Crafting Inspiration

Local Artists Featured at Blue Spiral 1 on Living Artfully

Blue Spiral 1, a 15,000-square-foot gallery in the heart of downtown Asheville, presents exceptional artists and object makers. Three expansive floors allow for ample displays and extensive exhibitions. Two talented artists, Alex Bernstein and Tamie Beldue, share their work with us.

Alex Bernstein

Alex Bernstein is one of Asheville’s most talented artists. The Western North Carolina native was born in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, to glass artist parents. After college and graduate school, Alex became the department head of the Worchester Center for Craft. Almost 12 years ago, he relocated back to Asheville to focus exclusively on his studio practice.  

When did your love of art begin?

From an early age, I was surrounded by art. The house was filled with many different incredible pieces made by my parents and their friends. This is what sparked my curiosity, watching the transformations of the glass and admiring the finished pieces.  

Have you explored other mediums, or did you always know glass was right for you?

Although my main passion is glass art, I actually studied photography at both UNC Asheville and the Penland School of Crafts. My master's degree was really focused on sculpture, and I think the time spent exploring this medium allowed me to expand my art skills.

When did you decide to be an artist professionally?

After graduation from college, I began working with children at a psychiatric hospital and spent time assisting other artists. At one point, I stopped working for other artists and focused on making my own artwork, while still working in the hospital. Following this, I knew I had to make a decision about what I wanted to do. I vividly remember lying in bed one night when I knew that the next day would involve working with glass. My mind was spinning with all the different ideas of art that I wanted to explore. This was when I had the realization that this was truly my passion and set out to work with my own art on a full-time basis.

What attracted you to Blue Spiral?

I’ve had my sights set on Blue Spiral since childhood. My parents showed their work at New Morning Gallery, which is the gallery of Blue Spiral’s other owner, John Cram. Shortly after graduate school, I was asked to participate in a new artist show at Blue Spiral Gallery. I was truly honored! Close to 20 years later, I’m still working with them.

Have you won any special awards or been featured anywhere that you would like to mention?

I was voted as a rising star from the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass and have received a number of awards and honors from the Habitat Gallery Annual International show.  

How do you think art can transform a home?

It's such an honor to be able to have my artwork in someone's home. I especially love when folks send me a picture of how my sculptures are now "living." I enjoy the feedback from them about how the piece can transform the whole room and change the feeling with the seasons.

What's your favorite thing about being an artist?

It can be incredibly challenging, and I love that. I enjoy having a problem that I have to solve and feeling satisfied with my solutions.  

What's the most difficult piece you have ever created?

Last year I made an installation piece that consisted of 15 individual sculptures. It was intended to represent the Blue Ridge Mountain Range. It was a tremendous amount of work and took more than six months to complete. I was very satisfied with the results and thrilled that it was actually purchased by a wonderful couple in Florida. They have invited me to visit my art in their home this winter.  

Tamie Beldue

Contemporary artist Tamie Beldue’s work can be recognized for its shifting, tonal, creative depth and is on display at Blue Spiral gallery in downtown Asheville. Tamie received her MFA from the University of Cincinnati. In addition to having works exhibited extensively in the U.S., Tamie is also an associate professor at the University of North Carolina Asheville.

When asked about becoming an artist, Tamie described a childhood in which she used any medium she could find in nature to draw. She would find wood, scraps, rocks and create artwork. By the time she was in fifth grade, Tamie received an art award. At this point, she wasn’t set on becoming an artist, but she began to understand that art was one of her talents.  

By the time she was in high school, she was drawing more and more often out of pure desire. As time progressed, Tamie has shifted toward a focus of examining the abstract and investigating new approaches. Her works have great depth and tone and seem to push the boundaries of art.

What attracted you to Blue Spiral?

Having moved to Asheville in 2008, I wanted a gallery in the place of my residence to begin a relationship with. Blue Spiral was already on my radar, even from when I lived in Ohio, as being known for its commitment to excellence in fine art and contemporary craft. Between that and their dedication to artists specifically from this region, it made it easy to approach them. I have had such a positive and trusting relationship with Blue Spiral since 2013. They have yet to disappoint!

How do you think art can transform a home?

My home is filled with artwork that I have collected throughout the years. I am constantly engaging with the work. I did that from an early age in my parents’ home. Instead of watching the TV that my family was watching, I would be staring at the painting above the TV. There is a strong presence with artwork, the originality and creative investment from the artist. To me, artwork is as important and personal as the family photos—without having to know the subject.

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