Painter, printmaker, and gallery owner Ann DerGara moved to Brevard 19 years ago, to escape the hectic city life of Atlanta. “The landscape touched me in such a way,” she says, “it’s somewhat mysterious. I’m fascinated by the wildlife, which is why my work has become more representational. A pair of golden eagles nested on this mountain for nine years, and they’d light on this limb right outside my dining-room window.”
But DerGara has also touched the landscape that’s touched her, helping to build Brevard’s now-thriving art scene. She started Red Wolf Gallery and spearheaded the development of the art-and-craft corridor on US 276-South. She and her husband paid seven local artists to do public sculptures for their collaborative Brevard Sculpture Project, then gave the sculptures to the city (Ann contributed a raccoon piece). “Three giant musical instruments are next,” DerGara says. “A violin, a saxophone, and an 18-foot-tall banjo — right on the main road coming into town.”
DerGara met with very early success, selling her first painting at age 13. And she’s somewhat baffled when people ask if it’s possible to for an artist to make money. “I tell them, yes, I put my children through college selling my art. But I also work at it every day. Even as a child I would drag plywood home from construction sites and clean it and paint on it.”
Being so resourceful at an early age taught her the value of found objects. “As a printmaker, my printmaker friends and I would look in recycling bins to find anything we could use as printmaking tools. A flat piece of tin. A metal washer. A button. Anything to glue to a printing plate.”
DerGara is adept at etching, serigraph, lithograph, monoprint, monotype, and also combines several of those techniques. One method she employs is collagraphy, which comes from the word collage, because the artist glues bits and pieces to a surface and prints from that.
“The ones I had seen were very primitive,” she says, “so I thought I could do something more interesting. That got me into three museums.”
For decades, DerGara’s work has been exhibited internationally. It hangs in prestigious collections, including inside a U.S. embassy and the German Senate Hall. She was one of two Americans in a world printmaking show in Russia. Looking back over her exceptionally successful career, she says, “I’ve been fortunate. And when you’re that fortunate, you have to give back.”
Ann DerGara, Red Wolf Gallery (8 East Main St., Brevard, 828-862-8620, redwolfgallerync.com). Red Wolf participates in Brevard’s 4th Friday Gallery Walk, happening next on October 26 and November 23. DerGara’s home studio is open by appointment. Her next exhibit is with artist Keith Spencer at The Depot Room (22 Depot St.,Tryon, 828-859-7001, tryondepotroom.com), with an opening Friday, Oct. 12, from 5-7pm. The artist can be reached at email@example.com