Taking a stroll down the sidewalk in front of Stewart’s Village Gallery leads potential customers through a surprising arrangement of colorful garden art. Tucked away on the corner of McDonald and Church Streets, the historic home-turned-gallery has a cheerful and originally designed entrance. The artwork displayed here hints at what will be found inside the gallery.
Stewart’s Village Gallery is run by Bill and Holly Stewart, plus their dedicated staff that includes Petra, Jo, Donna and Camille. Bill moved to Charlotte from California in 1972. Holly is a Charlotte native. They have lived in Union County for over 30 years,raising their two daughters here.
Initially, Bill worked as a professional potter, selling to galleries across the United States and exhibiting his work at craft shows up and down the east coast. BIll’s work is still featured in many shops, galleries, and museums, including the Smithsonian Museum Shop in Washington DC. He also has a permanent collection residing at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia and the Roger Corsaw Collection of American Crafts at the Alfred Museum.
But after many years of renting studio space and driving, Bill decided to leave his studio in Charlotte and build his own in downtown Waxhaw. There, according to their website, he would be able to create his “distinctive pottery that is equally beautiful in both its decorative and functional realizations.”
At that time the former Our House Restaurant was for sale at the corner McDonald and Church Streets. The house was originally built by Olin Niven in the 1890’s and had been partially restored by the restaurant. The home was charming, and the lot size included enough land to construct a studio. So the decision was made to build the studio and open a fine crafts gallery in the beautiful old home.
Construction on the studio began in 1992, and it was ready to open in January of 1993. The gallery opening soon followed in May of the same year. The Stewarts wanted to offer customers a unique shopping experience in a relaxed atmosphere, and that’s what they were able to accomplish with Stewart’s Gallery.
The gallery holds an incredible display of American Crafts. Faithful to the Stewarts’ vision, the gallery sells no imports or mass produced products. In addition to Bill’s pottery, they also carry the work of over 200 other artists.
Local artists are their main focus. There is a particular emphasis on local painters and artists affiliated with the Waxhaw Arts Council. But some pieces are by other regionally and nationally known artists.
Handmade jewelry, forged iron, blown and fused glass are just part of their offering. Reclaimed metalwork, hand turned wood bowls and inlaid boxes and cutting boards compliment the eclectic collection, along with hand woven scarves and copper fountains.
To add a special touch to what they provide, Bill’s studio also offers pottery classes each spring and fall. The Stewarts have grown to love being a part of the Waxhaw Arts community, and have taken pride in donating part of their land to host the Waxhaw Farmers Market.
They believe that what makes their business stand out is the quality and workmanship that are found in the lines they carry. Their customers want products that are genuine and authentic, and that is what they give them.
Holly said, “More importantly, what we like most about the gallery is how much joy it gives us to make our customers happy with their shopping experience. Seeing the faces of our repeat customers for over 24 years confirms our commitment to that process.”
“Our shop is far more interesting than a visit to the mall or your average “designer” boutique,” Holly explained. The one-of-a-kind items and handmade pieces make each visit different. And Stewart’s Gallery offers free gift boxing and expert shipping services, making it a good choice for holidays and special occasions.
Stewart’s Village Gallery is located at 116 McDonald Street, in Waxhaw, NC. They are open for business Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Their phone number is 704-843-5638. For more information, customers can take a look at their website, www.stewartsvillagegallery.com. It includes a virtual panoramic tour of the gallery.