GVG Studio Tour: Jeffie Brewer Artist Interview


Jeffie Brewer | 2017 | sculptures from left to right | Yellow Bunny | Yes! | Orange Kitty | With Friends Like This | Giraffe Monster (all available at GVG Contemporary)


“I make things. I show people how to make things. I have an insatiable desire to create, to explore, to understand. I work with my hands. I work with my head.”  –Jeffie Brewer

Jeffie Brewer grew up in a small, rural town in East Texas. The son of eccentric junk yard owners, he learned to spot beauty in the mundane, developed an array of industrial skills and discovered he had a knack for drawing. Those early revelations have influenced his artistic trajectory ever since. Recently, I had the pleasure of conducting an interview over email to get to know about the artist behind the Kitties, Bunnies, Robots, Clouds, and Monsters that grace GVG’s sculpture gardens.


Enamel over steel sculptures from left to right | Red Bird | Junkyard Cloud | Yellow Bunny | Blue Kitty | Red Monster | various sizes | 2017


Renee – How about your share a formative experience from your early life as an artist.

Jeffie – I grew up in a smallish town in Texas, the son of a junk man. Across the highway from the junkyard was an old gas station. The gas station had candy. On occasion, I could coax money from my dad who was affectionately known as “Crazy Ray,” and make the harrowing journey to the wax lips, chico sticks or whatever other weird 1970’s candy was available.

In this specific summer day memory, Palestine, Texas was as hot, dry and dusty as one can imagine. Being made up of 99% sweet tooth I could hear the siren song of cokes and candies. After procurement of money and blessing to cross highway 79, I embarked on my heroes quest.

As I stared out across the dusty highway dark clouds filled the sky and it started to rain. I could see the line of rain come into view, engulf the station and then stop midway between me and the candy. The rain lasted just a moment and then just stopped leaving a perfect line between me and the store. I was transfixed. Where I was going was washed clean and new, where I stood dusty and unchanged.

I pinpoint this moment as maybe my first aesthetic moment. I was overwhelmed with emotion and wonder, every time I recount this story it gets me. I try to see beauty – it’s my job.

from left to right: PoP, Junkyard PoP, ‘esprit-d’escalier, and Blue Bird | enamel over steel | various sizes


Renee – What is your preferred media and why?

Jeffie – Pastels – I can work fast and intuitively, building a drawing quickly. The drawings are where the sculpture comes from. The drawings are free and joy-filled play. Steel is up there but steel is hard work and we have a love-hate relationship with hard work.

Renee – Describe a typical studio day for you.

Jeffie – Wake, panic. That’s the only constant.

There is no typical, every day is an adventure. I teach so I’m floating back and forth from selfish to selfless all the time. On the non-teaching days, I have the best intentions to hit the studio early and draw a bit, then get my assistant going once he arrives, then on to welding and grinding or bending. If it’s too hot or cold in the afternoon I do computer design, proposals or things like this. On teaching days I sneak in work at school or sometimes draw alongside students. I do half days at the university two days a week so it’s a delicate dance. I think it’s great for my students to see that I’m an active working artist and not just a stuffy academic blowhard. Lead by example.

But as I said there is no typical – it’s an adventure.

Jeffie Brewer | Drawn Flowers | enamel over steel | various sizes


Renee – What is the most indispensable item in your studio?

Jeffie – My assistant. If I need someone to grind (the most boring thing all day…) he’s got it. Indispensable.

Renee – How has your practice changed over time?

Jeffie – It’s always in flux. It goes from work to fun back to work in a day. 25 years ago it started as play then morphed into work… all work, so much so I stopped making “art” for a few years. In the past 7-8 years, it has merged into both. In these recent years with commercial success and seeing the public works out in the world mixed with making work that is fun and accessible… redemption.

Renee – What do you listen to when you’re working?

Jeffie – Crippling self-doubt… no. Dogs barking? Grinders? A shuffling mix of the most eclectic music ever. Right now there is a sassy flamenco song playing –  I’ll come back when the next song drops… Lionel Richie, Three Times a Lady (wow)- Peaches, Boys Wanna Be Her- something from Rachmaninov (it was long)- Ted Hawkins, Green-eyed Girl – Mike Snow- Merle Haggard, Kendrick Lamar, Adam Green, the Bear Necessities from the Jungle Book… I couldn’t make this up. You get the point. I’m all over the place.

Renee – Name three career milestones that you’ve hit so far.

Jeffie – Commercial success, fame and fortune seem like the right answers but I think I’ve had fun, I’ve led a creative life, and I’ve shared that life through teaching for 20 years. That seems more sincere.

Renee – One more question, what are three artistic goals that you hold yourself to for the future?

Jeffie – Make it bigger, dumber and better as far as the work goes… International, another residency, and more public art.

