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.





GVG Studio Tour: Blair Vaughn-Gruler

Blair Vaughn-Gruler, 2017


As a part of GVG’s on-going Studio Tour series, I visited Blair Vaughn-Gruler in her studio where she creates her abstract oil paintings.

Blair approaches the ideas of space and geometry through large-scale, monochromatic, structural paintings, which contemplate the relationship of the physical body to the painted object. Vaughn-Gruler’s images subvert rather than build upon geometry, exploring the materiality of paint and the structure of paint as it exists when applied to a surface: “My visual vocabulary includes references to structure, repetition, deconstructed geometry, and the physical qualities of the paint itself.”


Some paintings finished, some in-process


Renee: Let’s start at the beginning. Will you share a formative experience from your early life as an artist?

Blair: I found out about abstract expressionism when I was about 8 years old. My parents had the Life Magazine issue with Jackson Pollack on the cover. When I saw that article, I was completely captivated by the idea that artwork could carry meaning beyond the pictorial. I got a set of oil paints for Christmas and made myself a studio in the basement. I also attended a grade school where we had art every day, and I was encouraged to be curious and creative from a very young age.



Renee: What is your preferred medium and why?

Blair: Paint, for me, has all the delicious qualities of body lotion, whipped cream, mayo, mud, glue and a healing salve rolled into one.

Renee: What is a typical studio day for you?

Blair: I maintain a rigorous studio schedule. My studio is at our home, so I can get there first thing in the morning, without first preparing to be out in the world. Then I easily paint until late afternoon, when the light starts to change, without realizing how the hours have gone by. I have 4 or 5 studio days a week, and on those days I work for 10 hours at least. I take a break to cook something wonderful at dinnertime. Happily, my studio is near the kitchen.


Plethora | oil and mixed media on yupo on canvas | 12 x 9


Renee: What do you listen to when you are working?

Blair: I listen to NPR, which usually includes talk and news in the morning and jazz in the afternoon. If the music doesn’t suit me, I go to podcasts. News and ideas keep my mind distracted so I can paint.

Renee: What are the major career milestones for you so far?


Blair Vaughn-Gruler | Interlock | oil on canvas | 36 x 24


Blair: Going back to school, and getting my MFA in Visual Art in 2010 nearly 30 years after getting my BFA in Painting. Making a living making paintings (in the postmodern era). Painting, apparently, is not actually dead. Having the courage to make a life focused around making, thinking and writing while encouraging and engaging with other makers. I have come to view this as a satisfying pushback on the current political and corporate era we live in.



Blair Vaughn-Gruler earned an MFA in Visual Art in 2010 from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BFA in Painting in 1979 from Northern Michigan University. She lives in Lamy, New Mexico and co-owns GVG Contemporary with her husband, Ernst Gruler.

To see more of Blair’s work visit her online gallery page, here. Or view her digital catalog below.

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.





Confessions From A Compulsive Organizer: An Artist’s Essay

Last month GVG Contemporary hosted a solo show of Blair Vaughn-Gruler’s paintings titled “Compulsive Organization,” showcasing all new work by this prolific painter. Before the show, Blair shared with me a confessional essay regarding her compulsive nature and how this nature informs her studio practice. I used an excerpt of the essay on the show’s promotional materials but now it has found a more permanent home here on GVG’s blog. 

Blair Vaughn-Gruler | Diction | oil, crayon, and graphite on claybord | 12 x 9


Confessions From A Compulsive Organizer

by Blair Vaughn-Gruler

If I am talking with you, and you are standing in front of a pane glass window, I will shift my stance slightly to line up the stripes on your shirt, or the edge of your glasses, with the panes in the window. If there is a tree beyond the window, I can adjust my body to line it up with the tree and the panes of glass and the stripes and the glasses. I am doing this constantly. It’s not a visual experience as much as a physical one. Proportion, distance, proximity, spatial intelligence and projective geometry all play a role in this thing I compulsively do.

When I first visited the Agnes Martin room at the Harwood Museum in Taos, New Mexico, in 2009, I had a major epiphany. I realized that her paintings were actually entering my awareness through my body more than my mind. Since that awakening, and my subsequent shift towards understanding painting in a more postmodern lexicon (thanks in part to my MFA program), I have plunged into a studio practice where I easily spend 10 or 12 hour days organizing, aligning, repeating, counting, building, inventing, and editing in paint. The process of visual alignment (both conceptual and physical) is such a visceral thing that I feel it alters my brain chemistry.

As I organize paint into shapes and marks on flat or dimensional surfaces, which I also sometimes build (organize) out of wood or cardboard, it’s not the end result I am after, but rather the process of translating my physical experience of space into objects. They are not pictures, but neither are they sculptures.

Each painting I make is a talisman, an object made of paint, imbued with the act of making, subliminally aligning, and realigning both the maker and the viewer.

Blair earned an MFA in Visual Art in 2010 from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BFA in Painting in 1979 from Northern Michigan University. She lives in Lamy, New Mexico and co-owns GVG Contemporary with her husband, Ernst Gruler.

To view Blair’s work, please visit her artist page.