Exeter gallery features gourd art thru May

Gourd artists Toni Best, Diana Pearcy, and Sam McKinney will exhibit works at Courthouse Gallery of the Arts


EXETER – Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the artwork on display at the Exeter art gallery is undeniably “gourdgeous.” 

“Absolutely Gourdgeous!” featuring gourd artists Toni Best, Diana Pearcy, and Sam McKinney, with special guest artist Wendy McKellar opened April 1 at the Courthouse Gallery of the Arts in Exeter. The renown gourd artists, each with a unique approach to their work, were on-hand at an opening reception on Sunday, April 14. The show runs through May 26.

Toni Best, who lives in Visalia, has been a creator and advocate of basketry for over 60 years. Specializing in pine needles coiled on by gourds, she has been creating pieces which stretch her imagination. 

She was juried into the National Basketry Organization (NBO) “All Things Considered VI,” and invited to teach at Arrowmont’s School of Arts and Crafts in Gat­linburg, TN, and Pocosin’s School of Fine Arts in Columbia, NC. She was accepted into the Handweavers Guild of America juried show at Convergence in Reno in July 2018 and the Handweavers Guild of America.

Toni recently learned that two pieces she had entered in the National Basketry Organization’s “Basketry Now: 10th Anni­versary Exhibition” were accepted. She is hoping to visit the gallery in Bowling Green when she attends the NBO conference in July. 

Diana Pearcy, a resident of Ivanhoe, has grown each gourd she sells, as a true labor of love and work of homegrown art. She spends hours each day in her half-acre of gourds, giving them tender loving care. The half-acre patch of gourds provides well over 3,000 gourds per season, proving that personal attention works! 

“It’s fun, because they all have different shapes and personalities.” said Diana. “I have coffee with them every morning!” 

Each gourd exhibits their own individ­ual natural flaws and characteristics. Each gourd is then given the chance to decide its own artistic outcome, making each work of art unique. 

Sam McKinney, who lives in Lindsay, has been creating gourd art since 1998. She also grows her own gourds at her home in Lindsay. 

Sam uses gourds as a medium to do beading with both a Native American and a contemporary look. Pine needle coiling gives her the inspiration to create art from nature. Sam also adds wood burning to add that special touch. 

Not having formal art training, Sam has been fortunate to study with the best in the gourd world. She has taught a mas­ter class on coiling at Fresno State, and has taught beading classes with other teachers from across the United States. 

Wendy McKellar, of Three Rivers, is best known for the vibrant colors in her paintings. Having grown up in Three Riv­ers, nature has always been her inspira­tion. For the past three years, her style has been inspired by the native wildlife in the area. Her followers love how her playful subjects bring joy and happiness to their homes. Wendy spends most of her time painting in her studio/gallery at the Barn at 40838 Sierra Dr. in Three Rivers. 

The Exeter Courthouse Gallery is located at 125 South B Street, Exeter. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call (559) 592-5900 or email at [email protected].

Start typing and press Enter to search