“We are given a brief amount of time together. As an artist, I consider it a gift to be able to share my vision and experience. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s thoughtful and a lot of the time it’s just silly.” –Jeffie Brewer

Jeff earned an MFA in sculpture and metals and an MA in sculpture and painting from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he currently serves as Assistant Professor of Sculpture.

To read more about GVG’s artists through the GVG Studio Tour Series, click here.

All interviews have been conducted by Renee Lauzon, Gallery Manager at GVG Contemporary. If you have any questions you can email Renee at renee@gvgcontemporary.com.

To see more of Jeffie’s work, stop by GVG Contemporary @ 241 Delgado Street in Santa Fe, NM, or visit his online gallery page, by clicking here.

GVG Studio Tour: Elle MacLaren

Elle MacLaren in her studio with several works in progress, 2017


I visited Elle MacLaren in her Santa Fe studio to see her new encaustic paintings and get to know a little bit more about the artist who makes them.

Elle MacLaren’s creative process manifests as an exploration of environmental images.  Material, color, and texture are the important elements of this exploration using encaustic, metal, cement, oils, graphite and various other media.  Her work references landscapes, cityscapes, and “planetscapes”.

“I am interested in the relationship between people and natural and manmade environments. There are many layers to observing the familiar.  There is an imprint, a memory, a feeling that goes beyond observation.  The images I create aim to bring the viewer into seeing the environment on a deeper level.  It is my intention to evoke a response from the viewer that gives them a larger sense of knowing the source when looking at the familiar.”

The artist’s easel with work in progress


Renee: Tell me about a formative experience early in your life as an artist.

Elle: When I was ten years old my mother took me to an exhibit of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts. I had been drawing with crayons and pencils ever since I could hold them.  When I looked at those oil paintings I fell in love with them, the richness and depth of color pulled me in.  I was given a set of oil paints shortly after that and have painted with oil ever since.

Renee: What is your favorite medium to work with and why?

Elle: I love paint.  I love everything about it, I even love the word itself.  I love oil paint and the way it glides onto and into the canvas with my brush.  I love mixing the colors and dipping into the paint.  I love encaustic paint and the way the melted wax flows through the brush in the truest colors I can imagine.  I love oil paint sticks for their sensual and buttery quality when applied to different surfaces.

Antarctica | encaustic on panel | 26 x 35


Renee: How has your practice changed over time?

Elle: From age 6 until about 26 my style was strictly representational, including portraits and some commercial illustration.  When I started working with mixed media I learned to play and loosen up.  The media itself was inspiring me more with imagery in the sense of using shapes and color to express myself. My work became abstract/conceptual which I find much more freeing and expressive as it allows both myself as the creator and those who view it to have a more personal experience.

Renee: What are some of your future career goals you’ve set for yourself?

Elle: I plan to continue to play and experiment – to push the limits of what medium can do. My current and future intention is  to make statements about relevant issues in the world and have as many people as possible see those issues expressed through my art, and, when viewing, respond in ways that give them a deep sense of knowing and understanding.

Elle MacLaren | Moulin I | encaustic on panel | 30 x 30


Elle holds a BFA in drawing and painting from Alma College.  She continues her ongoing experimentation with media, exploring new materials and pushing the limit of what they can do.

To read more about GVG’s artists through the GVG Studio Tour Series, click here.

All interviews have been conducted by Renee Lauzon, Gallery Manager at GVG Contemporary. If you have any questions you can email Renee at renee@gvgcontemporary.com.

To see more of Elle’s work, stop by GVG Contemporary @ 241 Delgado Street in Santa Fe, NM, or visit her online gallery page, by clicking here.

GVG Studio Tour: Ernst Gruler

Ernst Gruler, Lamy, NM, 2017.


This weekend I had the pleasure of taking a trip out to Lamy to visit Ernst Gruler in one of his studios. Ernst makes his fine art furniture, lighting, and wood laminate sculptures in Lamy, while his metal studio resides in Santa Fe. In Lamy, I am greeted by saw tables, stacks of wood, and maple saplings stripped of bark extending towards the ceiling, all amounting to several works-in-progress; rows of brushes, paints, and four completed repurposed steel sound sculptures stand prominently, inviting me to make them sing. I immediately ask if I could try them out. They sound amazing! Ernst is nothing if not prolific, working early in the morning to very late at night but he took some time to show me around and answer a few questions about his process, materials, and career as a successful studio artist. 


Two of Ernst Gruler’s tables in their work-in-progress stage.


Ernst Gruler grew up building and taking things apart, then refined and expanded those talents to become a furniture artist, metalworker, and painter.

