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.