New name, new owner, new arts and crafts.
That’s the order of the day at Mountain Gallery and Gifts, formerly Art and Soul, in downtown Morganton. Under ownership of new proprietor Catherine Bruggeman, the store was set to open for the first time at 10 a.m. on Friday.
Bruggeman, who had shown some of her paintings and stained glass artwork and been involved in the store with former owner Emily Elder, took over ownership late last year when Elder decided to exit the business at 106 W. Union St.
“Nothing is the same. As a matter of fact, this was all bright yellow and orange when I moved in here,” said Bruggeman, whose renovations to the store include a more subdued paint scheme. “Unfortunately, there’s no cats. We’ve replaced them with bears. I’m getting ready to finish painting the bottom (of a bear-shaped open sign) so he can go stand outside and tell people we’re open.
“We have some of the same artists who have actually changed out their artwork to match the look of (the store). It’s basically the mountains where we live. A lot of the artists use only materials from this area or this county.”
Among those arts and crafts are anthills, termite nests and yellow jacket nests from Burke, McDowell and Buncombe counties molded in melted aluminum and mounted on leftover construction pieces like granite by Larry Hill.
Others include pottery from South Carolina’s low country shaped in oyster shells, homemade fused glass by Morganton’s Beth Riddle, jewelry, mason jar gifts, Bruggeman’s geode-infused artwork and handmade wood burning by Bruggeman’s son, Kyle, of Asheville.
Bruggeman said a knack for business drew her into the opportunity to operate her new store.
“I used to run big department stores for the Marine Corps,” she said. “I retired early and came here, and I’ve been here for a while now. I missed being with people. I love my art, and I wanted to promote art in the area even more.