Gruler’s fine art furniture is not about perfect finish or exotic wood. He prefers the durability of plywood with which he crafts pieces that make an art of ergonomics. His modular chairs–remarkable for seated bodies of all variety–are painted with metallic, textured hues. The result of this labor and craftsmanship is innovative and contemporary fine art furniture that melds sculptural design, functionality, durability, and comfort.

Repurposed steel is the medium for another body of Gruler’s work, which includes furniture pieces and what he calls “sound sculptures.” The cast-offs of cars, trucks, farm machinery are melded to create new, practical, and sculptural objects. The bells, made from former pressure canisters, resonate tones of noble beauty that belie their mundane industrial origins.

Four sound sculptures made out of repurposed steel and pressure canisters.


Maple saplings used to make his Tree Lights and cut plywood used in making his furniture.


Renee: What are three career milestones that you’ve experience so far?

Ernst: Obtaining a Masters in Fine Art Furniture at age forty opened a lot of doors for me. It led to exhibiting at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in NYC and then being a grant funded artist in the schools for 3 years, which allowed me to focus on my craft.  And then another career milestone would have to be establishing a gallery, GVG Contemporary in Santa Fe, with my wife that is now heading into it’s ninth successful year. And the most recent one is having a number of my furniture and sound sculpture designs licensed for production and global distribution.

Renee: What is the most indispensable tool in your studio?

Ernst: Me.

Renee: What do you listen to when you’re working?

Ernst Gruler | Table 4 2 + 2 | wood laminate


Ernst: I rarely listen to anything when in my studio. But when I do it is usually alternate experimental music or improv jazz.

Ernst Gruler earned his BFA and MA from Northern Michigan University. He lives in Lamy, New Mexico and co-owns GVG Contemporary with his wife, Blair Vaughn-Gruler.

To read more about GVG’s artists through the GVG Studio Tour Series, click here.

All interviews have been conducted by Renee Lauzon, Gallery Manager at GVG Contemporary. If you have any questions you can email Renee at renee@gvgcontemporary.com.

To see more of Ernst’s work, stop by GVG Contemporary @ 241 Delgado Street in Santa Fe, NM, or visit his online gallery page, by clicking here.

GVG Studio Tour: Kathleen Hope


The artist at work


Kathleen Hope is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and has received numerous awards for her artistry. She lives and works in Fountain Hills, Arizona. She explains that for her color begins her process. “When I start a painting, I usually pick only one to three colors. I place the large color samples next to my wood panel as I am prepping. It takes many days to build up layers before I begin to paint. I observe the colors during this process and the architecture of the painting presents itself. The feeling or the psychological properties of a color dictate the shapes I will use. It is important for me to arrive at only the essentials in a painting. Sometimes when there is too much information it looses its essence. I paint best when I push my medium to the limit, make good design decisions and maintain a playful spontaneity.”


To-do list


Hope works primarily with cement, plaster, acrylic, inks, and encaustic on canvas or board. The work is richly textured, organic, and contemporary. Her diverse background in interior design and color psychology is a significant influence on her work.

During our studio visit I asked Kathleen to share with me a little bit about her process, medium choice, and where she sees her working moving forward.


Kathleen Hope | Scandia | mixed media on panel | 24 x 24


Renee: What was a formative experience from your early life as an artist?

Kathleen: My mom was a watercolor artist and I remember going to outdoor art fairs with her. That was my first memory of art as a child. Then in college I took a studio class in painting and felt right at home. It was a large class but 10 years later my college instructor saw me and remembered me, which was unbelievable to me! She said that I was talented and hoped I continued my art practice.

Renee: What is your preferred medium and why?

Kathleen: After years of experimenting with all different mediums nothing felt right for me until a collector of my collage art challenged me to create a painting for her outdoor space. I said, “give me a year,” and that is how I found cement. It transformed my art and vision. I have been working with cement for ten years now.


Kathleen Hope | Morning Sun | mixed media on panel | 24 x 24


Renee: Describe a typical studio day.

Kathleen: I paint six days a week unless I am at a show. I start at about 9-10am and quit at about 6-7pm. My studio day consists of painting, prep and computer work. Every week I post a goal to achieve… commissions, marketing or prep for upcoming shows.


Work Boots


Renee: How has your practiced changed over time?

Kathleen: My work has become more consistent in style and texture. People can recognize my style without seeing my name.


On the drying board


Studio table


Kathleen’s work is represented by GVG Contemporary. To see more of her work stop by the gallery on 241 Delgado Street in Santa Fe, NM or visit Kathleen’s page by clicking here.

To read more about GVG’s artists through the GVG Studio Tour Series, click here. Or view her digital catalog of available work below.

All interviews have been conducted by Renee Lauzon, Gallery Manager at GVG Contemporary. If you have any questions you can email Renee at renee@gvgcontemporary.com.