter in his retirement.
Mattern built the kiosks and redid the walls at 80Six Gallery, which are now filled with the work of local artists, primarily abstract paintings with a few realism pieces in the mix. The artists with work on display are from all over the Carolinas—Columbia, Charlotte, Asheville, Hendersonville and Polk County. He opened the doors in 2020 on Labor Day and now has a waiting list of artists interested in renting wall space.
“Painting was something I always wanted to do, and I have been doing it for about a decade,” Mattern says. “I spent time in the River Art District of Asheville at 362 Depot St., an area well known for its art scene. Eventually, I opened the 80Six out of personal convenience. Since it serves a dual purpose as my studio.”
Mattern describes the gallery as “colorful and friendly.” His work is contemporary and abstract, including thought-provoking paintings created on large wooden canvases he puts together himself. His mixed-media works are often layered with caulk to create a three-dimensional work of art.
Visitors to 80Six can usually find Mattern creating his latest piece. His work, as well as the work featured by other artists, is inspired by the natural beauty of the Carolina Foothills and beyond.
Mattern takes commissions and has done jobs for breweries, restaurants and personal collections. Though there is one painting he doesn’t plan on selling—a beer bottle with a label displaying the name of his dog, Dugan. “I’ll paint someone else a similar piece, but I’m holding onto that painting.”
Local and regional artists are featured extensively at the gallery, with paintings, pottery, sculpture, textile art and stained glass on display.
Abstract artist Pat Cato creates mixed-media work with acrylics, inks, oil pastels, graphite and sometimes cloth, and she recently had new work featured. “Color and texture are very important to me to bring emotion and volume to the painting,” says Cato. “I hope my work will make the viewer stop and look and make their conclusions. This, I believe, is the fun and fascination of art.”
Lydia Juenger’s art is described as “containing clarity and conciseness, which allows her work to take on a life of its own.” A Mill Spring resident, Lydia owns and operates Fox Meadow Farm and is one of the many Foothills artists with work on display at 80Six Gallery.
The work of one of the Foothills’ most well-known artists, Bernard Edwards, can also be seen on its walls. Edwards, originally from Spartanburg, began carving wooden decoy ducks as a kid. Since then, he has whittled every animal that can be found in the area and then some, creating three-dimensional wall pieces that catch the attention of visitors. Denise Cwik of Tryon, known for her beautifully rendered colored pencil work, has her art displayed and has been featured in other galleries in the area as well. Cwik has also taught classes at Tryon Painters and Sculptors.
The artist on display who lives the furthest away from Trade St. is realist Ben Compton of Lexington, S.C. An architect by trade, Compton is an oil painter who has made a career by utilizing his creativity.
Lynn Padgett of Hendersonville fits right in with the other abstract artists that fill the walls. A member of Tryon Painters and Sculptors, Rutherford County Visual Artists Guild and the Art League of Henderson County, her abstract paintings tell a different story to each viewer.
Visitors to 80Six Gallery will also find the paintings of Becky Hyatt Rickenbacker, whose pieces can be seen through the sun-filled front windows with natural light illuminating the animals she recreates on canvas, and the work of Lynn Dulken, who incorporates encaustics, paper, acrylics and other mixed media into her art to accentuate her signature use of alcohol inks.
Tryon artist Barbara Thomas has worked with various fabrics over the past 30 years, and has found dyes and silk to be her favorite mediums. Her work style is whimsical and filled with color.
Pottery lovers will enjoy the stunning works of Jim Cullen, owner of Roundhouse Pottery, who has taught courses at Tryon Arts and Crafts School and the Chapman Cultural Center. His works are carefully crafted pieces that showcase both utility and uniqueness.
Other artists that have had work displayed at 80Six Gallery in recent years include Christine Mariotti, Dee Santorini, Jerry La Point, Marry Verrandeaux and Cindy Roddey.
80Six Gallery is open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 11 to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Every Fourth Friday, the gallery stays open from 5-7 p.m. For more information, visit 80sixgallery.wixsite.com or call (828) 699-3584.